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Australia has some damn fine tourist attractions.
From the world renowned (Sydney Opera House in New South Wales to Uluru in Central Australia), to the lesser known (secluded beach destinations and off the beaten track road trips), it’s not surprising that travellers sometimes choose to fly up to 2 days to visit this unforgettable country.
As an Australian (born and bred in Victoria), I thought i’d list some of the best tourist attractions and some of the worst tourist attractions in this nation, including an ultimate list of Australia’s ‘BIG THINGS’, famous beaches, and some of the tourist traps to avoid.
Please note, these are my personal opinions, and to be taken lightly! Many in the world will be sure to disagree, and of course every traveller has different priorities when visiting a new destination.
If you’re wondering what to do in Australia, this list of the best and the worst tourist attractions in Australia, is to provide information only, which will ultimately assist you in making the best travel decisions.
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You may be wondering ‘what are the main attractions in Australia?’ or ‘what are the top 10 tourist attractions in Australia, if you can dedicate one month to prepare and enjoy each?’
This list below is a travel guide only, taking into consideration the amount of time you have to travel in Australia.
THE FAMOUS BEACHES:
There are many well known beaches in Australia, which are well worth visiting. Here is my list of some of the famous beaches in Australia.
Made even more famous by the film Point Break, one of the popular places to visit in Australia is Bells Beach, next to Jan Juc in Victoria at the beginning of The Great Ocean Road, and holds an annual Rip Curl Pro world surf comp each Easter.
Surfers Paradise is the most popular and busiest beach on the Gold Coast. Broadbeach, Burleigh and Kirra are also some of the best beaches along the Gold Coast coastline.
Byron Bay is famous for its many accessible surf breaks and holiday, hippie lifestyle. Best beaches include Clarkes, Tallows, The Pass, Wategoes and The Wreck.
St Kilda Beach
St Kilda Beach on the south side of Melbourne, Victoria is a popular city beach, set along side backpacker central in the artistic and famous suburb of St Kilda.
One of the best Melbourne tourist attractions, St Kilda Beach hosts the annual St Kilda festival each February. The free festival began in 1980 and now draws over 400,000 people to the forsehore.
One of the well known places to visit in Sydney is Bondi beach.
Bondi Beach is 7km from central Sydney, and is one of those places where stuff seems to happen- another one of the popular places to visit in Australia. This area has a rich history, and also has its own TV show in Australia, “Bondi Rescue”.
Fraser island has no cars, with only 4wd vehicles allowed, as the island is predominantly covered in sand.
Home to the popular Lake McKenzie and wild dingoes, this island is famous for its naturalness, 4w driving and turquoise blue lakes.
An impressive Tasmanian beach within the Freycinet National Park, 3 hours from Hobart.
Noosa in Queensland has sheltered conditions and dolphin spotting, making this a popular holiday destination for families.
For lesser known, SECRET BEACHES in Australia, check out this POST.
THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD:
The Great Ocean Road is on every tourist attraction list in Australia, and on best road trip lists throughout the world, for a reason.
One of the best places to visit in south east Australia, The Great Ocean Road winds around beach side for the most part, between small towns.
The views and surrounding bush land are picturesque and untouched, and with housing mostly on the inland side of the road, road trippers have the optimum view of the ocean at all times.
Beginning at Torquay, and heading west all the way to Allansford, it takes approx. 9- 10 hours to drive the Great Ocean Road from beginning to end.
Notable towns along The Great Ocean Road:
Beginning of the Surf Coast HWY
A quiet fishing town still not too far to Melbourne.
Fun holiday spot over summer, plenty of holiday rentals for families.
A popular holiday destination over summer, hotels and accommodation, variety of restaurants and cafes and clothes shops along the foreshore.
A popular family camping spot where the river meets the ocean.
A seaside older style town, not far from Cape Otway.
A secluded town with sought after surf spots and camping or stunning accommodation options.
A small fishing town with bush retreats and other accommodation options.
A seaside surf town near the 12 Apostles.
A very quiet seaside town. More locals than tourists.
A small older style town close to Warrnambool.
Related post: See also: 7 life changing road trips in Australia!
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE:
I still find the Sydney Opera house building inspiring each time I visit Sydney.
Another popular place to visit in Australia, the incredible pieces put together to make the stunning piece of architecture on the harbour, is impressive and original, even in one of the most tourist driven, top cities in Australia.
SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE:
Sydney Harbour Bridge arches across Sydney Harbour, one of the famous tourist attractions in Sydney and carries traffic including pedestrians and cyclists between North Shore, Sydney and Sydney City Business District. Definitely one of the popular places to visit in Sydney.
THE DAINTREE RAINFOREST:
Situated at the top north east of Australia, the Daintree rainforest is a tropical paradise, and an unspoiled area with popular tourist attractions including Mosman Gorge and Cape Tribulation.
The Daintree rainforest is unique, due to being the home for a large amount of Australia’s animal population, including frogs, bats, butterflies and many insects.
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF:
The Great Barrier Reef, off the north east coast of Australia is a stunning and popular reef to visit while in that part of Australia. The worlds biggest coral reef comprises a unique range of ecological species.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most interesting natural ecosystems in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the best places to visit in Australia, but is under huge threat due to global warming, with some predictions saying we may only have 10 years before 90 percent of the living coral will be gone.
Uluru, the incredible rock in Central Australia is also known as Ayers Rock and is one of the most well known places to visit in Australia.
The large sandstone formation of rock in the southern part of the Northern Territory is known as the red centre and is a breathtaking sight.
Uluru is one of Australia’s most popular and famous landmarks.
WORST AUSTRALIAN TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Although some travellers defend this Tasmanian destination as one of the best tourist attractions, I wonder, why would we visit somewhere that was the location of a horrible mass shooting in 1996?
Port Arthur was previously a prison for convicts, and now the ruins have the double history to present to tourists. My advice would be research before visiting!
Rainbow Beach is a lovely town, but what i’m referring to is the “beach” part, which is supposed to be rainbow.
An exciting idea to add to your list of tourist attractions, until on arrival on an overcast day and the “rainbow” sands seem to be 70 shades of brown.
The Gold Coast
I previously mentioned Surfers Paradise in the famous Australian beaches list, but the Gold Coast in general is sometimes very crowded, and overrated, making it both one of the Best and The Worst Tourist Attractions in Australia.
Think tall buildings lining the seaside and streets and ‘schoolies’ (teenagers who have recently graduated), partying, then throwing up in the main street.
The hinterland would be recommended, and Surfers Paradise to be avoided if you prefer more quiet, natural beach settings.
Australian History which doesn’t acknowledge Ancient Indigenous History and Culture.
Yes, Australia has centuries- old buildings, which offer interesting detail of the more recent settlers history in Australia.
But any Australian history tour which fails to include the Indigenous people, their stories, knowledge and culture from up to 80,000 years ago is not a history tour to take part in.
In addition to this, some places sell Aboriginal arts and crafts, paintings, digeridoos and boomerangs. If you are buying these, ensure you are paying for the real thing, and that the artists will be compensated fairly.
The best place to buy Indigenous Aboriginal art is in Indigenous Aboriginal protected reserves.
There are also legitimate art galleries selling quality indigenous paintings in all states of Australia, but do your research to ensure you are buying the real thing.
The “Neighbours tour”
Of course, I cannot be too harsh on this tourist attraction as I have loved similar things when travelling overseas, like visiting the sets of Jay Leno and Letterman.
If you’re a die hard Neighbours fan, you will no doubt get something out of this tour, one of the popular Melbourne tourist attractions, which leaves Melbourne CBD every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
What I am saying is to visit the set of the tv soap series may not be on everyone’s tourist attractions list and that’s fine.
The tour includes a behind the scenes tour of Ramsey Street, and of the real houses used for filming the internationally loved television series.
Fans will be happy to know that also Included in this “Ultimate Fan Tour” is a visit to Global Television Studios, and the exterior sets of the Lassiter’s Complex including Harold’s Store, The Waterhole and Lassiter’s Lake.
If this sounds fun to you, of course book it in!
My main point is that don’t feel like you have to do it, if there are other priorities to seeing Melbourne and Victoria.
And please do some research before booking the tour!
Here’s some of the unimpressed Tripadvisor reviews, to provide a realistic glimpse of the tour:
“Tour bus was late (due to traffic) ..
‘STAR’ was also running late (Due to traffic) .We were then introduced to this very loud “HELLO” ..are you all waiting for me”.. Apparently this was ‘Libby’ who hasn’t been in the show for years and has no plans on going back.” –Dissapointed
“..all you can see is the top of the house’s then we were told by our guide that they were filming so no meet with neighbours star no photo’s with star all they said is can you come tomorrow to the shop… no good for most of us become we were flying out the next morning” -A waste of money
“This was always a tour I’d always wanted to do from the UK as a teen…
..The studio tour is a few exteriors and a bus stop.
Lassiters etc not accessible at the time.
Tour guides mic was broken but he was alright” -Disappointing
What tourist traps should people avoid in Sydney?
One of the top cities in Australia, and most famous and world rated destinations, Sydney, New South Wales has an ultimate list of tourist attractions and notable places to visit in Sydney.
We know the ones to add to our travel list, but before you fall for the classic Australia tourism images of travellers having fun in Sydney, here are some tips on some you may choose to avoid.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Paid tours are expensive and sometimes very crowded, making this bridge both one of the best and the worst places to visit in Sydney, Australia.
Sometimes crowded and not very close to inner Sydney CBD
Big markets similar to other cities.
Sydney’s China Town
A china town area, similar to other cities.
AUSTRALIA’S ‘BIG THINGS’ (NOT BEST OR WORST!)
Depending on your preferences, the ‘Big Things’ of Australia are not essential to visit, especially if you have limited time in Australia, and are only keen to visit specific destinations, or the top cities in Australia.
Alternatively, if you are cruising along on a road trip, with time to see many aspects of the country and have a sense of humour, these big novelty “statues” provide funny pic opportunities and show how random Australian culture is at times.
This list of Australia’s ‘Big Things’ definitely falls under both the best and the worst tourist attractions in Australia.
The big novelty things such as the Big Pineapple, Big Banana and Big Prawn are all architectural statues or sculptures. These are in every state and territory of Australia, with over 150 this far.
Most of these big things started as tourist attractions, along major roads, noted by travellers while on a road trip.
ULTIMATE LIST OF ‘BIG THINGS’ IN AUSTRALIA:
New South Wales
A bull ant sculpture by artist Pro Hart.
Big Apple (Batlow)
Located 3 km north of Batlow.
Big Apple (Tallong)
Located at Jim Watling Park on Caoura Rd.
Big Apple (Yerrinbool)
Located at Tropical Fruit World.
Big Ayers Rock
A 1/40 size model of Uluru.
Stated to be the very first Big Thing in Australia.
The Big Beer Can
Complete with a Tooheys New design.
The Big Blue Heeler
The Big Bogan
A 3 metre tall lawn bowl sculpture, made of 1.5 tonnes of concrete and steel.
Big Bunch of Bananas
Located south of Coffs Harbour.
The Big Bicycle
Located at the old Bodalla cheese factory
Big Chook (Moonbi)
Big Chook (Mount Vernon)
Big Funnel Web Spider
The Big Gold Panner
The Big Gold Pick and Pan
The Big Golden Guitar
Based on the Golden Guitar trophies from the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
The Big Knight
The Big Hammer
The Big Headphones
The Big Kookaburra
The Big Lamb
Located at the Hexham Bowls Club.
Big Murray Cod
Located near the Murray River.
The Big Oyster
The Big Playable Guitar
The largest playable guitar in the world, located in Narrander.
The Big Peg
A huge clothes peg located between Cargo and Canowindra.
The Big Potato
The Big Poo
Built by locals protesting Sydney Water’s decision to not reuse waste water in the area.
The Big Prawn
Located at the Bunnings Warehouse carpark, Ballina.
Big Rabbit Trap
Located on top of the Rabbit Trap Hotel.
The Big Rocket
Located in Moree.
Big Rubik’s Cube
A painted cement cube located at Maroubra Beach.
The Big Soldier
Located at Hassett’s Military Museum, Uralla.
The Big Spider
The World’s Biggest Sundial
The Big Swan
Located at the Swan Motel in Dunedoo.
Big Tennis Racquet
The Big Trout (Adaminaby)
Located in the town of Adaminaby.
The Big Trout (Oberon)
The Big Turtle (Forster)
Big Ugg Boots
The Big Windmill
The Big Wine Barrel
Located at the McWilliam’s Winery.
The Big Wine Bottle
Located at the Hunter Valley Gardens.
The Big Wine Cask
The Biggest Smallest Town
Mullumbimby is located on the NSW far north coast, in the shire of Byron.
The Big Aboriginal Hunter
Located at the Aileron roadhouse, 150 km north of Alice Springs.
Anmatjere Woman and Child
Sculpture by Mark Egan, who also sculpted the “Anmatjere Man”.
Located in Katherine.
Big Beer Can
Located outside the Kulgera Pu.
Located at the Alice Springs Library.
Located outside The Ramada, Darwin.
Big Gold Nugget
Located outside the Douglas Daly Historic Hotel.
Located in front of the Supreme Court in Darwin.
The Big Stockwhip
The Big Stubbie
Located in Larrimah.
Big Wine Bottle
Located on the back of ute in front of the Daly Waters Pub.
The Big Apple (Thulimbah)
Big Apple (Acacia Ridge)
Banana the Bullock
Big Banana (North Mackay)
Big Bowling Pin
A visitors’ centre at Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.
The Big Barramundi (Normanton)
The Big Barramundi (Daintree)
Located in Nindigully.
The Big Boot
The Big Brolga
Big Brolgas and Snake
Initially two bull statues, which have grown to seven.
The Big Cane Toad
Located in Sarina.
The Big Captain Cook
The Big Cassowary
Located at Mission Beach.
The Big Cockatoo
The Big Cow
Located in Highfields.
The Big (Mud) Crab
Located in Cardwell.
Big Crocodile (Daintree)
Big Crocodile (Wangetti)
Big Crocodile Normanton
Big Deck Chair
Located at the Royal Theatre, and claimed to be the world’s largest.
The Big Dugong
The Big Easel
The Big G
Located at the entry to Gracemere Park.
Big Golf Ball
The Big Golden Gumboot
The Big Gun
The Big Hard Rock Guitar
A large guitar in front of all Hard Rock Café’s.
The Big Macadamia Nut
Located in Woombye, 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) south of Nambour.
The Big Mandarin
The Big Mango
Big Map of Australia
The Big Marlin
Matilda The Kangaroo
Built as a the mascot for the 1982 Commonwealth Games. Located South of Gympie.
Big Meat Ant
The Big Miner
The Big Mower
The Big Ned Kelly
Located in front of the Ned Kelly Motel.
The Big Orange (Gayndah)
The Big Orange (Lockyer Valley)
The Big Paperclip
The Big Peanut
The Big Pelican
The Big Pick, Shovel and Sieve
The Big Pie
Big Pineapple Gympie
The Big Pineapple (Woombye)
Located on the Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland, Australia.
The Big Pumpkin (Beaudesert)
The Big Pumpkin (Gumlu)
The Big Red Elephant
The Big Redback
The Big Rig
The Big Rum Bottle
Located outside the Bundaberg Distillery.
The Big Sapphire
The Big Sapphire Ring
The Big Sausage King
The Big Shell
The Big Shell is the entrance to a tropical lifestyle store.
Located in Stanthorpe.
The Big Whale
William the Wombat
Located in Thallon, Queensland.
Architectural sculpture of large acorns made into children’s play equipment.
Big Bogong Moths
A building for the Australian Royal MINT representing Australian currency.
Located at Antill Street, Watson.
Located in the Belconnen Markets.
Big Pool Ball
Located at the Yarralumla Play Station.
The Australian Farmer (aka the Big Farmer)
Located in Wudinna.
The Big Ant
Located at the Poochera Roadhouse.
The Big Bob-tail Lizard
Located in Port Lincoln.
The Big Church Block Bottle
The Big Cockroach
Part of the Port Wakefield sculptures.
The Big Dice
The Big Galah
Located at the Halfway Across Australia Shop, in Kimba.
The Big Hat
The Big Hills Hoist
The Big Kangaroo
The Big Lobster
Located in Rosetown.
The Big Olive
Located at Tailem Bend, aimed at drawing tourists to The Big Olive processing plant.
The Big Orange
The Big Oyster
Initially built as a festival float.
The Big Pelican
Initially a float for a Mardi Gras parade.
Another Big Pelican
The Big Ram
Located in Karoonda, and recognising the importance of the sheep industry in the area.
The Big Rocking Horse
The Big Santa (Father Christmas)
The Big Scotsman
The Big Teddy Bear
The Big Winch
The Big Windmill
The windmill museum includes the largest windmill in Australia.
The Big Wombat
The Big Yabby
Built in 1973 by Henry Jones.
The Big Coffee Pot
Located in Deloraine.
The Big Penguin
The Big Platypus
The Big Rock Lobster
Located the roof of Hursey Seafoods, Stanley.
The Big Slide Rule
The Big Spud
The Big Tasmanian Devil
The Big Thumbs Up
The Big Wickets
Located at the front of the local cricket pitch, Westbury.
The Big Abalone
The Big Apple
Big Coffee Maker
Located outside Georges Gourmet Coffee, Brunswick, Melbourne.
Located outside the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory.
Big Dead Fish
Fairfield Industrial Dog Object (FIDO)
Located next to Fairfield Railway Station.
The Big Flower
The Big Golf Ball
The Giant Koala
Located in Dadswells Bridge.
Big Mallee Bull
Big Mallee Fowl
Big Mallee Root
A real Mallee Root instead of an oversized statue.
Big Ned Kelly
Located on the eastern side of Ballarat with the Big Miner.
Giant Murray Cod
The Big Ned Kelly
The Big Pheasant
The world’s largest rolling pin
Located on top of a bakery, Wodonga.
Big Smoke, also known as the Big Cigarette
The Big Sphinx
Located at the Island Surf Experience, Newhaven.
Big Wine Bottle
Big Wool Bales
The Giant Worm
Located at the end of the Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne.
Giant Pocket Watch
Located in Melbourne Central Shopping Centre.
Located in Cranavon.
World’s Tallest Bin
Located on Hannan Street, Calgoolie.
The Nannup Clock Tower
The Big Camera
Cow on the Corner
The Big Crocodile
The Big Lobster
Located in Dongara.
The Big Marron
The Big Mushroom
The Big Prawn
Located south of Exmouth.
The Giant Ram
Leeuwin Way Whale
Initially constructed for Atlantis Marine Park.
While I love a tourist spot for its novelty factor (I was the only one to venture into Kuta, from Seminyak while in Bali with family years ago. NO REGRETS 😊), it is true that a lot of Australia’s incredible experiences are often found behind the scenes:
In the laid back coastal campgrounds. In the vibrant and multi cultural inner suburbs of most cities. In the country escapes and relaxed wine regions. In the family orientated arts and music festivals. In the produce of the farmers markets. At the rooftop bars of Melbourne.
The outdoor lifestyles of Sydney, Perth and everywhere north of those cities! The surf culture. The indigenous culture and history. The openness of the land, once venturing into the desert.
If you’re wondering for what to do in Australia, aside from the usual tourist attractions, and are after a real taste of Australia, some research and talking to people in each destination will take you far.
Whether you’re into music festivals, wine and cheese, art galleries, road trips, breathtaking and quiet beaches, or the novelty BIG THINGS, beer skulling, cane toad racing, slang speaking Aussies, there is something for everyone.
From the cities to the country towns, it’s really up to you to decide on your personal preferences of tourist attractions to visit when travelling Australia.
From New South Wales to Western Australia, Tasmania to Northern Territory, there are a huge amount of tourist attractions in Australia, making this country a destination well worth the visit from overseas, or embarking on a shorter road trip as an Australian tourist.
If this list of the best and the worst tourist attractions in Australia, was fun to read, i’d love to hear your comments if you have any recommendations of best or worst Australian tourist attractions to add to this list!