A WEBSITE FULL OF TALES AND TIPS FROM A LIFETIME OF TRAVEL

Travel guides covering numerous destinations across the globe with a focus on: must-visit cities, places of historical and culture significance including Unesco World Heritage Sites, and opportunities to see wildlife in their natural habitats.

Read up-to-date tips and advice for expats based on my own experiences of expat life including our recent move to Australia.

 

_________________________________

A guide to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia

A guide to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia

If you enjoy visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are planning a trip to Australia why not try to include some of the sites that are on the world heritage list for Australia into your itinerary?

The answer to the question “How many sites in Australia have made the world heritage listing?” is 19 as of July 2018. This has stayed the same since 2011 when the Ningaloo Coast was approved at a meeting of the world heritage committee and inscribed on the list. There are also 3 areas which are on the Australia world heritage tentative list.

Of of the total of 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia 3 are cultural, 12 are natural and 4 are a combination.

Cultural (3)

  • Australian Convict Sites (2010)
  • Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens (2004)
  • Sydney Opera House (2007)

Natural (12)

  • Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte) (1994)
  • Fraser Island (1992)
  • Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (1986,1994)
  • Great Barrier Reef (1981)
  • Greater Blue Mountains Area (2000)
  • Heard and McDonald Islands (1997)
  • Lord Howe Island Group (1982)
  • Macquarie Island (1997)
  • Ningaloo Coast (2011)
  • Purnululu National Park (2003)
  • Shark Bay, Western Australia (1991)
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland (1988)

Mixed (4)

  • Kakadu National Park (1981,1987,1992)
  • Tasmanian Wilderness (1982,1989)
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (1987,1994)
  • Willandra Lakes Region (1981)

All these sites are covered in this post about UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia by top travel bloggers from around the world.

WORLD HERITAGE SITES AUSTRALIA MAP

Approximate locations only!

 


THE GONDWANA RAINFORESTS by Time Travel Turtle


The World Heritage Site of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia is actually made up of about 40 different locations along the east coast between Newcastle and the Gold Coast. Each of these protected bits of land has plants and animals that have evolved uninterrupted since Australia was part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland, a couple of hundred million years ago!

Not all of the locations are easy to visit and it’s best to go to one of the larger national parks that has a good range of activities. The most popular are Lamington National Park, Barrington Tops National Park, New England National Park and Dorrigo National Park.

The rainforests are quite lush and can be a contrast to the rest of the landscapes in the area, particularly the ones in New South Wales. So the best way to experience the parks is to walk along the tracks, through the trees, over rivers, and to scenic spots like waterfalls. Dorrigo National Park has a viewing platform that lets you look out over the tops of the trees, which is quite impressive too!

Gondwana Rainforest

 


TASMANIAN WILDERNESS by 50 Shades of Age


In the wild, wild west of Tasmania is the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area consisting of six national parks and a number of reserves and conservation areas. The vast area covers 15,800 km², or almost 20% of Tasmania, and takes in coast, islands, rivers, peaks, valleys and button grass plains of indescribable beauty and remoteness.

One such National Park is the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, located in the Central Highlands of Tasmania. Thus named for the cradle shape of the mountain that dominates the landscape. The park contains many walking trails, and is renowned for famous Overland Track.

For most visitors to Tasmania Cradle Mountain is a must see and I would definitely recommend visiting this wonderland of natural rugged beauty.

Cradle Mountain

 


NINGALOO COAST by Two Tall Travellers


One of my favourite memories of backpacking Australia during our 20,000km road trip was the Ningaloo Coast. It really stands out as a beautiful and eco-friendly destination – and it’s so easy to see how it earned its World Heritage Site status!

The 260-mile long Ningaloo Coast lies in the stunning state of Western Australia. If you get the chance, spend at least a week exploring the reef and its surrounding beaches and towns.

One of the best things to do on the Ningaloo Coast is to swim with humpback whales and whale sharks! These are both truly incredible experiences, and ones that you won’t find in many other places in the world.

If you’d rather stay on dry land, then you’ll still be entertained for days! Go quad biking on the sand dunes, watch the tiny baby turtles hatch and escape to the ocean, enjoy the soft sandy beaches in Cape Range National Park or head up to the Valmingh Head Lighthouse for remarkable panoramic views of both the sunset and the sunrise – one of the few places you can actually see both in Australia.

Ningaloo

 


ULURU-KATATJUTA NATIONAL PARK by Travelexx


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Australia? Miles upon miles of golden beaches? Verdant rainforests teeming with wildlife? Sydney Opera House? For me it’s always been Uluru – the huge sandstone monolith rising majestically out of the desert. Seeing it come into view for the first time from the dusty highway is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The centrepiece of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, it doesn’t disappoint when up close either.

The 10.6 km base walk is the best way to experience Uluru first-hand. Along the route you will learn about its significance to the Anangu – traditional landowners of the area – as well as their stories, legends and Aboriginal culture, bringing to life the incredible geological features of the rock. Don’t miss the sunset – the changing of colours over the rock will leave you speechless.

Just 50 kilometres away are the stunning rock domes of Kata Tjuta. Hike through the imposing gorge or tackle the Valley of the Winds walk to get up close to these amazing rock formations, some of which reach as high as 500 metres. Spy birds, reptiles and even wild camels around this site which sees fewer visitors yet offers jaw-dropping views.

Experiencing this corner of the Australian Outback is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.

Uluru Kata-Tjuta

 

READ MORE
Visiting Uluru the red heart of Australia

 


THE WET TROPICS by Coasting Australia


The Wet Tropics is an area of incredible natural beauty and history in north-east Queensland, Australia. The World Heritage site covers almost 9000km2 between Townsville and Cooktown, and is an area of rainforest with plant life found nowhere else on the planet. The Daintree rainforest is an important region in the Wet Tropics, where you can find evidence of the evolution of plants, as well as memories of megafauna and flora. 

David Attenborough has described the Daintree as one of his favourite places to visit, and when you are standing on the pristine white sands of a secluded beach looking up at the canopy of the trees it is not hard to imagine why. The Daintree is also one of the only places in the world where the rainforest meets the reef, a short boat ride will take you out to another UNESCO site where you can snorkel amongst the largest living organism on Earth – the Great Barrier Reef.

The Daintree region is easily accessible from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, which is also worthy of an extended stay. There are lots of things to do in the Daintree, including wildlife and crocodile cruising, bushwalking, swimming, visiting the Daintree Discovery Centre, tasting locally made ice cream and more. 

Wet Tropics in Australia


NARACOORTE CAVES by Josie wanders


The Naracoorte Caves, located just south of the town of Naracoorte, are South Australia’s only World Heritage site thanks to the fossils that have been found here. The fossils in the caves are up to 500 000 years old, covering several ice ages. Here is where many of the best specimens of Australia’s unique megafauna such as the marsupial lions and the sthenurine kangaroos are found.
Not only are the caves important for their historical record, many of them contain beautiful stalagmites and stalactites too. Blanche Cave is one of only two known homes of the endangered southern bent-winged bat, and a special tour can show them to you.
There are 28 known caves in the national park, but only four of them are accessible to the public. One, Stick-Tomato Cave, is available to visit at any time without a guide. Most people will just come here to do one of the many easy tours each day, but there are also options for qualified people to do some more adventurous caving too.
Above ground you will find the Wonambi Fossil Centre, where you can spend a bit more time learning about the unique features of this area that have allowed this huge fossil repository to be created and survive.

Naracoorte Caves National Park


AUSTRALIAN CONVICT SITES  –  PORT ARTHUR TASMANIA 

by Travels with Talek


Out an hour from Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, is the former penal colony of Port Arthur. This is part of Australia’s historical convict trail and a treat for history buffs. Port Arthur was named after the first governor of the island. It functioned as a penal colony for the hardest of criminals from 1833 to 1853. Port Arthur does an excellent job of promoting its history by maintaining the remains of the colony along with a museum that goes into substantial detail on the convict’s lives.

There are several museums on the property. Two that were especially intriguing were the chapel where the convicts prayed and the cells were they were imprisoned. Several convicts attempted to escape during the colony’s existence. Few were successful.

One escape story tells of a convict that got hold of a kangaroo hide and wore it over his body as he attempted to hop to freedom in disguise. The guards saw a kangaroo, decided they would have kangaroo steaks for dinner that night and proceeded to shot at the convict. Imagine their surprise when the man stood up and surrendered!

This place is full of interesting stories, exhibits and tours. This is certainly a must when visiting Tasmania.  Free guided tours are also available.

Port Arthur Penal colony

 


SHARK BAY WORLD HERITAGE AREA by West Australian Explorer


Listed as a World Heritage site in 1991, the Shark Bay region is located on Australia’s most western point and covers over 2.2 million hectares. This incredibly pristine area of wilderness represents a meeting point of three major climatic regions and is home to a range of exceptional plant and animal life. The turquoise waters are a haven for many marine animals, including loggerhead turtles, one of the world’s largest dugong populations and migrating humpback whales. These can all be seen on a visit to the Shark Bay region. Most famously though, the area is also home to a large population of dolphins which can be seen daily in the sheltered waters of Monkey Mia.

Also, part of the Shark Bay heritage area is Hamelin Pool Marine and Nature Reserve, which contains some of the world’s most diverse and abundant forms of Stromatolites. These rock-like organisms are some of the oldest living forms on earth. Not to be missed on a trip to Shark Bay is Shell Beach, voted one of the world’s best beaches by National Geographic. The 70 km long strip of beach is made up of billions of tiny cockle shells.

monkey Mia

 


THE BLUE MOUNTAINS by Walk My World


One hundred kilometres west of Sydney is a place that couldn’t be more different from the big city. At over 2,690 square kilometres, the Blue Mountains is one of the biggest UNESCO World Heritage sites in Australia. Characterised by the sandstone mountains covered in eucalyptus trees, the Blue Mountains is a huge national park that gets its name from the blue haze that is created by the eucalyptus trees releasing their oils into the atmosphere.

It is a stunning place to explore with hundreds of walking trails ranging from easy and flat, to the famous “Six Foot Track” a multi-day epic taking you through the Jamison Valley from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. It’s one of our favourite places to hike in the whole of Australia.

However, if you are looking for something a bit more sedate, then the view of the Three Sisters, (named after an Aboriginal legend) from Echo Point is the best place to start. From here you also walk to Katoomba Falls with wonderful views of the Jamison Valley. If you’re visiting with kids a trip to Scenic World with its cable cars and the steepest railway in the world will be a hit. The views are incredible and when you are done with the mountain tops you can head down to the valley floor and look for Lyrebirds (which mimic sounds!)

Unesco world heritage sites in Australia - the Blue Mountains

 


SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE by Travel With Little One


The Sydney Opera House is one of the great icons of Australia, and one of the best-known, most recognisable buildings in the world. It was built on a headland called Bennelong Point, on the former site of a tram depot. The design competition was won in 1957 by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, and it took until 1973 to complete, with several modifications along the way.

The distinctive white exterior has been compared to sails on a boat and sea shells. The original architect’s sketches even make them look like segments of a piece of fruit, such as a mandarin or orange. Its setting is incredibly dramatic, on the Harbour, facing Sydney’s other great icon, the Harbour Bridge, across the water.

The Opera House is the venue for over 1,000 events a year – covering opera, and across the whole spectrum of music and the performing arts. There is a main auditorium, the Concert Hall, and the smaller Joan Sutherland Theatre and additional venues for smaller productions. Concerts are also held outdoors on the Forecourt of the Opera House.

Sydney Opera House is also one of the centrepieces of the city’s annual Vivid light festival, with projections made onto the surface of the ‘shells’. It’s also one of the main focal points for the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks displays that light up the Harbour.

Sydney Opera House - UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia

 


KAKADU NATIONAL PARK by World Heritage Journey


Kakadu National Park is located in the tropical north of Australia, a few hours’ drive to the south-east of Darwin, capital city of the Northern Territory. At approximately 20,000 square kilometres, Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park and is roughly half the size of Switzerland! In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage site, it belongs to a very exclusive sub-section of sites: a Mixed site, among those that are considered important for both their cultural heritage, and their natural heritage.
Kakadu is home to thundering waterfalls, hidden swimming holes, incredible natural vistas, unique plants and animals, and some of the world’s oldest continuous culture. For over 50,000 years, indigenous Australians have lived in Kakadu, decorating caves and rock faces with beautiful artwork depicting stories, religious rituals and hunting activities.
You could spend weeks in Kakadu and not see everything! But some of the highlights include Jim Jim Plunge Pool, Maguk Falls, the Nourlangie Rock Art, Twin Falls Gorge & Plateau, and finally Ubirr Walk for sunset. These alone will take you a couple of days – remember that distances out here are vast and roads are rough! I also strongly recommend a crocodile spotting tour as well; the saltwater crocs in Kakadu are both huge and terrifying!
Check out World Heritage Journey on YouTube for great videos of over 400 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

Kakadu National Park

 


THE GREAT BARRIER REEF by Our 3 Kids V The World


The Great Barrier Reef is by far Australian most famous landmarks and is the world’s largest coral reef system and can be seen from outer space. It covers an area of 344,400 square kilometres and is located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland. It was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981 and in many circles is referred to as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is mostly protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 
 
Recently there have been concerns regarding the Great Barrier Reef due to coral bleaching is more widespread than first thought and the effects of global warming will play a large part in the future of the famous landmark. Many thousand of people visit the Great Barrier Reef for amazing snorkelling and scuba diving. I have visited both ends of the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven Beach near Airlie Beach at the southern end and the Port Douglas at the northern end of the reef. Both are spectacular.
 
If you are visiting Australia I highly recommend a visit to the Great Barrier Reef as over the upcoming years, the reef will face significant challenges.  I hope that we are able to rectify the current issues and it will remain as beautiful as it is today. 

 

The Whitsundays

 


WILLANDRA LAKES REGION by Small Footprints,Big Adventures


Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area in south-western New South Wales is a surreal landscape, with lunettes formed by wind and water, desert, sandhills and ancient remains. It is home to Mungo National Park, where visitors can come to camp and learn about aboriginal history and the significance of Mungo to the Ngyiampaa, Mutthi Mutthi and Southern Paakantyi people.

Mungo Lady was discovered in 1968, and she is the oldest evidence of a ritual burial in the world. She and Mungo Man have been dated at more than 40,000 years old! Preserved footprints from more than 20,000 years ago still remain within Mungo, as well as many other archaeologically- and culturally-significant sites. These include ancient fireplaces, stone tools and calcified plants, and taking a tour with a ranger allows you to get close to them and hear about when and how they were used.

Further from the guided visitor area, you can ride or drive around a pastoral loop for wildlife spotting and viewing of old homesteads, and camping overnight along the way is a common activity. We loved the learning about the wonders that are in our own backyard, and experiencing the ancient and unusual landscape at Mungo.

Mungo

 


ROYAL EXHIBITION BUILDING AND CARLTON GARDENS

by Wyld Family Travel


The Royal Exhibition Building was built in 1880. The grand building was built in a typical European style to house the great exhibitions that came to Melbourne in 1880 and 1888. Located today on what is the edge of the Melbourne CBD it strikes a fine design of a bygone era. In 1901 it played a unique part in Australian history as it hosted the first sitting of the Parliament of Australia.

Today the building is aligned in both position and use to the Melbourne Museum, which in itself as the largest Museum in the Southern hemisphere. The grand old building has undergone many restorations of the years to bring to the state it is in today. Speaking of today, the Royal Exhibition Building hosts many annual shows such as the flower show, Melbourne International beer festival and the rights of passage Tattoo festival.

UNESCO says the surrounding Carlton Gardensare an example of Victorian landscape design with sweeping lawns and varied European and Australian tree plantings, The Gardens are often full of people relaxing in one of Melbourne’s greatest green spaces.

Youtube at Wyld Family Travel

Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne

 


FRASER ISLAND by Around The World With Her


Lying off the East Coast of Australia, just north of Brisbane, is Fraser Island. At 120km long, this is the worlds biggest sand island and was awarded World Heritage Site status in 1992. Only accessible by 4WD vehicles, the best way to make the most of Fraser is to find an organised tour. Usually these run for 3 days/ 2 nights, and so you will camp out in the wilderness. Access is from a ferry around the Rainbow Beach area.

One of the biggest attractions is Lake Mackenzie, a freshwater lake surrounded by sand which is nearly pure silica. This gives the sand a near pure white appearance, and is a striking and beautiful sight next to the incredibly clear water. If you are lucky, you may spot a resident Dingo. The Dingoes of Fraser Island are thought to be the last pure bred left in Australia, and in an effort to preserve this, dogs are not permitted on the island.

Another popular landmark is the ship wreck of the S.S Maheno. The boat was beached in a cyclone in 1935, and still sits on the sands of Fraser Island to this day. With plenty of other swimming holes,4WD tracks and view points, there is plenty to keep visitors busy on Fraser Island.

Fraser Island


HEARD AND MCDONALD ISLANDS/LORD HOWE ISLAND GROUP

MACQUARIE ISLAND


Heard and McDonald Islands

Heard Island and McDonald Islands are located in the Southern Ocean, approximately 1,700 km from the Antarctic continent and 4,100 km south-west of Perth. As the only volcanically active subantarctic islands they ‘open a window into the earth’, thus providing the opportunity to observe ongoing geomorphic processes and glacial dynamics. The distinctive conservation value of Heard and McDonald – one of the world’s rare pristine island ecosystems – lies in the complete absence of alien plants and animals, as well as human impact.

Information from the UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lord Howe Island Group

A remarkable example of isolated oceanic islands, born of volcanic activity more than 2,000 m under the sea, these islands boast a spectacular topography and are home to numerous endemic species, especially birds.

Information from the UNESCO World Heritage Site

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island (34 km long x 5 km wide) is an oceanic island in the Southern Ocean, lying 1,500 km south-east of Tasmania and approximately halfway between Australia and the Antarctic continent. The island is the exposed crest of the undersea Macquarie Ridge, raised to its present position where the Indo-Australian tectonic plate meets the Pacific plate. It is a site of major geoconservation significance, being the only place on earth where rocks from the earth’s mantle (6 km below the ocean floor) are being actively exposed above sea-level. These unique exposures include excellent examples of pillow basalts and other extrusive rocks.

Information from the UNESCO World Heritage Site

Macquarie Island penguins



Thanks to all the great travel bloggers who took part in this collaboration on UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

How many of the 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia have you visited so far? Do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

PIN FOR LATER – UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN AUSTRALIA

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia


READ MORE
101 things you need to know when visiting Australia
READ MORE
UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world
READ MORE
15 amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe to visit
READ MORE
15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK to visit

Author: Tracy

Working my way around the globe for 30 years – teacher, traveller, and train lover. Sharing authentic experiences from my travels and life as an expat in Australia.

Follow:

13 Comments

  1. Cat
    October 29, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    10 left on my must visit list! I didn’t actually know a few of these were UNESCO, great post 🙂

  2. October 29, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    Fabulous collection of Aussie UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites. In a country with so much natural beauty it is great to see that we are protecting it. We just need to educate more tourists not to spoil our beautiful countryside when they visit.

  3. November 2, 2018 / 3:29 am

    I have visited a few of these awesome UNESCO WHS but didn’t realise there were so many. Uluru for me was the best, as you know from my blog post how passionate I feel about this area and the indigenous culture of Australia. Great to be educated about more places to visit when I return #feetdotravel

    • Tracy
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 9:01 pm

      Me too – I loved Uluru so much.

  4. November 2, 2018 / 7:07 pm

    Such a geat list! I didn’t know about most of them, I only visited the Blue Mountains and the Sydney Opera House… then again, I’ve only spent two weeks in Australia, in and around Sydney… I’d love to go back. Thanks for sharing on #FeetDoTravel

    • Tracy
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 8:59 pm

      Thanks for popping by – hopefully you will see more on your next trip to Australia 🙂

  5. November 4, 2018 / 12:54 am

    Great post, I didn’t realise we had so many UNESCO sites in Australia. I’ve visited three but will put the others on the bucket list.

    • Tracy
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 8:57 pm

      Thanks Nina!

  6. November 4, 2018 / 9:49 pm

    What a fantastic – and helpful – list! While we don’t usually go someplace specifically to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, we do make a point of visiting any that we’re near. Now we just need to get “near” Australia! 😉 Seriously, some of these we’ve never heard of. Others have been on our Bucket List for quite some time. The one I think we’re most keen to visit is the Blue Mountains. Everything we’ve seen and read on them is just spectacular! Thanks for putting this together, and good job to all who helped! Definitely pinning this one for future reference. 🙂
    Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net) recently posted…The Weekly Postcard – 2 November 2018My Profile

    • Tracy
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 8:56 pm

      Thanks guys I am so glad you enjoyed the post. So far my favourite has got to be Uluru – I think everyone should visit if they come to Australia.

  7. November 7, 2018 / 1:47 pm

    I’ve been to 7 of these and would love to go to all the others, particularly those in Tasmania as it’s the only Australian state I haven’t been to.

  8. November 8, 2018 / 7:33 pm

    These UNESCO spots are beautiful I can’t wait to visit them all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

HI THIS IS ME – TRACY

Hello from Australia

Traveller, teacher, train lover, and milkshake connoisseur.Now living and working in my 7th country and experiencing life as an expat in Queensland, Australia.

I write to inspire others whatever their age to explore the world - near and far!

I have travelled for over 30 years including solo in my 20's , as a single parent in my 30's and now in my 40's and beyond with my husband. House sitter and aspiring grey nomad a life of location independence is my goal.

Over 40 years ago I dreamt of a life well travelled and that is the life I live!

Dream it, plan it, do it!!

Tracy

Read More