Australia is well known for its spectacular natural scenery – from perfect white beaches to spectacular coral reefs to cool rainforests to majestic views.
This sunburnt country is also home to quite a few man made wonders from the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge to the historic Port Arthur to Melbourne’s famous cricket ground the MCG and meeting place, Flinders Street Station.
I was born in Melbourne lived there for over 25 years and had a brief time living in Sydney (which I really didn’t like but that is a typical response from a Melbournian to Sydney).
Therefore I feel very well positioned to comment on Australian Landmarks as an Australian.
So here are my 16 Australian Landmarks that you absolutely shouldn’t miss when you visit my spectacular homeland.
16 Australian Landmarks
1. Sydney Opera House New South Wales
One of the most famous buildings in the world, the iconic Sydney Opera House does not disappoint. One of the 20th century’s most iconic buildings it first opened in 1973 and is a must for any Sydney Itinerary.
This is a live, working building with performances day and night. I highly recommend taking a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House to find out all the backstories and to be able to explore the building.
A second great way to visit the Opera house is to attend an opera. Yet again, this is a ticket to book far in advance as tickets for actual opera at the Sydney Opera House tend to sell out fast.
The third way to experience the Opera House is through food and wine. The Opera House is home to one of Australia’s top restaurants, Bennelong.
If you are looking for something more casual there is no better way to finish off any day exploring Sydney than with a glass of wine at the Opera Bar. Like the fish markets, the Opera Bar is loved by locals and tourists alike.
The views from the Opera Bar Sydney are fabulous and the outdoor seating area is massive so no matter how busy it is you should be able to get some kind of seat. The wine list is long and there are lots of food options.
Opera Bar also offers up free water and sunscreen which you will need if you are sitting there on a nice day. A perfect way to finish up a day of visiting Sydney Highlights.
And if you’re looking for somewhere with character to rest your head in Sydney then Hotel Palisade is my pick. Hotel Palisade is a gorgeous boutique hotel with fantastic views of Sydney harbour.
It also has a great classic ground floor Australian pub and a fantastic cocktail bar with awesome views on the top floor.
2. Sydney Harbour Bridge New South Wales
This famous steel bridge first opened in 1932. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is nicknamed the coathanger due to its distinctive shape. Today the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a busy day and night with cars and pedestrians and a critical link between central Sydney and the northern suburbs.
There are several ways to experience Sydney Harbour Bridge. You’ll see it from many view points in Sydney, you can easily drive over it or walk both over it or under it.
But the best way to experience Sydney Harbour Bridge is to climb it. Yes, it is expensive. And you can’t take your camera which really hurts. But The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is fantastic.
I wouldn’t recommend it if you are scared of heights though – it is extremely safe and you are clipped in the whole time but it would be tough if you suffered from any type of vertigo.
There are three different options for tickets. The standard is the summit ticket which involves going to the top of the bridge (134m) and then back down in 3 1/2 hours. This involves 1390 stairs.
The express ticket does the same in 2 1/2 hours and is 1000 steps. The sampler ticket is 1 1/2 hours and only includes climbing a small portion of the bridge.
The cost may then vary depending on the time of day. Tickets are booked in one-hour slots. Twilight and night are more expensive. I would highly recommend taking the twilight option as the sunsets in Sydney can be amazing.
Travel Expert Tip – Book your Harbour Bridge Climb Tickets at least 24 hours in advance
The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is extremely popular -, particularly at sunset. Tickets sell out extra fast in the summer. The best option is to book your tickets before you leave home if possible.
3. Flinders Street Station Victoria
If Melbourne had an exact centre in the hearts of its residents it would be Flinders Street Station. This station serves metropolitan Melbourne – if you want to take a train outside of Melbourne you’ll need to head down the road to Spencer Street.
But it is its unique architecture and particularly its famous clocks that make it the centre of Melbourne. Opened in 1854, the station is located on the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street.
There is a tram hub next to the station on Swanston Street so this is a great spot to capture another iconic Australian – the Melbourne tram.
Meeting under the clocks at Flinders Street has been a Melbourne institution since this picturesque building was constructed. Taking a photo under the clocks at Flinders Street is a must when in Melbourne.
4. Cradle Mountain Tasmania
Tasmania is where Australians go for their vacations. This small state is a separate island from the rest of Australia and therefore can be low on the list for foreign visitors.
However, I see Tasmania as one of Australia’s top hidden gems. It is filled with beautiful scenery, spectacular views and awesome food and wine.
Cradle Mountain is the 6th highest mountain in Tasmania and is located in the northwest of the island in Lake St Clair National Park. The park is part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area and is home to ancient waterfalls, glacial lakes, and of course mountain peaks.
The area offers hikes for those of all levels of ability. Climbing to the summit of Cradle Mountain is considered to be a very difficult climb and should only be taken on by those with extensive mountain climbing experience.
If you’d like to explore the park but are after something a little less terrifying try the Cradle Valley Boardwalk (5.5 km and ranked Easy) or the Dove Lake Circuit (5.7km and also ranked Easy).
There are several accommodation options close by. For boutique hotel lovers I recommend Cradle Mountain Lodge. I stayed there years ago in a spa cabin and it was lovely – the perfect mix of rustic and luxury. Having checked online reviews it looks like it is still just as charming.
5. Mount Kosciuszko New South Wales
At 2,228 metres Mount Kosciuszko Australia’s highest mountain. And it is at the heart of the little-discussed ski fields of Australia. Yes, it does snow in Australia.
The mountain is located in Kosciuszko National Park in the south of New South Wales.
When it comes to climbing Mount Kosciuszko there are lots of different options. If your fitness levels are low drive all the way to Charlotte Pass and a 1.4 km walking path will take you to the summit. It is a very easy path – I saw people with strollers.
The nearest town to the mountain is cute ski town Thredbo. I walked up from Thredbo and it was about a 3 hour round trip. Or you can head further out for more challenging paths.
So there is a lot of The Highest in Australia action on the mountain. Of course, the summit of Mt Kosciuszko is the Highest Point in Australia.
If you then head to the very nice Eagles Nest restaurant you can enjoy the highest coffee in Australia, the highest beer, the highest scones – anything you can consume can be posted on Facebook as the highest of its kind in Australia.
And when you get to Rawson’s Pass you can also visit the highest toilet in Australia.
6. Uluru Northern Territory
Uluru or Ayers Rock is one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks. This large sandstone rock is located kind of in the middle of Australia in the southern end of the Northern Territory. It is 335kms south west of the nearest bit town, Alice Springs.
Uluru is one of the most important indigenous sites in Australia and is sacred to the Aboriginal people. It is also a World Heritage site.
The rock was christened Ayers Rock in 1873 by the surveyor William Gosse. In 2002 and the preferred name of the rock was changed to Uluru.
Uluru is 348 metres high and has a circumference of 9.4kms. Climbing of the rock is no longer permitted. However, there are still several ways to enjoy this famous Australian landmark.
One of the most common ways to experience Uluru is to walk around it on a tour – or if you’re a runner many like to run around it during their stay. It is possible to fly over the rock. Best of all is to plan your day around seeing the rock as different times. As the sun changes position in the sky Uluru appears to take on different colours.
Whilst Ayers Rock can be visited in a serious day trip from Alice Springs an icon of this magnitude deserves at least one sleep over. All types of accommodation is available near Uluru.
For boutique hotel lovers I recommend checking out the luxe tented resort Longitude 131. They are famed for their outdoor restaurant which serves local ingredients under the stars.
7. Port Arthur Tasmania
Port Arthur is a World Heritage-listed site in Tasmania that is the best-preserved convict site in Australia. Located about 60 miles southeast of Tasmania’s capital Hobart, it is one of 11 convict sites in Australia that together form the World Heritage listing.
The worst of the criminals bound for Australia were sent to Port Arthur and it was known for having the strictest security measures of the British Penal System (although I am unsure where they would have gone if they had of escaped..).
Sadly, the name Port Arthur is now synonymous with one of the worst events in modern Australian history, the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre. 35 people were murdered and 23 wounded by the perpetrator, local Martin Bryant.
This event led to an amnesty on illegal guns as well as changes to gun legislation. I am very pleased to say that no type of event like this has taken place since.
Today, a ticket to Port Arthur will provide you with entry to the site for two days, a 40 minute guided walking tour, a 25 minute harbor ride, and access to over 30 historic buildings for exploration.
There are also ghost tours, the Prison and Power performance, after dark packages which include dinner, and more. Or visit Port Arthur as a day trip from Hobart.
8. The Melbourne Cricket Ground Victoria
The Melbourne Cricket Ground or the MCG of the “G” is sacred ground in Melbourne. Originally built in 1853, the MCG is the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, the 11th largest globally and the second largest cricket ground by capacity (thanks Wikipedia).
It was home to the Summer Olympics in 1956, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the Cricket World Cup in 1992 and 2015. To Australians it is also the home of Australian Rules Football.
Australian Rules Football started in Melbourne and only became a national sport in 1990. This is the reason that the majority of the teams in the league are still named after the suburbs of Melbourne.
Melbourne is a sports mad town (it is also home to the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Open) but the love of football is in the water. It is not possible to be from or live in Melbourne and to not have a team (I support Carlton).
The MCG is home to matches during the year but most of all on the last Saturday in September it is home to the Australian Rules Football Grand Final, the biggest day of the very sporty year in Melbourne. (This was pre pandemic – in 2020 the Grand Final was very sadly held in Brisbane).
As a visitor, there are two main ways to experience the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The first is to take one of the tours which run twice a day at the stadium.
The second option, which is much better, is to go to a football match if you are in Melbourne on a Saturday between March and September. You will be with the locals and having a truly authentic experience.
If you’d like to take it to the next level buy a Four n Twenty meat pie and top it with tomato sauce. Tickets can be bought online at Ticketek.
9. Bondi Beach New South Wales
Bondi Beach is synonymous with Australia. Australia has many beautiful beaches but this is the one that has become the most famous. It is a beautiful big white sand beach. However, it is also only a few kilometres away from the centre of Sydney making it easily accessible.
It is very easy to visit Bondi Beach. Put on your bathers or cossie (Australia has many words for swimsuits), grab your towel and sunscreen and just head on down. It is as simple as that!
But do promise me that you will swim between the lines and listen to the life guards. Yes this is a very popular beach but like most Australian beaches the tides are strong and there can be animal visitors.
Bondi Beach is as popular with locals as it is with tourists so you’ll be surrounded by both. It is also home to some of the most expensive real estate in Sydney so there are also quite a few good restaurants and bars. For the quintessential Australian brunch don’t miss Harry’s.
Bondi Beach is also the kick off point for two of my favourite Sydney experiences. The first is the very instagrammed Bondi Icebergs Club. The club has amazing views over Bondi Beach and is known for its outdoor lap pool that seems to sit on top of the Ocean.
It is possible to visit Bondi Icebergs and have a swim, sauna or a nice meal in their restaurant.
Bondi is also the start – or the finish – of my favourite Sydney walk – Bondi to Coogee. This stunning walk takes in spectacular scenery as well as more beautiful Australian beaches and natural baths (check out the Coogee baths).
Along the way you will also walk past Bondi Icebergs and be able to get a great photo. If you’re finishing up in Coogee relax at the fantastic Coogee Pavillion and have a great meal or coffee or glass of Australian wine.
10. The Queen Victoria Building New South Wales
The Queen Victoria Building (or the QVB as it is known to locals) is a heritage-listed late 19th-century building located in the heart of Sydney’s central business district on George Street.
It was constructed between 1892 and 1898 and was designed to be a marketplace. It takes up an entire city block and was designed to be as magnificent as a cathedral.
After multiple different uses and some dereliction the Queen Victoria Building was restored in the mid 1980s and turned into a multi storey shopping arcade whilst keeping all of the original features.
Today it is home to some of Australia’s best brands as well as international names. It also has some lovely cafes, a tea room and a champagne bar. Don’t miss local favourite Haigh’s Chocolates.
11.Eureka Tower Victoria
This 297 metre tall building in Melbourne’s Southbank area was completed in 2006. It was the tallest building in Melbourne until 108 Melbourne came along and it is the 3rd tallest building in Australia after 108 and the Q1 in Queensland.
The building is named after a famous rebellion which took place during the Victorian gold rush in 1854, the Eureka Stockade and has 556 apartments.
Its observation deck is on the 88th floor of Eureka Tower. This makes it the highest vantage point from a building in the Southern Hemisphere. The sky deck encompasses the entire 88th floor of the building.
There is a fee to visit the Eureka Sky Deck. The Sky Deck also offers a unique experience – the Edge. The Edge is a glass cube that is suspended over Melbourne – including a glass floor. Great way to test any fear of heights. And there is an after-dark experience.
12. The Twelve Apostles – Victoria
These 12 iconic limestone stacks rise from the Southern Ocean along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. They were originally formed by erosion (they were once cliffs) over 10 million years ago and now stand up to 50 metres high. Unfortunately in 2005, the 12 Apostles became 11 when one collapsed but the name has stuck.
It will take over 4 hours driving from Melbourne to reach the 12 Apostles. However, it is one of the most scenic drives in the world along the justifiably famous Great Ocean Road. The closest town to this Australian landmark is Port Campbell.
There are several ways to enjoy this beautiful natural phenomenon. Take a scenic helicopter flight. Or hike along the Great Ocean Walk which ends at the 12 Apostles. Climb down Gibson Steps (there are 86) to the beach to see them from underneath (check the tides timetable).
It’s a long way to travel but luckily there is some fantastic boutique accommodation in Port Campbell at the Southern Ocean Villas. The modern, architect-designed villas all feature beautiful decks.
13. The Three Sisters New South Wales
The Blue Mountains are possibly the most popular Sydney day trip and only one hour from Sydney.
A Blue Mountains getaway is not complete without seeing the Three Sisters. These three rocks form the iconic image most associated with the Blue Mountains. They are absolutely stunning.
I highly recommend going to see The Three Sisters Blue Mountains at the end of the day in the magic light the hour before sunset when they positively glow.
You can see the Three Sisters from Katoomba’s Echo Point. It is well signed and has a huge car park. Once you’ve arrived there it is a 5-minute walk to get to the viewing deck for the Three Sisters. You can decide from there how far down you want to walk to get shots
For somewhere quite different and rustic to stay in the Blue Mountains check out the Old Leura Dairy.
If you’re after a more traditional luxury country getaway try Lilianfells Resort and Spa. This stunning property is right on the edge of the national park making full-on day walks and evening luxury very compatible.
14. Bungle Bungle Range Western Australia
The uniquely named Bungle Bungles are a series of beehive shaped towers made from sandstone and rocks in Western Australia. They are located in Purnululu National Park which is in the Kimberley region in the north of the state.
It is believed that the origins of the Bungle Bungles date back 350 million years. They are distinguished by orange and dark grey banding on the towers. And they aren’t small – the Bungle Bungles cover an area of 450 square kilometres.
There are several ways to experience the Bungle Bungle Range. You’ll need a 4WD if you want to do your own driving around the range. There are quite a few walking paths and lots of options for guided walks and tours.
One of the most common ways to experience a landmark so large is to take a scenic flight over the Bungle Bungle Range. It is difficult to get your head around the magnitude of the range from the ground.
There are accommodation options in the park but nothing that fancy. There are some decent cabins at the Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge.
15. Big Fruits
Australia is very fond of big things – particularly big fruits. The Big Banana is one of the most well known of Australia’s giant fruits. It is not just a big banana – it is also an amusement park in Coffs Harbour in New South Wales.
The Big Pineapple is in Woombye in Queensland. Even Prince Charles and Princess Diana stopped in to see this giant fibre glass fruit when they visited Australia in 1983. The Big Pineapple also has a music festival.
Bowen Queensland is home to the Big Mango. And it isn’t just big fruit. The Big Prawn is in Ballina New South Wales, the Giant Koala is in Dadswell Bridge in Victoria and the Big Merino in Goulborn New South Wales.
16. Great Barrier Reef Queensland
The world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef is covers an area of over 340,000 square kilometres, 900 islands and 2900 individual reefs. It can be seen from outer space and is the world’s largest single structure made up by organisms. And of course it is World Heritage Listed.
The reef is in the Coral Sea which runs off the coast of the Australian state of Queensland. Considering the immense size of the Great Barrier Reef there are quite a few ways it can be visited.
The first decision to made is how to experience the reef – or how many ways to experience the reef. These are swimming, snorkelling, diving or sailing (and you can of course fly over the Great Barrier Reef).
The good news is that there are options for every budget. The Whitsunday islands is a great place to base yourself to experience the Great Barrier Reef. Or stay in the Daintree Rainforest.
For land based options I love Port Douglas. Or check out Hervey Bay, Airlie Beach or Mission Beach. The Queensland city of Cairns has the biggest airport in the area and is the best kick off point for a trip to see the Great Barrier Reef.
Shortcut Travel Toolkit
Ready to Book? Here are my travel favourites:
⇒ For accommodation Booking.com – great prices, great clear layout of accommodation options & brilliant for cancellation (& good photos!)
⇒ Or feel like a local by staying at an airbnb or having one of their great local experiences Airbnb
⇒ For flights skyscanner.net – always have the cheapest prices and great tools to help easily figure out if it would be better to leave the day before etc
⇒ For car hire rentalcars.com – huge range of options and a price match guarantee
⇒ Every trip is improved if you know at least a little bit of the local language – Rosetta Stone is the best and often have great getting started deals.
⇒ Skip the Line tours – Viator have over 14,000 of these – I am always so happy when I have pre-booked one of these! And you can cancel most Viator tours with full money back if you’re more than 24 hours out
⇒ And finally and super important – Roam Right for Travel Insurance have an excellent rating and lots of choice. I particularly like their policies that just cover medical or car rental. They also have great options for adventurous travellers.
Who Paid for What in this Post?
There actually weren’t any costs associated with writing this post as I am Australian so have visited most of these places or know quite a bit about them.
However, this post does contain some affiliate links. That means if you click through on them and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. This will not impact on the price that you pay. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.