For the record, I’m skipping straight over Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef.

Not that they don’t deserve it, of course. But let’s all agree we know what they look like. Instead, here are some lesser-known natural wonders in the harsh, rugged land that is Australia.

This is my inspiration to return here and explore.

[Note: Most of these photos are licensed All Rights Reserved. Matador Trips received special permission from the photographers in these cases. Please note the license type before reusing any of the following images.]


Ningaloo Reef

The reef, in Western Australia 1200 km north of Perth, is 260 kms long and is the only large reef located close to a landmass. Photo: Gudge (All Rights Reserved)


Kakadu National Park

The park is nearly 200 km north-south and 100 km east-west and is just southeast of Darwin in the Northern Territory. It's home to four major river systems, six major landforms, and a gazillion species of wildlife.Photo: Flemming Bo Jensen (All Rights Reserved)


Katherine Gorge

Located in the Nitmiluk National Park in Northern Territory, the gorge follows the Katherine River, which starts in Kakadu. The relatively safe freshwater crocs may be found in most parts of the river.Photo: Brigitte Segers (All Rights Reserved)


Pinnacles Desert

The Pinnacles in Western Australia are part of the Nambung National Park. Scientists know what the limestone formations are made of, but can't agree on the mechanism of how they were produced. Photo: jhenn6550 (All Rights Reserved)


Coorong National Park

In South Australia, southeast of Adelaide, where the Murray River meets the sea. This spot in Goolwa is known locally as "Beacon 19" -- popular for fishing.Photo: Michael SA (All Rights Reserved)


Arnhem Land

Not an easy place to get to, but an amazingly large -- about the size of Florida & New Jersey combined -- untouched piece of Australia in the Northern Territory.Photo: Taipan2007 (All Rights Reserved)


Kangaroo Island

Cape Willoughby was the first lighthouse to be erected in South Australia, and lights the Backstairs Passage between Kangaroo Island and the mainland.Photo: Charlie 2.0 (All Rights Reserved)


Cradle Mountain

Located in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in Tasmania, the surrounding area has many options for walking, including the terminus for the Overland Track.Photo: Stephen Barnett (Creative Commons)


Flinders Ranges

After millions of years, the patterns of wear on the tops of this very hard rock shows in grooves. Must have been from eons of hail storms and freezing nights...water being limited in this area. South Australia. Photo: Raja Daja (All Rights Reserved)


Bungle Bungles

Found in Western Australia, these unique landforms were given the name Purnululu by the Kija Aboriginal people. This shot taken in Piccaninny Creek. Photo: Flemming Bo Jensen (All Rights Reserved)


Cape York

A lonely mangrove tree at the bay right at the tip of Cape York in Far North Queensland. Photo: Flemming Bo Jensen (All Rights Reserved)


Simpson Desert

This desert is within the boundaries of three states: Northern Territory, South Australia, and Queensland. It contains the world's longest parallel sand dunes. Photo: jwbenwell (Creative Commons)