With some of the most diverse wild and marine life, not to mention landscapes, the 10 best national parks in Australia allow you to discover wonderlands of color and preserved ecosystems during your custom Australia trip.
From rock formations to islands, coral creations to billabongs, deserts to tropical rainforests, the exceptional expanse of the country’s national parks offers gorgeous landscapes that act as playgrounds to inspire awe in visitors.
The 10 best national parks in Australia blend educational programs with adventures to provide opportunities to meet Aboriginal elders in the desert, snorkel vibrant coral reef systems, or trek across historic coastal sand dunes to create an enticing combination of adventure and understanding as you explore the country.
Royal National Park is the secret Sydneysiders want to keep, yet can’t help but share. A small portion of the park’s fame derives from it being the first designated national park in Australia, as well as the world’s second official national park.
The remarkable coastline and hiking trails, as well as celebrated cycling tracks, provide access to the pristine scenery. The shoreline overlooks what Australians refer to as “Humpback Highway”, due to fascinating views of migrating humpback whales. Day hikes and long treks traverse trails with coastal panoramas, views over sandstone cliffs, and access to Curracurrong Waterfall.
Great Otway National Park is home to one of Australia’s best rainforests. The rugged beauty sweeps across the coastline, cool sand along the beaches, amid rock platforms, and the distinctive contours of the windswept heathland.
From majestic waterfalls to serene glassy lakes hidden by the slopes of the Otway Range, the park has acted as the gateway to the Great Ocean Road and remains an important birding area, supporting pink robbins and striated fieldwren.
The Aboriginal peoples maintain its historic connection to the ancestral lands and waters, and hundreds of koalas rest amid the branches, nibbling on eucalyptus leaves or resting in the treetops.
Litchfield National Park exemplifies the rugged beauty of Australia’s “Top End”. The park preserves crystal pools, magnetic termite mounds, and sandstone pillars that represent a microcosm of the fascinating natural scenery of the Northern Territory.
With fantastic short trails perfect for day hikes or longer treks that run alongside creeks, waterfalls, and untouched tropical monsoon rainforest, you can find the freestanding sandstone pillars and blocks that resemble ruins of a forgotten civilization or uncover the majesty of Wangai Falls.
The preservation of the land has greater context when exploring during an Aboriginal tour.
The Karijini National Park and all its marvels are located just north of the Tropic of Cancer. Exploring the fantastic landscape of western Australia reveals two billion years of natural history weathered by waterfalls and emerald pools. The different ecosystems within the park have traditionally supported Aboriginal nations dating back more than 20,000 years.
The visitor center represents the history of the region, with displays on local animals, the landscape, and the way in which the different indigenous peoples adapted over time. Short trails provide visitors with remarkable panoramas of gorges, access to heart-shaped pools, or adventures to the summit of Mount Bruce.
The far north of Queensland contains the celebrated charms of Daintree National Park. The continuous tropical rainforest is known as the largest on the continent, as well as the oldest in the world. It’s estimated to be 180 million years old.
The complex ecosystem hosts stunning plant diversity and incredible complexity, from the Mossman River meandering through the Mossman Gorge to the white-sand beaches of Cape Tribulation. The park contains nearly two-thirds of Australia’s butterfly and bat species, and predates the dense diversity of the Amazon with over 430 species, including tree kangaroos and the endangered cassowary.
As the icon of Australia’s national parks, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, embodies the continent’s breathtaking desert landscape. The ancient scenery captures the attention of visitors, while maintaining a deep connection to the culture and spirituality of indigenous people.
The monolith of Uluru is decorated with myriad paintings and engravings. Kangaroos, emus, dingoes, and wallabies roam free across the expansive red desert sands and Aboriginal guides can lead you along the different paths of the desert to reveal medicinal plants, rock art, bush food, and the unyielding spiritual connection.
The Blue Mountains National Park is one of the easiest preserved natural spaces to reach in Australia and shares with visitors the splendor of a unique morning haze that gives the region its name. Aromatic eucalyptus creates a dense canopy along the valley floor and mountainous slopes while sandstone emerges in chiseled outcrops that create exceptional natural contours.
The larger protected landscape overtakes eight connected conservation areas that can offer exceptional hiking experiences and Aboriginal heritage sites. Charming towns, exciting restaurants, and a distinctive climate add to the alluring diversity of the national park that separates it from the culture and ambiance of nearby Sydney.
Pink granite peaks, surprising sandy white beaches, and secluded bays set the foundation for the natural wonders in Freycinet National Park. The abundance of birdlife adds to the serene ambiance along the east coast of the Freycinet Peninsula that edges the Tasman Sea. Wetlands, trails, and crystal-clear waters reward visitors with opportunities to view wildlife up close.
Photogenic and inspiring, Freycinet National Park can immerse you in the landscape with hiking circuits that can take up to three days or lead you to the stunning coastline of Wineglass Bay. With possible encounters with black cockatoos, honeyeaters, dolphins, and whales, the opportunities for taking your breath away in the natural grandeur are endless.
Warm, calm, and sapphire waters await visitors to Whitsunday Islands National Park. The jewels of the Great Barrier Reef provide a playground for travelers who wish to explore by boat or lounge on pristine white-washed sands.
The collection of 74 islands boasts remarkable archeological sites as well as access to some of the most untouched coral gardens along the east coast, accentuated by the warmth of the golden sun and shimmering Coral Sea.
Away from the fringing reefs, islands can shine with hoop pines along winding trails that lead to exceptional vistas. Whitsunday Islands National Park is the ultimate tropical getaway, capturing the marvels of land and sea off Queensland’s vibrant coast.
Kakadu National Park is a spectacle of nature’s raw power at work and the importance of wild symbiosis that creates an epic ecosystem. Signs of scorched earth and flooded valleys give way to tumbling waterfalls and meandering rock formations that cover over 7,700 square miles. The otherworldly ambiance defines the wonders of the Outback and exceeds expectations.
Beyond the lush rainforest, rugged bluffs, and millions of migratory birds, the connection between nature and the Bininj/Mungguy traditional owners becomes abundantly clear among the remarkable art galleries found among the landscape that dates back approximately 20,000 years.
Whether on fascinating hiking trails through the ancient sandstone or during an exploration of the wetland, you can hear the stories, experience the natural wonder, and appreciate the spectacle of Kakadu National Park.
Australia’s national parks demonstrate the importance of preserved ecosystems and cultural heritage as visitors explore the depth of red desert sands or marvelous birdlife thriving in a remote corner of the north.
Whether searching for remarkable wildlife untouched by civilization or eager to follow a trail to a secluded waterfall, the national parks will reveal a new layer of Australia’s natural majesty. You can find sample itineraries for your personalized Australia National Park Tour with our Australia Tours & Vacations or learn more in our Australia Travel Guide.