20 Of The Best National Parks In Australia To Add To Your Bucket List
Australia is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world. From rainforests and coral reefs to deserts and snow-capped mountains, there is something for everyone to see in this amazing country. If you're looking for an outdoor adventure, be sure to check out one of Australia's national parks! There are over 500 national parks in Australia, so it can be hard to know which ones to visit. That's why we've put together a list of 20 of Australia's best national parks!
Daintree National Park
Daintree National Park is located in Far North Queensland and is one of Australia's must-visit national parks. The park is home to the world's oldest rainforest, which is over 180 million years old and is also home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. Visitors to the park can experience a true tropical paradise with lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters.
Daintree National Park is great for nature lovers, as there are many opportunities to go hiking, camping, and birdwatching. The park is also great for learning about the local Indigenous culture, as many guided tours are available.
Daintree National Park, Far North Queensland
Day Trips to Daintree from Cairns & Port Douglas
Daintree National Park Multi Day Trips
If you wanted to see the reef and the rainforest this Get Your Guide trip shown below would be perfect. Alternatively you could try this 5 Day Daintree Explorer trip by Intrepid Travel on Tour Radar.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is located in the Northern Territory and is home to two of Australia's most iconic landmarks – Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). The park offers visitors the opportunity to experience the unique landscapes of the Australian outback and learn about the local Aboriginal culture.
Visitors to the park can go on walks around Uluru, visit the Desert Discovery Centre, or take a tour of Kata Tjuta. There are also many opportunities for camping, stargazing, and watching sunrise or sunset over Uluru.
Sunset over Uluru – Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
Uluru Day Trips and Adventures
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park is located in the Northern Territory and is Australia's largest national park. The park is home to various plant and animal life and some of the country's most spectacular scenery. Visitors to Kakadu can go on safari drives, walks through rainforests and wetlands, or boat cruises down rivers and for waterfall visits.
Kakadu National Park is a great place to learn about Australian Indigenous culture, as many rock art sites are located within the park boundaries. If you are planning a trip to Kakadu you will need to ensure you have at least a few days to explore this great park.
Jim Jim falls Kakadu National Park
Kakadu Multi Day Tours
In my personal opinion, you need more than a day trip to see the best of Kakadu. Check out these 2 multi day trips from Darwin. One does Litchfield National Park as well.
Cradle Mountain National Park
Cradle Mountain National Park is one of Tasmania's most popular tourist destinations. The park is home to a number of walks and hikes, as well as the iconic Cradle Mountain. Visitors can also enjoy a range of other activities, such as horse riding, mountain biking, and wildlife watching. Situated in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, the park is a haven for native wildlife, including wombats, wallabies, and echidnas.
There are also a number of rare and endangered species, such as the Tasmanian devil and eastern quoll. Covering an area of 1,614 km², Lake Saint Claire Cradle Mountain National Park (the park's full name) is one of the largest national parks in Tasmania. The park was established in 1922 and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982.
If you have 6 days and love hiking, why don't you consider doing the Overland Track? It is one of Australia's premiere walks and doable with a reasonable level of fitness. Check out my post about hiking the Overland Track.
It is a wilderness walk and you do have to carry a tent and all your food, but if you are early enough you can sleep in the huts overnight which is a whole different level of hiking. Even if you do have to camp in your tent, you can use the huts for cooking and socialising. Cradle Mountain Lake Saint Claire is one of the most beautiful national parks in Australia.
Hiking the Overland Track on the Lake St Claire Cradle Mountain National Park Tasmania
Day Trips to Cradle Mountain National Park
Kosciuszko National Park
Kosciuszko National Park is one of Australia's must-visit national parks. Located in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Kosciuszko National Park is home to Australia's highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko. The park also features an abundance of wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, and wombats. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping and horseback riding in the park. In addition, Kosciuszko National Park is a popular destination for snowshoeing in the winter months. With so much to see and do, Kosciuszko National Park is a must-visit for any traveller to Australia.
This is a national park that is often overlooked but it does have some great trails and small towns close by for a more local accommodation experience. Earning its place in the top 20 national parks in Australia, Kosciuszko is probably one of the least visited. It is very popular with local residents however outside of those visitors Kosciuszko gets few international visitors. It is a beautiful area and really worth adding to your list.
There isn't too many tours in this area, however as its primarily a hiking destination, check out AllTrails for their hikes in the area.
Kosciusko National Park
Blue Mountains National Park
Blue Mountains National Park is located in New South Wales, about 80 kilometres west of Sydney. The park is home to an incredible diversity of plants and animals and some of Australia's most stunning landscapes. Visitors can explore eucalyptus forests, sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and rivers and even take a cable car ride.
There are also numerous walking tracks and lookouts, making it easy to appreciate the park's beauty. Blue Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations. Whether you're interested in hiking, birdwatching, or simply taking in the breath-taking views, Blue Mountains National Park is a must-visit for any traveller to Australia.
The Blue Mountains has some lovely smaller villages and townships that are a great place to base yourself for a few days. Being so close to Sydney it is easy to do a day trip out to the Blue Mountains, however the other side to that coin is that it does get very busy on the weekends.
The Three Sisters, The Blue Mountains
Day Tours To The Blue Mountains From Sydney
Here are 3 day tours to the Blue Mountains from Sydney. You can see quite a good cross section of this stunning national park on a day trip. Of course a few days would be amazing, but its only about 1.5 hours drive from central Sydney.
If you would really like to get into the Australian bush, consider this 2 day 4WD overnight camping trip into the Blue Mountains, returning to Sydney via a river cruise. It's not cheap at $595 per person but it is a uniquely Australian experience.
Burleigh Heads National Park
One of Australia's most accessible national parks, Burleigh Heads National Park is located in the Gold Coast, Queensland. The park is situated about a 5 minute walk from Burleigh village and offers visitors a variety of activities, such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing, picnicking, and hiking. A number of lookouts also provide panoramic views of the coastline.
The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, and its location makes it a popular spot for locals to walk and hike.
Burleigh Heads National Park is one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations, and it is easy to see why. With its stunning coastline, lush vegetation, and diverse wildlife, the park is a truly unique place that should not be missed. I personally walk the Burleigh Headland at least 3 or 4 times per week and the loop is approximately 3 kilometres long, so well within most people's capabilities.
NB: There are stairs so if you want to avoid going up the stairs, keep to the left as you pass through the gate and do the loop that way.
Brad hiking Tallebudgera to Burleigh walk
Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles)
Carved by wind and rain over millions of years, the Bungle Bungles are one of Australia's most remarkable natural wonders. Found in the Purnululu National Park in Western Australia, these unique sandstone formations rise from the desert like a lost city. Even though it is a hot and dry climate, the Bungle Bungles is actually home to a diverse range of wildlife, including rare birds and reptiles.
Visitors to the park can explore the ancient landscape on foot, by camel, or by helicopter. Whether you're admiring the views from above or exploring the gorges and caves up close, visiting the Bungle Bungles and seeing “the beehives” is an unforgettable experience.
Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles) Western Australia
Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park is one of the must-visit national parks in Australia. The park is located in south-eastern Queensland and covers an area of 206 km². Within an hour and 15 minutes drive from the Gold Coast and only a little more from Brisbane, it is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including some of the world's rarest and most threatened species.
The park also features towering mountain peaks, pristine rainforests, and cascading waterfalls. Visitors can explore the park's many hiking trails, go for a swim in its crystal-clear waters, or enjoy a leisurely picnic beneath the shade of its ancient trees. With so much to see and do, it's no wonder that Lamington National Park is one of South East Queensland's most popular tourist destinations.
Lamington National Park South East Queensland
Day Tours Around Lamington National Park
The national park is primarily used for hiking however there is a great tour that does O'Reillys Vinyard from the Gold Coast and another that does O'Reilly's Tree Top walk from Brisbane.
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Great Barrier Reef National Park
The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia's most popular national parks. Stretching over 2,300 kilometers along Queensland's coastline, it is the world's largest coral reef system and home to an incredible diversity of marine life. The park is home to a large variety of marine life, including over 1,500 species of fish, 6000 species of mollusks, and 300 species of coral. Visitors can snorkel or scuba dive to get up close and personal with the vibrant reef community.
The Great Barrier Reef is also home to a number of shipwrecks, which add to the park's appeal. Is this the best national park in Australia? Possibly, especially if you are an ocean lover.
Accessible from Gladstone in the South to Cape Tribulation in the north, the best place to visit the Great Barrier Reef is from Cairns or Port Douglas. Could this be the best national park Australia has? Quite possibly – but I'm an ocean girl so I'm probably a little biased.
My nephew swimming with Wally a Mouri (humphead) Wrasse on the Great Barrier Reef
Day Tours To The Great Barrier Reef
There are so many trips to the reef from both Cairns and Port Douglas however these ones below I've actually been on and would recommend.
Wavedancer is great if you are nervous about heading out to the outer reef. Be aware however that while I've been to Low Isles and seen turtles, stingrays, dolphins and heaps of colourful fish, typically that isn't always the case. It is a great trip that is close to Port Douglas so if you aren't a great swimmer or super confident in heading out a few hours to the outer reef, this trip is for you. The coral won't be anywhere near as good as the outer reef so I feel I should tell you that.
Silversonic gives you the chance to snorkel or dive with Quicksilver a quality reef operator. This is one of their smaller boats but its still a good size vessel for a first reef trip. They typically visit 2-3 different sites depending on the weather and time of the year and I've always had a fantastic time on this boat.
Down Under Cruise and Dive leaves from Cairns Reef Terminal and again is a good size boat but not one of the monster ones that has 200 people on board. This trip also does multiple stops and includes lunch and snacks on board.
I prefer the smaller boats, but if you have small children or any of you are not confident swimmers, you might want to try one of the larger boats that has its own pontoon. Search for Quicksilver (Port Douglas), Reef Magic (Cairns) or Sunlover.
Want more info on Australia? Check out my Australia Destination Page for all the info, posts & places to visit in the Australia.
Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park should be on the top of your list when visiting national parks in Australia. The natural beauty and diverse wildlife are unparalleled. Although it is located in the Northern Territory, Litchfield is easily accessible from Darwin, making it the perfect day trip or overnight excursion. With so much to see and do, you will never be bored.
From swimming in waterfalls to hiking through bushland, there is something for everyone. And, of course, don't forget to explore the spectacular caves. With their bubbling rock pools and ancient rock art, they are something to remember.
Wangi Falls Litchfield National Park
Day Tours To Litchfield National Park from Darwin
While Litchfield is really worth spending more than a single day exploring, these tours will mean you can visit if your time is limited. If you do have a few days consider this 5 day Kakadu and Litchfield trip.
Karajini National Park
Karajini National Park is one of Australia's most beautiful and must-visit national parks. The park is located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and is known for its stunning natural scenery. The park's highlight is definitely the Karijini Experience which celebrates the regions Indigenous culture with a program of high-quality arts and cultural experiences that are created by the Banjima people. The 5 day event allows you to enjoy music, food and family events while appreciating the breath-taking landscape of Karijini National Park.
A series of walks, hikes, and swimming holes around Karajini take you through some of the most amazing landscapes on Earth. The walks vary in difficulty, so there is something for everyone. And, if you are feeling adventurous, you can even camp overnight under the stars. Karajini National Park is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed.
Karajini National Park is somewhere you will have to drive to yourself. Tom Price is the closest town and most people visit Karajini as part of an inland explorer holiday in Western Australia.
Karajini National Park Western Australia
Ningaloo Marine Park
Aaghhh Ningaloo! This slice of coastline makes my heart sing and is in my personal opinion one of the best national parks Australia has.
Ningaloo Marine Park is one of Australia's premier marine parks. Located on the west coast of the Cape Range Peninsula. Ningaloo Marine Park is home to an incredible variety of marine life, including whales, dolphins, manta rays, and turtles. The park also offers visitors the chance to snorkel and scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters of the Coral Sea.
In addition to its abundant marine life, Ningaloo Marine Park is also known for its beautiful beaches, quaint towns, and stunning scenery. Visitors can explore the park's many hiking trails, relax on its sandy beaches, or take a scenic drive along the coast. Whether you're looking for an exciting adventure or a relaxing getaway, Ningaloo Marine Park is sure to exceed your expectations.
I am fortunate enough to have a husband from Western Australia who spent time in this region as a child. It was our very first stop on our around Australia trip in our 20's and we ended up spending over 8 weeks on this part of WA's coastline.
You might never have experiences like this and while swimming with the whale sharks is very popular now, I will always remember being followed by a dugong while I snorkelled the reed beds. They are massive (they don't call them sea cows for nothing) but extremely gentle and very inquisitive and to have one follow me for over an hour was something I will never forget. Australia's Dugong is like America's Manatee.
While you won't see the bright colourful reef and fish that you will on the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo is a stunning slice of Australia's coast and something every visitor should try and see. It is a long way from the east coast and it's not a 5 minute trip to get here but it is an authentic marine experience for sure.
Coral Bay on West Australia's Ningaloo coast
Day Tours In And Around Ningaloo
Some day tours are listed below and you will find the Whale Shark Swim underneath these. I did feel like it needed its own box!
Swim With The Whale Sharks in Coral Bay
Coffin Bay National Park
Coffin Bay National Park is a stunning stretch of coastline in Australia's Eyre Peninsula. The park's white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters are a haven for swimming, surfing, fishing, and kayaking. Visitors can also explore the spectacular coastline on foot, taking in coastal lookouts, secluded coves, and sheltered bays.
Coffin Bay National Park is also home to an abundance of wildlife, including kangaroos, echidnas, goannas, and over 200 species of birds. Coffin Bay is very popular with families over the summer holidays and its multiple camp grounds means that you can visit and stay for a few days without feeling excessively cramped.
4wding along the beaches are popular, however if you are not a regular visitor to the area, check out Coffin Bay's website to be sure that you aren't going to get stuck in a King tide or big swells.
Sensation Beach, Coffin Bay South Australia
Activities In And Around Coffin Bay & Port Lincoln
Port Lincoln is only 50 km from Coffin Bay and Adelaide is about 300 km away. If you are driving from Adelaide it makes sense to see some of what's on offer in the area.
Gawler Ranges NP
The Gawler Ranges National Park, located in South Australia, is one of the lesser known and visited national parks in Australia. The park is known for its diverse landscapes, including mountains, valleys, river gorges, and sandy deserts. Don't miss the Organ Pipes.
Visitors can explore the park through various activities such as hiking, camping, 4WDing, and birdwatching. The park also offers plenty of opportunities for photography lovers to capture its unique beauty, however its location close to the edge of the Nullarbor plain means it isn't overrun with visitors.
Winter is the time to visit as the summer is very hot, however don't expect that because its Australia that the winter temperatures will be mild. It is on the edge of the desert so expect beautiful days but very cold nights. Spring can be very pretty with the wildflowers blooming. Summer offers incredible sunsets for the photographers who visit however you do have to work around the heat of the day.
Gawler National Park is a park that you will have to get to yourself and at around 600km west of Adelaide it is a good day trip to get there. You do need a Gawler Ranges National Park Pass to enter with your vehicle. You can get that from the SA National Parks website.
The Organ Pipes Gawler Ranges National Park
Gariwerd (Grampians) National Park
The Grampians National Park, located in Victoria, is one of Australia's most popular national parks. The park around 300km from central Melbourne, is home to various landscapes, including mountains, forests, and wetlands. Traditionally known as Gariwerd, this park is home to some of the most significant Indigenous rock art paintings in southern Australia.
The National Park & Cultural Centre staff are always happy to help you make the most of your trip to these rock shelters.
Well known with walkers and hikers Australia wide, Gariwerd has some world class hikes ranging from a few km to the multi day 160km Grampians Peak Trail. Check out AllTrails list of hikes in the Gariwerd National Park. There are over 200 trails in the area so I'm sure you will find something to suit you.
Known for its panoramic landscapes is Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park
Day Tours In And Around Gariwerd (Grampians) NP
While the park is known for hiking, there are some great sights and things to see and do that don't involved extended periods of walking.
Dandenong Ranges NP
The Dandenong Ranges National Park, located in the Greater Melbourne region of Victoria, Australia, is a must-visit for any nature lover. The park is home to a variety of landscapes, including rainforests, eucalyptus forests, fern gullies, and heathlands. Visitors can explore the park on foot, bike, or on horseback with several scenic drives winding through the park.
Highlights of the park include the Kokoda Memorial Walk commonly called the 1000 Steps walking track, which ascends through the rainforest to panoramic views of Melbourne. The Puffing Billy steam train takes passengers on a journey through the forest and Olinda Falls is a popular location within the park. The thick Mountain Ash forest is home to wallabies, lyrebirds, wombats and the Powerful Owl which can be pretty ellusive.
Whether you're looking for an adventure or a relaxing day in nature, the Dandenong Ranges National Park is sure to please you. Check out Victoria's Dandenong Ranges page for things to see and do in the area. Dandenong Ranges national park is an easy 50 mins drive from central Melbourne, or only an hour and 15 mins on the train. This makes is an easy park to visit.
Sherbrook forest Dandenong Ranges National Park
Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park is one of Australia's must-visit national parks on the East Coast of Tasmania. Made up of pink granite mountains, white sandy beaches and blue waters, the park is home to a variety of wildlife, including wallabies, echidnas, and platypuses. Freycinet National Park is also home to a number of endangered species, such as the Tasmanian devil and the eastern quoll. Visitors to the park can enjoy various activities such as hiking, camping, bird watching, and kayaking.
Freycinet is also home to Tasmania's world famous Wine Glass Bay. Hike the 3km up to the viewpoint to look out over the bay or continue on the Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach 11km loop down around the bay and back to the carpark.
Wineglass Bay Freycinet Tasmania
Day Tours To Freycinet National Park
While I personally would recommend you visit Freycinet National Park from Launceston, it isn't much further from Hobart so I've included tours from both cities here.
Carnarvon Gorge National Park
Carnarvon Gorge National Park is located in Central Queensland and is one of the must-visit national parks in Australia. The park is home to various natural attractions, including the gorge itself, hiking trails, swimming holes, and waterfalls.
Carnarvon Gorge is the park's main attraction and is a 20km long canyon carved out by the crawling waters of the Carnarvon River. The gorge's walls are up to 100m high in places and are covered with rainforest vegetation.
Hiking is a popular park activity, with many well-marked trails leading to various points of interest, such as lookouts, swimming holes, and Aboriginal rock art sites.
Visitors can also participate in ranger-led walks and talks, which offer an informative introduction to the park's history, culture, and wildlife. Make sure you visit the Moss Gardens, The Art Gallery & Ward's Canyon. There is also one of Australia's Great Walks inside Carnarvon Gorges National Park that is open from April to October every year. AllTrails have the info.
With so much to see and do, Carnarvon Gorge National Park is a must-visit destination for any traveller to Queensland.
Jen on the hike up to The Bluff Carnarvon Gorge National Park
Norfolk Island National Park
Norfolk Island National Park is one of the national parks in Australia that isn't on the mainland. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on Mount Pitt Road, Norfolk Island. The island is home to subtropical rainforests, spectacular seascapes, and a diverse range of plant and animal life. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking, camping & bird watching.
Norfolk Island National Park is also home to the world's largest collection of Norfolk Island pines. These towering trees are an iconic sight on the island and a must-see for any visitor.
The park is only very small so the longest walk is just over 1km long but Norfolk Island in general is beautiful and well worth a visit.
Anson Bay, Norfolk Island
Conclusion: 20 Best National Parks In Australia
If you're searching for an adventure filled with natural beauty, look no further than Australia. This country is home to some of the most incredible national parks in the world. From Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to Bungle Bungle National Park, there's something for everyone to enjoy. So start planning your trip Down Under, I hope you enjoyed this list of national parks in Australia and be sure to add these 20 national parks to your itinerary!