Wet Tropics of Queensland

World Heritage Site #38: Wet Tropics of Queensland
Wet Tropics of Queensland: My 38th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the eensland:

The Wet Tropics of Queensland, or Wet Tropics, stretches along the northeast coast of Australia for some 450 kilometers. Encompassing some 894,420 hectares of mostly tropical rainforest, this stunningly beautiful area is extremely important for its rich and unique biodiversity. It also presents an unparalleled record of the ecological and evolutionary processes that shaped the flora and fauna of Australia, containing the relics of the great Gondwanan forest that covered Australia and part of Antarctica 50 to 100 million years ago. All of Australia’s unique marsupials and most of its other animals originated in rainforest ecosystems, and their closest surviving relatives occur in the Wet Tropics. These living relicts of the Gondwanan era and their subsequent diversification provide unique insights in the process of evolution in general. They also provide important information for the interpretation of fossils of plants and animals found elsewhere in Australia, and about the evolution of Australia’s sclerophyll flora and marsupial fauna in particular.

The property supports tropical rainforests at their latitudinal and climatic limits, and unlike most other seasonal tropical evergreen equatorial forests, is subject to a dry season and to frequent cyclonic events. Many of the distinct features of the Wet Tropics relate to its extremely high but seasonal rainfall, diverse terrain, and steep environmental gradients. In addition to its complex array of species and life forms, the Wet Tropics is also recognized as an area possessing outstanding scenic features, natural beauty and magnificent sweeping landscapes.

Like the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, the Wet Tropics of Queensland encompasses a large stretch of land along the coast of Northern Queensland. There are many places you can visit, the most popular ones being outside of Cairns. Cairns prides itself as being one of the only cities in the world which sits between two World Heritage sites: the Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef.

I visited Girringun National Park which is one of the southernmost parks in the World Heritage Site. It is also the home of Wallaman Falls, the highest waterfall in Australia.

Overview

Wet Tropics of QueenslandThe Wet Tropics of Queensland is located in Queensland’s Great Dividing Range. It consists of nearly 9,000 square kilometers of wet tropical forests. This site was declared as a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Meanwhile, it was recognized into the Australian National Heritage List in 2007.

Even before the UNESCO recognition, the tropical rainforests already gained international significance due to its natural values. The rainforest is believed to be the site of the complete record showcasing the various stages of evolution for plant life on Earth. Hence, there were previous efforts at preserving it within the international community.

Basic Facts on Wet Tropics of Queensland

Here are some of the basic facts you need to know about the Wet Tropics of Queensland:

  • About 15% of the protected area of Wet Tropics of Queensland consists of national parks. There are 9 national parks covered in total: Barron Gorge National Park, Cedar Bay National Park, Edmund Kennedy National Park, Kirrama National Park, Wooroonooran National Park, Black Mountain National Park, Daintree National Park, Girringun National Park, and Kuranda National Park.
  • In 1983, the Wet Tropics Management Authority was established to solely manage the protected site as part of Australia’s agreement with the World Heritage Convention.
  • The highest waterfall in Australia, Wallaman Falls, is located within the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
  • There are 13 major river systems within the protected heritage area.
  • There are more than 390 rare plant species, 90 species of orchids, 370 species of birds, and more than 100 species of reptiles found within the heritage area. The tubed nose insectivorous murina florious bat is the rarest mammal in Australia and it can be found in the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
  • The amount of rainfall in the heritage area varies according to the elevation. However, the highest rainfall typically occurs from November to April.

Natural Features

The spectacular scenery and rugged terrain are the primary features of the Wet Tropics of Queensland. In between the rugged terrain are other interesting features such as waterfalls, deep gorges, and fast-flowing rivers. There are mountain summits within the heritage site that tourists can hike up to in order to get a bird’s eye view of the undisturbed rainforest landscape.

Wet Tropics of Queensland

More than a beauty to marvel at, the rainforests in Queensland provide a natural habitat for a wide range of species (both animals and plants). There are approximately more than 400 species combined that thrive in the rainforests, most of them are either threatened or rare. Hence, the preservation of the tropical rainforest is more than just about conserving the landscape for future generations; it is also vital for the survival of these species.

The value of this world heritage area lies beyond the survival and habitat of various plants and animal species. It is believed that aboriginal occupation in the rainforest and surrounding areas were common and scientists believe it took place around 50,000 years ago. The fact that the early human settlers would choose the wet tropical rainforests of Queensland for settlement is not surprising given that there are plenty to sustain the hunting-gathering lifestyle of these prehistoric folks.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 9:49 pm

Great Barrier Reef

World Heritage Site #37: Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef: My 37th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Great Barrier Reef:

As the world’s most extensive coral reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is a globally outstanding and significant entity. Practically the entire ecosystem was inscribed as World Heritage in 1981, covering an area of 348,000 square kilometers and extending across a contiguous latitudinal range of 14o (10oS to 24oS). The Great Barrier Reef includes extensive cross-shelf diversity, stretching from the low water mark along the mainland coast up to 250 kilometers offshore. This wide depth range includes vast shallow inshore areas, mid-shelf, and outer reefs, and beyond the continental shelf to oceanic waters over 2,000 meters deep.

Within the Great Barrier Reef, there are some 2,500 individual reefs of varying sizes and shapes, and over 900 islands, ranging from small sandy cays and larger vegetated cays to large rugged continental islands rising, in one instance, over 1,100 meters above sea level. Collectively these landscapes and seascapes provide some of the most spectacular maritime scenery in the world.

The latitudinal and cross-shelf diversity, combined with diversity through the depths of the water column, encompasses a globally unique array of ecological communities, habitats, and species. This diversity of species and habitats and their interconnectivity make the Great Barrier Reef one of the richest and most complex natural ecosystems on earth. There are over 1,500 species of fish, about 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of mollusk, and some 240 species of birds, plus a great diversity of sponges, anemones, marine worms, crustaceans, and other species. No other World Heritage property contains such biodiversity. This diversity, especially the endemic species, means the GBR is of enormous scientific and intrinsic importance, and it also contains a significant number of threatened species. At the time of inscription, the IUCN evaluation stated “… if only one coral reef site in the world were to be chosen for the World Heritage List, the Great Barrier Reef is the site to be chosen”.

Great Barrier ReefAs I noted in my World Heritage Site overview, it is hard to get a real grasp of the size Great Barrier Reef from the surface of the Earth. Unless you are in a jumbo jet flying over the reef at 30,000 feet, you can’t see how big it is, and even in a jet, you can only see a fraction of it.

There are several locations in Queensland where you can access the reef. I went diving in the Whitsunday Islands off Airlie Beach and in Cairns. I also had the chance to do some real underwater photography with my camera.

If you visit Australia with the idea of standing on a hill and taking in the majesty of the Great Barrier Reef….forget it. You can’t see it from shore in most places. You’ll need to take at least an hour long boat ride to get out to the reef.

Overview

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef needs no introduction. It is a natural site listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia after it was inscribed into the list in 1981. It is the largest coral reef system in the world with more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. The reef belongs to Coral Sea in Queensland, Australia. It is also the largest single living structure in the world and is visible from outer space. Meanwhile, it is also recognized by the Queensland National Trust as the state’s icon.

A large percentage of the reef system belongs to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. This park was established to limit the impact of human use and contact with the living organisms in the island (which is inevitable due to the tourism industry). Some of the current threats to the reef system include coral bleaching, runoff and cyclic population outbreaks of starfish. A study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that since 1985, over half of the corals had been lost at the Great Barrier Reef. Hence, conservation efforts had been tight in order to preserve what is left of the corals.

Basic Facts About Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier ReefHere are some interesting facts you need to know about the Great Barrier Reef:

  • The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure in the planet. It is also rich and diverse in terms of life.
  • The Great Barrier Reef stretches to 2,300 kilometers in length and can be seen from the outer space.
  • Some of the animal species that are living within the Great Barrier Reef have been around since prehistoric times and have changed little over time. These include crocodiles and turtles.
  • The vast expanse of the Great Barrier Reef features diverse ecological communities, species and habitats. The reef system, however, is the most complex in the world and it is most famous for. But the reef system only consists 70% of the total area covered by the World Heritage Site.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park consists of different zones with each zone having their own set of rules for protecting and preserving the natural resources.
  • The marine creatures that thrive in the Great Barrier Reef can be broken down as follows: 600 soft and hard corals, 300 varieties of molluscs, over 100 species of jellyfish, 133 varieties of rays and sharks, over 30 species of whales, and more than 1,600 types of fish.

How to Get Here

If you want to visit the Great Barrier Reef, the best place to start your journey is Cairns. This is the preferred jump-off point for most tourists because there are plenty of sights and activities within Cairns itself.

For international visitors, you can take international flights to Cairns International Airport. You can also take direct flights into the islands on the reef, such as the Great Barrier Reef Airport in Hamilton Island. From Hamilton Island, you can choose to take a plane or boat in order to visit the Great Barrier Reef and other neighboring islands.

What You Need to Know Before Visiting

Great Barrier Reef

Planning a trip to the Great Barrier Reef? Here are some guidelines to help you make the most of your time:

  • The best times to visit the Great Barrier Reef is during the months of late March to early June.
  • It is BIG! You won’t be able to cover the 132,000+ square miles that it encompasses. Hence, you need to plan your itinerary on the activities you wish to do (snorkeling, swimming or diving) or the attractions you want to explore.
  • If you are going to dive at the reef, make sure to bring your underwater camera so you can capture the beautiful marine life and coral system.
  • Always abide by the environmental guidelines and responsible reef practices to aid in the conservation and preservation of the reef system.
  • The best way to get around the Great Barrier Reef is by boat or car. If you are planning to spend most of your time on the mainland, renting a car is a good idea. But renting a boat is a good option if you want to explore the remote areas of the island such as Lizard or Whitsunday Islands.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 9:59 pm

Go Oman!

I picked the right day to come to Oman. The night I arrived Oman beat Saudi Arabia in the Gulf Nations Cup in Soccer. The last two days everyone has been going nuts, wearing Omani flags and scarves, driving around with cars decked out in red, white and green, honking and cheering.

I’m typing this at an internet cafe in Muscat as I wait for the bus to take me to Nizwa. I’m beginning to think that renting a car might have been a smarter option. Gas is really cheap, and all the road signs are in English as well as Arabic. I might do that in Nizwa still. The early bus to Nizwa left at 8am and I showed up at 9:30am not knowing the bus schedule. The next bus leaves at 2:30pm, so I sit and wait.

I wasn’t really planning on visiting Oman, but I’m glad I did.


On some related news from places I’ve been before, officials in Japan have closed the Tsukiji Fish Market to tourists for a month. Having been to the Tsukiji Fish Market, I’m amazed at some of the things people were doing. I was hyper aware of the fact that I was in the middle of an active market where people were earning a living. It is really no different than being on the floor of a stock exchange….except it is fish. You have to get up really early to visit the fish market, and if you are drunk at 5am, you have issues.

On a personal level, must say I was glad to hear no Americans were involved.

You can read more about my experience at the Tsukiji Fish Market.

Fraser Island

World Heritage Site #36: Fraser Island
Fraser Island: My 36th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Fraser Island:

Fraser Island, also known by its Aboriginal name of K’gari, lies along the eastern coast of Australia. The property covers 181,851 hectares and includes all of Fraser Island and several small islands off the island’s west coast. It is the world’s largest sand island, offering an outstanding example of ongoing biological, hydrological and geomorphological processes. The development of rainforest vegetation on coastal dune systems at the scale found on Fraser Island is unique, plus the island boasts the world’s largest unconfined aquifer on a sand island.

The property has exceptional natural beauty with over 250 kilometers of clear sandy beaches with long, uninterrupted sweeps of ocean beach, strikingly colored sand cliffs, and spectacular blowouts. Inland from the beach are majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on sandy dunes and half of the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes.

Fraser Island is a very popular stop on the route from Sydney or Brisbane to Cairns. As the largest sand island in the world, all the vehicles which operate on the island have to be 4-wheel drive. This includes tour buses. The island is a popular location for overnight camping and independent exploration. I ended up taking an organized tour which, in hindsight, I sort of regret doing. It would have been more fun to just rent a jeep and drive on the beach.

The most notable fauna on the island are the dingos. The Fraser Island dingos are considered the most “authentic” in all Australia as they have been protected from interbreeding. While they normally cause no problems, they are dangerous and only a few years ago a pack of dingos killed a 9-year-old boy on the island.

Overview

Fraser IslandFraser Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Queensland, Australia. It is located along the southeastern coast of the state and approximately 250 kilometers from Brisbane, the state’s capital city. The island measures at 120 kilometers in length and 24 kilometers in width. For this reason, it is recognized as the world’s largest sand island. It is also the largest island in Queensland and sixth largest island in Australia.

The Fraser Island was inscribed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia in 1992 under the Natural category.

How to Get Here

There are direct flights to the Fraser Coast if you are coming from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne. Once you reach the Fraser Coast, you need to board a ferry that will travel for 50 minutes to reach Fraser Island. If you have hired a 4WD vehicle (highly recommended when exploring Fraser Island), you must ride the barge at Inskip Point at the northern tip of Rainbow Beach. Another option is to travel via River Heads, which is located 20 minutes south of Hervey Bay.

Unique Geology and Landscape

Fraser Island

Not only is the Fraser Island the largest sand island in the world, it is also has an unusual feature – this is the only place on Earth wherein rainforests grow on sand dunes. You can also find half of the world’s perched lakes within this island. These are lakes that were formed at the depression of the sand dunes that were filled with water and permanently formed into lakes.

The total volume of sand within the Fraser Island located above sea level is 113 cubic kilometers. On the eastern part of the island, there is a slow erosion process that is ongoing resulting in some of the beaches eroding and causing the sea level to rise. This process has often been attributed by scientists to climate change. The sand that forms the Fraser Island is made up of 98% quartz.

Fraser IslandMeanwhile, the hills on the island were formed due to sandblowing. When wind moves across the island and on those parts wherein there is lack of vegetation, it causes the formation of dunes and hills on the island. The south-easterly winds that hit the island each year results in a growth of 1 to 2 meters on the dunes and hills each year. These hills and dunes can reach a maximum of 244 meters in height.

As for the differently colored sands, those are the result of thousands of years of conglomeration with clay. And the presence of a mineral pigment known as hematite causes the sand to bind and harden (like cement), which explains how steep cliffs had formed.

Lakes on Fraser Island

As mentioned earlier, the Fraser Island consists of the largest collection of perched lakes in the world. There are more than 100 freshwater lakes on the island. It is second only to the state of Tasmania in terms of the number of lakes in Australia. Lake Mckenzie is the most popular of these lakes, which is a perched lake measuring at 150 hectares in land area. However, there is little nutrient and high pH level on this lake and many other perched lakes on Fraser Island. For this reason, many species are unable to find a habitat in these lakes, not just Lake McKenzie.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:06 pm

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

World Heritage Site #35: Gondwana Rainforests of Australia
Gondwana Rainforests of Australia: My 35th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia:

The Gondwana Rainforests contains the largest and most significant remaining stands of subtropical rainforest and Antarctic Beech (Nothofagus moorei) cool temperate rainforests in the world, the largest and most significant areas of warm temperate rainforest and one of only two remaining large areas of Araucarian rainforest in Australia.

Questions related to the small size of some of the component parts of the property, and the distance between the sites for the long-term conservation and continuation of natural biological processes of the values for which the property was inscribed have been raised. However, noting that the serial sites are in reasonable proximity and are joined by corridors of semi-natural habitats and buffers, compensation for small size and scattered fragments is being made through intensive management consistent with approved management plans and policy.

Since inscription, there have been significant additions to the protected area estate in both New South Wales and Queensland in the region encompassing the Gondwana Rainforests. These areas have undergone a rigorous assessment to determine their suitability for inclusion in the property and a significant extension of the property is planned as indicated by the addition of the property extension to Australia’s Tentative List in May 2010. In relation to ongoing evolution, the level of legislative protection provided for World Heritage properties will minimize direct human influence and enable the continuation of natural biological processes.

Unlike most World Heritage sites, the Gondwana Rainforests isn’t one particular place, rather it is a huge expanse of forest that covers much of southern Queensland. It covers multiple national parks, so there are multiple options on where you can visit.

I visited Springbrook National Park just outside of Gold Coast, Queensland. From the hills, I could see the Gold Coast skyline and the ocean beyond. Springbrook is an easy drive from Gold Coast or Brisbane. I was there on a school holiday and the park was packed. In addition to some stunning waterfalls, there is an overlook where you can view the plains of New South Wales.

Overview

Gondwana Rainforests of AustraliaThe Gondwana Rainforests of Australia is an extensive subtropical rainforest located in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia. It used to be known as Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves. It consists of a large warm temperate rainforest that includes most of the Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest. This area is also remote and isolated that majority of the plants and animals that live within the forest are relatively unchanged from the ancient times based on the fossil records gathered within the forest.

It was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia in 1986 under the Natural category. However, extensions to the area covered within the heritage site were finalized in 1994.

Gondwana Rainforest as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia is a collection of over 50 separate reserves that encompass more than 366,500 hectares of land area. It starts from Newcastle to Brisbane! Hence, it is one of the largest rainforest in the world.

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

There are several national parks in Queensland that are covered within this heritage area including the following:

  • Lamington National Park
  • Mt Barney National Park
  • Main Range National Park
  • Springbrook National Park

As for the New South Wales division of the rainforest, these national parks and reserves are included in this world heritage area:

  • Acacia Plateau Flora Reserve
  • Wilsons Peak Flora Reserve
  • Mallanganee National Park
  • Mount Clunie National Park
  • Mount Nothofagus National Park
  • Tooloom National Park
  • Border Ranges National Park
  • Limpinwood Nature Reserve
  • Nunimbah Nature Reserve
  • Wollumbin National Park
  • Iluka Nature Reserve
  • Gibraltar Range National Park
  • Washpool National Park
  • Fenwicks Scrub Flora Reserve
  • and parts of Cunnawarra National Park, Dorrigo National Park, Mount Hyland Nature Reserve, New England National Park, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, Werrikimbe National Park, Willi Willi National Park, Barrington Tops National Park and Mount Royal National Park.

Natural Features

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

The rainforest recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site is the same location of the former supercontinent Gondwana. To this day, it continues to be recognized as the most ancient type of vegetation in the country and the continent. Hence, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia provides an important link that showcases the evolution of Australia. There are few places on Earth like the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia wherein the plants and animal species that live within the area are relatively unchanged from their primitive times, based on the fossil records. In fact, the oldest ferns and conifers are found within this massive rainforest.

The rainforest and its landscape also provide a glimpse into how erosion has helped formed the land within the area. It has produced steep gorges and high waterfalls, which are common features in Gondwana Rainforest. Erosion is also a natural process that helped form the Great Escarpment and Tweed Valley.

Aside from the land formation, the vegetation and features of the rainforest has also contributed to the preservation and evolution of new species (for both plants and animals). For this reason, there is an extremely high conservation value for the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia since it has also served as a habitat for more than 200 threatened or rare species of plants and animals. This world heritage area is currently managed by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service along with the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:06 pm

Oh, Man! First Thoughts On Oman.

Going from Dubai to Muscat isn’t just crossing a border and moving a few hundred kilometers, it is going back in time 100 years. This is not to imply that Muscat is backwards. They have every modern amenity and an excellent infrastructure. However, you get the feel that you are really in an old port city when you are here. It is especially pronoucned after coming from Dubai.

In Dubai, you could be fooled into thinking you weren’t in a desert. The area is flat and until you get out of the city, you forget where you are. In Muscat there is no doubt; rocky hills all over the city. The harbor area is surrounded by rocky hills, which must have made for an excellent defense in an earlier age. It is easy to see why a city was built here.

Life seems a lot slower here. Men playing cards on the sidewalk and just shooting the breeze. I think there is a big soccer match tonight. Lots of Omani flags are flying.

My plan is to stay in Muscat for about 2 or 3 days then head inland to Nizwa to visit some nearby World Heritage Sites. Then I’ll head back to Muscat to fly to Doha, Qatar, probably via Abu Dhabi.

Oh, the internet here seems much better than Dubai, which I really find surprising.

You Say Dubai, I Say Hello

I’m off to Muscat, Oman in about an hour. I take a bus which will leave Dubai at 7:30am and arrive in Muscat in 1:30pm. Hopefully I’ll be able to use the time on the bus to write up some of my thoughts on Dubai…..or I might just sleep.

My current plan is to spend about 3 days in Muscat then head inland to Nizwa for a few days, visit some of the World Heritage sites there, then return to Muscat for a flight to Qatar.

I’m hoping the internet connectivity in Oman is better, but somehow I really doubt it. I’m again in a position where I’m carrying too many books with me. There are no hostels in this part of the world, so no place to exchange books.

I hate leaving this early in the morning, but I hate arriving when it is dark even more, so it is worth it I guess.

Tasmanian Wilderness

World Heritage Site #34: Tasmanian Wilderness
Tasmanian Wilderness: My 34th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Tasmanian Wilderness:

In a region that has been subjected to severe glaciation, these parks and reserves, with their steep gorges, covering an area of over 1 million ha, constitute one of the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world. Remains found in limestone caves attest to the human occupation of the area for more than 20,000 years.

Despite the popularity of Australia as a tourist destination, many people never get to Tasmania, which might be the most unspoiled and beautiful place in the entire country. You can find some of the largest trees in the world (giant eucalyptus) and most unique animals on Earth (Tasmanian Devil).

From an ecotourism standpoint, Tasmania might be the best place to visit in all of Australia.

Overview

Tasmanian WildernessThe Tasmanian Wilderness is one of Australia’s largest conservation reserves. It covers more than 1.6 million hectares of land area and is one of the three largest temperate wilderness areas within the Southern Hemisphere. Hence, it was inscribed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia in 1982 as a mixed site. The site covered by the heritage area was expanded in 1989 and 2013.

Within the Tasmanian Wilderness is a large expanse of national parks, nature reserves, steep gorges and other similar natural features. In addition, there are also limestone caves within the reserve that was home to human remains that were traced back to 20,000 years ago.

National Parks

The Tasmanian Wilderness Heritage Area consists of national parks and nature reserves. Below are some of the parks that it encompasses:

Nature Reserves

  • Central Plateau Conservation and Protected Areas
  • Devils Gullet State Reserve
  • South East Mutton Bird Islet

Tasmanian Wilderness

National Parks

  • Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park
  • Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
  • Hartz Mountains National Park
  • Mole Creek Karst National Park
  • Southwest National Park
  • Walls of Jerusalem National Park
  • Mt Field National Park

About the Tasmanian Wilderness

The Tasmanian Wilderness consists of a rugged landscape with spectacular natural beauty. It is believed that the wilderness area contains a rock from every geological period! In fact, the oldest rock formation found within the wilderness area dates back to 1,100 million years ago, or during the Precambrian period. In addition, the wilderness area also consists of limestone and karst formations such that you will find one of Australia’s largest and deepest caves in here.

Tasmanian WildernessThe diverse vegetation is another important natural feature in the Tasmanian Wilderness, which not only helped gain recognition from UNESCO but also from the International Center for Plant Diversity. This recognition was given by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN. The varied flora species found in the wilderness area of Tasmania includes open and closed forests, alpine communities, buttongrass moorland, and unique mosaics. In addition, some of the longest living trees (pines and conifers) can be found here as well.

In addition to featuring a diverse range of flora species, the Tasmanian Wilderness holds global significance for being the habitat to many endemic species and relict groups that had ties to an ancient lineage. The rich vegetation and variant soil and topography combine to provide a habitat for almost every type of fauna species imaginable. Among the endemic, threatened or unique fauna species that thrive here include the Tasmanian devil, marsupials, eastern quoll, Tasmanian pademelon, freshwater crayfish, ground parrot and many more.

Cultural Significance

The Tasmanian Wilderness was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the Mixed category. Aside from the natural importance and value to Australia, it is also considered an important archaeological site. Researchers conclude that it has the densest concentration of human occupation sites that date back to the late Pleistocene period or early Holocene period. In addition, the caves within the wilderness area show remnants of a hunting and gathering lifestyle from its early settlers. In addition, the archaeologists were also able to discover animal bones, hearths and other tools within the caves.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:10 pm

Sydney Opera House

World Heritage Site #33: Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House: My 33rd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Sydney Opera House:

The Sydney Opera House constitutes a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture. Its significance is based on its unparalleled design and construction; its exceptional engineering achievements and technological innovation and its position as a world-famous icon of architecture. It is a daring and visionary experiment that has had an enduring influence on the emergent architecture of the late 20th century. Utzon’s original design concept and his unique approach to building gave impetus to a collective creativity of architects, engineers. and builders. Ove Arup’s engineering achievements helped make Utzon’s vision a reality. The design represents an extraordinary interpretation and response to the setting in Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Opera House is also of outstanding universal value for its achievements in structural engineering and building technology. The building is a great artistic monument and an icon, accessible to society at large.

OK, I get it. I understand that the Sydney Opera House is the symbol of Sydney, if not of all Australia. However, I’m not sure that any 30-year-old building should really be declared a monument of human culture which should be preserved. It really isn’t even that impressive close-up.

You can hear my thoughts on the Opera House on this episode of the podcast.

Overview

Sydney Opera HouseThe Sydney Opera House is easily one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks. It is located along the Sydney Harbour and represents the country’s most creative and technical achievement. The Sydney Opera House started construction in 1958 and was completed in 1973. It was also formally opened to the public on the same year of its completion.

The building is a performing arts center and features an Expressionist style of architecture. The building of this performing arts theater was commissioned for by the New South Wales Government. Currently, there are several tenants to the building such as the Opera Australia, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and The Australian Ballet, to name a few.

Architectural Details

The Sydney Opera House exhibits a modern expressionist style. The large pre-cast concrete ‘shells’ are the most distinctive feature of the building. Each shell is made up of a sphere measuring at over 75 meters in radius. These shells form the structure of the building’s roof and are each set on a monumental podium. The entire building sits on over 1.8 hectares of land area. From a distance, these ‘shells’ appear as white in color. In actuality, they feature a uniform chevron pattern consisting of a glossy white and matte cream finish.

Sydney Opera House

Since the start of construction in 1957, it took 16 years to construct the Sydney Opera House. This is partly due to the complex engineering involved in the building process. The vision of Danish architect Jorn Utzon together with the help of Danish engineering firm Ove Arup and partners, they were able to overcome the complex engineering problems that constantly faced them in the process of the creation of this building. In fact, the construction of the Sydney Opera House was met with controversy due to the escalating costs of its construction. The construction of the roof alone posed a lot of engineering challenges; in fact, it took the team four years to solve this problem.

However, the controversy surrounding the fact that the building was becoming far too expensive was subsided when it was completed and the locals were able to experience its beauty and achievement. Utzon’s design was selected in an international design competition.

The location of the building is right along the end of Bennelong Point and in juxtaposition with the harbor. It was also built close to the Harbour Bridge – hence these two structures are regarded nearly as one iconic landmark. There are also other nearby attractions to the Sydney Opera House such as Circular Quay and Macquarie Street. There are several viewing points to witness and marvel at the Sydney Opera House – from the bridge, ferry, on foot or from the air.

When the Sydney Opera House was completed, it was acclaimed worldwide as an outstanding architectural feat for the 20th century. In fact, it has been commonly referred to as a sculptural building. You can see and experience it from all sides! Hence, it is more than just an architectural prowess but has become an integral part of the Sydney Harbour experience and reflects the character of the city.

Current Use of Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Today, the Sydney Opera House is a center for natural and cultural activities. Since it was constructed and completed, it gained national and international interest as a performing arts venue. The building consists of a concert hall, drama theater, opera house, a playhouse and studio. It is therefore the perfect venue to showcase some of the world’s best performers. When Utzon worked on the design for this building, he envisioned it to be a place to foster the creative history of Australia. In his own words, it will serve as an “individual face for Australia in the world of art”. And with that promise, he was able to accomplish it!


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:09 pm