Australia has long recognised the importance of preserving its rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage and was one of the first signatories to the World Heritage Convention.
The first Australian World Heritage sites were listed in 1981: the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park and the Willandra Lakes Region. The most recently added place is the Sydney Opera House. A new nomination for World Heritage listing of 11 of Australia's convict sites is being prepared as an exceptional example of the global story of forced migration. Several other nominations are being investigated.
Each of Australia's 17 World Heritage properties is outstanding in its own right and collectively they present an amazing diversity of places and values. Australia's World Heritage sites are located across the length and breadth of our vast continent, and even offshore:
- Great Barrier Reef (1981)
- Kakadu National Park (1981) *
- Willandra lakes Region (1981) *
- Lord Howe Island Group (1982)
- Tasmanian Wilderness (1982) *
- Gondwana Rainforests (Australia) (1986)
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (1987) *
- Wet Tropics of Queensland (1988)
- Shark Bay, Western Australia (1991)
- Fraser Island (1992)
- Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh/Naracoorte) (1994)
- Heard and McDonald Islands (1997)
- Macquarie Island (1997)
- Greater Blue Mountains Area (2000)
- Purnululu National Park (2003)
- Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens (2004)
- Sydney Opera House (2007)
* these four Australian properties are World Heritage listed for both their natural values and their Aboriginal cultural values.