Where in the world? Our own backyard

Peter Valentine takes readers to 19 of Australia's World Heritage Sites

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Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Sites include sites in Barrington Tops National Park, NSW (pictured here from Thunderbolt Lookout). Photo: Shutterstock

Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Sites include sites in Barrington Tops National Park, NSW (pictured here from Thunderbolt Lookout). Photo: Shutterstock

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World Heritage Sites of Australia will make you want to pack up and go.

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KAKADU National Park, the Great Barrier Reef, Macquarie Island - just three of the many must-see Australian destinations on most traveller's bucket list.

They are also three of 19 Australian World Heritage sites profiled in a beautiful new book by author Peter Valentine.

In this stunning coffee-table tome, Valentine provides a fascinating historic and photographic guide to the sites and the role these amazing places play in shaping our natural and cultural history.

Each site is described in exquisite detail, along with an account of how it came to be included on the World Heritage List.

Every chapter features a reflection of Valentine's observations, involvement with or connection to each site.

Of Fraser Island he reflects: "I felt the sand between my toes and under my feet. Every grain had been swept here by the wind, so was quite small and fine to touch.

"These grains, or some of them at least, had once formed part of the Great Dividing Range in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. I find that thought astonishing."

Other sites featured include the Australian fossil mammal sites at Riversleigh/Naracoorte, the Greater Blue Mountains - "the geomorphology is remarkable: slotted canyons, cliffs, waterfalls and outcrops reflect the long process of landform evolution" - and the Ningaloo Coast.

The accompanying photographs will have you wanting to pack up and go see for yourself.

Following an academic career in environmental management and conservation, Peter Valentine became involved in Australian tropical rainforest conservation and subsequently became a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.

He has been involved in natural heritage across Australia and throughout the world.

Penguins on Macquarie Island. Photo: Shutterstock

Penguins on Macquarie Island. Photo: Shutterstock

Australian World Heritage Sites

  • Kakadu National Park, NT
  • Great Barrier Reef, Qld
  • Willandra Lakes, NSW
  • Lord Howe Island Group, NSW
  • Tasmanian Wilderness, Tasmania
  • Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, NSW and Qld
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, NT
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland, Qld
  • Shark Bay, WA
  • Fraser Island (K'gari), Qld
  • Australian Fossil Mammal Sites, Qld, SA
  • Macquarie Island, Tasmania
  • Heard and McDonald Islands, Australian Territory
  • Greater Blue Mountains, NSW
  • Purnululu National Park, WA
  • Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, VIC
  • Australian Convict Sites, Tasmania, NSW, WA and Norfolk Island
  • Sydney Opera House, NSW
  • Ningaloo Coast, WA

World Heritage Sites of Australia by Peter Valentine (NLA Publishing), RRP $49.99.

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