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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Australia

Australia is a land of dreams. From the sacred legends of the aboriginal Dream time when the great conjured the coral reefs, rain forests, and scorched red deserts to armchair travelers who describe Australia as their dream destination the Land Down Under deserves all the hype. The world's smallest continent and largest island Australia is almost the same size as the United States but with a population the size of New York State and some of the quirkiest wildlife on the planet.

Australia is also a land of staggering contrasts and spectacular beauty. Along the coast you can explore vibrant multicultural cities vast sand islands ancient rain forests and one of the planet's most awe-inspiring natural wonders - the Great Barrier Reef. In the Outback rugged and red-earthed deserts offer the ultimate in adventure travel. Top it all off with a laid-back feel and friendly people and it's no wonder Australia scores top billing on bucket lists around the world. Create your own adventure with our list of the top attractions in Australia.

Sydney Opera House

Mention "Sydney, Australia" and most people think of the Opera House. Shaped like huge shells or billowing sails this famous building on Sydney's Benne long Point graces the list of UNESCO World Heritage and is one of the world's great architectural icons. The location is stunning. Water surrounds the structure on three sides and the Royal Botanic Gardens border it to the south.

Danish architect won an international competition for its design but withdrew from the project after technical and financing problems. Construction was finally completed at a cost ten times the original budget. By this time Utzon had left the country never returning to see his magnificent creation.

Today you can enjoy a performance here dine at one of the restaurants or take a tour of the building which encompasses theaters studios a concert hall exhibition rooms and a cinema. But it's far more impressive viewed from a distance. One of the best to photograph the Opera House is Mrs Macquarie's Chair in the Royal Botanic Gardens or you can hop aboard a harbor cruise or ferry for yet another picturesque perspective.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Visible from outer space the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest living structures on the planet. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was established to its ecosystems which include more than 3,000 coral reefs; 600 continental islands including the beautiful Whitsunday group 300 coral cays and inshore mangrove islands. One of the seven wonders of the natural world the park stretches for 2,300 kilometres along the state of Queensland on Australia's east coast (that's about the distance between Mexico and Vancouver ). Diving and snorkeling are spectacular.

The astounding array of marine life includes soft and hard corals more than 1,600 species of tropical fish sharks,dugongs dolphins, turtles, rays, and clams. If you prefer to stay dry, you can see the reef from underwater viewing stations and glass bottom boats. On the mainland, Cairns , Port Douglas , and Airlie Beach are the main launching points for tours.