Religious sites of interest in Australia

 

Australia’s not a particularly religious country.

According to the 2011 Census (a bigger-than-Ben-Hur survey of the population taken every five years to compile all kinds of interesting statistics about the people), more than 22 per cent of the population identify with having ‘no religion’.

What’s even more telling is that a further 9.4 per cent didn’t even answer the question.

This easy-as-she-goes attitude sums up well the country’s general approach to religion. You’re much more likely to find locals heatedly arguing over sporting match results and player behaviour than religion.

But saying this, there are lovely sites of religious significance across Australia that are well worth a visit, whether you’re a spiritual tourist from Australia or a far-flung land.

Here are some from the world’s different faiths.

Churches

It’s too tough to pick out just one Christian place of worship, so we’re indulging you with a choice of some of the most heavenly ones. First on our list: the national heritage-listed St Saviour’s Cathedral, which is an easy drive of just over an hour from either Sydney.  Specifically, its style is known as ‘Decorated Gothic’ and it’s renowned for its incredible architecture. The 19th century cathedral features a ‘splendid bell tower, soaring windows and massive stonework’ as well as an organ, bells and lovely stained glass windows.

Perched on top of a hill in East Perth, the St Mary’s Cathedral is one of the city’s must-dos. It recently had a bold makeover which combines the building’s classical arches with a modern section of large glass windows. As a result, the space’s interior is now flooded with light. If you’re lucky enough to catch one of the classical concerts held several times a year at the cathedral, you can gaze at the lofty ceilings against a backdrop of celestial sounds.

The elegant St Paul’s Cathedral provides an oasis of serenity in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district. A stone’s throw from the popular Federation Square and Flinders Street Railway Station, the ornate bluestone Irish Catholic Cathedral was a backbreaking labour of love, taking decades to complete. St Paul’s boasts high arches, gigantic spires, opulent finishes, and a crypt where the cathedral’s former Archbishops are buried.

Nan Tien Temple

This Buddhist temple in the seaside city of Wollongong, about 80 kilometres from Sydney, has the honour of being one of the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.  A branch of a Taiwanese Buddhist order found worldwide, this temple is a massive complex of interesting sites set across a sprawling property with landscaped gardens. There’s a museum, conference centre, prayer halls, gigantic Buddhist statues and an extraordinary seven-level pagoda. Nan Tien Temple is unusual because it fuses Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese style design. Apart from dropping in as a visitor, you can immerse yourself more completely in the temple experience by attending a weekend retreat or going to a festival there.

Baha’i Temple

The increasingly growing Baha’i Faith has a beautiful temple near Sydney, one of only seven in the world. It’s regarded as an independent world religion open to people of all beliefs. The Baha’i Faith promotes diversity, tolerance and community with the underlying belief that all human beings belong to one family. The Australian temple is built on beautiful bushland north of Sydney and is notable for its shiny white dome. Like its sister temples, it is a nine-sided structure, symbolising the unity of the world’s religions. It’s worth a visit just to learn more about this intriguing faith that has its roots in Iran.

Mosques

You don’t need to head to the exotic Middle East to see stunning examples of Islamic architecture. There are many mosques in Australia that you can visit to see the typical mosque features of minarets, domes and exquisite mosaic details. Try the Sunshine Mosque, an Ottoman-Turkish-style mosque in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, or the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in Sydney, which attracts about 800 worshippers a week.

 

This post is by Jessica Spencer, she is a niche blogger and currently working for webcarhire.com.  Previous post by her : Our favourite travel apps