Australia has astounding natural beauty, starting with the country's many national parks. This island hosts many beautiful parks, from the ancient rainforests of Queensland to the rugged coastlines of Western Australia. These protected areas offer a glimpse into the country's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife.
I was lucky enough to spend time traveling around and working in a few national parks in Australia. These parks are a must-see if you're looking for fun places to visit with friends. I've compiled this list of the best ones worth exploring!
I've chosen parks that show you the best of Australia's incredible beauty. I've also selected a variety of national parks from around the country to give you some unique and diverse experiences.
The Best National Parks in Australia
With deserts, forests, and oceans, this list of Australia's national parks has something for everyone! Here are my absolute favorites.
9. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Located in the Northern Territory of Australia, Kakadu National Park is a vast expanse of pristine wilderness. Here, you'll encounter a world of natural wonders, ancient Aboriginal culture, and diverse wildlife.
Kakadu National Park sprawls nearly 20,000 square kilometers in Australia's Top End, making it the largest national park in Australia. It's conveniently accessible by road, approximately 3 hours from Darwin, the Northern Territory's capital.
What to Do at Kakadu National Park, Australia
Kakadu is known for its rich Aboriginal heritage, boasting thousands of years of history. Explore the park's rock art sites, such as Ubirr and Nourlangie, where you'll encounter vivid depictions of Dreamtime stories.
The park's wetlands, including Yellow Water Billabong, are full of birdlife, crocodiles, and other wildlife. Take a wildlife cruise to get up close to these fascinating creatures.
Kakadu also boasts a collection of spectacular waterfalls, such as Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls, perfect for cooling off on a hot day.
Kakadu National Park Activities
- Hiking: Lace up your boots and explore the park's numerous hiking trails. The Barrk Sandstone Walk, for instance, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.
- Aboriginal Cultural Tours: Join guided tours to learn about Kakadu's rich indigenous culture. Learn history from the traditional owners of the land, the Bininj/Mungguy people.
- Camping: Spend the night under the stars at one of the park's campgrounds, immersing yourself in the sounds of the bush.
Tips for Traveling to Kakadu National Park
Kakadu's climate is tropical, with distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season is from November to April, bringing lush landscapes and swollen waterfalls. The dry season is from May to October and offers more comfortable weather for outdoor activities.
Please show respect for the land and its indigenous culture. Many areas within Kakadu are culturally significant. Follow the park's guidelines and respect any restrictions.
When near water, always assume crocodiles are present. Follow safety advice and signs to avoid dangerous encounters. Some areas of Kakadu require permits for entry and camping. Check the park's official website for permit information and bookings.
8. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's most extensive coral reef system. It stretches over 2,300 kilometers along the Queensland coastline. It's accessible from various coastal towns, with Cairns and Port Douglas both popular gateways.
What to See at the Great Barrier Reef
Dive into a world of marine life, including vibrant coral formations, rays, turtles, sharks, and colorful fish. The reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to over 1,500 fish species and 400 types of coral.
Explore the reef's beauty by snorkeling or scuba diving. The crystal-clear waters provide excellent visibility and is an ideal spot for underwater adventures.
Join a boat tour or charter to access some of the best snorkeling and diving spots. These tours often include guided experiences and opportunities for wildlife encounters.
Great Barrier Reef Activities
- Snorkeling: You don't need to be a certified diver to marvel at the reef's beauty. Snorkeling allows you to skim the surface and witness its underwater wonders.
- Scuba Diving: Certified divers can plunge into the deeper waters for an immersive experience. Dive operators cater to divers of all levels, including beginners.
- Island Hopping: Explore some of the reef's picturesque islands. Green Island and Lady Elliot Island are known for their pristine beaches and marine life.
Tips for Traveling to the Great Barrier Reef
Protect the reef using reef-safe sunscreen to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the water. Make sure you don't touch the coral or disturb any marine life. Follow the guidelines from tour operators and reef authorities.
Be aware of stinger season, typically from November to May, when jellyfish are commonly found on the reef. Wear a stinger suit during this period for protection when swimming or snorkeling.
Consider booking tours with marine biologists as guides. They provide fascinating insights into the reef's ecology.
7. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory
Connect with the spirit of the Outback in the sacred and awe-inspiring landscapes of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
This iconic national park is in the Red Centre of Australia, approximately 335 kilometers southwest of Alice Springs. Its centerpiece, the mighty Uluru, is one of the country's most recognizable landmarks.
What to See at Uluru National Park
At 348 meters, Uluru is a colossal sandstone monolith that changes colors throughout the day. It holds deep cultural significance to the Anangu people, the land's traditional owners.
Just a short drive from Uluru, Kata Tjuta is a cluster of massive rock formations. Explore hiking trails that wind through the Valley of the Winds for breathtaking views.
Uluru National Park Activities
- Sunset and Sunrise Viewing: Witness the beauty of Uluru at sunrise and sunset when the rock seems to glow with hues of red and orange. Viewing areas provide the perfect vantage points for these awe-inspiring moments.
- Guided Tours: Join guided tours led by Anangu indigenous guides who share their cultural knowledge and stories of the land. Learn about traditional food and the Dreamtime, the creation period in Aboriginal mythology.
- Hiking: Embark on hiking trails, like the Uluru Base Walk, which encircles the rock. This offers a close-up look at its geological features and ancient cave paintings.
Tips for Visiting Uluru National Park
Uluru and Kata Tjuta are sacred sites to the Anangu people. Show respect by not climbing Uluru, as it goes against their wishes. Instead, choose to explore it via the base walk.
The Outback can be scorching. Carry plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and wear appropriate clothing to protect yourself from the sun.
Start your visit at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre to gain insights into the park's cultural and natural significance. Entry to the national park requires a pass, which can be purchased at the park entrance or online.
6. Daintree National Park, Queensland
The Daintree National Park boasts lush rainforests, exotic wildlife, and natural wonders. The Daintree National Park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in far north Queensland.
It's about 2 hours north of Cairns or 1 hour from Port Douglas. This park is a jewel within the larger Daintree Rainforest, one of the oldest rainforests.
What to See at the Daintree National Park
Explore one of Earth's most ancient rainforests, dating back over 135 million years. Towering trees, dense foliage, and unique flora create an otherworldly atmosphere.
Within the park, Mossman Gorge is a pristine rainforest area. Take a guided walk with indigenous guides to learn about Aboriginal culture and the rainforest ecosystem.
Visit the famous Cape Tribulation, where the lush rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. It's a place of stunning natural beauty and significant ecological importance.
Daintree National Park Activities
- Guided Tours: Join guided tours that offer insights into the rainforest's biodiversity. Learn about cultural heritage and unique flora and fauna.
- Scenic Drives: The park features many scenic drives. You'll have opportunities to spot wildlife and enjoy breathtaking views.
- River Cruises: Take a river cruise along the Daintree River, where you can spot crocodiles, colorful birds, and lush mangroves.
Tips for Visiting Daintree National Park
Don't forget your insect repellent to fend off tropical bugs, especially in the wet season. Be cautious when swimming in freshwater creeks and rivers, as some areas may contain hidden hazards or crocodiles.
Stick to marked trails to protect yourself and the delicate ecosystem when exploring the rainforest.
The park is impressive year-round, but be aware of the wet season from November to April. Heavy rain can lead to flooding and road closures.
5. Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales
Just a stone's throw from Sydney, Australia, is the Blue Mountains National Park. It's famous for its breathtaking landscapes, serene wilderness, and captivating history.
The Blue Mountains National Park is an easy day trip from Sydney. It's only about a 1.5 to 2-hour drive, making it a perfect escape from the bustling city.
What to See at Blue Mountains National Park Australia
Make sure you check out the Three Sisters. These iconic rock formations are a must-see. Named Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo in Aboriginal legend, they tower over the Jamison Valley, creating a stunning vista.
Next, take the Scenic Railway, Skyway, or Cableway for thrilling views of the rainforest and valleys. The glass-floored Skyway is not for the faint-hearted!
Hike to the magnificent Wentworth Falls waterfall. It flows into a deep valley surrounded by lush vegetation. The views from the Wentworth Falls Lookout are simply spectacular.
Blue Mountains National Park Activities
- Hiking: The Blue Mountains are a hiker's paradise, with trails ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. The Grand Canyon Walk and National Pass offer diverse scenery.
- Rock Climbing: For adventure seekers, there are opportunities for rock climbing in designated areas.
- Aboriginal Heritage: Learn about the rich Aboriginal heritage of the area through guided tours and cultural experiences.
Tips for Visiting the Blue Mountains National Park
Be prepared for weather changes! The mountains can be much cooler and wetter than in Sydney, so bring layers and rain gear. Watch for native wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, and various bird species.
Start your visit at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre or Echo Point Visitor Centre for maps, advice, and up-to-date information. While a day trip is possible, consider spending a night or more to explore the park's wonders fully.
4. Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
Freycinet National Park beckons with its pristine beaches, pink granite peaks, and perfect blue waters. Found on Tasmania's east coast, Freycinet National Park is around a 2.5 to 3-hour drive from Hobart. This makes it either a perfect day trip or a more leisurely escape.
What to See in Freycinet National Park
First of all, you can't miss Wineglass Bay. This iconic crescent-shaped beach consistently ranks among the world's best. Hike to the Wineglass Bay Lookout for breathtaking views or walk down to the beach.
Explore the park's many hiking trails, including the challenging ascent of Mount Amos or the gentle stroll to Sleepy Bay. Take in the stunning coastal scenery, from the dramatic Hazards Range to the turquoise waters of Great Oyster Bay.
Freycinet National Park Activities
- Beach Bliss: Spend time on the park's pristine beaches, swimming, sunbathing, or picnicking.
- Kayaking: Paddle along the coast and get up close to the park's unique geology and marine life.
- Wildlife Watching: Watch for wallabies, possums, and various bird species, including the rare white-bellied sea eagle.
Tips for Visiting Freycinet National Park
A National Parks Pass is required to enter Freycinet National Park, and purchasing it in advance is recommended. Tasmania's sun can be fierce, so pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
Enjoy local seafood at Coles Bay, a charming coastal town just outside the park. If you're planning a coastal hike, check tide times to avoid getting trapped by high tide.
3. Grampians National Park, Victoria
Situated in Western Victoria, approximately a 3.5-hour drive from Melbourne is Grampians National Park. It's a haven for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and wildlife lovers.
What to See at Grampians National Park
The park features stunning sandstone mountains and peaks. Be sure to visit MacKenzie Falls, one of the park's most iconic waterfalls. The views from the Bluff Lookout are equally stunning.
Discover the rich Indigenous heritage of the area with rock art sites such as Bunjil's Shelter and Gulgurn Manja Shelter.
Grampians National Park Activities
- Hiking: Grampians boasts an extensive network of hiking trails catering to all skill levels. The Grampians Peaks Trail offers a challenging multi-day hike.
- Wildlife Watching: Watch for kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and various bird species that call the park home.
- Rock Climbing: The park is a rock climber's paradise with many designated climbing areas.
Tips for Visiting Grampians National Park
Start your visit at the Brambuk, the National Park & Cultural Centre. Here, you can get maps, trail information, and region history insights.
Victoria's weather can be unpredictable, so pack layers and be prepared for temperature changes. Sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water are essential, especially during the warmer months.
If you plan to go camping in Australia in Grampians National Park, book your site in advance, especially during peak seasons.
2. Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria
Wilsons Promontory National Park is a pristine coastal wilderness known as' The Prom' by locals. It's located at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia.
Found in the Gippsland region of Victoria, Wilsons Promontory National Park is a scenic 3-hour drive from Melbourne. Its remote location adds to its unspoiled charm.
What to See at Wilsons Promontory National Park Australia
World-famous Squeaky Beach is known for its fine quartz sand that squeaks beneath your feet. It's perfect for picnics and beachcombing.
See native Australian wildlife like kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and wombats. Birdwatchers will also be delighted by the diverse avian population.
You can also hike to the summit of Mount Oberon for panoramic views of the park and surrounding coastline.
Wilsons Promontory National Park Activities
- Hiking: The park offers a variety of hiking trails. There are short, family-friendly walks to challenging multi-day treks.
- Camping: Wilsons Promontory offers several campgrounds. Book your spot early, especially during peak holiday seasons.
- Swimming and Snorkeling: Cool off in pristine waters at beaches like Whisky Bay and Norman Beach, or explore underwater marvels by snorkeling.
Tips for Visiting Wilsons Promontory National Park
You'll need a park entry permit to visit Wilsons Promontory. These can be purchased online or at the visitor center. The weather can change rapidly, so dress in layers and bring waterproof clothing, especially if you're hiking.
The park has a "Leave No Trace" policy, so please take all your rubbish with you and leave the environment as you find it. While observing wildlife is a highlight, maintain a respectful distance and never feed the animals.
1. Royal National Park, New South Wales
The Royal National Park is located on the southern outskirts of Sydney. It covers a stretch of coastline along the Tasman Sea. This coastal gem is just an hour's drive south of Sydney.
This natural playground is brimming with beauty and adventure, and its proximity to the city makes it a perfect day trip or weekend escape.
What to See at Royal National Park Australia
Sink your toes into the golden sand at Garie Beach. You can catch some waves or bask in the sun at this beautiful beach. Accessible via the popular Figure Eight Pools hike, the secluded Burning Palms Beach offers a surreal natural pool experience.
The iconic Coast Track meanders along cliffs, through lush forests, and reveals breathtaking ocean views. Don't miss the Wedding Cake Rock and Eagle Rock lookouts!
Royal National Park Activities
- Hiking: With various trails, Royal National Park caters to all hiking levels. Be sure to carry water, wear comfortable shoes, and check trail conditions.
- Go on a Picnic: Pack a picnic and savor it at one of the many designated picnic areas surrounded by nature.
- Whale Watching: Visit during the whale migration season from May to November. You'll have the chance to spot these majestic creatures from coastal lookouts.
Tips for Visiting Royal National Park
A daily fee applies, payable upon entry at the park gates. The Australian sun can be fierce, so wear sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Keep your eyes peeled for famous Australian animals like wallabies, kangaroos, and various bird species.
Always swim at patrolled beaches and heed safety warnings. Rips and currents can be intense.
Visit a National Park in Australia!
These national parks showcase Australia's remarkable natural diversity. Whether you're drawn to ancient rainforests, coral reefs, or dry deserts, an Australian national park promises a memorable adventure.
Now that you're ready to explore Australia's incredible national parks, you can start to craft your ideal travel experience for you, your family, and your friends.