The Melbourne Cricket Ground (aka the MCG) is the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, seating 100,024 people. In a country that’s extremely passionate about their sport, this is the beating heart of it. In the summer, it’s a great place for a relaxing afternoon of cricket or, in winter, an exciting evening of Aussie Rules. Check it out at the end of September for the nail-biting final.
Shark Bay is way across the country, at the westernmost point of Australia. It’s known for its stunningly beautiful scenery and aquatic life, like the manatee and the sea grass.
But what Shark Bay is really known for are its stromatolites, living fossils that are up to 5,000 years old. They provide an insight into what life was like 1.9 billion years ago, and were a critical factor in the area being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fraser Island is another example of incredible natural beauty. It’s an island off the Australian east coast that had for the most part avoided modern development. Fraser Island is now a destination for camping, canoeing, fishing, four-wheel driving, or just lounging around the numerous freshwater lakes. From sand dunes to eucalyptus wonderlands, it’s no wonder Fraser Island is a tourist hot spot.
Bondi Beach is a few miles from the Sydney core and an opportunity to see Australia at its best. Favored by backpackers, Bondi is a great place to relax in the sun, be a part of big crowds (while keeping an eye out for celebrities) and just generally kick back, Australia style. Just remember to bring extra sunscreen.
Twelve Apostles and the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most dramatic road trips. Stretching 151 miles along the southeast coast of Australia, this winding piece of tarmac hugs the ocean, giving you spectacular views all the way.
The twelve Apostles are towering limestone formations in the ocean, huge hunks of coastline that are being slowly eroded by the waves. Only eight of the twelve remain, so make sure you see them while you can.
If you’re more of a history buff than a nature fanatic, head across the Bass Strait to Tasmania’s Port Arthur. An old penal colony from the mid-1800s, it was a prison for crooks who reoffended once they landed in Australia. It’s a beautifully preserved collection of old buildings and open-air style museum exhibits and is definitely worth the trek southward.
Surfers Paradise is, as the name suggests, a surfing hot spot. It’s all about beach relaxation during the day and partying at night. With a host of high-end shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs, Surfers has a little something for everyone after the sun goes down. It’s the perfect combination of soaking up rays and urban highlife.
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock or the ‘red center of Australia,’ is a natural and cultural wonder. A rock formation 200 miles from the nearest town that rises abruptly 1,100 feet out of the ground, it’s the sacred site for the Anangu, the local Aboriginal people. They now guide tourists, helping point out scared writings and local flora and fauna. It’s also a famed photography destination, as the rock is known to change color depending on the time of day.
Sydney Harbor, a distinctive site for anyone who’s seen Finding Nemo, is home to the architectural marvel the Sydney Opera House. Arguably the most recognizable symbols for Australia, this architectural marvel is a great place to catch a show.
The harbor is also home to the Sydney Harbor Bridge. You can walk to top for an incredible view. The Sydney Harbor is one of the world most picturesque harbors.
Great Barrier Reef
The spot that everyone HAS to visit is always going to be the Great Barrier Reef. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, visible from space, and the world’s largest living organism, this is truly something everyone should see. You’ll see more amazing sea-life on the Reef then almost anywhere else in the world. Colorful fish, coral, rays, and sharks, the Great Barrier Reef has it all in abundance.
Australia’s a wonderful country with an incredible amount to offer visitors. These are the top 10 to get you started, but in a nation so big, there’s always more to see. So get out there and start planning your trip down under!