12 Must Visit World Heritage Sites in Australia

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12 Must Visit World Heritage Sites in Australia

Date: Feb 1, 2023
Author: Collins.cidar 625 No Comments

Australia is situated in the southern hemisphere, between the pacific ocean and the India ocean. Australia is a country with sovereignty and it is confirmed as the largest island on earth. The Country is a land of dream come true when it comes to sights discovery and amazing adventures that can sweet off the feet of any visitor. As an adventurer, What so ever you imagine is of reality in Australia. The country has done so much In putting a face left in its Eco-tourism system and destinations. No visitor has ever worn a frowning face after visiting Australia rather, they get more than they expect. If you are thinking about beholding the Sun-kissed beach, magical landscape and Mountain that will steam your wonders. Then think of Australia. We have taken our time to curate most of the best UNESCO Sites you would love to visit in Australia.

Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte)

Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte)/ Author: Ko Hon Chiu VincentCopyright: © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent/UNESCO

Australia is regarded as the most biologically distinctive continent in the world, an outcome of its almost total isolation for 35 million years following separation from Antarctica. Only two of its seven orders of singularly distinctive marsupial mammals have ever been recorded elsewhere. Two of the world’s most important fossil sites, Riversleigh and Naracoorte, located in the north and south of Australia respectively, provide a superb fossil record of the evolution of this exceptional mammal fauna. This serial property provides outstanding, and in many cases unique, examples of mammal assemblages during the last 30 million years.

The older fossils occur at Riversleigh, which boasts an outstanding collection from the Oligocene to Miocene, some 10-30 million years ago. The more recent story then moves to Naracoorte, where one of the richest deposits of vertebrate fossils from the glacial periods of the mid-Pleistocene to the current day (from 530,000 years ago to the present) is conserved. This globally significant fossil record provides a picture of the key stages of evolution of Australia’s mammals, illustrating their response to climate change and to human impacts.

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia/Credit:sara_winter/iStockphoto

The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia is a serial property comprising the major remaining areas of rainforest in southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales. It represents outstanding examples of major stages of the Earth’s evolutionary history, ongoing geological and biological processes, and exceptional biological diversity. A wide range of plant and animal lineages and communities with ancient origins in Gondwana, many of which are restricted largely or entirely to the Gondwana Rainforests, survive in this collection of reserves. The Gondwana Rainforests also provides the principal habitat for many threatened species of plants and animals. 

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef/ Credit:Manny Moreno/Unsplash

As the world’s most extensive coral reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is a globally outstanding and significant entity. Practically the entire ecosystem was inscribed as World Heritage in 1981, covering an area of 348,000 square kilometres and extending across a contiguous latitudinal range of 14(10oS to 24oS). The Great Barrier Reef (hereafter referred to as GBR) includes extensive cross-shelf diversity, stretching from the low water mark along the mainland coast up to 250 kilometres offshore. This wide depth range includes vast shallow inshore areas, mid-shelf and outer reefs, and beyond the continental shelf to oceanic waters over 2,000 metres deep.

Within the GBR there are some 2,500 individual reefs of varying sizes and shapes, and over 900 islands, ranging from small sandy cays and larger vegetated cays, to large rugged continental islands rising, in one instance, over 1,100 metres above sea level. Collectively these landscapes and seascapes provide some of the most spectacular maritime scenery in the world.

The latitudinal and cross-shelf diversity, combined with diversity through the depths of the water column, encompasses a globally unique array of ecological communities, habitats and species. This diversity of species and habitats, and their interconnectivity, make the GBR one of the richest and most complex natural ecosystems on earth. There are over 1,500 species of fish, about 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of mollusk, and some 240 species of birds, plus a great diversity of sponges, anemones, marine worms, crustaceans, and other species. No other World Heritage property contains such biodiversity. This diversity, especially the endemic species, means the GBR is of enormous scientific and intrinsic importance, and it also contains a significant number of threatened species. Attime of inscription, the IUCN evaluation stated “… if only one coral reef site in the world were to be chosen for the World Heritage List, the Great Barrier Reef is the site to be chosen”.

Heard and McDonald Islands

Heard and McDonald Islands/bakhli taoufiq|Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Heard and McDonald Islands are remote sub-Antarctic volcanic islands located in the southern Indian Ocean about half-way between Australia and South Africa, and just over 1,600 kilometres from Antarctica. The property covers a total area of 658,903 hectares of which about 37,000 hectares is terrestrial, and the remainder marine. The islands are a unique wilderness, containing outstanding examples of biological and physical processes continuing in an environment essentially undisturbed by humans. 

Heard Island is dominated by Big Ben (an active volcano rising to a height of 2,745 metres), and is largely covered by snow and glaciers. McDonald Island is much smaller, covering only 100 hectares at the time of inscription, and is surrounded by several smaller rocks and islands. The only active sub-Antarctic volcanos are found on these islands, with the volcano on McDonald Island erupting after inscription and doubling the size of the island. The island group’s physical processes provide valuable indicators of the role of crustal plates in the formation of ocean basins and continents, of dynamic glacial changes in the coastal and submarine environment, and of atmospheric and oceanic warming. The large populations of marine birds and mammals, combined with a virtual absence of introduced species, provide a unique arena for the maintenance of biological and evolutionary processes.

K’gari (Fraser Island)

K’gari (Fraser Island)/Antoine Beauvillain/Unsplash

Fraser Island, also known by its Aboriginal name of K’gari, lies along the eastern coast of Australia. The property covers 181,851 hectares and includes all of K’gari (Fraser Island) and several small islands off the island’s west coast. It is the world’s largest sand island, offering an outstanding example of ongoing biological, hydrological and geomorphological processes.  The development of rainforest vegetation on coastal dune systems at the scale found on K’gari (Fraser Island) is unique, plus the island boasts the world’s largest unconfined aquifer on a sand island.

The property has exceptional natural beauty with over 250 kilometres of clear sandy beaches with long, uninterrupted sweeps of ocean beach, strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and spectacular blowouts. Inland from the beach are majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on sandy dunes and half of the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes.

Lord Howe Island Group

Lord Howe Island Group/Photographer:Dylan Shaw/Unsplash

The Lord Howe Island Group is an outstanding example of oceanic islands of volcanic origin containing a unique biota of plants and animals, as well as the world’s most southerly true coral reef. It is an area of spectacular and scenic landscapes encapsulated within a small land area, and provides important breeding grounds for colonies of seabirds as well as significant natural habitat for the conservation of threatened species. Iconic species include endemics such as the flightless Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallis sylvestris), once regarded as one of the rarest birds in the world, and the Lord Howe Island Phasmid (Dryococelus australis), the world’s largest stick insect that was feared extinct until its rediscovery on Balls Pyramid.

About 75% of the terrestrial part of the property is managed as a Permanent Park Preserve, consisting of the northern and southern mountains of Lord Howe Island itself, plus the Admiralty Islands, Mutton Bird Islands, Balls Pyramid and surrounding islets. The property is located in the Tasman Sea, approximately 570 kilometres east of Port Macquarie. The entire property including the marine area and associated coral reefs covers 146,300 hectares, with the terrestrial area covering approximately 1,540 hectares.

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island/Photographer:Elena Emmy/Unsplash

Macquarie Island lies almost 1,500 kilometres to the southeast of Tasmania, about half-way between Australia and Antarctica. The property includes Macquarie Island, Judge and Clerk Islets 11 kilometres to the north, the Bishop and Clerk Islets 37 kilometres to the south, rocks, reefs and the surrounding waters to a distance of 12 nautical miles. The main island is approximately 34 kilometres long and 5.5 kilometres wide at its broadest point, covering an area of approximately 12,785 hectares. The property covers an area of 557,280 hectares. 

Macquarie Island has outstanding universal value for two reasons. First, it provides a unique opportunity to study, in detail, geological features and processes of oceanic crust formation and plate boundary dynamics, as it is only place on earth where rocks from the earth’s mantle (6 kilometres below the ocean floor) are being actively exposed above sea level. These unique exposures include excellent examples of pillow basalts and other extrusive rocks. Second, its remote and windswept landscape of steep escarpments, lakes, and dramatic changes in vegetation provides an outstanding spectacle of wild, natural beauty complemented by vast congregations of wildlife including penguins and seals.

Ningaloo Coast

Ningaloo Coast/credit: Dylan Shaw/Unsplash

The Ningaloo Coast is located on Western Australia’s remote coast along the East Indian Ocean. The interconnected ocean and arid coast form aesthetically striking landscapes and seascapes. The coastal waters host a major near shore reef system and a directly adjacent limestone karst system and associated habitats and species along an arid coastline. The property holds a high level of terrestrial species endemism and high marine species diversity and abundance. An estimated 300 to 500 whale sharks aggregate annually coinciding with mass coral spawning events and seasonal localized increases in productivity.  The marine portion of the nomination contains a high diversity of habitats that includes lagoon, reef, open ocean, the continental slope and the continental shelf. Intertidal systems such as rocky shores, sandy beaches, estuaries, and mangroves are also found within the property. The most dominant marine habitat is the Ningaloo reef, which sustains both tropical and temperate marine fauna and flora, including marine reptiles and mammals.

The main terrestrial feature of the Ningaloo Coast is the extensive karst system and network of underground caves and water courses of the Cape Range. The karst system includes hundreds of separate features such as caves, dolines and subterranean water bodies and supports a rich diversity of highly specialized subterranean species. Above ground, the Cape Range Peninsula belongs to an arid ecoregion recognized for its high levels of species richness and endemism, particularly for birds and reptiles.

Purnululu National Park

Purnululu National Park/Photographer:Ben Carless/Unsplash

Purnululu NationalPark, located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, covers almost 240,000 hectares of remote area managed as wilderness. It includes the Bungle Bungle Range, a spectacularly incised landscape of sculptured rocks which contains superlative examples of beehive-shaped karst sandstone rising 250 metres above the surrounding semi-arid savannah grasslands. Unique depositional processes and weathering have given these towers their spectacular black and orange banded appearance, formed by biological processes of cyanobacteria (single cell photosynthetic organisms) which serve to stabilise and protect the ancient sandstone formations. These outstanding examples of cone karst that have eroded over a period of 20 million years are of great beauty and exceptional geological interest. 

Shark Bay, Western Australia

Shark Bay, Western Australia/Photographer:Nick Dunn/Unsplash

On the Indian Ocean coast at the most westerly point of Australia, Shark Bay’s waters, islands and peninsulas covering a large area of some 2.2 million hectares (of which about 70% are marine waters) have a number of exceptional natural features, including one of the largest and most diverse seagrass beds in the world. However it is for its stromatolites (colonies of microbial mats that form hard, dome-shaped deposits which are said to be the oldest life forms on earth), that the property is most renowned. The property is also famous for its rich marine life including a large population of dugongs, and provides a refuge for a number of other globally threatened species.

Wet Tropics of Queensland

Wet Tropics of Queensland/Credit:zstockphotos/iStockphoto

The Wet Tropics of Queensland, or Wet Tropics, stretches along the northeast coast of Australia for some 450 kilometres. Encompassing some 894,420 hectares of mostly tropical rainforest, this stunningly beautiful area is extremely important for its rich and unique biodiversity. It also presents an unparalleled record of the ecological and evolutionary processes that shaped the flora and fauna of Australia, containing the relicts of the great Gondwanan forest that covered Australia and part of Antarctica 50 to 100 million years ago. All of Australia’s unique marsupials and most of its other animals originated in rainforest ecosystems, and their closest surviving relatives occur in the Wet Tropics. These living relicts of the Gondwanan era and their subsequent diversification provide unique insights to the process of evolution in general. They also provide important information for the interpretation of fossils of plants and animals found elsewhere in Australia, and about the evolution of Australia’s sclerophyll flora and marsupial fauna in particular.

The property supports tropical rainforests at their latitudinal and climatic limits, and unlike most other seasonal tropical evergreen equatorial forests, is subject to a dry season and to frequent cyclonic events. Many of the distinct features of the Wet Tropics relate to its extremely high but seasonal rainfall, diverse terrain and steep environmental gradients. In addition to its complex array of species and life forms, the Wet Tropics is also recognised as an area possessing outstanding scenic features, natural beauty and magnificent sweeping landscapes.

Greater Blue Mountains Area

Greater Blue Mountains Area/Photographer:Gilly Tanabose/Unsplash

The Greater Blue Mountains Area (GBMA) is a deeply incised sandstone tableland that encompasses 1.03 million hectares of eucalypt-dominated landscape just inland from Sydney, Australia’s largest city, in south-eastern Australia.  Spread across eight adjacent conservation reserves, it constitutes one of the largest and most intact tracts of protected bushland in Australia.  It also supports an exceptional representation of the taxonomic, physiognomic and ecological diversity that eucalypts have developed: an outstanding illustration of the evolution of plant life.  A number of rare and endemic taxa, including relict flora such as the Wollemi pine, also occur here.  Ongoing research continues to reveal the rich scientific value of the area as more species are discovered. 

The geology and geomorphology of the property, which includes 300 metre cliffs, slot canyons and waterfalls, provides the physical conditions and visual backdrop to support these outstanding biological values.  The property includes large areas of accessible wilderness in close proximity to 4.5 million people.  Its exceptional biodiversity values are complemented by numerous others, including indigenous and post-European-settlement cultural values, geodiversity, water production, wilderness, recreation and natural beauty.

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