National Parks in NSW
NSW is home to some of the most diverse natural terrain in Australia. With close to 900 national parks, featuring sub-tropical rainforests, pristine marine parks, outback landscapes, mountain ranges and UNESCO World Heritage-listed reserves there is a world of natural wonder to experience.
Key places to go
There are many extraordinary features that make NSW's National Parks truly remarkable, from the vast and shimmering estuary of The Great Lakes, which hold more water than Sydney Harbour, to the highest mountain in mainland Australia, Mount Kosciuszko in Kosciuszko National Park.
With more than 850 protected parks, forests and reserves, this vast range of habitat covers more than 7 million hectares and has been internationally recognised for its unique beauty and importance.
Dorrigo National Park in the state's north is part of the Gondwana Rainforest Reserves of Australia, selected as a World Heritage sites for exceptional biodiversity or rarity. Dorrigo National Park, also known for it’s crystal waterfalls, is home to a wide variety of birds, such as the wompoo fruit-dove and the regent bowerbird. Capertee National Park, about 50km north of Lithgow, is also a well known bird watching spot, and a breeding and feeding site for the nationally endangered regent honeyeater, a distinctive black-and-yellow bird with a sturdy, curved bill.
Other great parks include Mutawintji National Park, with its ancient Aboriginal rock art and engravings. The world's oldest known ceremonial burial site can meanwhile be found in the ancient landscapes of Mungo National Park.
By contrast, Rainforest Way provides a rolling series of drives through World Heritage-listed rainforests and national parks in northern NSW. Enjoy the tranquillity of scenic loop roads, stopping for a walk through forests dappled with sunlight or an invigorating swim in a creek fed by waterfalls.
National parks around Nimbin in NSW's far north, including Nightcap National Park and Mebbin National Park, also enjoy high rainfall and spectacular waterfalls.
Bushwalking and hiking are at optimum in NSW, from the diverse trails of The Blue Mountains National Park, featuring the stunning Three Sisters, to t he equally dramatic rainforests and waterfalls of the Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk . This walk connects the Gibraltar Range National Park and Washpool National Park .
The stunning vistas from Jamberoo Lookout in the Buderoo National Park offer fantastic vistas of NSW coastline, while further north the Royal National Park, Australia's oldest national park, offers short and long walks through a variety of terrains and settings, from lush bushland to rugged cliffs to pristine coastline.
Situated near Eden, the Ben Boyd National Park stretches across 45 km of coastline. You're sure to find the perfect place for whale watching along the way. Following several kilometres of scenic coastline, the gentle Light to Light Walk from Green Cape Lighthouse to Pulpit Rock is a popular whale watching location and also offers expansive ocean views. Head through coastal heath toward Pulpit Rock and savour great northerly vistas.
National Parks also provide protection for a vast number of flora and fauna in New South Wales, as well as areas of geological, cultural and historical significance. Preservation of and public access to these areas allows the enjoyment and exploration of all New South Wales has to offer.
The World Heritage listed Royal National Park is just an hour’s drive from both Sydney and Wollongong and is one of the the world’s oldest national parks. It is ideal for hiking, cycling, surfing, swimming and whale watching.
An hour’s drive from Coffs Harbour and part of the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area, ancient Dorrigo National Park contains a range of forest types, including lush rainforests, and protects a huge variety of animals and birds.
Home of the striking Breadknife rock formation, Warrumbungle National Park is located near Coonabarabran. At night, the park offers perfect conditions for stargazing, by day, it’s a great spot for camping, hiking and birdwatching.
The Pilliga Forest, west of Dubbo, is the largest semi-arid woodland in NSW. With a landscape as eerie as it is intriguing, there are many scenic walking tracks, forest drives and bird watching routes to explore.
With magnificent views, iconic rock formations and heritage tracks and lookouts, it’s easy to see why the Blue Mountains National Park is one of NSW best known parks, and less than 2 hours drive from Sydney.
Part of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area, the stark and striking landscape of Mungo National Park is famous for the discovery of a rare archaeological find - the oldest human skeleton in Australia.
Swimming safety information
NSW has a wide range of wonderful swimming options from beaches, ocean pools, harbourside pools, lakes, rivers or swimming holes at the bottom of waterfalls. However to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment, swimmers should follow this general advice:
Look for patrolled beaches (this is where lifesavers are on duty you will see red and yellow flags that indicate this). You should always swim between the red and yellow flags as they mark the safest place to swim.
Never swim alone at night, or under the influence of alcohol, or directly after a meal.
Always check water depth before diving in as rocks or trees could be submerged and never run and dive into the water from the beach.
Check for signs regarding advice on water conditions at your chosen swimming spot and at any natural swimming hole. Always proceed with caution as surfaces could be slippery and water conditions may not be immediately apparent; particularly if the areas has recently experienced heavy rainfalls or flooding.