Ayers Rock in Uluru National Park
Photograph by Mark Laricchia/Corbis
Lightning flashes over Ayers Rock, a landmark red sandstone monolith that draws tourists to Australia's center. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park houses the rock, called Uluru by Aborigines, the continent's original inhabitants.
Boab Trees, Kimberley
Photograph by Theo Allofs/Corbis
The remote Kimberley region in Western Australia features dramatic landscapes filled with river gorges and sandstone formations that were featured in the 2008 film Australia. The Kimberley is also home to the massive boab tree, close relative of the African baobabs.
Photograph by Penny Tweedie/Getty Images
Aborigines kick up dust in a dance at sunset. The original inhabitants of Australia, Aborigines were there for more than 40,000 years before white men arrived. European settlers brought disease and politics to the continent, severely endangering the Aborigines’ distinct culture, language, and lifestyle.
Photograph by Joe Scherschel
The sky stretches far and wide above cowgirls—or jillaroos—on a cattle ranch in Queensland. Ranching is serious business in Australia.
Photograph by Trevor Keyler, My Shot
A heavy-lidded koala keeps its cool nestled in an Adelaide tree. These eastern Australian residents spend most of their time dozing in eucalyptus trees, waking up at night to feed on the trees' tough leaves.
Photograph by Thorsten Milse/Photolibrary.com
A joey gets a ride from its mother in Victoria. A national symbol of Australia, the eastern grey kangaroo has been known to leap up to 29.5 feet (9 meters) in a single bound as it traverses eastern mainland Australia. The eastern grey is one of approximately 63 species that are native to Australia.
Twelve Apostles on Great Ocean Road
Photograph by James Wang, My Shot
Eight towering limestone monoliths make up the Twelve Apostles that sit on Great Ocean Road in southeastern Australia. The structures, once a part of the towering mainland cliffs, now sit about 80 feet (24 meters) high and 20 feet (6 meters) wide in the midst of crashing waves.
Photograph by Ben Moon/Aurora Photos
Australian longboarder Belinda Baggs ducks under a wave while surfing in Queensland. Australia’s Gold Coast is a surfing paradise where grommets (Aussie slang for surfers) hang ten in the waves that flow into famous surfing beaches like the Spit, Surfers Paradise, and Mermaid Beach.
Sydney Opera House
Photograph by Nigel Pavitt/Photolibrary.com
The Sydney Opera House is an iconic image of Australia’s largest city and provides multiple venues for different types of entertainment. The distinctive roof of the opera house is created from interlocking “shells” that form a terraced platform where pedestrians can stroll in the Sydney sunshine.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Photograph by John Gollings/Arcaid/Corbis
The world-famous Melbourne Cricket Ground was built in 1853 after the Australian government forced the 15-year-old Melbourne Cricket Club to move locations. Today the site is the largest stadium in Australia and has played host to Pope John Paul II, the 1956 Summer Olympics, and musical acts like The Police.
Brighton Beach Huts
Photograph by Lucky Nugraha, My Shot
Brightly colored bathing boxes line the sand at Brighton Beach. Victorian morality created the huts, situated close to the shoreline so women could slip into their bathing costumes and race to the water discretely.
Surf Livesaving Championships
Photograph by Jonathon Wood/Getty Images
Australian surf lifesaving clubs were formed in the early 20th century in an effort to help save swimmers who get caught in the sometimes treacherous surf. Today more than 300 surf lifesaving clubs help keep beaches safe and sponsor competitions and carnivals.
King Penguins, Macquarie Island
Photograph by Juls Mayoramsay, My Shot
King penguins crowd Macquarie Island, which is halfway between Australia and Antarctica and home to thousands of migratory seabirds and elephant seals. The oceanic island is the exposed part of the undersea Macquarie Ridge, which is formed by the meeting of two tectonic plates.
Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island
Photograph by Jason Edwards
The Remarkable Rocks, a series of weather-sculpted boulders that perch on a granite dome above the sea, draw visitors to Flinders Chase National Park on south Australia's Kangaroo Island.
Crystal Shower Falls in Dorrigo National Park
Photograph from Radius Images/Corbis
Crystal Shower Falls is just one natural attraction in New South Wales's Dorrigo National Park. Boardwalks on the forest floor and the treetop level let visitors experience the rain forest up close.
Australian Sea Lions
Photograph by David Doubilet/National Geographic Stock
The threatened Australian sea lion is found only in the Great Australian Bight, which arcs around the southern shore of the continent. The mammal is distinguished by an unusual breeding cycle that occurs every 18 months and has pups suckle for a year and a half.
Whitsunday Islands National Park
Photograph by Paul Chesley/National Geographic Stock
The smooth, sandy shorelines of Australia’s Whitsunday Islands and the natural wonder of the surrounding Great Barrier Reef draw tourists from around the world. Many of the 74 islands are designated national park land while others play host to luxurious island resorts.
2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Show us your best photos of nature, cities, and people from your travels around the world.