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The Best Scenic Splendours In Australia
The Twelve Apostles (Great Ocean Road, Victoria)
Originally known as the Sow and Piglets, the more romantically renamed Twelve Apostles are in fact a series of eight limestone rock pillars along the Great Ocean Road touring route. Twenty million years of wind and waves have sculpted them, from caves into arches, then the stacks seen today from various lookouts near the official visitor centre.
Cradle Mountain (Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania)
A jagged stand of dolerite columns, Cradle Mountain (1545m) is the highpoint of this deeply glaciated wilderness. Should the six-day Overland Track in its ambit be too ambitious a mission for you, head to the shores of Dove Lake for the classic mountain view, or embark on the two-hour lake circuit walk for wider perspectives.
Walls of China (Mungo National Park, New South Wales)
In the remote NSW outback, this ancient landscape boasts a series of significant dry lakes as well as the Walls of China – an array of 'lunettes' – huge crescent shaped dunes, sculpted by the omnipresent westerly wind into channeled ridges and ziggurat forms. The 70km self-drive Mungo Loop Track allows you to ogle them from every angle.
Govetts Leap Lookout (Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales)
There are lookouts galore throughout the Blue Mountains gorges and canyons. One of the best can be reached in your campervan: Govetts Leap Lookout, from where a waterfall dances 180 metres down a cliff against a dramatic, valley backdrop. Explore further on a series of walkways to suit all abilities, including the challenging cliff-top walk to Pulpit Rock (6km return).
Wilpena Pound (Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia)
In the heart of the Flinders Ranges, this 800-million-year old, 100-square-kilometre spectacle resembles a massive volcanic crater ringed by jagged ridges. Wilpena Pound, however, is in fact a sunken, elliptical valley. Discover its secrets on a scenic flight, 4WD tour or walk. Wilpena Pound Resort offers bookings, advice and campsites.
Carnarvon Gorge (Carnarvon National Park, Queensland)
In Queensland's central highlands, Carnarvon Gorge is a wonderland of towering bleached sandstone cliffs, precipitous gorges and dense verdant bush. Lying within are hidden chambers and canyons, moss gardens, Aboriginal engravings and other surprises, but for sheer grandeur, head up the 3km steep track from Carnarvon Campsite to Boolimba Bluff for a bird's eye view of these stunning surroundings.
Wallaman Falls (Girringun National Park, Queensland)
With a watery leap of 268 metres, Wallaman Falls claim the crown of Australia's loftiest waterfall. This impressive cascade can be viewed from numerous vantage points on the opposite side of the gorge, or via a misty, hour-long walk to its base. The falls are 51km southwest of Ingham, a laid-back base for this area, home to six national parks in all.
Bungle Bungle (Purnululu National Park, Western Australia)
Formed around 350 million years ago, Kimberley's Bungle Bungle started life as an old riverbed, uplifted as a sandstone massif then weathered into distinctive striped domes and curvy canyons. Take a scenic flight from Kununurra for a birds' eye view, or get up close on one of many park walks; the short climb to Piccaninny Creek Lookout affords a memorable view.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Northern Territory)
You may have seen images of Australia's most iconic landmark a thousand times, but nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of Uluru (Ayers Rock), the red sandstone monolith rising above the desert horizon. Get the most out of your pilgrimage here by embarking on a cultural tour with the Anangu aboriginal people who provide an insight into what makes this site so sacred.