New South Wales has more than 850 protected parks and nature reserves that cover over 7 million hectares of land. That makes it rather difficult to narrow down the list to just a few of the best. From sweeping outback plains to rainforests and windswept coastal cliffs, New South Wales is home to some of the country’s most varied and delicate landscapes. This is by no means a conclusive list, but here are some of our favourite displays of untouched, wild nature across the state.
Kosciuszko National Park
Home to Australia’s largest ski fields, Kosciusko National Park caters to both beginners and advanced skiers and board riders. While the main ski fields are quite small by international standards, the park offers some fairly extensive back country routes too. In the summertime, mountain bikers replace the skiers and hikers flock to trek to Australia’s tallest peak – the park’s namesake - Mount Kosciuszko.
Mungo National Park
Between Broken Hill and Mildura, in the state’s far south west, Mungo National Park is an incredible desert landscape in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area. A sacred place for local indigenous people, it is home to Mungo Lady and Mungo Man, the world’s oldest human cremations, some 42,000 years old. The Walls of China are a must-see, where erosion has sculpted imposing formations from the clay.
Jervis Bay National Park
Famed as having the world’s whitest sand at Hyams Beach (Guinness Book of World Records verified), Jervis Bay is a surprisingly well-kept secret. Surrounded by lush bushland, the secluded bay, with nearby lakes and beaches, is perfect for swimming, snorkelling, diving, bushwalks and fishing. This is the perfect place for a wildlife injection, with whales, dolphins, fur seals, little penguins and even grey nurse sharks often spotted in the bay.
Blue Mountains National Park
This Sydney neighbour, just 60kms from the city, may be famous for the Three Sisters rock formation, but its dramatic combination of alpine and rainforest scenery goes far beyond the Katoomba highlight. The Grand Canyon walking track is ideal for a day hike, covering waterfalls, creeks and spectacular views. The National Pass walk from Wentworth Falls, however provides arguably the most epic views in the mountains.
Wollumbin National Park
Watching the sunrise from Mount Warning – aboriginal name Wollumbin – is a bucket list item to be ticked off at least once. A remnant vent of a now extinct volcano, the peak of the mountain has spectacular views of the surrounding crater, national park, Cape Byron and the ocean. After sunrise explore the heritage listed rainforests abundant with plant, bird and animal life along a network of walking tracks.
Royal National Park
The closest national park to Sydney and popular for day trips, the Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world and Australia’s oldest. Established in 1879, its landscape is rich and varied, from dramatic coastal cliffs and surf breaks to secluded camping grounds and forest walks. Head here on a weekend for cycling, jogging, bushwalking, swimming or camping.