25 Things Australia is Known and Famous For

Australia is famous for its natural beauty, diverse landscapes and quirky creatures. Whether you visit Australia’s beaches, “the bush” or “the outback”, there’s plenty to catch your eye and capture your heart. Australia is also known for its landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, The Great Barrier Reef and Uluru in Kata Tjuta National Park.

australian coast

There’s no end to what you can explore Down Under, but we’re going to go into details on just 25 things Australia is known and famous for. Ready? Let’s dive in!

1. Sydney Opera House

facade of sydney opera house

First up, Sydney Opera House. In 1948, the head of the Sydney Opera commissioned a new building solely for musical delights. Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect, drew up sketches of the building that stands there today. Of course, these days it’s not just operas that are performed there. Many famous musicians have graced the stage since it opened in 1973.

2. The Harbour Bridge

sydney harbour bridge at sunset

Australia is famous for its iconic Harbour Bridge. The bridge spans 500 meters (1,650 feet) and was commissioned in 1912. However, plans for building the bridge were delayed by World War I. The bridge was completed in 1932 and links Sydney’s Central Business District to the Northern Suburbs.

3. Bondi Beach

bondi beach in sydney

Australia is famous for its most recognized beach, Bondi. It’s a spectacle of tourists, surfers and sun-soakers, and it’s become a real attraction for young backpackers in particular. 

However, Bondi’s neighboring beaches are just as (and in some cases more) phenomenal. The coast walk from Bondi to Coogee passes sister-beach, Bronte, and guarantees you a bit more peace and quiet than party-centric Bondi.

4. Blue Mountains National Park

Australia is famous for its many hiking trails, and The Blue Mountains National Park offers some of the best. This sensational cluster of mountains is located north-west of Sydney and a fuzzy, blue haze sits like a halo on top of them (hence the name, “The Blue Mountains”).

Views of the mountains combined with waterfalls make this a must-see pitstop in New South Wales. The vast plains of the national park are estimated to be about 63,000 hectares (160,000 acres) in size.And, as a bonus fact, the blue-ish outline is caused by oil-bearing eucalyptus trees!

5. The Three Sisters

the three sisters in australia

Also located in the Blue Mountains is an outcrop of rocks named The Three Sisters. According to an Aboriginal dream-time legend, the three rocks are what remains of three sisters belonging to a Katoomba tribe. Their names were ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and ‘Gunnedoo’. They had fallen in love with three brothers from a rival tribe but were forbidden to marry them. 

Undeterred, the three brothers were determined to get their beautiful brides. However, in their pursuit, they inadvertently put the three sisters’ lives in danger. To protect them from harm, a local Katoomba witch doctor turned them to stone. 

He was killed before he could reverse the spell, however, and so the three sisters still remain at Echo Point, Katoomba, where you can visit them today.

6. Kangaroos

man touching a kangaroo in australia
Most kangaroos are shy but this one was in our backyard and didn’t mind the greeting! Mothers can get quite protective of their young, however, and males can grow pretty tall so exercise caution!

Australia is famous for its many marsupials (mammals with pouches).Of course, one of the most recognized is the kangaroo – and for good reason thanks to the likes of Skippy. The kangaroo is so famously Australian that it features as one of the national symbols of Australia, along with the golden wattle and emu. Eastern gray kangaroos are the most common species, but there are four different types in total.

7. Meat Pies

australian meat pie

Arguably the most iconic Aussie fast food is the meat pie. A golden, flaky crust surrounds meat in a thick gravy, although many Aussies like to add ketchup to the pastry. The humble meat pie was brought to Australia by the English and they’ve been served up for a long time. There are even records showing that Captain Cook was served one to celebrate the then King’s birthday in June 1788! 

However, the pie gained serious notoriety in the early 19th century. A famous Sydney pie-seller called William King would sell pies to passengers boarding steamers to Parramatta, and then run 18 miles to sell his remaining pies to the same passengers disembarking! Now that’s a business mindset.

Psst: the best meat pies in Sydney (in my opinion) can be found at Glenorie Bakery!

8. Hobart

waterfront of hobart in australia

Hobart is one of Australia’s hidden gems, although it’s due a lot of credit when it comes to things Australia is famous for. For instance, Hobart was a major base for Antarctic explorers in the 19th century. 

The Tasmanian capital has much more than just naval history, though. It’s home to the oldest trees in the world, rainforests, and the world-famous MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). Interestingly, it was also the first Australian city to have a casino.

9. Port Arthur

facade of port arthur

Australia is famous for its colonial history, and if that interests you, then Port Arthur in Tasmania has to feature on your itinerary. It’s the best-preserved convict site in Australia and there’s something for all kinds of explorers. Try on some shackles, check genealogical records for distant relatives who might have ended up at Port Arthur, or take a ghost tour – I recommend doing them all!

buildings in port arthur

Originally, Port Arthur was set up as a prison within a prison. Convicts who behaved badly back in Sydney were sent there because it was believed to be impossible to escape from.

The remaining buildings at Port Arthur include a mill, quarters, jails and even a chapel. You get entry for two days when you buy a ticket, and I can recommend that you dedicate a weekend to just exploring this grizzly yet beautiful place.

10. Koalas

koala hanging on a tree

Australia is known for yet another of its iconic animals, the koala. The gray, cuddly koala is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a bear. They’re actually marsupials, and there’s nothing they love more than eucalyptus leaves and sleeping. Koalas can sleep for up to 18 hours a day!

Sadly, during the catastrophic bushfires of 2019-2020, 71% of North New South Wales’ koala population perished. You can book a koala meeting in many Australian zoos, but wild koalas can only be found in the east and south-east of Australia.

11. The Bay of Fires

bay of fires landscape

Australia is famous for its distinctive scenery, and a great example is The Bay of Fires in north-eastern Tasmania. The aboriginal name for this unique spot is larapuna. White sand beaches contrast with deep blue ocean and orange-hued granite rocks, making it a top destination for photography. 

man walking on the beach

This is also a popular free camping spot, where tourists can fish, swim and soak in the gorgeous views.

12. The Great Barrier Reef

an aerial view of the great barrier reef

Next, one of the world’s greatest natural phenomenons; The Great Barrier Reef. It’s so famous that even the moon gets a glimpse of it because it’s visible from space! 

The Great Barrier Reef on Queensland’s coast is 2,300 kilometers long and contains 10% of the world’s fish species. It’s also the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. But it’s not all coral and fish. This diverse habitat is home to 30 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise; six species of turtle, and 17 sea snake varieties!

13. Wine Regions

grapes in barossa valley

Aussies love to drink a cold beer but the real jewel in Australia’s beverage crown is its wines. Australia is famous for its export of top-quality wines, and nearly every state claims theirs is the best. 

These are the best wine regions to check out: Barossa Valley – South Australia,
Yarra Valley – Victoria, Hunter Valley – New South Wales, Tamar Valley – Tasmania, Swan Valley – Western Australia.

14. Melbourne

melbourne famous train station

If concrete and city-vibes are more your thing, visit Melbourne. Australia is famous for its many cosmopolitan cities and Melbourne has been hard at work breaking records. For example, did you know that Melbourne has the highest number of restaurants and libraries per number of people than any other city in the world?

Oddly, Melbourne was originally called “Batmania”. It was also the capital of Australia from 1901-1927. You’re unlikely to get bored in this busy and hectic city but if you run out of things to do, I highly recommend visiting Melbourne’s botanical gardens and Shrine of Remembrance.

15. Aussie Slang

g'day artwork on tiles

Australia is famous for its distinctive accent and hilarious slang words. Yes, they really do say “G’day” as a greeting and yes, Australians do call flip-flops “thongs”. But the Aussies’ impact on English is far greater than that.

Admittedly, Australian English can get a little colorful sometimes – curse words Down Under don’t really bear the same weight as they do elsewhere in the world. For example, “bloody” is a colloquial quantifier meaning “very”, rather than being an offensive word.

However, there are certainly linguistic gems. Take “Fair Dinkum”, for instance. I don’t know what a “dinkum” is but I can tell you this phrase means something like “for sure” or “seriously”.

Other Australian slang words that I’ve learned and now regularly use are “Pash” meaning “kiss”, “ripper” meaning fantastic, and “Straya” meaning “Australia”. Try that last one – it’ll make you sound Aussie no matter where you’re from!

Note: Aussies are pretty fierce about the long-standing joke of “putting shrimp on the ‘barbie”. Australians use the British word “prawns” for shrimp.

16. Vegemite

vegemite and banana

Next, the condiment that represents a nation. Australia is famous for “Vegemite” which is a yeast-based spread often put on toast or sandwiches. Adorably, an advertising campaign has made the phrase “happy little Vegemite” into an Australian term of endearment.

Don’t make the mistake of comparing it to Marmite, though, because Australians get very protective of their Vegemite. (I’d argue they smell exactly the same, but as I am no fan of Marmite or Vegemite my opinion is probably invalid!)

17. Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park

uluru during sunset

In the center of the great Australian outback lies the Kata-Tjuta National Park. Of course, both Uluru and the Kata Tjuta domes are famous Australian landmarks. More than that though, the Kata Tjuta National Park also gives tourists a chance to explore more of aboriginal culture. 

Uluru, (formerly “Ayers Rock”) and the Kata Tjuta domes (previously called “The Olgas”) are both located within the park. This is a spiritual and ancient place steeped in history, culture and tradition. The park is world heritage listed and located 450 kilometers from Alice Springs. It’s owned by the Anangu people and is a sacred site.

18. Surfer’s Paradise

the gold coast in australia

Australia is also known for being a number one destination for party-lovers. Although major cities like Sydney and Melbourne take most of the credit for this, The Gold Coast, Queensland is where the real chaos happens. More specifically, in Surfers Paradise.

Yes, that really is what the city is called and yes, it does live up to its name. However, when the sun goes down on the silky white sands and the surf fades into darkness, the real party begins. Night-prowlers descend on the nightclubs and bars and time is just a concept!

19. Kakadu National Park

crocodile swimming in kakadu national park

Alternatively, you can seek thrills away from Australia’s nightclubs and boozy bars. Australia is famous for being home to crocodiles and there’s no safer place to see them than at Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory.

Fancy channeling your inner Steve Irwin or Mick Dundee? You can! Visiting Kakadu will allow you to an opportunity to get up close to snapping jaws. Apart from croc-spotting, you can also go bird watching, see Aboriginal rock art, or hike. Kakadu is, after all, Australia’s largest national park.

20. Dangerous Animals

cassowary
dangerous snake in australia

But it’s not just crocs you need to look out for! Australia is famous for being home to the most deadly animals in the world, both on land and at sea. Among the most deadly and venomous creatures are the Taipan, the world’s deadliest snake, the blue-ringed octopus, the stonefish, and of course, redback and funnel web spiders. 

As if that wasn’t enough, the deadliest bird in the world also lives in Australia and is called the cassowary. Granted, it’s rare for them to attack humans. Still, avoid them if you can – some grow to be 2 meters (6ft 6”) tall and have dagger-like claws!

Apart from that, you should know that even the non-deadly animals in Australia can be terrifying to behold. Monitor lizards, fondly called Goannas in Australia, can grow to be 2 meters long (6ft 6”) and it’s really something to see one walking towards you in your backyard!

Note: I didn’t forget Great White Sharks, it’s just that they don’t seem to smuggle themselves into your home as the spiders and snakes do!

21. Road Trips

empty road in australian outback

If you like to make your journeys on wheels then good news for you – Australia is famous for having some epic road trips. Whether you prefer coastline or dusty, rugged roads, there’s one for you Down Under.

Take The Great Ocean Road, for example, which is a 243 kilometer (150 miles) stretch winding down the south-eastern coast of Australia. Interestingly, it doubles up as the world’s largest war memorial because it was built by returned World War I soldiers. 

There’s also The Big Lap (a massive 15,000 kilometers / 9320 miles!) and The Savannah Way (just 3700 kilometers / 2299 miles).

22. Famous Aussies

map of australia

Australia is famous for being the home country of plenty of familiar faces. Aussie celebrities come from various fields, although they particularly dominate our movie screens. Just look at Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Olivia Newton-John, Hugh Jackman and Margot Robbie!

But Australia has some musical greats, too. AC-DC, Vance Joy, Tame Impala, and Tones & I, to name but a few.

23. Whacky Races

frog on the grass

In some parts of Australia, you don’t kiss a toad to get a handsome prince. You kiss a toad to get a winner. Let me explain.

Australia is known for having some quirky traditions, and this is definitely one of the most unique. In Queensland, odd though it may seem, local pubs set up cane toad races. Give the toad a pun-ny name, give it a kiss and hope it’s the first toad to cross a finishing line! 

And if cane toads aren’t your thing, there’s always cockroach racing in Brisbane. The event is held every year on Australia Day, 26 January, and the same rules apply – except the kissing. You’ll be pleased to know that a cockroach called “Papa Roach” was once a winner!

24. Aussie Sense of Humor

australian flag

Australians are incredibly laid-back. Therefore, it’s no surprise Australia has acquired a great sense of humor!

Aussies are outdoorsy, down-to-earth and love to laugh. It’s also true what they say: Aussies are often barefoot (How?! It’s so hot on the ground?!) and keen to tell a joke or ten.

Comic greats that come from Australia include Barry Humphries, Chris Lilley and Rebel Wilson.

25. Wild Weather

bush fires

Australia is famous for being a country of extremes, which is certainly true of its weather. The famous Australian poet, Banjo Paterson, once said: “you don’t get much of anything in this country but when you do you get too much”. 

And it’s easy to see what he meant. In 2020, Australia has experienced uncontrollable bushfires and serious floods. In addition, hurricanes have been known to pass through and high winds are also common. Anybody who has watched Bondi Rescue will also be familiar with Australia’s notoriously wild undercurrents and tides.

Of course, Australia might look near-perfect, but always be prepared for wild weather, serious storms and scorching sun!

Note: Contrary to popular belief, Australia does get very cold in winter. You’re reminded how close you are to Antarctica when the wind blows – trust me!

sunset in australia

And that’s just 25 things Australia is known and famous for. Let us know in the comments below what you know about Australia!

Want to know more about Australia?

Read our article: 15 Things Sydney is Famous For

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