One-of-a-kind accommodation in NSW national parks
Immerse yourself in the natural environment at these accommodation options within the parks themselves, where nature-based experiences are right at your doorstep.
It’s no secret that NSW is blessed when it comes to national parks, made up of a diversity of landscapes from coastal heathland to lush rainforest, rugged snow-capped mountains to stark desert vistas. Feel a deeper connection to the land and a sense of rejuvenation after spending a couple of days in nature.
Enjoy fresh country air in the Blue Mountains
Nature lovers seeking seclusion will feel like solitary specks in the sprawling Blue Mountains National Park at the Galong Cabins. These two cosy cabins are tucked away in bushland less than an hour from Blackheath and the famous Three Sisters in Katoomba. With towering eucalypt framed by every window and the verdant Megalong Valley unfurling in the distance, the only company will be that of eastern grey kangaroos and red-necked wallabies.
Walk sections of the nearby 46-kilometre Six Foot Track that connects Katoomba and Jenolan Caves, followed by evenings on the verandah listening to cackling kookaburras as the sun dips behind the valley.
Watch the sun rise over the North Coast from a lighthouse keepers’ cottage
Be the first in Australia to feel the sun’s rays on your skin while staying on the mainland’s most easterly point. Located at the tip of Cape Byron State Conservation Area at the foot of its sentinel lighthouse, the Assistant Lighthouse Keepers Cottages boast the most coveted views in Byron Bay, stretching from the beach-dotted coastline to the hinterland.
The lovingly restored heritage cottages sleep six in three bedrooms; besides having front-row seats of the sunrise, the 3.7km-return Cape Byron walking track is also on your doorstep. Peer over sheer cliffs as you trace the coastline, through pockets of rainforest to white-sand beaches Wategos and The Pass, where you can while away sun-filled days surfing and swimming. From here, you’re halfway to the town centre for the many excellent dining and shopping options Byron Bay is known for.
Discover Sydney’s wild backyard at this hilltop retreat
Spanning more than 15,000 hectares, Royal National Park is the yin to Sydney’s yang. An hour south of the city, urban sprawl gives way to open and natural space to breathe, stretch and connect with nature. More than 100km of walking tracks weave through coastal heathland and eucalypt forest, along sheer clifftops and littoral rainforest, while aquatic adventurers can enjoy a swim, surf or paddle at its many beaches and waterways.
A few days spent at Hilltop Cottage, a heritage stay that overlooks the Hacking River, will recharge your batteries. From here you can try a section of the epic multi-day Coast Track, trek to nearby Winifred Falls or Uloola Falls, cycle the historic Lady Carrington carriage route, and view seasonal wildflowers as they blanket the surrounding landscape.
Stay on an old outback sheep station among ancient treasures
The archaeological and cultural treasures uncovered at Mungo National Park are staggering. This stark and mercurial landscape is home to the largest ever fossilised footprints from the Ice Age, as well as the world’s oldest known human cremation – Mungo Lady and Mungo Man – Indigenous people local to the area who were buried more than 42,000 years ago. Let that sink in as you wander its lunar-like vista, a place of great significance to the Ngyiampaa, Mutthi Mutthi and Southern Paakantyi people who have lived here for millennia.
Share tales of Mungo’s mysteries under an uninterrupted star-lit sky at the recently refurbished shearer’s quarters. This heritage stay is basic – with five rooms that sleep 27 guests, a shared toilet block, communal kitchen and dining area – but its location can’t be beat. It’s close to the visitor’s centre and at the start of the 70-kilometre Mungo Self-Guided Drive Tour that leads to the ethereal Walls of China, shaped by sand and silt over tens of thousands of years.
Cast away to a wildlife-rich island on the South Coast
If you’ve ever dreamed about having an island all to yourself, here’s your chance. When the day trippers have headed back to the mainland, become a voluntary castaway on Montague Island (Barunguba), located off the South Coast near Narooma, with a stay at 1881-built five-bedroom Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage.
A boat transfer and a tour of this wildlife wonderland are included in your stay – enjoy the thrill of spotting hundreds of Australian fur seals who frequent the island year-round, some 90 species of bird, including NSW’s largest colony of little penguins and shearwaters who fly thousands of kilometres to breed here. Exhale as you settle in on the wide verandah with its panoramic ocean views, binoculars in one hand to spot migrating whales from May to November and a glass of wine in the other.
Explore the underworld of the Snowy Mountains with a heritage stay
Pack your adventurous spirit and head to the northern reaches of Kosciuszko National Park to see some of the park’s most enchanting sites. Formed some 440 million years ago, the underground cave system at Yarrangobilly is otherworldly. A self-guided tour of the six caves, each ornately adorned in stalagmites and stalactites, is a memorable experience. Above ground, feel your muscles loosen as you soak in the Yarrangobilly Caves Thermal Pool, naturally heated to 27 degrees year-round. Be sure to keep a look out for the elusive platypus who call the nearby river home.
Around the corner, your self-contained accommodation in the 1901-built Yarrangobilly Caves House East and West Wings offers a remote getaway with zero phone reception. Feel relief as you disconnect from the daily grind and immerse yourself in the natural environment here.
All campgrounds in NSW national parks require a booking. 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.