Australia is home to some of the most astonishing landscapes and incredible natural wonders in the world.
From the surreal to the stunningly beautiful, here are 10 astonishing phenomena you can start daydreaming about:
Morning Glory clouds, Burketown, Queensland
During September and October, the rare meteorological phenomenon referred to as the Morning Glory Clouds rolls across the Gulf and can be observed in she skies above Burketown. Gangalidda traditional owner Murrandoo Yanner said his people believe the clouds were created by Walalu, the Rainbow Serpent, and is of great cultural significance. The cloud bank can be up to 1000 kilometres long, 1-2 kilometres and can travel at speeds of up to 60km/hour. Although these clouds can be found in other parts of the world, Burketown is the only place where they appear frequently at set times of the year.
Cuttlefish annual aggregation, Eyre Peninsula, SA
The annual migration of giant Australian cuttlefish Sepia apama to the waters of the upper Spencer Gulf to breed is one of the most spectacular events in the Australian marine environment. Unique to SA's waters, it is the only place in the world where the cuttlefish aggregate annually en masse and with such great predictability. Every winter, thousands of cuttlefish merge and as expert colour-changers, these masters of camouflage can change their shape and texture to look like rocks, sand or seaweed. Between June and July, travellers can snorkel with the cuttlefish at Stony Point on the Eyre Peninsula.
In simple terms, coral spawning is the reef reproducing. Coral polyps simultaneously release egg and sperm bundles into the ocean for external fertilisation. This happens in a mass event annually often affectionately named the world's largest orgasm by locals. This rare phenomenon lasts only a few nights, but travellers can take a nighttime coral spawning dive trip or join an overnight vessel during the coral spawning dates for a chance to view this weird and wonderful sight.
Jervis Bay, three hours south of Sydney, is renowned for its white sandy beaches, but these are even more wondrous at night. Due to a natural chemical reaction, plankton become luminescent and emanate a blue glow. Only seen at night, this can happen at any time of the year, but is more common in spring and summer when the water is warmer. While the magical display is difficult to predict, the presence of red algae during the day may indicate a higher chance of bioluminescence in the evening.
Min Min Lights, NT
The Min Min Lights are a mysterious phenomenon that have spooked many people in the outback from Mataranka (south of Katherine) to Uluru and everywhere in between. The lights have been described by witnesses as floating, fast-moving balls of colour that glow in the night sky and stalk people, leaving some feeling confused and frightened. There is debate as to whether the Min Min Lights exist, or if they are simply an Aboriginal folktale that has been passed down for generations.
Pink lakes, SA and WA
These extraordinary pink lakes have got to be seen to be believed. From outback SA to the coast of WA, there are few things that are as beautiful and ballfing as Australia's pink lakes.
- Located on Middle Island off Esperance, WA, Lake Hillier is known for its baffling bubble-gum pink hue. It's a surreal sight; the pink lake neighbours the dark blue waters of the Indian Ocean, with a strip of lush green forest acting as a barrier.
- Famous for some of the most vividly hued nature found anywhere in Australia, WA's Hutt Lagoon changes from red to pink and even to lilac purple. Located on the Coral Coast, visit mid-morning or at sundown to catch the best of its spectrum.
- The pale pinks, oranges and yellows of Lake Eyre, a six-hour drive from Adelaide, epitomise the vast landscapes of outback SA. The salt pan lake is a stunning sight, but becomes a different kind of beautiful every few years as the lake floods with water.
- Contrasting colours of pink, blue and green create the striking scene that is Lake MacDonnell. Located on SA's Eyre Peninsula, it is one of the country's most intensely pink lakes, owing to its high salt concentration. Take the road between the lake and its neighbouring blue-green waters to discover Cactus Beach at the end of the path.
Aurora Australis, Tasmania
Like its northern hemisphere counterpart (Aurora Borealis), the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) illuminate the night sky with flickering shades of green, blue, purple and red. The Southern Lights can be viewed all year round - although most commonly during winter, May-August, and during the spring equinox in September. Aurora Australis is visible from several spots across the country, but your best chance of witnessing this phenomenon is from Tasmania. Head to Bruny Island, Satellite Island, Bathurst Harbour or Cradle Mountain for the beautiful low-light conditions needed to spot the glimmering lightshow.
World's largest dinosaur footprints, Broome, WA
The world's largest dinosaur footprints can be found on the north coast of Broome in WA. At 1.7-metres long, these fossilised dinosaur footprints are 130 million years old and extend in patches for 80km along the coast. At the southern end of Cable Beach is Gantheaume Point, a scenic area of red sandstone cliffs where visitors can observe footprints of dinosaurs located on the flat rocks 30 metres out to sea, and are only visible at low tide. Later, if the timing is right, they can also catch a glimpse of the Staircase to the Moon at Cable Beach in Broome. This phenpmenon occurs two-three days a month between March and October, as the full moon rises over the exposed tidal flats of Roebuck Bay.
Horizontal Falls, WA
Described by David Attenborough as "Australia's most unusual natural wonder", Horizontal Falls in WA's Kimberley is a natural phenomenon that is as intriguing as it is beautiful. There are two horizontal waterfalls in and both can be found in Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago. These natural wonders are the work of some of the largest tidal movements in the world, the first and most seaward is about 20 metres wide, while the second is about 10 metres wide. The powerful tides in the Kimberley can reach more than 10 metres and the direction of the flow reverses, ensuring the water flows two different way s each day, a unique waterfall effect. You can join a scenic flight or sea safari to the waterfalls.
Walk the red crab carpet in Christmas Island, off the far north-west coast of Australia. The island is home to an estimated 40-50 million bright red land crabs. Each year, at the start of the wet season (November-January), Mother Nature rolls out the red carpet as hordes of crabs emerge from the island's forests and march down to the ocean to breed. Before planning a trip, check here for possible spawning dates. Remember, it's a natural event, so these are predictions only.