Looking back at our time in Australia, one thing is clear: it is an absolutely breathtaking country. From gorgeous white-sand beaches and fiery red gorges to deserted roads and tropical rainforests, this amazing country has it all. Compiling a list of the 12 most picturesque places in Australia was a hard feat as there were literally so many choices, but we enjoyed the journey of picking our favourites and hope that one day you will too.
1.The Red Centre including Uluru, the Olgas and King’s Canyon. When people think of Australia, they always think of the big red rock. It is a spiritual place that the Aboriginals hold especially sacred to them, and upon visiting there it is clear why. It is magical to say the least. However if you just go to see the red rock, you’re missing out. While the changing colours of Uluru will amaze you, the towering heights of The Olgas will impress you even more. Make sure to venture around the red rock and through the Olgas to really appreciate their beauty and significance. And because you’re in the area, make sure to hit up King’s Canyon, a spectacular landscape to explore on foot where you will be rewarded with a picturesque swimming hole called “The Garden of Eden”. It’s dark waters and high canyon walls will make you feel like you’re sinking into an abyss, but the cool temperature will feel great against your sweaty, hot skin.
Rockin’ our Winnipeg Jets tees at the iconic Uluru for Tim’s friends and family back home.
Marcella exploring the Olgas, a sacred Aboriginal area in Australia.
2. The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. You don’t go to Australia without seeing these two landmarks. In person, the scope of these designs will blow you away, so definitely snap that bucket-list selfie here. We did, with no shame! Plus, there’s so much activity going on around here too, from street performers to didgeridoo players, that it makes the experience that much more memorable.
One of our first days in Australia before embarking on an 11 month long journey.
3. The Great Ocean Road. A whole weekend can be spent driving along the Great Ocean Road, as each and every bend will surprise you with new sights and sounds. Whether it’s koalas swaying in the trees near the lighthouse or the little known London Bridge or even the famous Twelve Apostles, your finger won’t stop hitting the shutter button on your camera. But don’t just stop to get at the viewpoints; rather do a bit of hiking to find beauty in these areas that tourists just don’t get to see. Not only will you get phenomenal pictures from different angles, but walking along the beach to look up at the soaring Apostles beside you is something you won’t soon forget.
London Bridge, one of many cool rock formations along the Great Ocean Road.
The sky-high walls along the Great Ocean road made us feel so small.
4. The Great Barrier Reef. It’s the largest reef in the world, and the most unique, with it sitting out in the middle of the ocean off the coast of East Australia. Depending on the weather and the tide, you can either snorkel up above the giant, colourful reef, or explore it alongside the shelf, staring out into the abyss on the other side. We went when the weather was quite rough and the tides were quite low, but the reef was bustling with tons of fish along the shelf. Tours come from the rundown, yet lively town of Cairns where you can party at many of the town’s happening nightclubs and bars or spend an afternoon at the esplanade.
The picture is fuzzy, but it is clear how awesome we look in our stinger suits before we snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef.
5. Broome. The contrasting colours of the red dirt, sun-kissed sand and the turquoise water of the Indian Ocean will have you admiring the landscape for days. And you know that iconic picture of the camels on the beach at sunset? That’s the world famous Cable Beach in Broome, so make sure to soak up a few evenings here to enjoy the beauty this place has to offer.
The gorgeous contrasting colours of Broome.
6. The Daintree Rainforest. If you make it up to the Daintree Rainforest in the northeast corner of Australia, you will be shocked how different one country can be from one part to the next. This area is lush and tropical with green trees as far as the eye can see. The sand is white and soft and with so few visitors, you feel like you’re not on the East Coast of Australia anymore. And if you’re lucky, you’ll even see a cassowary crossing the road! (We did!)
Looking out over the lush trees of the Daintree Forest, it’s hard to believe it’s part of the same country that houses the barren and dry outback.
Tim posing on Cape Tribulation beach surrounded by the lush Daintree Forest.
7. Karijini National Park. Whoever said “It’s the journey, not the destination,” must’ve hiked in Karijini. This is by far the wildest hiking area Tim and I have ever been on. Just to get from one camp spot to the other, we traveled 10 km/hr on deeply rutted dirt roads, knocking off our car’s radio antenna to avoid huge potholes. We waded through creeks trying to avoid snakes, scaled rock walls with our bare hands, and spider walked through tight rock overtop of rushing water. All this to get to some spectacular views and the mysterious Hancock Gorge’s swimming hole with water as dark as the night and rock climbers gearing up for an even harder adventure along the narrow canyon walls. As crazy as it was, we will never forget this experience. And really, no other hike compares to this one yet! (Well, except maybe our hike on the Napali Coast of Kauai..more on that later)
Tim scaling the rock wall to avoid the deep water on our hike in Karijini.
A mesmerizing chasm within Karijini National Park.
8.Esperance. The beaches around this small town in the southwest corner of Australia will leave you breathless. We are huge beach lovers and these are incomparable. From Lucky Bay to Twilight Beach to Greens Pool, the squeaky-clean white sand and calm turquoise waters are what dreams are made of. You’ll even find kangaroos lazing on the beaches here…they are that inviting!
The idyllic Lucky Bay.
Kangaroos lazing in the grass at Lucky Bay.
9.Katherine Gorge. Driving through the outback on your way up to Darwin, you’ll find the scenic gorge. Being in the middle of the outback, you’ll feel utterly alone as you wander through the paths here. If you’re feeling adventurous enough, dive into the gorge, but be wary of freshies (ie. freshwater crocodiles). They won’t harm you, but it’s the thought that will drive you crazy!
After an exhausting hike, Tim contemplates jumping in the Katherine Gorge (Spoiler alert–He does!)
A lookout from atop the Katherine Gorge.
10.Exmouth. There’s lots to see and do here, but it’s the natural beauty that will astound you the most. There’s a beach called Shell Beach nearby that’s made up of billions of shells. Literally. Turquoise Bay offers snorkelling in the most idyllic setting. There’s also Cape Range National Park, with gorges and beaches aplenty. This beautiful area should not be missed.
The gorgeous waters at Turquoise Bay.
A shell angel at Shell Beach.
11.Kimberley. While we would’ve liked to explore this area more, our station wagon just didn’t cut it. However, what we did see were creepy Tim Burton-esque boab trees along desolate outback roads. We saw gorges with what looked like painted rock walls. And of course, we saw spinifex, prickly balls of “grass” strewn all across the desert land. It was otherworldly, yet exactly what we imagined Australia’s outback to be.
A deserted morning in outback near Kimberley.
A boab tree in the outback.
12. Atherton Tablelands. Australia has beaches, deserts and rainforests, but did you know that they have tons of waterfalls too? A weekend out of Cairns, we explored the Atherton Tablelands. Rolling hills, roaming cows and endless waterfalls make up this gorgeous area of Australia.
Have you been to Australia? Which spots do you consider the most picturesque?