Australia is home to over 500 national parks, sprawling over more than 69 million acres of land, including lush rainforests and wetlands, world class beaches, and spectacular mountain ranges. In these parks, you’ll have the chance to see an array of flora, fauna, and wildlife, as well as take part in countless activities. Of course, with so many national parks to visit, it’s almost impossible to see them all. To make deciding which parks to travel to, here is a quick look at the 5 national parks in Australia you must visit.
Kalbarri National Park in Western Australia
Located just over 300 miles north of Perth, Kalbarri National Park is ideal for anyone who enjoys spending time on the water. The park boasts secluded beaches, outstanding coastal landscapes and panoramic ocean views, spectacular natural rock formations, and the chance to participate in numerous water sports.
For indescribable views, you’ll want to hike to Red Bluff, Hawk’s Head Lookout, Rainbow Valley, Eagle Gorge, or Island Rock and Natural Bridge. Varying degrees of hiking difficulty, ranging from surprisingly easy to strenuous, mean that pretty much anyone can make it to the top. Regardless of which route you take, these jagged cliffs that extend as high as 328 ft. above the Indian Ocean provide views of the waves crashing on the rocks below and the assortment of marine life that live here, including dolphins and whales that are swimming through.
The park has numerous beaches, such as the Chinaman’s Beach on the tranquil Murchison River, where swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and snorkeling are just a few of the fun activities to choose from. Other beaches in the park are ideal for surfing and scuba diving.
While in the park, expect to see over 800 species of wildflower and 150 species of birds, as well as the western grey kangaroo, spinifex hopping mouse, central netted dragon, and short-beaked echidna.
Mt. Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales
Mt. Kosciuszko National Park provides visitors with endless opportunities for everything from hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking in the summer to skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding in the winter. Situated on more than 1 million acres of land, it is home to Mt. Kosciuszko, which at 7,309 ft. is the highest mountain in the country, Lake Cootapatamba, one of only six glacial lakes in Australia, and Tin Mine Falls, Australia’s highest waterfall. Interestingly, there are still aboriginal people who live in the river valleys, plains, and foothills.
There is no shortage of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails throughout the park, which range from easy to strenuous. While following the trails, you’ll come across deep gorges, crystal clear streams, historic huts and other sites of cultural significance, and high peaks, along with a huge assortment of wildflowers, alpine bogs, and snow daisies. You may also run into several endangered species, such as mountain pygmy possums and corroboree frogs, or other wildlife, including wild horses and other feral animals.
At Mt. Kosciuszko National Park, there are countless recreational activities to participate in. Fly fishing in the streams, canoeing and kayaking along the banks of the Snowy River, whitewater rafting, and exploring the various caves are just a few options. Of course, during the winter, skiing is a favorite choice of visitors to the park.
Daintree National Park in Queensland
Best known for its amazing biodiversity, Daintree National Park is divided into two sections – Cape Tribulation, an area that features rainforest covered mountains that give way to pristine sandy beaches, and Mossman Gorge, where the clear waters of the Mossman River cascade over granite boulders.
Thanks to its diverse terrain, Daintree National Park is home to a vast array of flora, including unique and endangered plant species, while the wildlife is even more diverse. For example, depending on where you are in the park, you may come across one of hundreds of different species of birds, giant white-tailed rats, spotted-tail quolls, several species of possums, platypuses, bandicoots, and musky rat-kangaroos. The park is also home to 23 types of reptiles, including amethystine and scrub pythons, eastern water dragons, geckos, and saltwater crocodiles.
In addition to hiking the various trails in the park, you can also go ziplining over the rainforest, go on a boat tour of the Daintree River, head to the Mount Alexandra lookout for spectacular views of the coast, and relax or engage in different watersports, such as swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking, at Cape Tribulation Beach. The park offers horseback riding and provides guided tours, which is an excellent way to see the rainforest.
Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory
Australia’s largest national park, Kakadu National Park consists of rivers, cascading waterfalls, wetlands, coastal plains, and even aboriginal rock art that dates back to prehistoric times. There are so many gorgeous places within the park that it would be almost impossible to see them all, but you should definitely make time for Maguk Gorge, where you’ll need to watch out for saltwater crocodiles if you decide to swim in the crystal clear waters, Nourlangie, where free ranger led tours provide amazing insight into the area’s rock art, and the Armhem Land Plateaus, better known as Kadaku’s amazing stone country.
The park boasts over 2,000 different plant species and an astonishing variety of wildlife, which includes around 10,000 crocodiles, 280 different types of birds, kangaroos, possums, quolls, bandicoots, buffalos, wild horses, and 117 species of reptiles.
From walking the trails of Kadaku National Park to fishing the South and East Alligator Rivers, there are countless opportunities for fun in the park. Other options include exploring the park by 4WD or air via a chartered plane, swimming in one of the park’s natural rock pools, and cruising the Yellow River.
D’entrecasteaux National Park in Western Australia
Named after French Admiral Bruni D’entrecasteaux, D’entrecasteaux National Park stretches 80 miles along Australia’s southern coast and features sandy white beaches, freshwater lakes, coastal cliffs and Karri forests filled with wildlife. One of the most beautiful beaches in the park is Mandalay Beach, the site of a 1911 Norwegian wreck and now a popular fishing, swimming, and surfing spot. You can start at the top of the cliffs for outstanding views before taking the steps down to the coastline.
Further inland are a network of lakes and rivers that also offer fishing opportunities, as well as swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. Bushwalking, especially along the Bibbulmum Track is also a popular park activity. You’ll want to take the time to visit Point D’Entrecasteaux, where you’ll find Nature’s Window, a hole in one of the cliffs that offers spectacular views of the steep drop to the ocean below.
The park is home to a wide array of flora and wildlife, including several rare, threatened species, such as the adorable chudditch and New Zealand fur seal. There are also chances to see migrating whales, as well as bandicoots, wallabies, and of course, plenty of birds.