Do you ever visit somewhere new and think, wow, that looks familiar? As an American expat living in Sydney, I love exploring the wild, wonderful, and weird of the Australian landscape. But did you know that if there was an Australia vs America list, they actually have more in common than you think.
On occasion, I come across places in Australia that look almost identical to parts of America. Despite the differences between America and Australia, it’s always a fun feeling when a place looks just like somewhere you know from the other side of the world.
Here’s a few of my top places in Australia that look like they could be in America in my Australia vs America post. Although I love the natural beauty, uniqueness, and character of Australia, it is always nice to be reminded of home on occasion!
Australia vs America: 7 places which look similar
A picturesque Pacific oceanside drive across cliffs and beach after beach must be California, right? Actually, the Sea Cliff Bridge can be found just south of Sydney, about halfway between the cities of Sydney and Wollongong.
The bridge and the views are strikingly similar to California’s Pacific Coast Highway, especially near the town of Big Sur. Both drives are unbelievably scenic and feature breathtaking ocean views.
For a great scenic drive from Sydney, head down south and meander through the Royal National Park, stop in at the lovely beachside town of Bundeena, then cruise across the Sea Cliff Bridge to Wollongong. You’ll find beach after beach and spectacular overlooks.
It might be missing the amazing tacos and Mexican food that you can find in Cali, but other than that, you’ll swear you’re back on the west coast.
2. Mary’s Burgers vs Any American Dive Bar
If there’s one classic American food, it’s the burger; gooey, dripping cheese, a soft toasted bun, and a perfectly charred patty stacked with lettuce, tomato, onion, and more. If you think you can only find this in the traditional American diner – think again. Newtown bar and eatery Mary’s has seriously taken the American burger to the next level in Australia.
Often credited as starting Sydney’s current trend of burger decadence, stepping into Mary’s is like walking into the states – only with Australian craft beer.
Expect loud rock and roll, melt in your mouth beef and chicken burgers, and a fun atmosphere just like you’d find in your favourite US dive bar.
If you’re looking for more American food in Sydney, don’t worry- there’s plenty to be found!
3. Canberra vs Washington DC
Canberra and Washington DC have a lot more than common than you’d think, and the National Mall in DC looks shockingly similar to Canberra’s Parliamentary Zone.
Canberra’s War Memorial and Parliament House are connected by clean lines and traffic circles, creating a neat geometry from above. This mirrors, both in neo classical architecture and in design, the National Mall in DC, which connects the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol building.
As an expat who grew up just outside DC, I really love visiting Canberra, as it always reminds me of home. As with the Smithsonian Institution in DC, Canberra also provides a wealth of amazing museums- check out the National Gallery, Questacon, or the National Museum of Australia, to name a few.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of the Blue Mountains National Park near Sydney attracts visitors from across the country, drawn to the area’s natural beauty, hiking trails, and it’s seemingly mysterious blue hues, brought on by the natural effect of oil from the region’s eucalyptus trees entering the atmosphere.
However, did you know a very similar natural phenomenon occurs in the US? The Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the larger Appalachian Mountain range, also produce a blue hue, for which they get their name. This also comes from emissions from the plants found in the area, particularly conifers.
If you’re visiting the East Coast of the US and you enjoy Australia’s Blue Mountains, don’t miss the Blue Ridge! Unbelievably scenic vistas, endless hiking and outdoor activities, and an untouched and undeveloped corner of the world awaits. They look very similar to one another.
After visiting the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s certainly easy to see why singer and songwriter John Denver sang the praises of Appalachia in one of his most famous songs, ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’: “Almost heaven, West Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River”.
Think John Denver would’ve also enjoyed the Blue Mountains of Australia? You’re right, he did! He was married to Australian actress Cassandra Delaney, and was known to have spent some time in the region, and he even performed in the region’s Jenolan Caves.
Minnesota’s Mall of America might’ve put gigantic shopping centres on the map as tourism destinations, especially as it actually has a theme park inside! But Chadstone in Melbourne, is giving it a run for its money, as the biggest shopping mall in Australia.
If the malls in America look familiar to the ones in Australia, it’s with good reason…the Westfield Group was originally an Australian company, and it operated hundreds of malls throughout America and Australia.
For more classic American shopping vibes in Australia, check out Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast, with an awesome outdoor atrium, or Bondi Westfield, if you need a shopping fix after a day at the beach. But, don’t leave it too late, unlike in the states where shops tend to stay open til 9pm all week, Australian shopping centres generally close about 5:30 pm each night, with the exception of late-night shopping on Thursdays (which, as you might expect, tend to attract large crowds).
6. Purnululu National Park vs Antelope Canyon
Arizona’s Antelope Canyon attracts thousands and thousands per year, especially in summer, flocking to the park for its gorgeous slot canyons. They have definitely attracted additional attention in recent years, thanks to the popularity of Instagram and the quest of so many for the perfect photo.
For a very similar, but far less crowded, experience, there’s a few spots in Outback Australia that you shouldn’t miss.
Purnululu National Park, perhaps best known for its rock formations known as the Bungle Bungles, is set in the Kimberley region of northern WA. It’s home to a unique formation called Echidna Chasm, an unbelievable natural formation, with the red rock sparkling in the sunshine, similar in colour and appearance to Antelope Canyon.
Standley Chasm, a natural formation near Alice Springs, in the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park, is not quite as impressive as Antelope Canyon, but is an incredible spot for hiking, seeing the gorgeous red ochre of the Outback, and is a beautiful natural phenomenon, very similar to the American Southwest.
7. Lord Howe Island vs Hawaii
Sparkling turquoise beaches, rugged volcanic peaks and mountains, and the perfect island escape from reality – must be Hawaii, right? Nope, Australia has its own chain of volcanic islands, which bear a striking similarity to the Hawaiian islands called Lord Howe Island.
However, both island chains are formed from volcanic activity, and are an adventure-lovers playground. Snorkeling, diving, hiking, and swimming are great ways to pass the time in this remote island paradise, just a two-hour flight away from Sydney. It’s hard to believe an island paradise exists so close to the East Coast of Australia, and only a two hour flight from Sydney, much preferable compared to a ten-hour flight to Hawaii!
Have you come across anywhere in Australia that looks nearly identical to home? Would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Australia vs America: 7 places which look similar
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