Top Australian national parks to visit
Take a look at some of the top national parks across the country offering superb camping, pristine beaches and lots of adventure.
There are over 500 national parks encompassing 28 million hectares of protected land in Australiai. These unspoilt areas help to protect native plant and animal life and give people the chance to enjoy and learn more about our natural environmenti. National parks have become an important part of Australian culture where we spend our holidays and weekends getting in touch with nature.
Whitsunday Islands National Park, QLD
Australia is home to some of the world's best beaches. We have the whitest sand and world class surfingii,iii. We also lay claim to one of the seven wonders of the natural world - the Great Barrier Reef - and the breathtaking island beaches that surround itiv. Perhaps none more so than Whitehaven Beach in Whitsunday Islands National Park.
In 2014, Whitehaven Beach came fifth place in TripAdvisor's 'Top 25 Beaches in the World' list, beating Turquoise Bay and Cable Beach in WAv. It holds many other accolades including the 'Best Beach in Australia' in 2013 and the 'Most Eco-friendly Beach' in 2010 . Visitors to Whitehaven Beach can camp along the shoreline and snorkel in the crystal clear water. Adventure seekers can charter a bareboat cruise or book a seaplane flight to experience the natural beauty of the region first handvi.
Best for camping
Cape Le Grand National Park, WA
Esperance and the Cape Le Grand National Park have been named one of Reader's Digest Australia's 'Best Spots for Camping'vii. Set up camp at either the Cape Le Grand Campground or Lucky Bay for easy access to everything the park has to offer. Both camping areas offer sites with camp kitchens, shower and toilet facilities, and barbeque areasviii. Lucky Bay is best known for a large mob of kangaroos that call the area home and Cape Le Grand Campground offers spectacular views of the off-shore islandsvii. Open fires are not permitted in either campground, but you can use liquid or gas fuel barbeques, stoves and heaters unless there is a total fire ban: keeping up-to-date with any fire restrictions in the area is highly recommended.
Best for hiking
Cradle Mountain - Lake St. Clair National Park, TAS and Kosciuszko National Park, NSW
In 2012, the international edition of CNN published their list of the 'Top 10 Australian Hiking Trails'. They divided the list into categories for multi-day hikes and those that can be completed in a single day. The top choice for a multi-day hike was the 65 kilometre Overland Track in Tasmania's Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. The Overland Track takes hikers on a six day journey through Cradle Mountain and can be either self-guided or completed with the help of a certified guide from a private tour company.
Taking out the top spot for single day hikes is the Kosciuszko Walk in Kosciuszko National Park in NSW. The 14km return walk will take around five hours to complete and winds its way up to Australia's highest point at the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, 2,228m above sea levelix. Countryside in the park inspired the famous Banjo Patterson poem The Man from Snowy Riverx.
Best for wildlife
Flinders Chase National Park, SA
Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island is home to hundreds of species of unique and rare wildlife. Perhaps because of this, it was voted by MSN Travel as the 'Best Australian National Park for Experiencing Wildlife'xi. Kangaroo Island is one of the few unspoilt natural habitats left in Australia which affords visitors the opportunity to see our native creatures in the wild.
The beaches are perfect for penguin, seal and sea lion spotting. Up in the skies you will find over 250 different species of birds . Some of the wildlife can only be found on the island including Kangaroo Island Kangaroos, yellow-tipped Kangaroo Island echidnas and many different types of reptiles, bats and frogsxi.
Best for indigenous and historical significance
Royal National Park, NSW; Great Otway National Park, VIC; and Kakadu National Park, NT
The Royal National Park, just a short drive south of Sydney is Australia's oldest national park and the second oldest declared national park in the worldxiii. This park was named one of the top 10 Classic Australian National Parks by Australian Geographic in 2014. Visitors to the park can enjoy canoeing, camping, hiking and magnificent views of the coastlinexiv.
Mainland Australia's oldest surviving lighthouse sits upon the jagged cliffs of Bass Strait in Victoria's Great Otway National Park. The lighthouse was built in 1848 to help reduce the number of shipwrecks along the coast.
Kakadu National Park is Australia's largest park and one of the best areas to discover Aboriginal artwork dating from as far back as 50,000 years agoxv. The traditional home of the Bininj/Mungguy people, the ancient artworks tell detailed and dramatic stories from a time long before European settlers arrived and up to as recently as the 1960sxv,xvi. Kakadu supports plenty of rare bird and plant life and is full of waterfalls and natural water holesxvii. There are a number of four-wheel drive tracks through the park and the stark contrast between the wet and dry seasons means that you will need to visit more than once to experience all of the wonder the park has to offerxvii.