Did you know that there are more than 600 national parks in Australia? That’s right – from rugged mountain ranges to pristine beaches, the national parks of Australia offer something for every type of adventurer.
Whether you’re planning a road trip or looking for a weekend getaway, these national parks are sure to leave you in awe of Australia’s natural beauty. So pack your bags, grab your camera and let’s dive into the best national parks in Australia!
Australia’s Best National Parks: Western Australia
Nambung National Park
Let’s kick off this epic Australia national parks guide with what might just be our favourite: Nambung National Park.
Situated in Western Australia (the nearest big city is Perth), you might have heard of this park’s weird AF rock formations, the Pinnacles. They might look rather strange, but they’re actually just limestone spires that have been formed over many years by wind and rain.
You can explore them via foot or car, but we recommend taking a hike to spot them up close (and get some cool photos). The Lake Thetis boardwalk is a great option for those who want to see the park’s famous stromatolites up close.
Nambung’s beautiful beaches are also pretty famous – you have to visit Kangaroo Point and Hangover Bay; they’re perfect for swimming, snorkelling or just soaking up the sun.
If you’re interested in wildlife, keep an eye out for kangaroos, emus and other native animals that call Nambung National Park in Australia home. Birdwatchers will also love spotting species such as Carnaby’s black cockatoos and red-tailed black cockatoos.
Purnululu National Park
The magnificent Purnululu National Park is home to some of the most astonishing examples of sandstone formations in the world.
One of the top things to do in this Australian national park is to explore the formations – the majority of the national park is made up of these towers, known as the Bungle Bungle Range. They’re super Instagrammable, and are striped in alternating orange and grey bands, the result of millions of years of wind and water erosion on the ancient sandstones.
As well as this, the park is home to a wide range of plants, animals, and birdlife, with a wide variety of ecosystems. No wonder it’s one of the most biodiverse parks in Aus.
The park is also of great significance to local Indigenous people; many sacred sites and areas of important traditional knowledge can be found within its boundaries – like rock art and ochre grindings. In fact, it’s the Djaru and Gija Aboriginal people who protect the park.
Karijini National Park
When it comes to exploring Western Australia, Karijini National Park is a must-see. Let us tell you why – it’s one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the country and is home to a vibrant array of unique wildlife, majestic gorges, and stunning scenery.
This national park is well known for its many hikes and gorges, including Mount Bruce, Joffre Gorge, Hancock Gorge, and Knox Gorge. With plenty of challenging trails and rewarding views, there is something to suit all levels of hikers. You’ll also be able to spot rare flora and fauna along the way.
Our favourite thing to see in Karijini National Park is Weano Gorge. It’s popular for its tranquil natural pools, deep plunge pools, and towering gorges. For those looking for a bit of adventure, there are plenty of places to swim, jump and abseil in the area.
Take our advice and visit in spring – this is when the park is at its prettiest, plus hiking in the cooler weather is far nicer than the blazing summer.
Cape Range National Park + Ningaloo Reef
Heading to the Pilbara region of Australia? Add Cape Range National Park to your itinerary. Why? It’s home to some of the most spectacular and unique landscapes in the country, from the deep gorges to limestone cliffs that soar high above the park.
Still not convinced? How does more than 300 kilometres of rugged coastline, vast canyons, and a range of wildlife sound? Add to this the opportunity to snorkel amongst the coral reefs and explore the cave systems, and there are plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained in the park.
We love this park as it’s also home to the iconic Ningaloo Reef, where visitors can enjoy the unique opportunity to swim with whale sharks and sea turtles. Across this incredible stretch of coral reef, there is a spectacular array of marine life – taking a tour is one of the best ways to experience it.
Francois Peron National Park
Water sports lovers, you need to hit up Francois Peron National Park.
Located in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia, it’s one of the best national parks in Australia. Its landscape is ridiculously diverse, consisting of red sand dunes, white-sand beaches, and crystal clear waters. You might even be able to spot a dugong (we adore them!).
Choose between exploring the park on foot or by boat and book yourself onto a number of thrilling activities such as swimming and snorkelling tours. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventure-filled vacation, Francois Peron National Park is one of our favourite places in Oceania.
Australia’s Best National Parks: New South Wales
Mungo National Park
If you’re interested in exploring the Aboriginal history of Australia, this next park is perfect. In the far west of New South Wales, Australia, sits the fascinating Mungo National Park.
The park was proclaimed in 1984, with the aim of conserving “the natural features of this area”. Mungo National Park is an important site for Aboriginal people as they were the first to inhabit the area.
The park contains many interesting features, including middens and rock art sites. It also has buffalo dung mounds that are over 6,000 years old. Lake Mungo itself is estimated to have been formed between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago by activity associated with the Willandra Lakes system.
Visitors can take guided tours of the ancient lake bed, where they will see evidence of human habitation dating back 40,000 years. For nature lovers, there are plenty of opportunities for birdwatching and hiking through the rugged terrain. And at night, the clear skies offer an unparalleled view of the stars above.
Kosciuszko National Park
Fancy visiting Australia’s highest national park? You’ll want to head to Kosciuszko National Park. Hidden away in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, it’s home to Mount Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in the country at 2228 metres (7555 feet).
In case you were wondering how an Aussie park got a Polish name: The park is named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish freedom fighter who came to Australia in 1795 to help fight against British rule.
This is one of the more unique national parks in Australia as you can ski, snowboard and mountain bike. You can also take an aerial tramway up Mount Selwyn or ski down its slopes when conditions are right.
As well as its mountain, the park is equally famous for its wide range of wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and koalas. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some echidnas (a totally adorable anteater/porcupine-looking hybrid).
Blue Mountains National Park
If you’re heading to Sydney and fancy spending some time in the wilderness, Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most accessible national parks in Australia.
The park is pretty huge and includes the Greater Blue Mountains Area World Heritage Site.
There’s plenty to do nearby, from hiking and mountain biking to rock climbing and canoeing. We recommend adding a tour of Wentworth Falls Railway and a trip to Echo Point Lookout to your itinerary.
Oh, and a visit to Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens is a must. Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens are home to a wide range of native plants, flowers and trees. There’s also an animal enclosure where you can see kangaroos, wombats and other animals that live in the Blue Mountains region.
Perhaps the most popular thing to do in this Aussie park is to take a hike up Wentworth Falls. It offers spectacular views from every angle – from here you’ll be able to see tall cliffs and waterfalls, as well as lush green vegetation below.
Australia’s Best National Parks: Victoria
Port Campbell National Park
This Australian national park offers visitors an abundance of outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery. One must-visit attraction in the park is the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks rising majestically from the ocean.
Visitors can take in these impressive formations from several viewing platforms or even take a helicopter tour for a bird’s-eye view. If you’re feeling extra spenny, that is.
Another popular spot is Loch Ard Gorge, which offers visitors the chance to explore a series of dramatic sea caves and arches. The gorge is named after a shipwreck that occurred here in 1878 and visitors can learn about the area’s history at the nearby museum.
For those who love hiking, Port Campbell National Park boasts several scenic trails that wind through lush forests and along rugged coastlines. One popular route is the Great Ocean Walk, which takes hikers past some of the park’s most iconic sights.
Finally, no visit to Port Campbell National Park would be complete without taking a dip in one of its pristine beaches. From tranquil coves to surf breaks, there’s a beach here for every type of traveller.
Grampians National Park
Pack a picnic and head to one of the dreamiest national parks in Australia, Grampians. It’s the ultimate park for culture-seekers.
There are plenty of picnic spots throughout the park where you can enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the scenery. But, excitingly, the park also has several wineries nearby that offer tastings and tours. Pomonal Estate and Fallen Giants Vineyard are two of the best – Pomonal also offers a delish lunch menu if you fancy something a little high-brow.
Another of the many brilliant things to do in Grampians National Park is to visit the famous Pinnacle Lookout, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Good news for those who love hiking, as there are numerous trails to explore, ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. Be sure to check out the MacKenzie Falls, one of Victoria’s largest waterfalls, and the Balconies lookout for more stunning views.
Australia’s Best National Parks: Northern Territory
Kakadu National Park
Want to see some of the most incredible Aboriginal rock art in Australia? Kakadu National Park offers this (you’ll find it at the Ubirr Rock Art Site) and plenty more. From hiking to swimming, there’s something for everyone.
Another popular activity in Kakadu is taking a scenic flight over the park’s vast landscape. This allows visitors to see the park from a unique perspective and appreciate its beauty from above. For those who prefer to stay on the ground, there are plenty of hiking trails to explore, including the challenging Barrk Sandstone Walk.
If you’d rather not break a sweat, head to Jim Jim Falls or Twin Falls for a refreshing swim in crystal clear waters. Alternatively, take a boat tour along the East Alligator River and spot crocodiles in their natural habitat.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Next up: One of the most impressive national parks in Australia if it’s magical views you’re after (though it has some tough competition).
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a bucket-list-worthy destination that offers visitors a chance to experience some of Northern Australia’s most breathtaking scenery. From hiking to cultural tours, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy in the park.
Believe us when we say that one of the top things to do is to take a guided walk around Uluru, which will give you a deeper understanding of the indigenous culture and history surrounding this iconic landmark.
For those who prefer a more active adventure, there are plenty of hiking trails throughout the park that boast huge vistas. But that’s not all – other popular activities include sunrise and sunset viewing sessions, stargazing tours, and hot air balloon rides over the park.
Nitmiluk National Park
If you’re looking for a hugely underrated Australian national park, believe us when we say that a visit to Nitmiluk National Park is non-negotiable. There’s so much to do, from snapping photos of stunning waterfalls, hiking through rugged terrain, or taking in the beauty of ancient rock art.
Though, one must-do activity in Nitmiluk National Park is taking a cruise down the Katherine River. This scenic boat ride floats you through the heart of the park, past towering cliffs and lush vegetation. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to spot wildlife such as wallabies (so adorable!) and freshwater crocodiles (less adorable – but very cool to see).
If it’s hiking you’re after, the Jatbula Trail is our fave. It’s no easy feat, though; it covers 62km over 5-6 days and takes hikers through some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. If you’re short on time, there are also shorter hikes available that offer equally mad views of the park’s unique landscapes.
Another highlight of Nitmiluk National Park is its rich cultural history. The Jawoyn people have lived in this area for thousands of years, and their culture is woven into every aspect of the park. Visitors can learn about Jawoyn traditions and beliefs by exploring ancient rock art sites scattered throughout the park.
Australia’s Best National Parks: Queensland
Daintree National Park
Daintree National Park offers a plethora of activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
Take a guided rainforest walk through the lush, green canopy to spot unique wildlife like the endangered southern cassowary and colourful birds like the rainbow lorikeet. Or, for those looking for a bit more thrill, zip line through the treetops on one of the park’s many canopy tours.
If you’re in search of aquatic adventures, take a dip in one of Daintree’s refreshing swimming holes or explore the park’s crystal-clear streams by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. And, for a truly unforgettable experience, book a tour to witness the natural wonder of bioluminescence at night.
Fancy a taste of local culture? Head to the nearby Mossman Gorge to learn about the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people and their connection to this magnificent land.
With so much to see and do, Daintree National Park is an absolute must-visit destination for any traveller exploring Australia’s breathtaking east coast.
Whitsunday Islands National Park
The Whitsunday Islands National Park is another of Australia’s best national parks, known for its pristine beaches with crystal clear waters.
Without a doubt, the main pull of this national park is its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef – you need to book a snorkelling tour (or dive, if you’re qualified); it’s a once in a lifetime experience.
As well as this, take the time to visit Whitehaven Beach – it boasts some of the whitest sand in the world. And, quite frankly, visiting this region of Aus and not spending some time beach bumming should be a crime.
Oh, and while we’re talking about reefs, another brilliant thing to do in the Australian National Park is to take a scenic flight over Heart Reef – it’s only visible from above, making it a pretty unique experience.
If you’ve got an extra day to spare, take a trip to Hamilton Island. It’s a popular destination that has plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained, including water sports, golfing, and bougie spa treatments.
Boodjamulla National Park
Guys, Boodjamulla National Park is INSANE. We know we sound like broken records by now, but it seriously boasts some of the most stunning natural scenery in all of Australia. From ancient rock formations to crystal-clear waterways, there’s no shortage of things to do here.
First of all, taking a dip in Lawn Hill Gorge is a must-do. This pristine swimming hole is one of the park’s biggest draws, and for good reason. The water is cool and refreshing, and surrounded by towering red cliffs.
While those seeking a little bit of history will want to check out the Riversleigh Fossil Fields – these ancient fossil fields offer a glimpse into Australia’s prehistoric past, with some fossils dating back millions of years.
And, if it’s hiking you’re after, the Island Stack Circuit certainly delivers. It’s a challenging trail, but don’t let that put you off; it takes you through some of the park’s most gorgeous scenery, including towering sandstone stacks and sweeping vistas.
Carnarvon National Park
When in Queensland, you need to visit Carnarvon National Park – it’s a nature lover’s paradise. With its stunning sandstone cliffs, crystal-clear creeks and awe-inspiring views, the park offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy.
One of our favourite things to do in Carnarvon National Park is to explore the park’s many walking trails. From short strolls to multi-day hikes, there’s a trail for every level of fitness and experience – so don’t worry too much if you’re a hiking newbie. Some of the must-see spots include the Moss Garden, Warrumbah Gorge and the Amphitheatre.
Though, for those who prefer water-based activities, canoeing down Carnarvon Creek is an unforgettable experience – the creek winds its way through towering cliffs and lush greenery. It’s pretty magical to see.
Another highlight of the park is the Cathedral Cave tour. This guided tour takes visitors deep into the heart of a massive cave system filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
Finally, no trip to Carnarvon National Park would be complete without taking in the sparkling night sky. With minimal light pollution, the park is one of the best of all Australia national parks for stargazing.
Australia’s Best National Parks: South Australia
Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre
Heading to South Australia? You NEED to visit Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. The salt flats surrounding the lake create a surreal landscape that feels otherworldly. There’s so many things to see and do; it truly is one of the best national parks in Australia.
Another must-see attraction in the park is the Oodnadatta Track, which takes you on a journey through the vast Australian outback. Follow the route and you’ll come across fascinating landmarks such as the Painted Desert and the ruins of old Ghan railway stations.
For those who love camping and hiking, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre has plenty to offer. There are several campgrounds located around the lake where you can pitch your tent and enjoy stunning views. But that’s not all; the area also boasts several hiking trails that take you through rugged terrain and offer panoramic views of the lake.
Oh, and if you’re interested in learning more about Aboriginal culture, we highly recommend you to visit the nearby town of Marree where you can learn about the local history and traditions at the Tom Kruse Museum. This is also where the mysterious Marree Man can be found, FYI.