Australia is continent and country with an incredible variety of natural wonders. Its long and continuous coastline provides several, while its interior celebrates the process of geology. Fortunately, the country’s leaders have seen fit to preserve many of these natural areas in the form of national parks so that they can be enjoyed by residents and tourist for years to come. Here are my favorites. A photo album will follow.
1. Great Barrier Reef – The world’s largest reef system stretches for over 1600 miles along the northeast coast of Australia. Much of it is protected with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and it was selected as a World Heritage Site back in 1981. For tourists, there is a tremendous variety of boat companies which give visitors access to the area. The Great Barrier Reef, because of its biodiversity, is a great favorite with scuba divers from all over the world.
2. Uluru (Ayers Rock ) – This World Heritage Site, remotely situated in the middle of the Australian continent, is part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (along with the Olgas). It is over 1,100 feet high and almost 6 miles in circumference; it has become a recognizable icon to people all over the world. The area is sacred to the Australian Aborigines.
3. The Kimberly – The name refers to a region in the northern part of Western Australia. It is popular with tourists because of its
unusual landscapes and natural formation. This is the home of the Bungle-Bungles and Horizontal Falls.
4. The Southern Coast – The southeastern section of this dramatic coastline is showcased by the Great Ocean Road, Australia’s most scenic drive. Offshore sea stacks and unusual limestone and sandstone formations abound, offering visitors a dizzying experience.
5. Blue Mountains – This vast plateau of sandstone formations and fertile valleys of eucalyptus is just southwest of Sydney and is popular for day-trippers from the city. There are many activities available, including the Giant Staircase, the Scenic Flyway, the Scenic Skyway, and the Katoomba Scenic Railway.
6. Daintree Rain Forest – Another natural area chosen as a World Heritage Site, the Daintree is Australia’s largest rain forest and is recognized for its biodiversity. The area, in northeastern Australia, also has excellent beaches and is convenient to Cairns, also the major gateway to the Great Barrier Reef (see above).
7. Tasmania – Australia’s largest island is located south of the mainland and is recognized for its natural beauty and unusual wildlife. Almost 40% of the island is being conserved as national parks. The island is accessible for visitors via sea or air.
Other sites considered:
Kata-Tjuta National Park