Incredible national parks in Southern NSW
Swim in a thermal pool, mountain bike past 400-year-old pines, walk with Traditional Custodians and experience NSW in an entirely new way.
Shake off the sameness of your regular routine and embrace adventure on an action-packed trip through various Country significant to the Ngarigo, Wiradjuri and Yuin Traditional Custodians. From the rugged beauty of the Snowy Mountains to gorgeous coastline hugging turquoise bays, the southern regions of NSW offer pristine national parks with an incredible variety of landscapes to explore.
Soak away stress in a spring-fed thermal pool
As you drive from the big smoke into the Kosciuszko National Park, wind down the window to inhale that fresh mountain air – you can practically feel the oxygen revitalising your cells. Head straight for the Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool. Hidden deep in a valley and sheltered by towering eucalypts, the pool is accessible by a well-formed but steep 700m track.
Fed by an underground spring, its waters stay balmy all year round, and if you’re there early in the morning, expect a cloud of mist to dance upon its surface. Slipping into the embrace of the 27-degree water feels like hitting the reset button, rinsing off all of your tension and stress. Nearby is the pristine Yarrangobilly River, so if you’re feeling brave after your soak, hop out and take a cooling dip to get the blood flowing!
Get your heart pumping on a mountain bike ride through an ancient pine forest
Ride past enormous 400-year-old mountain plum pines (a favourite of the endangered mountain pygmy possum) and reground yourself along the historic 36km Thredbo Valley Track on Ngarigo Country in the Kosciuszko National Park. Hire a mountain bike locally if you don’t have your own and choose a section which appeals.
Families will love the 11.8km return trip from Thredbo to Old Ranger Station, which traverses along startling alpine scenery across multiple picturesque suspension bridges – keep your eye out for flowering purple hovea in spring. For more experienced riders, Bullocks Flat to Gaden Trout Hatchery is packed with challenges, including tight switchbacks and steep gradients. Pause for a moment’s rest at scenic Boulder lookout, just over halfway along the track.
Be immersed in the world’s oldest living culture on a sacred mountain in Yuin Country
The hills, rocks and waterways of the Bega, Bermagui and Narooma regions have been sacred to the Yuin people for millennia – yet some of their stories have not been widely shared. Walk with the Traditional Custodians of this fertile Country on the Yuin Retreat, a wildly impactful two-day cultural immersion experience that takes in Gulaga National Park and runs between October and May every year.
Highlights include a traditional sunrise ceremony, a guided walk on the sacred Gulaga Mountain, and excellent catering with an Aboriginal twist. This is a unique opportunity to be welcomed into the world’s oldest living continuous culture and learn from lead guide Dwayne ‘Naja’ Bannon-Harrison from Ngaran Ngaran Cultural Awareness, who has nine generations of knowledge and wisdom to pass down. You might even learn something new about yourself along the way.
Enjoy homemade scones in a rare coastal spotted gum forests on a guided ecology walk
Murramarang National Park spans 44km of gorgeous coastline a few hours south of Sydney: think pastel coves hugging turquoise bays, striking cliffs and spotted gums growing right down to the ocean. Bushwalking here is always a life-affirming experience – but if you book a guided tour with Paul Dickson, conservationist and founder of Nature Engagement Tours, you’ll get to walk this area in a much more intimate way.
The more you learn about the natural world, the more you want to learn – and the more you care about it. This is part of the logic behind Paul’s approach to his tours: increasing the value people place on nature by giving them experiences of connection to it. On his Scones of the Forest tour, Paul takes groups of up to 10 people on a six-hour walk into the bush, visiting lesser-known places, pointing out rare plants and animals, and feeding everyone homemade scones whipped up by his mum, complete with jam and cream. Keep an eye out for ‘Old Blotchy’, a 58m-tall spotted gum tree that’s more than 400 years old – and watch out for kangaroos hopping around on Pebbly Beach.
Stay in a beachside cabin with kangaroos as your neighbours
Nothing renews the spirit like waking up in the wilderness. In this case, it’s a rustic beach shack wedged between towering blue gums and the waves of Depot Beach within the Murramarang National Park near Batemans Bay. The self-contained Depot Beach cabins is set in a secluded and beautiful location with direct access to the water, so you can roll right out of bed to the morning chirps of rainbow lorikeets and into the aquamarine sea.
Spend a couple of lazy days relaxing in the sun, bathing in the ocean, reading books, exploring the neighbouring endangered rainforest and throwing in the occasional line to see if you can lure a fresh fish for dinner – there’s an outdoor woodfire oven to roast your catch. Though this picturesque corner of the world is quiet and restful, it’s also teeming with life, especially eastern grey kangaroos – some of which you might even catch grazing on the grass right in front of your cabin.
Stay safe in NSW national parks. Plan by checking the NPWS website for alerts and closures before visiting a park. For more safety tips and park alerts, visit nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/safety.