Travel to Australia

with UNESCO As Your Guide

written by Ellen Freudenheim, MPH

If you’re a nature lover planning a vacation to Australia, you can just sit back and let UNESCO’s World Heritage sites be your guide.

Just a few of the many outstanding World Heritage sites in Australia include:

Australian Fossil Mammal Sites

Interested in evolution? Pick one of two terrific sites, one called Riversleigh in the north and the other called Naracoorte, in the south of eastern Australia. Both rank among the world’s top-ten greatest animal fossil sites.

Fraser Island

If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to visit places that merit the word first or most, check out Fraser Island, off Eastern Australia, in Queensland. It’s got it all: sand dunes, tropical forests, and lakes. At 75 miles long, more or less (they call it the 75 Mile Beach, but thanks to shifting sands and waters, it’s never exact), Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.

Great Barrier Reef

No wonder it’s considered to have some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. The Great Barrier Reef, according to UNESCO, contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusks. If you’re lucky, you can see the large green turtle, an endangered species.

Greater Blue Mountains Area

It’s not by accident that the old song, Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree& . was first penned in Melbourne. Not far from the Blue Mountains, this area is an ancient natural forest with plateau and gorges, eucalypt forest and species of trees so rare as to be called relic species.”

Purnululu National Park

How could you not love a place named the Bungle Bungle Ranges of Purnululu? What UNESCO has designated protectable here are phantasmagorical, beehive shaped sandstone sculptures. The unique landforms and ecosystems have been given names such as Echidna Chasm, Frog Hole, Piccaninny and Cathedral Gorges. If you can’t get enough of the Grand Canyon, come here.

Shark Bay

Marine life is as abundant as the human population is scarce in this remote corner of Western Australia. Shark Bay is rich in sea grass, algae, sea cows and endangered species, including bottlenose dolphins, reptiles and about 10,000 zoological importance.

Willandra Lakes Region

Arid and remote, this area in New South Wales has both cultural and environmental value. Alongside Pleistocene-era fossils, are archaeological remains of human occupation dating back tens of thousands of years. They include wonders such as a 26,000 year-old cremation site (the world’s oldest); a 30,000 year-old burial site; evidence that 30,000 years ago people depended for their livelihood on freshwater resources; and evidence of 18,000 year old grindstones once used to crush wild grass seeds to flour.

Travelers to these sites have choices galore. You can trek, bushwalk, do white water rafting, or experience a rainforest canopy walk. In most areas, you can travel either on your own, or in a 4×4 or on guided bushwalks, on tours, or on with a personal guide.

And, you can choose from any level of accommodation from five-star lodging, to eco-retreats, bed and breakfasts, or campgrounds.

So pack your boots and bug repellant, and take off for an Australian adventure!