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World Heritage Sites in Australia

Updated on February 18, 2014

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia

The UNESCO* World Heritage List contains over 900 of the worlds most beautiful and culturally significant places.

They are chosen because UNESCO considers they should be preserved for benefit of the international community. Australia has 18 such sites for you to explore. These sites, which I have listed below will show you the very best that Australia has to offer visitors.

* United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

This image above is used with permission from NT tourism

New South Wales

Sydney Opera House - A Man-made Wonder of the World.

When: 2007

Where: Sydney Harbour

Why: 'Masterpiece of human creative genius"

Visit: Plan your visit to the Sydney Opera House

Fact: Danish architect Jørn Utzon won a competition to design the Opera House.

Greater Blue Mountains Area - Australia's Grand Canyon

3 Sisters in the Blue Mountains UNESCO Area
3 Sisters in the Blue Mountains UNESCO Area

When: 2000

Where: 60km west of Sydney

Why: "Contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation

Visit: Plan your visit to the Blue Mountains

Fact: in 1994 the Wollemi pine was discovered in this region. It is a "living fossil" dating back to the age of the dinosaurs.

Image by Emerald125

Willandra Lakes Region - Lake Mungo


Where: 987 km west of Sydney

Why: "significance of the archaeological and geomorphological features found in the area"

Visit: Plan a visit to Lake Mungo and Willandra Lakes

Fact: Considered the oldest site in the world occupied by humans, carbon dating has proven that Aborigines lived here approximately 40,000 years ago

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia - 50 World Heritage listed National Parks along the East Coast of Australia

Gum Trees Barrington Tops UNESCO Area
Gum Trees Barrington Tops UNESCO Area

When:1994 (as Australian East Coast Temperate and Subtropical Rainforest) renamed Godwana and more area added in 2007

Where: East Coast of Australia - 300km north of Sydney to the Queensland border

Why: "Contain the most important and significant habitats where threatened species of plants and animals of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science and conservation still survive"

Visit: Visit one of the parks in the Gondwana Rainforests

Fact: These rainforests provide a habitat for more than 200 rare or threatened plant and animal species.

Image Peter Woodard via Wikimedia commons.

Northern Territory

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - Ayres Rock, Uluru whatever you call it you have to see it.

When: 2007

Where: The Centre of Australia

Why: "Outstanding examples of significant ongoing geological processes"

Visit: Plan your visit to Uluru

Fact: Uluru rises over 340 metres above the ground

Image by Paul Mannix via Wikimedia Commons

Kakadu - Amazing aboriginal art and unique wildlife abound

kakadu UNESCO Area
kakadu UNESCO Area

When: 1981

Where: Northern Territory - near Darwin

Why: "Contain unique, rare or superlative natural phenomena, formations or features or areas of exceptional natural beauty.

Visit: Plan your visit to Kakadu

Fact: Kakadu provides a habitat for 68 mammals, 120 reptiles, 26 frogs, and 10,000 species of insects - not for the squeamish!

Image by Tourism NT, via Wikimedia Commons


Great Barrier Reef - Queensland's most visited site

Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef

When: 1981

Where: Along the coast of mid to North Queensland

Why: "Outstanding example representing a major stage of the earth's evolutionary history."

Visit: Plan your visit to the Great Barrier Reef

Fact: The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest World Heritage Area. It is larger than Italy!

Image by Toby Hudson (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Wet Tropics of Queensland - Where the rain-forest meets the sea


Where: North Queensland

Why: "the landscape contains clues to how our world continues to evolves"

Visit: Plan your visit to the Wet Tropics

Fact: The Wet Tropics of Queensland is home to the 1000 foot Wallerman Falls, Australia's longest single-drop waterfall.

Image Mossman Gorge 2006 by emerald125

Fraser Island - Lake McKenzie

Fraser Island
Fraser Island

When: 1992

Where: Off the coast of Harvey Bay Queensland

Why: "Diverse evolving sand environment"

Visit: Plan you visit to Fraser Island

Fact: At 122km long Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.

By Sensenmann (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons


Tasmanian Wilderness - The serene and beautiful Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake

Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain

When: 1982

Where:Tasmania lies off the south east coast of Australia. The UNESCO area features Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair

Why: "significance of the archaeological and geomorphological features found in the area"

Visit: Plan a visit to Tasmania

Fact: 20% of the entire state of Tasmania is World Heritage listed.

Image by Stevage (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Australian Convict Sites - Port Arthur and other convict sites.

Port Arthur Convict Site
Port Arthur Convict Site

When: 2010

Where: 4 in NSW, 5 in Tasmania, Norfolk Island and Freemantle Prison make up the group of convict sites.

Why: "outstanding and large-scale example of the forced migration of convicts"

Visit: Plan your visit to Port Arthur

Fact: Port Arthur and 11 other convict buildings are covered under this listing.

Image by Andrew Braithwaite (Port Arthur) via Wikimedia Commons

Western Australia

Shark Bay - Western Australia's Heritage Site

Shark Bay UNESCO Area
Shark Bay UNESCO Area

When: 1991

Where: 820km north of Perth

Why: "Outstanding examples representing the major stages of the Earth's evolutionary history"

Visit: Plan your visit to Shark Bay

Fact: Shark Bay is the most western point of Australia

Image by Paul Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Purnululu National Park - Best known for the Bungle Bungle rock formation

When: 2003

Where: In the Kimberley region of WA

Why: "extensive areas of cone karst formation that are unrivalled in their extent, size, and variety of shapes;"

Visit: Visit Purnululu National Park Purnululu National Park

Fact: The black and orange striped effect in these formations is caused by lichen, the same mineral deposits that colour the rocks at the Bay of Fires in Tasmania.

via Wikimedia Commons

Australian Territories

Lord Howe Island Group

UNESCO Area Lord Howe Island
UNESCO Area Lord Howe Island

When: 1982

Where: 700 kilometres off the Australian Coast north-east of Sydney

Why: " Contain unique, rare and superlative natural phenomena, formations and features and areas of exceptional natural beauty"

Visit: Plan your trip to Lord Howe Island

Fact: At least 500 species of fish live in the waters surrounding Lord Howe Island

Image by Fanny Schertzer (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Macquaire Island - Heavenly for scientists and zoologists

UNESCO Maquarie Island
UNESCO Maquarie Island

When: 1997

Where: located half way between Tasmania and Antarctica

Why: "Outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features"

Visit: It is not easy but it is possible to plan a visit to Macquarie Island

Fact: 4 species of albatross live on Macquarie Island

Image by Hullwarren via Wikimedia Commons

Heard and McDonald Islands - Impossibly remote

King Penguin Heard Island
King Penguin Heard Island

When: 1997

Where: 4,000 kilometres south-west of Australia and approx 1000 km from Antarctica

Why: "Outstanding examples representing major stages of the earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features."

Visit: Visiting is not really possible - You can learn more about the islands here

Fact: No known species has been introduced to these islands.


Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens - This state deserves most listings.

When: 2004

Where: Melbourne

Why: "as a symbol of the International Exhibition Movement"

Visit: Plan your visit to the Royal Exhibition Building

Fact: The First Commonwealth Parliament was held here on May 1st, 1901

Have you visited any Australian World Heritage Sites?

Have you visited any World Heritage Sites in Australia?

See results

Learn more

If you want to learn more about these amazing world heritage areas I suggest you visit the Australian Heritage pages

Have you visited any UNESCO sites? - In Australia or elsewhere?

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    • theallin1writer profile image


      6 years ago

      I live in South Africa and would loooove to visit Australia!

    • PaulaMorgan profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula Morgan 

      6 years ago from Sydney Australia

      @Rosetta Slone: Really? which one?

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 

      6 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I live in a newly-labelled UNESCO site!

    • malena10 profile image


      6 years ago

      Sydney Opera House is my favorite for a long time! I wish to visit some day!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes and it was great fun

    • falling lakes profile image

      falling lakes 

      6 years ago

      Not in Australia yet, but will try to visit someday.

    • bernie74 lm profile image

      bernie74 lm 

      7 years ago

      There are def a few I would love to see, great lens and great pics too..

    • RawBill1 profile image


      7 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      I have visited quite a few of these places, but would love to see more. Kingston and Arthur's Vale on Norfolk Island have been listed recently as well. You could add that to the external territories section. Springbrook National Park just behind the Gold coast is the one that I have visited the most. It is part of the Gondwana listing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A great list of Aussie sites to visit.

    • BlackHeart1 profile image

      Ricardo Montrose 

      7 years ago

      You made it!! You submitted this lens for the top Travel & Places Lens section and you made it to the top 5 ... Be sure to go check this page: on the first of the month to see what your position in the top 5 is and tell your friends and visitors about it too

    • GonnaFly profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      We certainly live in a a spectacular place! Beautful lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Perhaps I should add the remaining ones to a bucket list :)... Great lens!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      I have not travelled nearly enough for my liking- beautiful lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      COngratulations on your purple star...I am truly enjoying visiting Australia through all your lenses...

    • JackieM293 profile image


      7 years ago

      Uluru, Fraser Island and The Great Barrier Reef are the sites I've visited so far. Looking forward to ticking them all off in the years to come. Thanks for a really informative lens. J

    • TeacherSerenia profile image


      7 years ago

      I had no idea that Australia has so many UNESCO world heritage sites.

      I mean I have heard of most of them, but did not realise they were under UNESCO protection.

      One thing I really really want to do is to visit Ayres Rock - sorry but thats what it was called when I was a kid. Still haven't gotten used to its new name yet

      Uluru - sounds too much like Uhura

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      7 years ago from California

      I have been to many UNESCO sites in Eastern Europe, however I would "love" to see the sites you have mentioned here.

    • QuiltFinger profile image


      7 years ago from Tennessee

      WOW, I knew that Australia is one of the most geologically diverse places in terms of minerals, ore, etc., but I had no idea how breathtaking and beautiful each area could be is in its own right. Thanks for sharing! Hope I make it to Australia one day. I can also see why Australia has made it a real priority to reduce environmental impact more so than many, many other countries. Cheers!

    • justholidays profile image


      7 years ago

      I've never been to Australia but always wanted to, maybe one day... In the meantime, I embark on a short journey through your lenses.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I have certainly visted some of these UNESCO sites in Australia.Glad to see they are being protected!

    • TapIn2U profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a great lens! One of the best places that I love to visit is Australia. Can't wait to see all these beautiful views.

    • redroses lm profile image

      Jenny Campbell 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      @PaulaMorgan: You can use them like you have but you can't sell the image. Which is annoying.

    • PaulaMorgan profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula Morgan 

      7 years ago from Sydney Australia

      @redroses lm: Thanks I thought they were allowed to be used... the way I read the CC licence. I will email you.

    • redroses lm profile image

      Jenny Campbell 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Are UNESCO sites, Australian heritage sites? I have photos of the Opera house and Sydney Harbour bridge if you'd like to use them with a credit. They and ULURU are copyrighted, meaning one can't profit from them. Great lens BTW

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A fabulous resouce on World Heritage Sites in Australia!


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