On Australia day (January 26), the country’s tourism agency launched a new campaign to lure more international travelers Down Under. And while Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef are still must-see sights, other lesser-known landscapes are worth exploring.
Here’s a look at some of Oz’s most stunning sights off the well-trodden tourist track.
Two hours by train from Sydney, the Blue Mountains get their name from the blue haze given off by the Eucalyptus trees covering their slopes.
The site’s dramatic landscapes are easy to explore aboard one of several cable car routes and a bus tour, which take curious visitors to high-altitude peaks and low areas of dense, humid forest.
Tourists shouldn’t leave without a photo of the “Three Sisters,” three prominent rocks lined up side by side. As the stars of an Aboriginal legend, the rocks have become the mascots of the Blue Mountains.
Australia offers tourists all kinds of weird and wonderful sights, like this bubblegum-pink lake on Middle Island in the Recherche archipelago off the south coast of Western Australia.
The lake’s water contains a very high concentration of salt, giving it a bright pink color. Still, this 600-meter-long lake has maintained some of its mystique, as scientists are still trying to understand why the water contains quite so much salt.
On the north-east coast of Queensland, north of Cairns, intrepid explorers can head for Daintree Rainforest, Australia’s largest tropical forest. The region boasts a high level of biological diversity with one of the most complex ecosystems on Earth. Nature-lovers will be blown away by the scenery as well as the wildlife.
This primeval forest is, for example, home to the famous green tree frog, a protected species in Australia. What’s more, 90% of Australian species of butterflies and bats live in the forest.
The Pinnacles desert
The Pinnacles desert is another strange sight for visitors to behold. Found in the Nambung National Park, to the north of Perth in Western Australia, this sandy desert is home to a striking set of limestone rock formations spread across the site.
These natural pillars are all different heights, with some towering up to four meters tall.
While North America has its Grand Canyon, Australia has Kings Canyon. There’s more to the Northern Territory than Uluru (Ayers Rock), as around 300km from the famous Aboriginal landmark, the Watarrka National Park is a breathtaking sight. Located at the Western end of the George Gill Range, the Park is home to rock formations, steep gorges and the gaping Kings Canyon. Look out for the rock formations resembling animals that inspired Aboriginal legends. Tourists can explore the area with the 6km Kings Canyon Rim Walk, which takes in the clifftops before dropping down the canyon to a lush waterhole lined with prehistoric ferns.
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