We might be a country still navigating adolescence, but many of our historical and cultural landmarks are almost older than time itself. Natural wonders, outback icons, and character-packed oddities are ripe for the discovering all across our Sunburnt Country, and here are six of the best that are simply not to be missed.
As far as historical sites go, there aren’t many more domestically (or globally) significant than the oldest rainforest in the world, the spectacular Daintree. Situated in far north Queensland, and estimated to be an astonishing 180 million years old (10 million more than its closest counterpart), the Daintree has been described as the ‘most extraordinary place on Earth’ by none other than David Attenborough.
Covering around 1,200 square kilometres and homing a rich, biodiverse range of Australia’s reptile, marsupial, insect, bat and butterfly species, the region’s tropical environs, white sandy beaches, and offshore reefs can be explored by car or foot, though the sheer scale of its footprint means there’s a lot of ground to cover if you wish to discover it all. Prepare for a humbling and spiritual nature experience like no other.
No list of historical landmarks in Australia would be complete without a nod to our deep-rooted pub culture. And when it comes to outback watering holes, the Birdsville Hotel is certainly in a league of its own. The history-steeped icon and its channel country region—on the eastern fringe of the Simpson Desert—played an important role in the settlement and development of Australia’s desert country.
Established in 1884 by William Blair (making it even older than Australian Federation!), the Birdsville Hotel has seen more than its share of early explorers, merchants, drovers, and travellers, as well as floods, fires, and cyclones. Through it all, its legendary facade has come to represent not just a must-do stop on the outback track, but a symbol of the inimitable Aussie spirit.
The Northern Territory’s—and arguably Australia’s— most recognisable landmark totally ‘rocks’ for a myriad of reasons. The enormous sandstone monolith is very old (around 500 million years), very large (taller than the Eiffel Tower, wider than 346 Melbourne Cricket Grounds), is of great cultural significance to the local Indigenous Pitjantjatjara people, and is renowned for its changing appearance at different times of day and night.
A unique cross-section of Australian flora and fauna can be found in the area, and a wonderful array of adjoining attractions make this iconic landmark and its region one of the most visited in the country. A must.
Situated smack bang in the dry and dusty centre of Queensland, Longreach earned its reputation as an historically significant bucket list stop for a variety of reasons. Here you can take a nostalgic ride in a Cobb & Co stagecoach, visit the Qantas Founders Museum to view several decommissioned aircraft at one of the airline’s original regional bases, and discover the incredible stories, personalities, and landscapes of the outback at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
Equal parts intriguing, quirky, and significant, central South Australian town Coober Pedy lies almost exactly halfway between Adelaide and Alice Springs, on the arid, treeless edge of the Stuart Ranges. With more than 250,000 mine shafts and 70 opal fields in the region, not only is the historic mining town globally renowned as the ‘Opal Capital of the World’, it’s also famed for its rather unusual subterranean dwellings, called dugouts. Bored and installed into hillsides and underground, local homes, hotels, restaurants, and churches have given Coober Pedy the additional title of ‘Australia’s Underground Town’.
A unique architectural touchpoint, a charming slice of the Aussie outback, and a great place to nab an eye-catching, iridescent fragment of semi-precious goodness. Don’t miss it!
About as ‘other-worldly’ as earthside landscapes get, the striking Bungle Bunge range must be seen to be full appreciated… and believed! Though the banded sandstone domes might look more at home on a sci-fi cinema screen than in regional Western Australia, the rough off-road journey complete with numerous river crossings leaves you in no doubt of your Aussie outback situ. Having been sculped and moulded over the past 20 million years, this undeniably significant and spectacular landmark is well worth the arduous journey to behold it.
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