Mother nature has given Australia many breathtaking landmarks. These Natural Geological Wonders that scatter the land, are gems not to be tossed aside as no man-made effort could ever hope to duplicate them in size or in wonder.
Explore these 10 Natural Wonders and slip them into your radar for some unexpected awe-inspiring adventures.
1.Nature’s Window WA – literally framing her artwork for visitors
Nature’s Window was created by the wind eroding a hole in sandstone to form a perfectly framed view of Kalbarri National Park. When looked at from the right angle, this natural red rock arch, frames the pretty Murchison River and its gorge. These seemingly precariously balanced layered stacks of Tumblagooda Sandstone are one of Western Australia’s most iconic natural attractions.
Nature’s Window is easily accessed via a 1km return walk from ‘The Loop’, or locally known as the ‘Inyaka Wookai Warju’ car park. At weekends this lookout can be very busy with visitors. For a more relaxed visit and to enjoy the best views, sunrise and sunset gives a less crowded and breathtaking experience. Both times of day give a rosy light which as it falls upon the rock gives it a glorious colour for this natural picture frame.
The Kalbarri National Park also has 183,000 hectares of outback adventures. To see the park ablaze with energetic colours of Spring the best time to visit is between July and October. In the park there are many other lookouts for some Instagram vistas, including The Loop, Z Bend, Hawks Head, Pot Alley, Red Bluff and Ross Graham.
2. Horizontal Falls WA – name given by David Attenborough
The Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley region is one of nature’s wonders and one of the most amazing natural features you might encounter. These tidal waterfalls are located within Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago and unlike a normal waterfall, they pass horizontally!
The natural occurrence consists of extreme tidal currents which rush violently from the Indian Ocean and cascade through two narrow coastal gorges. These enormous tidal movements create a waterfall effect as water presses against one side of the narrow cliff. These forces reoccur again on the turning tide.
Horizontal Falls are part of the McLarty Ranges and have two ridges running parallel around 300m apart. As you look in the direction to the open sea, the first gap is around 20m wide and the more spectacular second gap is about 10m wide. As the tides in this area have a 10m variation between low and high tide then the tide builds up in front of the gaps faster than it can flow through them and there can be a 4m waterfall between the bays.
Tour companies offer unique boat rides along the rapids through the two gaps to the bay behind. This unforgettable experience is a reminder of the presence of the impressive power the moon has over planet Earth’s oceans and tides.
3. Umpherston Sinkhole SA – an unexpected sink in the earth
Umpherston Sinkhole, also known as The Sunken Garden, was once a cave formed by the breaking up and dissolving of limestone. The sinkhole was formed when the top of the chamber collapsed downwards. The Sunken Garden has been created by the topsoil down on the floor forming a perfect environment.
The garden was originally made more beautiful thanks to a farmer James Umpherston in the 1800’s. The captivating sinkhole garden has continued to be transformed with stunning vegetations and beautiful gardens in a park setting. The size and depth of this sinkhole can be appreciated from viewing platforms at the top. From there visitors can climb down the terraced gardens to admire the oasis of flowers and hanging tree tendrils. There is plenty of seating as well as a large undercover shelter with group seating and free bbqs. A kiosk on site offers snacks, coffee, ice-cream and souvenirs.
The sinkhole is open until dusk and each evening visitors can enjoy the resident possums, as they emerge from their daytime hideouts to the floodlit gardens to feed.
4. Karlu Karlu/ Devils Marbles NT – a geological wonder
The Devil’s Marbles are a collection of huge granite boulders spread across a valley south of Tennant Creek. Formed over millions of years, varying in size from 50cm up to 6m in height, many of them defy gravity in balancing precariously on top of one another.
The rocks started off when an upsurge of molten rock reached the surface and spread out into a solid layer. Blocks of granite developed vertical and horizontal cracks then split into rectangular blocks. Erosion then wore away the edges, so the blocks became totally rounded to form these geological marvels.
In ancient Aboriginal mythology the local Aboriginal people, named the rocks ‘Karlu Karlu’. In their Dreamtime story they believed that the rocks are fossilized eggs for the Rainbow Serpent, eminent figure in many of Australian Aboriginal cultures. The traditional Aboriginal owners look to the marbles as having extraordinary powers and damage to them can have life threatening consequences to the Aboriginals who protect them.
In the drama of the ancient landscape, every marble looks different and especially at sunrise or sunset when the marbles glow red and change colour in the varying sunlight.
5. Montgomery Reef, WA – an astonishing marine spectacle.
The majestic Montgomery Reef is Australia’s largest inshore reef spreading over 292km². Located 20km off Doubtful Bay on Western Australia’s Kimberley coast it is included in the new Camden Sound Marine Park.
Kimberley reef experiences the world’s largest tropical tides putting reefs through some unusual tide movements and when the tide goes out the reef appears to rise out of the ocean. Huge lagoons, sandstone islets and a central mangrove island are revealed. The outward movement of the tide forms a fast-moving deluge of water which creates a river cutting through the reef and hundreds of cascading waterfalls. At low tide nearly 5m of reef can be exposed. The reef contains large areas of shallow lagoons, seagrass beds and beautifully coloured corals. Marine life is abundant both on the reef and along the reef edges where you may see sea whales, dolphins, manta rays, dugong turtles, octopus and black tipped reef sharks.
Sadly, global bleaching is having its effect, and despite the coral in the Kimberley being hardier than in other areas, it is not immune to bleaching. The coral bleaching is a stress response when coral is exposed to water that is too warm for long periods. The mortality rate is so high that it will take at least 10 years to come back.
This fascinating reef spectacle is best explored by joining in with a fleet of Zodiac excursion vessels with ‘Kimberley Coast Cruising’, to get closer to the action than ever before. They know how to time it perfectly as the tide is going out to see the many mini waterfalls spring up and pour down the sides of exposed coral shelves.
6. Remarkable Rocks SA – weird craggy rock formation
Perched over 60m above the sea, these gigantic eroded granite boulders are perhaps the state’s most famous collection of rocks. Situated in a section of Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island. Much of their surface is covered in golden/orange lichen which are made even more bright as they are contrasted with the bright blue of the Southern Ocean.
It took 500 million years for rain, wind and pounding waves to weather and erode these granite rocks into the impressive sculptures. Bluish quartz, black mica, and light pink feldspar make up the granite of Remarkable Rocks. The rocks have some flat surfaces so are easy to walk on in dry weather, but when wet and windy make the rocks become more slippery.
Impressive at any time of day, due to their extreme size and rugged formation Remarkable Rocks are best visited in the early morning and early evening, to avoid the crowds. At these times they appear the most magical as the sun rises or sets, silhouettes appear of the intricate rock shapes along with the golden lichen that covers the rocks.
7. Walls of China NSW – like rock from another world
The Walls of China are situated in the World Heritage-listed Mungo National Park in Outback NSW. This out of world collection of sand dunes are formed from windblown sand on the eastern shoreline of the dry Lake Mungo. Known as the Walls of China because these crescent shaped series of lunettes (eroded sand dunes) join up to form a sort of wall. These lunettes are landforms which are made of several sedimentary layers. They are cut through with small streams of water known as rivulets, which have been created by thousands of years of raindrops resulting in ridges and cracks.
You are not allowed on the dunes without a guide, but you can join a tour group which comes with informative commentary about the history and making of these age-old formations. The walls have been found to contain impressive Aboriginal artefacts and archeological remains. Following a cycle trail, a bike ride is another way to see the walls and there are several graded walks nearby as well as look out points where photographs can be taken.
8. Jenolan Limestone Caves NSW – amazing cave of wonders
At Jenolan Limestone Caves in the western edge of the Blue Mountains, where the magic of mother nature has created some of the most beautiful rocks on the planet. As the oldest and largest caves in Australia this subterranean system is around 340 million years old. The caves are home to some of the first fossil discoveries, unique calcite formations, pristine underground rivers and secret chambers. The geological forms of hanging icicles and surfaces seem to have been intricately carved out by a meticulous craftsman rather than the magic of mother nature. The natural beauty and range of stalactites and stalagmites, columns and straws in the caves is endless.
Found in the heart of the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve towards the middle of the Central Tablelands region they are the most visited caves in the country. These surreal calcite formations in the depths of these caves are found as you follow a network of tunnels and caves that run alongside an underground section of the Jenolan River. Along the route are 40km of multi-level passages with over 300 entrances and natural arches.
The caves themselves have been formed over millions of years due to erosion and natural weathering from the Jenolan river. Even today the many different hollows of the cave system are still being newly explored.
9. Kiama blowhole NSW – a wonder to blow you away
The striking performance and noise of Kiama blowhole will certainly blow you away as well as giving a little bit of splash back when standing on the viewing platform! Situated on NSW’s South Coast it is considered the largest blowhole in the world, spraying around 50litres of water 25m into the air, with an impressive booming noise. The name ‘Kiama’ is derived from a local Aboriginal word meaning ‘place where the sea makes a noise’
This natural water eruption was made after many years of the water from the ocean pounding the rocks creating a blowhole hole in a rocky cavern. When water surges into the passage of this rock cliff, it compresses air inside and then the air and water surge through the hole in a powerful noisy display. Certain sea and wind conditions are needed to get the maximum display.
In the day you have the spectacular ocean views from Blow Hole Point, then at night you experience the thrilling sound of water shooting skyward and the sea roaring. The area is flood lit until 1am, adding to the fun and excitement of being drenched.
10. Cathedral Gorge NT – a captivating natural amphitheater
Cathedral Gorge is a natural gorge within the Bungle Bungle Range at Purnululu National Park. It is located at the southern end of the mountain ridge. At the end of the Cathedral Gorge walking trail the the gorge widens, at the foot hill of the cliffs to reveal a vast cathedral-like erosional cave. The cave forms a breathtaking amphitheater surrounded by huge red walled rocks. Water pounds through it in the wet season leaving the natural amphitheater with a large pool of water in the middle. In the dry season the site is also stunning with the natural red rocks soaring into the sky. The surface of the high rocks and concave formation enhances the acoustics so much, that music has been performed here.
The Bundle Bundle Ranges are an incredible landscape of beehive- shaped, tiger-striped sandstone domes rising 300m from the landscape. A hike through this fascinating landscape leads you through other amazing gorges and canyons.