Australia has an almighty collection of national parks in its keeping, and a rich diversity of landscapes abound: funky formations, towering gorges, epic waterfalls, abundant wildlife, and so much more.
We’d be here until the kangaroos came home if we were to list all these natural beauties, so instead we’ve put together an A-Z of Australia’s must-visit national parks.
It’s time to do your ABC…
A is for Arakoon National Park, NSW
Shimmering coastal views, beautiful beaches, and remnants of a fascinating past all combine at this prized park. Exploring the ruins of Trial Bay Gaol is a highlight of a visit here, and from this vantage point you’ll be invited to soak up a wealth of memorable views.
Must do: A guided tour of Trial Bay Gaol bursts with tantalising tales.
Where is it? Less than 5km from South West Rocks in the North Coast region.
B is for Blue Mountains National Park, NSW
Among Australia’s most popular tourist attractions, the Blue Mountains bursts with beauty. World Heritage listed, it’s rich in Aboriginal culture and home to spell-binding rock formations, waterfalls, a gorge, and forests that seem to stretch forever. Walking and biking tracks abound, often leading to lookouts, while various adrenaline-packed activities create even more appeal.
Must see: The view from Echo Point lookout, which reveals the iconic Three Sisters formation as well as sensational valley vistas.
Where is it? 60km west of central Sydney.
C is for Coorong National Park, SA
Bird watchers, boating enthusiasts, and nature lovers in general will love the Coorong. This park is planted on a long, narrow stretch of the famed Limestone Coast, so wonderful water views are constant. The Coorong is a wetland of international importance and home to various significant flora and fauna species, while historical remnants are dotted throughout.
Must do: Take a cruise from the historical river port of Goolwa, on the Fleurieu Peninsula, to best appreciate the park’s many gems.
Where is it? 200km southeast of Adelaide in the Limestone Coast region.
D is for Daintree National Park, QLD
The World Heritage Daintree is one of Australia’s most iconic national parks and home to the earth’s oldest-surviving tropical rainforest. It’s made up of two key sections: Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation, and both are astoundingly gorgeous. The gorge features granite boulders awash with the crystal-clear waters of the Mossman River and flanked by rainforest; Cape Tribulation mixes this beautiful rainforest with magnificent beaches.
Must see: The rare sight of two World Heritage properties combining at Cape Tribulation: The Wet Tropics of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.
Where is it? 25km north of Port Douglas.
E is for Eungella National Park, QLD
Strap on your hiking shoes and prepare to enter a world of natural beauty in Eungella. The area is cloaked with rainforest, gorges, and all manner of plant and bird species and wildlife. The chance to spot platypus from a dedicated viewing platform at Broken River is popular, but if these shy creatures aren’t showing their faces you’re unlikely to leave disappointed after a visit here.
Must see: Finch Hatton Gorge. It teems with waterfalls, boulders, and other natural gems in tranquil surrounds.
Where is it? 100km west of Mackay.
F is for Freycinet National Park, TAS
If this park were on the mainland, we swear it would gain loads more sets of footprints than it does. With the iconic Hazards mountain range to greet you at its entrance, Freycinet explodes with beauty. Secluded beaches, gigantic boulders, breathtaking coastal views, and famous Wineglass Bay are among a string of highlights.
Must see: Walk to Wineglass Bay or take the shorter track to a great lookout point.
Where is it? 10km from Coles Bay on Tasmania’s East Coast.
G is for Grampians National Park, VIC
Towering sandstone mountain ranges dominate the landscape and make for a glorious sight, whether you’re peering from the ground upwards in amazement or admiring panoramic views from one of many lookouts. This is a hiker’s dream: walking trails are all over and reveal impressive waterfalls, Aboriginal rock art sites, extensive wildlife, and much more.
Must do: Start your Grampians adventures at Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre.
Where is it? 250km northwest of Melbourne.
H is for Hidden Valley National Park, WA
Unmask abundant treasure within the boundaries of Hidden Valley. The highlight of the park, which also goes by the name of Mirima National Park, is a collection of remarkable sandstone rock creations that are more photogenic than a Hollywood A-lister. This area is also of great cultural significance and home to engrossing wildlife that includes rock wallabies.
Must see: The crazy formations that earn the nickname of the mini–Bungle Bungles.
Where is it? 2km north of Kununurra.
I is for Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, SA
Be immersed by insurmountable natural treasure, all under the watchful gaze of rugged mountain ranges. A network of walking tracks uncovers massive gorges, Aboriginal rock art sites, fossils, various wildlife, historical attractions, and the wonderful sight of famous Wilpena Pound.
Must see: Wilpena Pound. This natural amphitheatre is staggeringly captivating.
Where is it? 180km northeast of Port Augusta in the Flinders Ranges and Outback region.
J is for John Forrest National Park, WA
Western Australia’s first national park is aptly named owing to its extensive jarrah forest that engulfs the surrounds. Waterfalls, wildlife, various bird species, and easy access from the CBD make this a popular playground for Perthites.
Must see: Take your pick between Hovea and National Park Falls.
Where is it? 25km east of Perth.
K is for Kakadu National Park, NT
Measuring a mind-blowing 20,000 sq km, Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park and glistens with unfathomable treasure. This World Heritage wonder contains Aboriginal rock art dating back a staggering 50,000 years. Varied landscapes abound and waterfalls, wetlands, and gorges are among its rich collection of natural assets. A visit here is bucket-list material.
Must see: Ubirr Rock for gob-smacking views and ancient rock art.
Where is it? 150km southeast of Darwin.
L is for Lamington National Park, QLD
Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Lamington serves up a delicious selection of goodies: sparkling rainforests, striking volcanic features, towering waterfalls, and a wide variety of wildlife are among them. There’s a huge selection of walking tracks on offer and from various lookouts the views are nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Must see: Don’t miss quirky Kurraragin (Egg Rock), a volcanic creation that rises boldly above the rainforest.
Where is it? 45km southwest of Surfers Paradise.
M is for Main Range National Park, QLD
Magnificent mountain ranges are a hallmark of a park that is shrouded in beauty. Witness funky peaks, magical waterfalls, and varied landscapes that include rainforest, eucalyptus, and rocky outcrops. Wildlife is scattered throughout, and a generous assortment of walking tracks allow most fitness levels to explore one of several parks that fall into the must-see Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage area.
Must see: It’s a dead-heat between the eye-catching Steamers formation and the mesmerising Queen Mary Falls.
Where is it? 45km northeast of Warwick in the Southern Downs region.
N is for Nitmiluk National Park, NT
Uncovering the sensational scenery of Nitmiluk National Park is massively rewarding. The showpiece attraction of these parts is Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, which makes for a fantastic sight whether you’re viewing it from the water, a lookout, or on a helicopter ride. But this park is no one-attraction wonder. You can also spot Aboriginal rock art or wildlife, check out Edith Falls, and swim in inviting pools.
Must do: The colours of Nitmiluk Gorge are at their most vivid when enjoying a sunset or sunrise cruise.
Where is it? 30km east of Katherine.
O is for Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, NSW
Cloaked with World Heritage-listed rainforest and home to gigantic gorges, waterfalls, and rivers, the park is extraordinary. There are postcard-perfect views at every turn, best enjoyed along some of the most rewarding walking tracks to be found anywhere. The natural wonders are complemented by various historical features that add another dimension to this power-packed park.
Must see: Wollomombi Falls. Plunging at a height of 220m, it’s the state’s highest waterfall.
Where is it? 50km southeast of Armidale in the Northern Tablelands region.
P is for Purnululu National Park, WA
You may not have heard of Purnululu National Park but you’re likely to be familiar with its standout feature: the Bungle Bungle Range. The range features a cluster of imposing beehive-like mounds that make for an astonishing sight. Gorges, chasms, and pools increase the appeal of this spectacular World Heritage-listed national park.
Must do: If the budget allows, a scenic flight over the Bungles Bungles will take your breath away.
Where is it? 300km south of Kununurra.
Q is for Quoin Island National Park, QLD
At the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and a quick journey from Gladstone, Quoin Island is the perfect daytrip destination with a difference. This private retreat includes a turtle rehabilitation centre and miniature train.
Must see: The Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
Where is it? 5km off the coast of Gladstone.
R is for Royal National Park, NSW
Australia’s oldest national park is also one of its finest. A collection of brilliant beaches and swimming holes mingle with bushland, forest, and exquisite sandstone rock creations. Wildlife and bird species can be spotted along one of many walking trails while Aboriginal artefacts add to the diverse appeal of this park.
Must see: The Wattamolla picnic area is perfect for families with its swimming and bushwalking opportunities.
Where is it? 50km south of the Sydney CBD.
S is for Springbrook National Park, QLD
A neighbour to Lamington National Park, Springbrook offers equally dazzling scenery. Springbrook plateau is the centerpiece of the park and included various lookouts that gift commanding views of the sparkling surrounds. Explore splendid rainforest, booming waterfalls, and more than 100 bird species among so much more.
Must see: Purling Brook Falls make for a super sight.
Where is it? 40km southwest of Surfers Paradise.
T is for Torndirrup National Park, WA
A profusion of brilliant beaches, funky rock formations, and steep, rugged cliffs make Torndirrup an area of gob-smacking splendour. There is highlight after highlight, and a series of walking trails and associated lookouts allow visitors to marvel at these spectacular surrounds with ease.
Must see: The walk to The Blowholes will reward even if the main attraction is having a quiet day.
Where is it? 20km south of Albany.
U is for Uluru National Park, NT
Jostling for the title of Australia’s most famous national park is Uluru-Kata Tjuta. While its headline act is Uluru, a magnificent 348m-tall monolith, Kata Tjuta is arguably just as impressive: this cluster of striking rock formations towers over the arid landscape. With an extensive Indigenous culture and history to explore, a visit here is a must.
Must do: The Walpa Gorge Walk showcases the exceptional beauty of Kata Tjuta.
Where is it? 460km southwest of Alice Springs.
V is for Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park, SA
While remote, a bounty of assorted goodies is packed into this stunning park. Found in the northern section of the famed Flinders Ranges, this attraction hoards captivating mountains, gorges, chasms, creeks, and freshwater springs. Its contrasting landscapes make for outstanding photo opportunities.
Must see: Save some space on the camera to capture captivating Lake Frome, a massive salt lake.
Where is it? 350km northeast of Port Augusta.
W is for Wilsons Promontory National Park, VIC
One of Victoria’s most popular national parks, ‘The Prom’ explodes with a vast array of captivating scenery and other delights. Admire striking, colourful granite boulders, alluring beaches, rainforest, and mountains on a series of walking trails where you can also spot wombats and other wildlife.
Must see: White sand Squeaky Beach suits walks, swimming, and those with Instagram accounts.
Where is it? 240km southeast of Melbourne in the Gippsland region.
X is for D’EntrecasteauX National Park (see what we did there?), WA
Ok, so this park doesn’t start with an X but it is highly deserving of exploration. D’Entrecasteaux encompasses a thin patch of land along Western Australia’s gorgeous southwest coastline where glittering white sand beaches and massive lakes contrast with cloud-touching karri forests. Marvel at jagged cliffs, spot Aboriginal artefacts, and admire Yeagarup Dunes – the southern hemisphere’s largest land-locked mobile dune system – among more.
Must see: The huge outcrop of hexagonal basalt columns at Black Point.
Where is it? 170km southeast of Margaret River.
Y is for Yarra Ranges National Park, VIC
Sky-piercing Mountain Ash trees rule these treasure-filled surrounds and are instantly enchanting. This park is filled with greenery – Myrtle Beech trees, ferns, mosses, and more – that provides a feeling of being truly among nature. Ample walking trails and picnic areas enhance the allure of this popular attraction.
Must do: Enjoy a unique perspective from the Rainforest Gallery’s elevated observation platform.
Where is it? 95km east of Healesville in the Yarra Valley.
Z is for HartZ Mountains National Park, TAS
We may have to compromise on our selection for the letter Z but nevertheless this park demands attention. Part of the famous Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Hartz Mountains contains a dolerite range that slices its centre and is backed by glacial lakes, rainforest, waterfalls, and wildlife that includes echidnas and platypus. Spectacular.
Must do: Take the reasonably short walk to view the Arve Falls.
Where is it? 85km southwest of Hobart.
Courtesy of BIG4.com.au