Ayers Rock is a large sandstone rock formation that appears out in the middle of no where in central Australia. This wonder is 208 miles from the closest large town. Ayers Rock, also called Uluru, reaches a peak of 1,142 feet and measures 5.8 miles around. Ayers Rock features waterholes, springs, and rock caves. Although not relevant to natural characteristics, Uluru has historical significance because of ancient paintings found within the caves. In addition to the geological features, another notable feature is the changing of colors as the sun light strikes the rock at different times throughout the day. It tends to glow red as the sun sets marking one of the best views. Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is made of a type of sandstone that is characterized by feldspar and conglomerate. The rock is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people of the area.
Ross Ice Shelf
The Ross Ice Shelf was originally called the Ross Ice Barrier because it prevented ships from sailing south. It is the largest ice shelf in the southern hemisphere and encompasses an area of 182,000 square miles. The ice shelf is approximately 500 miles long and the surface area rises between 50 and 200 feet.
McKenzie Falls is a waterfall located in Grampians National Park in Australia. The falls reaches heights of 65 to 82 feet and is 65 feet wide. The Grampians area is home to approximately 900 native plant species. Additionally, visitors may have the opportunity to experience some of the wildlife which includes kangaroos, possums, gliders, koalas, echidnas, and around 200 species of birds. Unfortunately, a brush fire went through the park in 2006 burning almost half of the park’s vegetation. A strong effort has been invested in restoring the vegetation, but the park area is still in recovery.
Daintree Rainforest is the largest tropical area in all of Australia. It is located north of Cairns and is a protected area as Daintree National Park. The rainforest is recognized as a significant biosphere with diverse habitats necessary for survival of a variety of species. The Daintree Rainforest is home to a number of endangered species including the popular Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo. There are around 430 species of birds and 12,000 species of insects living in the area. The areas accounts for 65% of Australia’s bat and butterfly species. Daintree River runs through the rainforest area and delivers the water of the forest to the sea. The river creates an opportunity for visitors to experience salt water crocodiles and a variety of birds that call the area home.
Pinnacles Desert is located in Nambung National Park in the western part of Australia. The pinnacles are limestone pillars that protrude out of the sand. There are thousands of pillars that stretch across the desert sand creating an incredibly unique landscape. The Pinnacles are all different shapes and sizes with some reaching 11.5 feet high. The pinnacles may be jagged, rounded, sharp-edged, or any combination depending on how the wind has eroded them away.
Franz Josef Glacier
The Franz Josef Glacier is found in the Westland National Park in New Zealand. The glacier is 7.5 miles long, but that is not what makes it unique. There are two features that make this glacier stand out apart from the visual beauty. First, the glacier descends from the higher elevations of the Southern Alps to less than 1000 feet above sea level into a temperate rainforest area. Second, the glacier foot is only 12 miles from the coastline making it one of three glaciers that are that close to the shore.
Marovo Lagoon is part of the New Georgia Islands system. The lagoon is populated by several islands of which some of them are inhabited. Marovo Lagoon is the largest saltwater lagoon in the world.
The Bungle Bungles area is a highlight of Purnululu National Park in western Australia. The landscape features deep caverns, dramatic caves, tropical pools, and hundreds of distinctive beehive shaped limestone formations that work together to create a phenomenal scene of wonder. The Bungle Bungles get their unique tiger stripes from black algae growth that penetrates the pores of the rock combined with the orange colored build up of manganese and iron stains.