Australia is a country of immense beauty and diversity, and Sydney, New South Wales is its number one tourist destination. With its large number of attractions, the country's largest airport, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park - one of the seven wonders of the natural world - it's no wonder why Sydney is the first stop on most Australian travel itineraries. The Great Barrier Reef is a must-see for any visitor to Australia. It is home to more than 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays, and coastal mangrove islands.
It is also one of the best places to visit in Australia for diving and snorkeling, with its astounding variety of marine life including soft and hard corals, more than 1600 species of tropical fish, sharks, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, stingrays, and giant clams. Those who prefer to stay dry can still enjoy the reef from underwater observation stations and glass-bottomed boats. Uluru - also known as 'The Rock' - is another must-see destination in Australia. Located in the Northern Territory, it rises to a height of 348 meters from the surrounding plain. Along with the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia's major architectural icons.
Affectionately called 'The Coathanger', this impressive feat of construction is the largest steel arch bridge in the world. It was completed in 1932 - 40 years before the Sydney Opera House. One of the best things to do in Sydney is a guided climb to the top of the bridge. From there you can enjoy spectacular views of the harbor and city. The bridge rises 134 meters above the port and spans 500 meters, connecting the north coast of Sydney with its Central Business District.
In addition to a pedestrian path, two railway lines extend over it as well as eight lanes for road traffic - with each lane able to be changed to suit traffic flow. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blue Mountains National Park is a hiker's paradise and a popular day trip from Sydney. Located 81 kilometers by car west of Sydney, it is named for the blue haze that emanates from its numerous eucalyptus trees. This stunning park protects more than 664,000 acres of wild nature and offers visitors spectacular gorges, waterfalls, Aboriginal rock paintings, 140 kilometers of hiking trails, and an amazing biodiversity that includes more than 18,000 species of plants and a wide variety of animal species such as cassowaries, crocodiles, giant blue butterflies from Ulysses, reserved tree kangaroos from Bennett, sharks, dolphins and whales. Kakadu National Park shows off some of Australia's best wilderness areas. With more than 19,840 square kilometers in Northern Territory it is second largest national park in the world.
Within its limits you can explore monsoon rainforests, mangroves, rivers, gorges, ancient rock paintings, wetlands and waterfalls. Kakadu is also home to an amazing diversity of wildlife including numerous mammals, reptiles and fish as well as over 300 species of birds - plus both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles lurking in its wetlands. Great Ocean Road is one of the best panoramic routes in the world. Built to provide employment during The Depression it stretches for 300 kilometers along Victoria's rugged southeastern coast and winds along sea cliffs. It stretches from Torquay - a surfing town - to Allansford near Warrnambool.
Hiking here is fantastic with favorite trails including Weindorfer Walk - a six-kilometer ride through dense forests - and Lake Dove Walk with stunning views of Cradle Mountain (1,545 meters). Experienced hikers can also hike The Overland Track - an 80-kilometer trail that stretches south from Cradle Valley to Lake St. One of Kimberley's best adventures is Horizontal Falls where powerful tides up to 11 meters cross two narrow gorges creating an amazing phenomenon. Hop aboard a speedboat and cross through boiling waterfalls. Fraser Island - located off Queensland's coast with a short ferry ride from Hervey Bay - is considered to be Australia's largest sand island as well as having some of its purest dingoes since they haven't had as many opportunities to interbreed with dogs as their continental cousins. Blue Mountains National Park located in New South Wales approximately 80 km (50 miles) west of Sydney has become popular day trip for tourists and locals alike due to its proximity to Australia's largest city. It is probably best known for The Three Sisters - a rock formation that rises 900 meters (3000 feet) above Jamison Valley - but also offers miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers plus opportunities to see some of Australia's most famous animals such as kangaroos sea lions and emus.