17 September is World Parks Day, so we thought we would share some of our favourite “Hidden Gems” across Australia. We know so many of your are missing our beautiful national parks right now, so we hope that these images can transport you if only for a moment. If you’re able to, take some time today to get out and appreciate your local national park, we know we will!
Canunda National Park, SA
Stretching for 40km along South Australia’s wild Limestone Coast west of Mount Gambier, Canunda National Park protects a breathtaking sweep of cliffs, coves and giant shifting sand dunes carved by the sea. The park offers pioneering historical sites, lofty lookouts and six campgrounds providing secluded sites and good facilities.
Activities include: bushwalking, mountain biking, fishing and camping on the beach, rolling out your sleeping bag under the million stars that feel so close you could touch them. Getting there: Canunda National Park is located 18km north-west of Millicent or 428km south east of Adelaide. Access is via Millicent, Southend or Carpenter Rocks. Two-wheel drive access is possible in the northern and central sections of the park and Cape Banks campsite in the southern section.
Gawler Ranges National Park, SA
Ancient ranges, deep gullies, seasonal waterfalls and rocky gorges, the Gawler Ranges National Park is a majestic natural wilderness.The park is famous for the magnificent Organ Pipes, formed over 1500 million years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions. These are some of the largest volcanic rhyolite formations in the world.
Activities include walking right into the Organ Pipes to admire some of the most dramatic rock formations you’ll ever see… and counting the many different types of animals you encounter as you travel around the park. It’s not all kangaroos and emus here – keep an eye out for wombats, goannas and other lizards too.
Coopracambra National Park, VIC
Set in a remote section of Victoria, Coopracambra National Park remains a largely undisturbed landscape. The red sandstone gorge of the Genoa River and the surrounding granite peaks form some spectacular scenery. There are various activities, whether for those looking for a relaxing afternoon or others more for a strenuous hike through the untamed wilderness. If it’s a relaxing day trip you’re after, enjoy a picnic at Chandlers Creek before taking a walk to the picturesque Beehive Creek Falls. If you are an experienced hiker, the walk between Mount Denmarsh and Mount Kaye is stunning but requires a high level of fitness and excellent navigational skills.
Yarra Ranges National Park, VIC
Cradling the Yarra River headwaters and much of Melbourne’s water catchment, this National Park features majestic Mountain Ash trees, one of the tallest species in the world.
Activities include a visit to the Rainforest Gallery with its spectacular observation platform and rainforest walkway on the southern slopes of Mount Donna Buang. There’s also cross-country skiing and tobogganing at Lake Mountain or you can drive the world famous Black Spur between Healesville and Narbethong, continue through to Marysville stopping along Lady Talbot Drive and walk through ancient rainforests at the Beeches, viewing the waterfalls at Keppel and Phantom Falls.
Maria Island National Park, TAS
Historic ruins, sweeping bays, rugged cliffs and mountains and remarkable wildlife… Maria Island National Park is accessed by ferry and there are no motor vehicles, no shops and no worries.
Activities include excellent walking and cycling paths to explore the buildings and ruins of Darlington – a ghost town with a convict and industrial past. The Reservoir Circuit is sheltered from the coastal winds and provides a glimpse of Maria Island’s natural wildlife sanctuary as you wander through open woodlands into a tall eucalypt forest.
The island is one of Tasmania’s great bird watching hot spots with even the endangered forty-spotted pardalote and the rare and unique Cape Barren goose able to be seen here. And wombats, pademelons, Forester Kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian Devils can all be seen around the island. The surrounding waters are regularly visited by seals and whales and the abundant marine life and clear waters make for spectacular diving and snorkelling.
Mt. Field National Park, TAS
Its first and one of Tasmania’s most loved national parks, Mt. Field offers stunning vistas, great walks and abundant wildlife. Few other national parks in Australia offer such a diversity in vegetation, ranging from tall swamp gum forests and massive tree ferns at the base of the mountain, through rainforest along the Lake Dobson Road, to alpine vegetation at the higher elevations.
Activities include superb walks, one to the Park’s star attraction, Russell Falls (featured on Australia’s first stamp). There’s a wide variety of wildlife in the Park, including many of Tasmania’s native mammals and endangered species, such as the eastern quoll and the eastern barred bandicoot, plus 11 of Tasmania’s 12 endemic birds. Around Lake Dobson, if you’re lucky you may even spot a platypus. And of course in winter there’s skiing on the snowfields around Mount Mawson, within the Park.
Bouddi National Park, NSW
Located near Gosford on the New South Wales Central Coast, Bouddi National Park is a small gem – only 16km of headland with high sandstone plateaus and dry forest surrounded by the ocean, Broken Bay and Brisbane Water. The coastal views are stunning. The National Park is so close to Sydney you can see the city in the distance, yet in Bouddi you are in complete wilderness.
Activities include several stunning walks, including the 8km Coastal Walk between Putty and Macmasters Beaches. The Coastal Walk passes through lookouts and secluded beaches including Maitland Bay – a beautiful secluded beach. There are also opportunities for camping, swimming and fishing.
Ben Boyd National Park, NSW
Ben Boyd National Park is near Eden on the NSW South Coast and is full of breathtaking scenery. It holds a number of historic surprises, from Aboriginal middens to a heritage lighthouse. Its finest attractions though, are not man-made. Teeming with wildlife, the Park features sheltered inlets of crystal-clear waters and 45 kilometres of stunning rocky coastline – a rugged beauty that’s a sight to behold. There are waterfalls and bushwalks through age-old rainforest with the walks always leading back to uncrowded white sandy beaches.
Activities include walking one of the park’s easy tracks, like the Pambula River or Pinnacles tracks, or the more adventurous can head out on the multi-day Light to Light walk and soak up the colourful display of ocean rocks that stand out against the sapphire blue water of the Pacific Ocean. There are plenty of places to go fishing and the Park’s lofty lookouts are excellent for whale watching.
Elsey National Park, NT
The 13,800 hectare Elsey National Park was made famous in Jeannie Gunn’s popular novel ‘We of the Never Never’. It’s renowned for its showpieces, the natural beauty of Bitter Springs with its sparkling blue water and the Mataranka Thermal Pool. The natural hot springs that feed this pool remain at a year-round temperature of around 30°C and are crocodile-free, so swimming is a must.
Other activities include boating on the beautiful Roper River and fishing it for Barramundi and Sooty Grunter (Black Bream), camping, bushwalking and visiting historical sites – both Aboriginal and those related to World War II.
Watarrka National Park, NT
Watarrka National Park is home to the famous Kings Canyon – a perennial highlight for both local and overseas visitors to Central Australia. The ancient red canyon walls soar 100m above Kings Creek to a plateau of rocky domes, while the sheltered creek environments below protect an abundance of flora. Kathleen Springs is located just 21km by road from Kings Canyon.
Activities at Watarrka include bushwalking, wildlife spotting, photography and many ranger-guided activities. The Kings Canyon Rim Walk loops for 6km and starts with a difficult climb, so you should only walk it if you are fit and healthy. The walk ascends to the top of the canyon and follows the rim around. About halfway along is the Garden of Eden – a beautiful rockpool surrounded by rare plants. The waterhole is sacred to local indigenous people and so there’s no swimming allowed. The walks around Kings Creek and Kathleen Springs are much shorter and less arduous.
Glasshouse Mountains National Park, QLD
One of the most spectacular scenic points on the Sunshine Coast, the Glass House Mountains and its national park boast verdant rainforests, an adjacent coastline and many adventurous activity options. This is a one-of-a-kind Australian destination. These mountains are the remaining cores of 26 million year old volcanos. There are many easy walks within the Park, but also a number of difficult and extreme hikes.
Other activities include rock climbing and abseiling or just taking in the view from the Glass House Mountain lookout – a vantage point from which to see all 12 of the individual mountains that make up the range. Wildlife spotting is always fruitful with kangaroos, an abundance of birdlife and several different types of lizards including goannas among the common sightings. Echidnas and koalas will also be seen by those with sharp eyes. And after a walk, stop for lunch at The Lookout Café, from which the views are incredible and the food is excellent.
Boodjamulla National Park, QLD
A true outback oasis, hidden deep in Queensland’s savanna country, the Waanyi people know this region as their spiritual and sacred land. Boodjamulla is the Rainbow Serpent – a sacred Ancestral Being whom the Waanyi believe created many of the region’s striking landscape features. The emerald waters and lush vegetation of Lawn Hill Gorge form a beautiful oasis in the outback, attracting abundant wildlife and offering exceptional views, walks, canoeing and cultural sites.
Activities include hiking the rocky plateaus, relaxing by the creek or paddling your canoe alongside fish and freshwater crocodiles and visiting the Riversleigh World Heritage Area – one of the richest fossil mammal sites in the world, dating back 25 million years.
Yanchep National Park, WA
Avon Valley National Park, WA
The Avon Valley changes dramatically across the seasons. From November to April it has the hot, dry and dusty feel of the outback, with straw-coloured grass and rusty earth… but from May to October, it’s as lush and cool as England, coated in a blanket of green and gentle sunshine. The Park features forests and granite outcrops, panoramic views over the Avon Valley and the chance to see a wide variety of birds and wildlife. The Park is renowned as the hideout of Joseph Bolitho Johns (Moondyne Joe) who was WA’s most infamous bushranger.