National Parks in NSW
NSW national parks are brimming with natural wonders: from UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites to jade-green rainforest, beautiful beaches, ancient caves and extinct volcanoes. Follow the trails – from forest floors to the top of Australia's highest mountain – to find unique flora and fauna that attracts trekkers from around the globe.
Blue Mountains National Park
The Blue Mountains is one of Australia's greatest assets. In fact, it's where the tourism industry in Australia began. This World Heritage wilderness spans a number of national parks that are home to a third of Australia’s bird species and the ancient Wollemi pine, which belongs to a 200 million-year-old plant family discovered in 1994.
Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains belongs to one of the world’s oldest cave systems, with limestone dating back 340 million years. Nature has also sculpted the Three Sisters' formation, best viewed from the vantage point of Echo Point in Katoomba. A ride in the Scenic World cable-car is also a must in the mountains.
Bushwalking & hiking
The cross-country hikes and walks in NSW are some of the best in the country. The summit walk in Kosciuszko National Park takes trekkers to Mount Kosciuszko, the so-called 'rooftop of Australia'. To see the UNESCO Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, take the 2.2km Eagles Nest track in the New England National Park, near Armidale.
NSW's unspoiled coastal national parks are magnificent, too. Relax on lovely beaches, and enjoy fishing, kayaking and surfing. Whale watching is hugely popular on the South Coast, Central Coast and North Coast during the migration period for humpback whales, between May and November. Great coastal walks include:
- Light to Light walk in Ben Boyd National Park, Eden
- White Sands walk in Jervis Bay National Park, Jervis Bay
- Bouddi Coastal walk in Bouddi National Park, Killcare
- Tomaree Head walk in Tomaree National Park, Shoal Bay
- Sea Acres walk in Sea Acres National Park, Port Macquarie
- Yuraygir Coastal walk in Yuraygir National Park, Yamba
Before you set off on any bushwalks, be sure to read these safety tips from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
National parks in Country NSW
Dorrigo National Park in the coastal hinterland of the North Coast is home to the Skywalk Lookout, which rises over the rainforest canopy. Mount Wollumbin, formerly called Mount Warning, is also worth a visit: it's a volcanic plug in a rainforest-covered caldera in World Heritage-listed Wollumbin National Park.
Some of the best volcanic features in the world can be found within Warrumbungle National Park, Australia’s first Dark Sky Park near the stargazing capital of Coonabarabran. Here, the volcanic landforms of spires, domes, plugs and dykes are "unrivalled anywhere else in the country", according to a national heritage report.
Outback national parks
There are also dramatic landscapes rich in Aboriginal heritage to be found in Outback NSW. UNESCO-listed Mungo National Park is where the 40,000-year-old remains of a woman were discovered in 1968. You can take a guided tour in Mutawintji National Park to the famous ochre hand stencils, which date back thousands of years.
Planning your trip
Most national parks are free to enter, however 45 parks charge an entry fee for motor vehicles. You can purchase an annual pass, regional passes or day passes. (Note that all annual passes and some day passes are now digital passes linked to your vehicle and can be purchased online.) The NSW National Parks app contains detailed information on more than 200 parks as well as downloadable maps. Please read these safety tips carefully before embarking on your big adventure.