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19 Surreal Places In Australia To Visit Before You Die

Australia, bloody hell.

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1. Heart Reef, Queensland.

Tanya Puntti / Getty Images

The 2,300km-long Great Barrier Reef comprises thousands of reefs – this stunning heart-shaped composition off the Whitsunday Islands is best experienced by helicopter or plane.

2. Kata Tjuta, Northern Territory.

Justin Otto / Flickr: 8604504@N03 / Creative Commons

Nearby Uluru is a global icon that steals all the headlines, but the remarkable 36 rock domes of Kata Tjuta are equally striking. Glowing a deep red at sunrise and sunset, they are often almost deserted: and would be worth a trip to the Red Centre on their own.

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3. Lake Ballard sculptures, Western Australia.

Flickr: offchurch-tam / Creative Commons

This confronting installation by British artist Antony Gormley features 51 full-size sculptures of residents of the nearby town of Menzies, derived from laser scans. Emerging from the heat haze like ghouls, you wouldn't want to be out here at night.

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4. The Bay of Fires, Tasmania.

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One of the most spectacular spots in Australia's wildest state, the Bay of Fires was so named by an English navigator in 1773 after the fires burned by local Indigenous people. Today the name is synonymous with the fiery red granite that lights up its beaches – though this is actually a rare lichen.

5. Whitehaven Beach, Queensland.

John Carnemolla / Getty Images

Australia has more than 10,000 beaches, but Whitehaven is the most famous. Stretching 7km along the edge of Whitsunday Island, the pure white silica sands are a mystery, other beaches nearby feature hard, ground coral beaches. Claims the sand is so pure it was used to manufacture the lenses of the Hubble Telescope are probably a myth.

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6. The Pinnacles, Western Australia.

Peter Kent / Flickr: 45072502@N02 / Creative Commons

A land as flat, ancient and wind-blasted as Australia is of course home to some pretty weird geological curiosities, and The Pinnacles are one of the strangest. Scientists still don't know whether the limestone pillars were formed from sea creatures, trees or plants. In the meantime, do as comedian Billy Connolly did, and dance around them naked.

7. Nullarbor Plain, Western Australia.

Flickr: chrisfithall / Creative Commons

Crossing vast treeless wastes, the Eyre Highway across the Nullarbor Plain is Australia's straightest road. Watch out for camels, wombats and mobs of kangaroos, or pull off to spot southern right whales from the magnificent Bunda Cliffs.

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8. Bungle Bungles, Western Australia.

Simonkr / Getty Images

The 350 million-year-old Bungle Bungle Range has been an important spiritual place for Indigenous Australians for 40,000 years, but were only “discovered” by the outside world in 1983.

9. Wave Rock, Western Australia.

Zambezishark / Getty Images

Resembling the face of a giant breaking wave 14m high and more than 100m long, Wave Rock is on the lands of the Njaki Njaki Nyoongar people. Formed over millennia by water erosion after heavy rains, the striking streaks are made by dissolving minerals.

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10. The Devil's Marbles, Northern Territory.

Robyn Brody / Getty Images

These gigantic granite boulders look like they have been dropped from space. Actually, they bear witness to the eons of time that have shaped the world's oldest continent. Other rocks around the granite have eroded away to leave what you see today.

11. Lake Hillier, Western Australia.

This bubble-gum pink lake on the Recherche Archipelago off the coast of Esperance is (most likely) caused by a saltwater tolerant algae which for some reason thrives here and nowhere else in Australia – scientists still haven't totally worked it out! The lake is best viewed from the air.

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13. Burramoko Ridge, Blue Mountains, NSW.

Only a couple of hours from Sydney in the Blue Mountains near Blackheath, Hanging Rock and Burramoko Ridge offer the kind of incredible wilderness views you'd associate with remote areas of the Rockies.

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14. Remarkable Rocks, South Australia

Roderick Eime / Flickr: rodeime / Creative Commons

Perched on a cliff overlooking the wild Southern Ocean at the very tip of remote Kangaroo Island, the vast Remarkable Rocks are entirely otherworldly. Shaped over more than 500 million years by a combination of ferocious wind and wild sea spray, they offer a photo opportunity like no other.

15. Super Pit, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

Corrie Barklimore / Flickr: corrieb / Creative Commons

A vast 3.5km long, 1.5km wide man-made hole of epic scope, the Super Pit gold mine is the biggest open cast mine in Australia, producing approximately 28 tonnes of gold a year. Visual representations of Australia's biggest industry don't come bigger than this.

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16. Ball's Pyramid, Lord Howe Island, NSW.

Ashley Whitworth / Getty Images

This truly bizarre 562m high volcanic remanent is the world’s tallest sea stack. In 2001 a team of conservationists discovered a very small population of hitherto presumed extinct Lord Howe Island stick insects living under a single shrub. Two pairs of the 24 individuals found were brought to Australia to breed new populations.

17. Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk, Western Australia.

Auscape / Getty Images

Near Albany in WA's richly bio-diverse south-west, the Valley of the Giants is a forest of gigantic tingle trees locals know as 'The Ancient Empire'. Visitors can walk around and through some of the giant trees (up to 16m circumference) on a boardwalk and tree top walkway.

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18. The Twelve Apostles, Victoria

Worakit Sirijinda / Getty Images

In a land of impressive rocks, they don't come much more impressive than these limestone stacks on Victoria's southern coast. Smashed by one the planet's most ferocious seas, the Apostles are a work in progress: there are now actually only seven standing after erosion claimed several in recent years. Go soon!

19. Uluru, Northern Territory

Marc Dalmulder / Flickr: mdalmuld / Creative Commons

Australia's most instantly iconic sight, Uluru is the exposed tip of a huge vertical slab of rock that continues below the surface for up to 5km – archeological research suggests that there has been human settlement in the region for at least 22,000 years.