20+ Must-See National Parks in Australia

Oceans, mountains, waterfalls, caves, weird trees — Australian nature has it all.

1. Arakwal National Park (NSW)

Byron Bay Lighthouse at Arakwal National Park. Photo by Jared, University of Queensland (home university: Syracuse University)

Spanning the coastline of popular backpacker town Byron Bay, Arakwal National Park contains the town’s beaches. The area also boasts the most easterly point of Australian mainland, best viewed from the iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse.

2. Barron Gorge National Park (QLD)

Barron Falls at Barron Gorge National Park. Photo by Kristin, University of Queensland (home university: Purdue University)

Located within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Barron Gorge National Park is characterized by lush, often misty, rainforests. A park highlight — easily accessible from Cairns — is the majestic Barron Falls in Kuranda.

3. Blue Mountains National Park (NSW)

The Three Sisters rock formation at Blue Mountains National Park. Photo by Cara, University of Queensland (home university: State University of New York at Geneseo)

One of Sydneysiders’ favorite day trip destinations, the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains sit just over two hours outside of the city. In particular, make sure you see the famous Three Sisters rock formation and Katoomba Falls while you’re here.

4. Bunya Mountains National Park (QLD)

A wallaby at Bunya Mountains National Park. Photo by Kristin, University of Queensland (home university: Purdue University)

Named for the ancient bunya pines that cover the area, Bunya Mountains National Park is also filled with rainforests, waterfalls, colorful bird species, amazing panoramic views — and lots of wallabies.

5. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (TAS)

The Overland Track at Cradle Mountain National Park. Photo by Jared, University of Queensland (home university: Syracuse University)

Part of a massive wilderness heritage area covering a fifth of Tasmania, the park is known for rainforests, glacial lakes (such as St Clair), Aussie wildlife, streams and waterfalls, and the Overland Track, which begins at Cradle Mountain.

6. Crater Lakes National Park (QLD)

Photo by Takuma, Viva College Brisbane (home university: Komazawa University)

Crater Lakes National Park’s Lake Eacham, a volcanic crater that filled with water, is so blue and clear that it mirrors the surrounding rainforest on its surface. The 3km walking track around the lake offers some of the best views of the park.

7. Curtain Fig National Park (QLD)

Photo by Takuma, Viva College Brisbane (home university: Komazawa University)

The park’s massive fig tree is a special sight to behold. Located in an endangered mabi forest, the tree’s long roots drop from 15 meters above down to the forest floor, creating a “curtain”.

8. Fitzroy Island National Park (QLD)

Photo by Laura, University of Queensland (home university: University College Maastricht)

 

A mere 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns, Fitzroy Island’s shoreline is characterized by beautiful coral beaches and lush rainforests. Explore the rest of the island’s rugged natural landscape via walking trails, or dive underwater to witness the marvels of the Great Barrier Reef.

9. Freycinet National Park (TAS)

Wineglass Bay at Freycinet National Park. Photo by Briana, University of Queensland (home university: University of British Columbia)

Freycinet is one of Australia’s most popular national parks. In particular, check out the stunning lookout points at the Cape Tourville Lighthouse, turquoise Honeymoon Bay, and the iconic, perfectly-shaped Wineglass Bay.

10. Glass House Mountains National Park (QLD)

Photo by Kristin, University of Queensland (home university: Purdue University)

Formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, the Glass House Mountains make an excellent day trip from Brisbane, just an hour away. The views of Mt Ngungun are especially breathtaking.

11. Grampians National Park (VIC)

MacKenzie Falls at Grampians National Park. Photo by Takuma, Viva College Brisbane (home university: Komazawa University)

A few hours west of Melbourne, Grampians National Park is filled with walking trails leading to various lookout points and waterfalls, including the popular MacKenzie Falls at the northern end of the park.

12. Great Sandy National Park (QLD)

The Champagne Pools on Great Sandy National Park’s Fraser Island. Photo by Jared, University of Queensland (home university: Syracuse University)

Great Sandy National Park, which comprises Rainbow Beach on the Queensland mainland and Fraser Island just off the coast, is a favorite weekend destination of Brisbanites. Fraser Island hosts most of the highlights, including Lakes Mckenzie and Wabby, the SS Marino shipwreck ruins, the rock pools, and more.

13. Lamington National Park (QLD)

Photo by Becky, University of Queensland (home university: Northeastern University)

Located an hour and a half from Brisbane, Lamington National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, which contains a huge chunk of the world’s rainforests. The park features a variety of waterfalls and lookout points with incredible views.

14. Magnetic Island National Park (QLD)

Photo by Katie Lofblad

Possibly Queensland’s best-kept secret, Magnetic Island is only a 25-minute ferry ride away from Townsville.Drive around the island in colorful Barbie-like cars, collect sea shells, go snorkeling in the ocean, and visit the Bungalow Bay Koala Park hostel (or better yet, stay overnight there) to see a variety of resident iconic Aussie animals.

15. Mole Creek Karst National Park (TAS)

Photo by Briana, University of Queensland (home university: University of British Columbia)

Mole Creek is famous for its karst landscape, formed by the erosion of limestone into a variety of landforms like sinkholes, ridges, gorges, and underground rivers. Marakoopa and King Solomons Caves are especially popular.

16. Moreton Island National Park (QLD)

Photo by Jared, University of Queensland (home university: Syracuse University)

Colored by turquoise water and orange-purple sunsets, Moreton Island has several features that make it special, including sand dunes perfect for climbing and — if you really feel really adventurous — “surfing” back down, and the shipwrecks on Tangalooma Beach.

17. Mount Field National Park (TAS)

Lady Barron Falls at Mount Field National Park. Photo by Jared, University of Queensland (home university: Syracuse University)

Tasmania’s first nature reserve since 1885 and one of its oldest national parks, Mount Field is particularly known for its skiing opportunities during the winter, but in the summer, it’s the best place to chase waterfalls.

18. Mount Hypipamee National Park (QLD)

Dinner Falls at Mount Hypipamee National Park. Photo by Takuma, Viva College Brisbane (home university: Komazawa University)

Mount Hypipamee National Park — about an hour’s drive from Cairns — has two main sites: picturesque Dinner Falls and the Crater, an arresting, 82-meter deep volcanic pipe with a lake at the bottom. While you’re at it, explore the surrounding area’s several types of forests.

19. Noosa National Park (QLD)

Photo by Kristin, University of Queensland (home university: Purdue University)

About an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, Noosa National Park features boardwalks along the turquoise ocean, magical fairy pools, and views of the nearby Noosa River.

20. Port Campbell National Park (VIC)

The Loch Ard Gorge at Port Campbell National Park. Photo by Becky, University of Queensland (home university: Northeastern University)

One of the main highlights along the Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell National Park, located 3 hours away from Melbourne, is internationally famous for its wave-sculpted rock formations, including the instantly recognizable Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.

21. Springbrook National Park (QLD)

Purling Brook Falls at Springbrook National Park. Photo by Kristin, University of Queensland (home university: Purdue University)

Like Lamington, Springbrook National Park is also part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. The park features an array of breathtaking waterfalls, glow worm caves, and lookout points surveying the surrounding forests.

22. Tasman National Park (TAS)

Fortescue Bay at Tasman National Park. Photo by Cara, University of Queensland (home university: State University of New York at Geneseo)

Located on Tasmania’s eastern coast, Tasman National Park boasts some of the most majestic sea cliffs in the nation along with interesting rock formations. Some highlights include the Tasman Arch, the Blowhole, Fortescue Bay, and Fossil Bay Lookout.

23. Tomaree National Park (NSW)

One Mile Beach at Tomaree National Park. Photo by Katie Lofblad

Most of the areas within Tomaree are strictly protected, but a few highlights like One Mile Beach and the old lighthouse Point Stephens Light make this secluded coastline worth a visit.

24. Whitsunday Islands National Park (QLD)

Whitehaven Beach at Whitsunday Islands National Park. Photo by Katie Lofblad

A short ferry ride from Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands National Park is one of Australia’s best locations for exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Whitehaven Beach, with its pure white sands swirling through turquoise water, is especially famous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *