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Australian World Heritage Sites

Inscribed by the United Nations

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There are 19 Australian World Heritage sites inscribed by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations. These Australian World Heritage sites include the World Heritage-listed Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building and the Sydney Opera House.

1. Australian Convict Sites

Port Arthur ruins © Tourism Tasmania and Sarah Quine
Port Arthur ruins © Tourism Tasmania and Sarah Quine

The Australian Convict Sites were inscribed by the United Nations as a World Heritage site in 2010. They comprise 11 locations in New South Wales, Tasmania, Norfolk Island and Western Australia.

2. Australian Fossil Mammal Sites

Riversleigh fossil site © Tourism Queensland
Riversleigh fossil site © Tourism Queensland
The Australian Fossil Mammal Sites comprise two distinct locations — Riversleigh in Queensland and Naracoorte in South Australia. Fossils dating back to the Oligo-Miocene period some 15 to 25 million years ago can be found in in the Riversleigh section of Boodjamulla National Park. The 305-hectare Naracoorte site includes the Naracoorte caves and the series of stranded coastal dune ridges parallel to the present South Australian coastline.

More Info: Riversleigh
More Info: Naracoorte

3. Fraser Island

The Colored Sands of Fraser Island © Tourism Queensland
The Colored Sands of Fraser Island © Tourism Queensland
Fraser Island, Australia's fourth largest island and the world's largest sand island, was listed as a World Heritage site in the early 1990s and joins the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and Kakadu National Park among Australia's pristine, environmentally protected areas. It is one of fewer than 400 such areas in the world.

4. Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

Subtropical rainforest at Lamington National Park © Tourism Queensland
Subtropical rainforest at Lamington National Park © Tourism Queensland
Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, formerly known as the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia, contain outstanding geological features around shield volcanic craters, and a high number of rare and threatened rainforest species. These are of international significance for science and conservation and the rainforests have been inscribed by the United Nations as a World Heritage site.

5. Great Barrier Reef

Diving at the Reef © Tourism Queensland
Diving at the Reef © Tourism Queensland
The Great Barrier Reef comprises a succession of spectacular reefs extending from just south of the Tropic of Capricorn off the Queensland coast to Torres Strait in the north. It is 2000 kilometres in length — and visitors to the Reef have a choice of multiple access points all up and down the north Queensland coast, starting as far south as Bundaberg near the vicinity of Fraser Island.

6. Greater Blue Mountains Area

The Blue Mountains, photo by Hamilton Lund © Tourism New South Wales
The Blue Mountains, photo by Hamilton Lund © Tourism New South Wales
The Greater Blue Mountains region, which includes a number of New South Wales national parks, is Australia's World Heritage area closest to Sydney. Inscribed by the United Nations as a World Heritage site, the region comprises eight protected areas in two blocks traversed by a transportation and development corridor. The area lies 60 to 180 kilometres inland from central Sydney, New South Wales.

7. Heard and McDonald Islands

The islands, courtesy World FactBook
The islands, courtesy World FactBook
These islands comprise the Australian Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands. They have been designated a World Heritage site. The islands are more than 4000 kilometres southwest of Australia in the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean. They are 1500 kilometres north of Antartica at around 53° 05' S and 73° 30' E.

8. Kakadu National Park

Gunlom Waterfall at Kakadu © Tourism NT
Gunlom Waterfall at Kakadu © Tourism NT
Located within 260 kilometres east of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Kakadu has been home for more than 50,000 years of Aboriginal people who today speak one of three major languages: Gundjeihmi/Mayali, Kunwinjku or Jawoyn. Half the area of the national park is owned by the Australian national government, the other half by the Aboriginal people who have left their imprint and their history on the rock walls of their home.

9. Lord Howe Island Group

Island's tropical rainforest © Grahaeme McConnell; Tourism New South Wales
Island's tropical rainforest © Grahaeme McConnell; Tourism New South Wales
Lord Howe Island is a place of natural forests, crystal clear water, pristine sand beaches, the world's southernmost coral reef, and a variety of bird and marine life, some of them rare and endangered species. Because of its rare collection of flora and fauna and its exceptional natural beauty, Lord Howe Island was inscribed a World Heritage site in 1982.

10. Macquarie Island

Royal penguin rookery on Macquarie Island, Tourism Tasmania, courtesy Parks and Wildlife Service
Royal penguin rookery on Macquarie Island, Tourism Tasmania, courtesy Parks and Wildlife Service
Macquarie Island is a sub-antarctic island located in the Southern Ocean at a latitude of 54° 30' south, 158° 57' east. Macca, as the island is generally referred to, is 34 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide at its widest point, with a total surface area of 128 square kilometres. It is home to a large variety of wildlife, which include elephant and fur seals; royal, king, gentoo and rockhopper penguins; skuas; petrels; and different types of albatross.

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