There’s no doubt about it – Australia is one of the most beautiful locations in the world. It’s home to the stunning Great Barrier Reef, the unique Uluru, and the jaw-dropping Great Australian Bight. But, of course, you already know this. What you might not know, is that Australia also has some of the strangest tourist attractions in the world. From UFO capitals to pink lakes, you’re definitely going to find something that you’ll have to see to believe. So, we’ve listed the 13 strangest places that you need to visit in Australia.
1. Pink Lakes
You heard it right – there are lakes in Australia that are bubble-gum pink! In fact, there are three pink lakes in Western Australia: Lake Hillier on Middle Island, Pink Lake (or Spencer Lake) near Esperance, and Hutt Lagoon north of Geraldton. Depending on the weather conditions, the lakes vary from a mild lilac to a bubble-gum pink, . Try to time your visit for sunny days with clear blue skies to witness a pink lake at its most vibrant!
The lakes are pink due to the presence of bacterium that produces a chemical with a rosy pigment. This chemical serves as a protection from the sun’s rays and harvests the light as energy for the organism.
2. Wycliffe Well
Wycliffe Well is the self-proclaimed UFO Capital of Australia. You can’t miss it while driving along the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory, as the roadhouse is a popular stopover for those road tripping through the outback. But it’s not only food, fuel, and rest that attracts tourists to Wycliffe Well. The area is also a hub for paranormal activity.
According to locals, hundreds of sightings have occurred since WWII, though there’s no real explanation why. Believers will tell you that the area is positioned under the crossroads of a sky way for extra-terrestrial beings. Sceptics will shrug off the sightings as simply mistaken RAAF fly overs. The only way to settle the debate is to see for yourself.
3. Umpherston Sinkhole
Umpherston Sinkhole (or the Sunken Garden) is a peculiar garden that can be found in Mount Gambier. The garden was built in the remnants of a cave, where the ceiling collapsed due to limestone corrosion and created a sinkhole. James Umpherston beautified the sinkhole in 1886 with the intent to create a “pleasant resort in the heat of summer” for the people of Mount Gambier.
Visitors to the gardens an expect a picturesque landscape, similar to a children’s fantasy fairy garden. The garden is open every day and is particularly popular at dusk, when possums emerge for their feed.
4. Wave Rock
The remarkable and world-renowned Wave Rock at Hyden, WA is a massive granite cliff stretching 110 metres long and 15 metres high. The natural rock formation is an estimated 27 million years old and mimics the motion of a massive wave breaking.
It is believed that Wave Rock formed as a result of erosion from wind and water. Visitors will enjoy climbing to the top of the cliff and taking in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
5. Devil’s Marbles
The Devil’s Marbles, or Karlu Karlu as they are called in Alyawarre, are located about four hour’s drive north of Alice Springs or an hour’s drive south of Tennant Creek. Karlu Karlu is a sacred area and local Aboriginal groups have an important connection and responsibility for the land here. There are signposts at the site that offer a detailed explanation of the spiritual history and creation of the area.
The Devils Marbles formed millions of years ago when molten rock burst to the surface of the land, spread out and settled into a solid formation. Erosion over time has resulted in the rock splitting into blocks and moulded into round ‘marbles’. The giant granite boulders are scattered across the valley, and vary in size from 0.5 to 6 metres wide. The rocks are particularly popular as they appear to defy gravity in the way they balance on top of each other.
6. Coober Pedy’s Underground Town
Coober Pedy is known as the opal capital of the world, producing an estimated 95 per cent of all the world’s opal. What you might not know, is that the town’s residents live underground in homes burrowed out of caves – really taking a literal meaning out of “Down Under.”
These homes – called “dugouts” – originate back to when the opal mining boom first began in 1917, where workers lived in tiny rooms underground while digging for opals. The reason for this subterranean lifestyle is due to the harsh climate, as workers needed to escape the oppressive heat that reached up to 50 degrees Celsius. These rooms eventually expanded to larger homes, bookstores, churches and bars that accommodate an entire underground community and which visitors can explore today.
7. Horizontal Falls
You’ve seen vertical waterfalls, but what about horizontal waterfalls? Located in the Kimberley region, the Horizontal Falls at Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The waterfall effect occurs as intense tidal currents are squeezed through two sets of extremely narrow coastal gorges that are part of the McLarty Rage.
This unique phenomenon is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world – and you probably hadn’t even heard of it until now! It can only be viewed from air or sea. Thrill-seeking visitors will be pleased so know that a fast-paced boat ride through the waterfalls is available from local tour guides.
8. The Pinnacles
If you’re looking for an otherworldly experience, this is it. Thousands of eerie limestone pillars that are up to 4 metres tall are scattered across Nambung National Park, and form what is known as the Pinnacles Desert. This area of the national park is a favourite among tourists and photographers, especially at dusk or dawn, where the view is often likened to the landscape on Mars.
The area is teeming with nocturnal wildlife, and it’s likely that visitors will see western grey kangaroos and emus while exploring the area. Wildflowers also bloom in the area from August to October.
9. Totem Pole
The striking 65 metre sea stack known as Totem Pole can be seen from the Cape Hauy lookout in the Tasman National Park. The walk to the lookout is part of an 8km round trip, and will take about 4 hours. However, it will be well worth it once you see the astonishing cliff faces.
The stability of Totem Pole is threatened due to erosion and one day it is expected to be destroyed entirely. This makes it a favourite among daredevil climbers who want to conquer this challenge while they still can.
10. Paronella Park
Hidden away in a lush tropical rainforest in far north Queensland lies a Spanish castle with a story to tell. Jose Paronella arrived in Australia from Spain in 1913, and spent the next 11 years working on sugar cane farms before returning to Spain to marry. In 1925, the newlyweds returned to Australia on their honeymoon and this is where Jose’s vision for the Spanish Castillo began.
Jose spent years designing and building the park before opening it up to the public in the 1930s. Always wanting to please his guests, Jose hosted movie screenings and lavish parties in his hidden castle. Over the years, the castle has been damaged during many natural disasters. However, Jose’s legacy has lived on through his children and now the new owners of the park. Paronella Park is often being enhanced and restored to never lose sight of Jose’s vision.
11. Wolfe Creek Crater
Some 300,000 years ago a gigantic meteorite (estimated to weigh over 50,000 tonnes) crashed to Earth and created the second largest crater in the world. It was not until 1947 that the crater was scientifically discovered, which isn’t surprising considering the size of Australia and the isolation of certain areas. However, the local Jaru and Walmajarri Aboriginal people had known of the crater – which they call Kandimalal – for many years as it is part of their Dreamtime stories. They tell of two rainbow snakes that formed the nearby Sturt and Wolfe Creeks, and the crater is believed to be where one of the snakes rose up from the ground.
It is best to visit the crater during May to October, as this is when the climate is cooler and visitors will be more comfortable when climbing the steep, rocky terrain to the rim of the crater.
12. Port Arthur’s Ghost Town
Port Arthur is a small town with a dark history. In the 19th century it served as a separate prison for the most hardened convicts and for the repeat offenders. As a separate prison, punishments shifted from physical punishment as it was thought to harden criminals and make them more defiant. Instead they turned to mental subjugation. With this dark history and over 1000 deaths recorded over its 47 years of operation, it’s not surprising that many staff and visitors have claimed to have paranormal encounters at the site. Spooky, lantern-lit tours are available for those who are brave enough. The tour guides will vividly recount the unexplained occurrences of the past, the history of the site, and the stories that have become of it.
Tragically, this is also the site of the Port Arthur massacre in which 35 people were killed and a further 23 were injured. A memorial is in place for visitors to pay their respects.
13. Squeaky Beach
Located in Wilsons Promontory, you’ll find the pristine Squeaky Beach that is famous for its white sands and turquoise waters. This beach gets its name from the squeaking sound that the grains of quarts make when you walk along the sand. If you’re an avid beach goer in Australia, no doubt you’ve come across similar squeaky beaches – but this one truly takes the cake!
Not only will you find entertainment in the squeaky sand, but the beach also has remarkable views of neighbouring islands, the rolling coastline, and the crystal clear ocean inviting you in.
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