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One of the best things about Australia is how naturally beautiful its landscape is. You can find everything from expansive red deserts to wild and untamed jungles to jaw-dropping coastlines to remote wetlands.
If you’re a nature lover, you’re going to love Australia!
For those travellers who love the great outdoors, our number one travel tip is to visit as many of the best national parks in Australia as possible!
We just love everything about them. The walks, waterfalls, gorges, swimming holes, forests, rivers, wildlife, and camping.
Except for the flies and mosquitoes – can somebody please remove those – and getting bogged in Kakadu, which is funny now, but not so much at the time.
But there are more than 500 National Parks in Australia, so choosing which ones to visit is not an easy task. To help you out, we’ve listed our favourite ones below!
The Best Australian National Parks
From deserts, to swamps, to tropical islands, make sure you mark these top national parks in Aus on your bucket list!
1. Freycinet National Park – Tasmania
Hazards Beach, Freycinet NP Tasmania
Freycinet National Park is our favourite destination in Tasmania, and one of our top three national parks in Australia. It’s definitely our favourite outside of mainland Australia.
With plenty of lovely walking trails, stunning beaches, granite peaks, and a beach consistently rated as one of the world’s best, what more could you ask?
All you need is great weather like we had and you’ll be singing its praises like us! On good days, you may even see dolphins jumping in the ocean.
Some top things to do see and do in Freycinet are walk to Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach, Coles Bay, Honeymoon Bay, Friendly Beaches, and take a scenic flight over Freycinet and Hazards in a seaplane.
2. Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park – Tasmania
Another national park in Tasmania that’s worth checking out is Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, home to the craggy Cradle Mountain in the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Located 165 km northwest of Hobart this Australian National Park attracts walkers from all over the world and is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.
We didn’t do a lot of the walks here as we had limited time, but when the kids are older we’d love to go back and do the famous Overland Track.
The Cradle Mountain is a mountain in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania, Australia,
The park is known for its natural beauty and relaxing atmosphere. In the aboriginal language, the site is known as leeawuleena which means ‘sleeping water.’ And no truer name could be given to this lake.
Whichever trail you take, you’ll be blessed with stunning views of the glistening lake, alpine vistas, and ancient mossy forests.
Some popular trails are the Dove Lake circuit and the Visitor Center Rainforest Walk.
3. Wild Rivers National Park – Tasmania
Not as many people visit the west coast of Tassie, but it’s worth it.
Running through the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness much of this park is remote and rugged with dramatic mountain peaks, spectacular gorges, and world-famous rivers.
Our cruise down the Gordon River was a highlight of our month-long visit to Tasmania.
Some top things to see and do are visit the waterfalls (Nelson Falls and Hogarth Falls), hike up to Surprise Valley Lookout, King William Saddle, or take the Franklin River Nature Trail.
Another popular activity is to take the World Heritage Gordon River Cruise. Be sure to check out the sunset in the town of Strahan (Number 1 on this list of sunsets not to miss in Australia).
4. Wilsons Promontory National Park – Victoria
Victorians have kept Wilsons Prom, or The Prom a secret for too long. We were blown away by this park and can’t believe it’s not promoted more in other Australian states.
You must book way ahead as it’s hugely popular with bushwalkers and campers.
Just picture stunning vistas of pink granite boulder mountains, turquoise water, and squeaky-white sand and you’ll know why.
If you love beaches, you’ll love the gorgeous sands of Squeaky Beach (famous for the squeaky noise the sand makes as you walk on it), Norman Beach and Sealers Cove. Mount Oberon is worth checking out, too!
We loved our stay at Tidal River Campground where we were lucky enough to see wombats!
5. Grampians National Park – Victoria
Commonly referred to as The Grampians, it’s a rugged mountain range located in Western Victoria and is renowned for its breathtaking rocky views, rich culture, stunning wildflower displays, bush walks, and rock climbing.
One of our favourite moments – we conquered the summit of the 4km Pinnacle’s walk with our two young kiddies, they did so well.
Some other notable sites in the park are Reeds Lookout, Boroka Lookout, and MacKenzie Falls.
You can also cycle from town to Lake Bellfield and explore the town of Halls Gap. Be sure to check out The Brambuk The National Park & Cultural Centre and eat and drink at Livefast Lifestyle Cafe.
6. Great Otway National Park – Victoria
Also called The Otways, Great Otway National Park is one of the most popular stops along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
Immerse yourself in an ancient land and walk among tall trees and giant tree ferns, and discover beautiful waterfalls along the way.
Be sure to make a stop at Triplet Falls, look out for wild koalas in Kinnett River, along the Grey River Road, and visit the Cape Otway Lighthouse (the oldest lighthouse in Australia).
If you like walking, the Otway Fly Treetop Walk is a great scenic walk. Melba Gully is also worth seeing.
7. Port Campbell National Park – Victoria
If you only have time to visit one area along the Great Ocean Road, make it Port Campbell.
This is where you’ll see the best of the GOR and you could spend a whole day just here.
Amazing natural formations over the rugged coastline with cliff-top tracks, gorges, beach walks, and stories of shipwrecks to discover.
Make sure you visit the iconic Twelve Apostles rock formations for sunset or sunrise (and miss the crazy lunchtime tour group madness).
Some other sites to see are Gibson Steps, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge Arch, The Grotto and The Arch.
8. Mount Kosciuszko National Park – New South Wales
If you’re looking to climb Australia’s highest peak, you’ll find it here in Kosciusko National Park in NSW.
Just don’t do what we did and attempt part of this walk with young kids in dress clothes and ill-prepared for the freezing windy weather, lol.
Apparently visiting Kosciuszko in the summer is amazing as the wildflowers are in bloom. Plus mountain biking is awesome.
Since we don’t have a lot of mountains in the country, this is a unique national park in Australia.
And whilst you’re here, why not explore The Snowy Mountains region.
If snow sports and alpine skiing have you interested (yes, you can ski in Australia), then Mount Kosciuszko National Park is the place to do it.
Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest mountain, and is well known for its skiing and snowboarding runs, Thredbo or Perisher, which open in the winter, and hiking and mountain biking trails in the summer.
If going up mountains is not your thing, how about going underground? Deep in the mountain is the underground Yarrangobilly Caves which have six spectacular caves open to the public.
Alternatively, head to the lower snowy and upper Murray rivers where you can fish, paddle, or swim.
Be sure to eat at Eagles Nest restaurant (Australia’s highest restaurant) or try their gourmet hot chocolate.
9. Jervis Bay National Park – NSW
Jervis Bay is stunning.
Normally we’d head to the north coast of NSW from Sydney but on our road trip around Australia, we headed to the south coast for the first time and spent five days in the Jervis Bay region.
The beaches and coastal walks around here are as good as any in Australia and many of the best beaches were nestled in the Jervis Bay National Park.
For beach lovers, check out Hyams Beach and Greensfields Beach. Be sure to check out the White Sands Walk and stop for a bite to eat at Hyams Beach cafe.
10. Booderee National Park – NSW
Just when you think Jervis Bay is beautiful, around the corner from Jervis is this gem of a park called Booderee.
Very popular with the locals because of its unspoiled beaches and great camping, but I’m suspecting not well known around the country, we’d certainly never heard of it previously.
This region of NSW blew us away. We especially liked seeing Murrays Beach and the Cape St George Lighthouse ruins. Be sure to check out the Scottish Rocks and camp at Greenpatch Beach.
11. Murramarang National Park – NSW
Murramarang is 200km south of Sydney and famous for seeing wild kangaroos hopping about on the beaches.
They even hang out in front of your cabins and tent sites like well-trained pets, which was a thrill for our kids.
Great swimming, surfing, and bush walking here, plus the cliffs and headland walks are a must. It’s one of the best places to see wild kangaroos in Australia.
When visiting the park, be sure to check out Pretty Beach, Pebbly Beach, Depot Beach and Durras Beach.
You can also take a scenic walk from Pretty Beach to Merry Beach and stay at Pretty Beach cabins in the evening.
12. Blue Mountains National Park – NSW
You’ve probably heard of the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, but the Blue Mountains have a depth greater than these impressive rock formations.
Being so close to Sydney, it’s one of the most popular national parks in Australia.
There are waterfalls and rainforests, a wide variety of bushwalking tracks, adventure and rejuvenation, unbelievably good local produce, world-class cafes, cosy pubs, and restaurants.
It’s a nature lover’s and foodie’s paradise. Not to mention there are some historic landmarks and aboriginal bushwalks to take here, too.
When visiting the park, be sure to hike the National Pass Trail, Grand Canyon Walk and visit the Echo Point Lookout.
Another top attraction in the national park is The Scenic Railway, which passes many of the most beautiful spots.
For those who love adventure, you can try abseiling or rock climbing, and visit the stunning Wentworth Falls.
Be sure to check out the small town of Leura.
13. Royal National Park – NSW
Did you know that the Royal National Park is Australia’s oldest National Park and the second oldest in the world behind Yellowstone?
We didn’t either until a few years ago.
Situated just one hour south of Sydney, the park’s diversity is seen in its coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, mountainous sandstone ridges, and deep river valleys.
It’s a scenic park with incredible views and nature spots, and offers a breath of fresh air from the busy city of Sydney.
Be sure to do the moonwalk and visit Wattamolla Beach when you visit.
14. Burleigh Head National Park – Queensland
Burleigh Heads is one of our favourite spots on the Gold Coast, and we are so glad we decided to venture into the national park.
It’s a small park but a popular place for hiking, walking and jogging because it provides great views of the ocean and beaches.
The coastal walk combined with part of the rainforest circuit is about 2.5 km up. It’s not difficult as both of our young kids walked most of the way.
If you’re interested in doing some coastal walks, then be sure to check out the Ocean View Circuit.
Other top attractions in the park are Echo Beach, Tallebudgera Creek, and Tumgun Lookout.
Read more helpful travel tips for the Gold Coast.
15. Noosa National Park – Queensland
The town of Noosa is a popular high-end travel destination on the Sunshine Coast 1.5 hours north of Brisbane with a lively calendar of events and beautiful people, but for us, the beauty lies in the National Park that hugs the headland.
It’s another one of the most popular parks in the country with lovely walks and several stunning beaches.
Some top things to see and do are walk the coastal walk from town to Sunshine Beach, hike up to Noosa Hill, and take the track to Hell’s Gate.
16. Great Sandy National Park – Queensland
This national park in Queensland is divided into two sections. The Cooloola section between Noosa Heads in the south and Rainbow Beach in the north. And then there’s the incredible Fraser Island section.
Fraser is the world’s largest sand island and one of Queensland’s natural icons. If 4wd is your thing, you’ll love Fraser!
It’s also a great place to see humpback whales during their migration season, as they often swim close to the shoreline.
Some top things to see and do are to drive along the iconic 75 Mile Beach, stopping off at Lake Mackenzie, Eli Creek, the famous Maheno Shipwreck, The Pinnacles and Rainbow Beach.
17. Daintree National Park – Queensland
At 110 million years old The Daintree Rainforest pre-dates the Amazon and the dinosaurs.
The Daintree and Cape Tribulation – a headland located within the national park look anything but tattered and old.
In 1988 it became a World Heritage Site and it’s the only place in the world where two World Heritage areas meet – Daintree Rainforest meets the World Heritage Listed, Great Barrier Reef.
Some top things to see and do are take a Dreamtime walk of the Mossman Gorge, visit Daintree village and Daintree Discovery Centre, and try spearfishing at Cooya Beach.
Be sure to check out Cape Tribulation and Cape Kimberley. For scenic views, head up to Alexandra Lookout and cool off at Mason’s Cafe and swimming hole.
18. Great Barrier Reef – Queensland
Craig with a big thumbs up!
It’s called a Marine Park but the Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s natural icons and World Heritage-listed sites, so I’m adding it to my list of must-visit national parks in Australia.
Stretching 2,300 km long with over 900 islands, there’s so much to see and do.
Cairns is the main gateway to the barrier reef but there are many access points along the Queensland coast from Port Douglas in the north down to Lady Elliot Island in the south.
If you don’t want to dive, you can go snorkeling or take a glass-bottom boat tour. One of our favorite things to do on the barrier reef is to take a scenic helicopter flight over the reef, which is the best way to see its size and enormity.
See tours of the Great Barrier Reef here:
19. Boodjamulla National Park – Queensland
We think this Australian National Park is Queensland’s best kept secret, but maybe not for much longer.
Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) is found along the Savannah Way Drive in Outback North Queensland.
It’s one of the last places to visit before you hit the Northern Territory.
It’s an emerald green oasis in semi-arid land with a beautiful gorge, numerous hiking trails and bush walks, and camping sites.
Many people visit the park for its gorges. Some of our favourite things to do in the park were canoeing on the Lower and Upper Gorge, and walking up to the Upper Gorge lookout.
Indarri Falls and Adels Grove were also worth visiting. If you want to go camping, you can! Just make sure you book ahead.
20. Undara Volcanic National Park – Queensland
Undara was one of the most fascinating places we visited on our road trip through Queensland.
I didn’t even know Australia had much volcanic history until visiting Undara Lava Tubes.
This park is located along Savannah Way drive heading west from Cairns in North Queensland.
Undara is the aboriginal name for the park which means ‘long way’, which possibly refers to the fact that the park has the longest lava tubes in the world.
The volcanic caves and tubes here are more than 190,000 years old, which you would never be able to tell since they lie under a landscape of dry rainforest and grasses.
Some of the top things to do in the park are to walk to the rim of Kalkani Crater, take a sunset tour to spot some wildlife, and of course, explore the Lava Tubes.
You can also stay in a railway carriage which is quite a unique experience.
21. Whitsunday Islands National Park – Queensland
Looking for paradise? Then head to this stunning Australian National Park with 74 islands called The Whitsunday Islands.
These islands are boarded by the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea midway along the Queensland coast.
If you love stunning beaches with soft white sand, island life, and any water sport you can imagine, go here!
If you’re a fan of diving and snorkeling with marine life, this is one of the best places to do it. You can see turtles and manta rays, and maybe even sharks!
Make sure you visit the world-famous Whitehaven Beach and Airlie Beach.
A great place to stay in the park is on Daydream Island or Hayman Island Resort, where you can book tours to go sailing, take a scenic flight, or snorkel at Manta Ray Bay.
Cedar Creek Falls are also worth checking out.
22. Nitmiluk National Park – Northern Territory
Previously named Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk is about a 5-hour drive from Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Katherine Gorge is made up of thirteen gorges carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River which have great ceremonial significance to the local Jawoyn people, who are custodians of Nitmiluk National Park.
One of the most popular things to do in the national park is to go kayaking down the River Katherine and into Katherine Gorge.
If you can get up early, we highly recommend taking the sunrise cruise in Katherine Gorge. If you go at sunset, you might be lucky to see some fruit bats.
Walk to Barrawei Lookout for some incredible views, and lie back and stargaze whilst staying at Nitmiluk Caravan Park. Bliss!
23. Kakadu National Park – Northern Territory
Ahh, the wonders of Kakadu National Park. Not only is it Australia’s largest national park and famous for its crocodile population, but it’s one of the best places in Australia to see aboriginal rock art.
From wetlands to sandstone escarpments, waterfalls, swimming holes, billabongs, rivers, and wildlife – it teems with abundance and an ancient mysticism urging you to explore its changing landscapes.
Kakadu would sit in my top three national parks in Australia so far and is certainly one of the top things to do near Darwin.
Some top things to see and do are visit Gunlom Falls, Barramundi Gorge, Twin Falls, and Jim Jim Falls.
You should also make sure to learn about aborigines at Nourlangie Rock Art and also head up to the Nourlangie Lookout for sunset.
Another great sunset viewpoint is at the Nardab Lookout, Ubirr
If you want to see the saltwater crocs in their natural habitat, consider taking a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise.
24. Litchfield National Park – Northern Territory
Litchfield is just over an hour’s drive from Darwin, which makes it an easy spot for a day trip or even a weekend getaway from the city.
The highlight of this park is its many beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes. Some of the most popular are Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole, Wangi Falls, and Walker Creek.
You can also see a unique phenomenon here; magnetic termite mounds. Yes, magnetic! You have to see them to believe it.
There are some nice walking tracks and biking trails. There are some roads that require a 4WD, but you enter the park with a normal vehicle.
25. Karijini National Park – Western Australia
We spent five amazing days exploring Karijini National Park and it’s probably our favourite national park in Australia because of its incredible swimming holes.
The park is full of hiking trails and walks, mesmerizing gorges, and swimming holes.
Some of our favourite spots in the park were Dales Gorge, Kalamina Gorge, Weano Gorge, Knox Gorge, and Hamersley Gorge.
We highly recommend you do the walks for each of the gorges too, not just visit the swimming holes.
Put it on your MUST VISIT list for Western Australia.
26. Nambung National Park – Western Australia
Nambung National Park is a unique desert landscape in Western Australia, just a couple hour’s drive south of Perth on the Coral Coast.
Within the park is The Pinnacles Desert, which is the most well-known part of the park. The desert is surrounded by white sand dunes and coastal plains, as well as some great beaches for swimming.
Lake Thetis is another beautiful part of the park which has an easy boardwalk trail around its perimeter.
Next to the lake, you can see stromatolites, which are sort of cave-like formations protruding out of the earth. They are such a unique site to witness and definitely a highlight of visiting this Aussie national park.
27. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park – Northern Territory
Uluru is a must-see when you are planning a trip to Australia
Most people around the world have heard of Ayres Rock. It’s one of the most iconic landmarks in Australia and one of the most sacred aboriginal sites.
This iconic monument is located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which is probably the most famous national park in Australia for its desert landscape.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta is home to several sites not just Ayres Rock. The area around the park is teaming with iconic bright red rock formations, diverse plants and flora, and ancient aboriginal rock art.
You can walk around the base of Ayres Rock, see the domes of Kata Tjuta and feel the soothing sounds of the desert.
One thing to note when visiting this park is to stay on the trails at all times, otherwise, you may disturb some desert wildlife such as snakes and scorpions!
28. Purnululu National Park – Northern Territory
Located in the Bungle Bungle range, in the Kimberley region of Australia, is the stunning Purnululu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s famous for its rock formations, which are these incredible beehive-shaped orange and black mountains made with Devonian-age quartz sandstone that rise for 300 meters above the ground.
As well as these rocks, you’ll find plenty of waterfalls, hiking trails, some native plants and fauna, and stunning views from the cliff tops.
It’s also another fascinating national park with aboriginal roots, dating back 40,000 years. The park has more than 200 sites with rock art or aboriginal burial grounds.
You will need a 4WD vehicle to explore this park as the terrain is pretty rough.
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are the best national parks in Australia and as you can see there are so many different landscapes and nature spots to enjoy.
Whether you’re visiting the Western region, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, or even Tasmania, there is so much to see and enjoy at these Australian national parks.
Before you go, make sure to download maps and all the relevant apps as these parks are usually remote and have no cell service.
Take great care when planning your trip and make sure you pack all the essentials; bug spray, first aid kits, plenty of water etc.
And above all, have the best time exploring Australia’s great outdoors!
More Australia Travel Tips:
Are you thinking of exploring more of Australia? Then you might find the following resources helpful!
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What National Parks in Australia would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!