Did you know Australia is dotted with more than 500 national parks? From the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between, you’ll find these enormous gem-filled patches of turf wherever you choose to roam.
Some of these national treasures fall into properties that are classified as World Heritage-listed; others earn this honour all on their own. And then there are the many national parks that have been holiday hotspots for generations.
While these big guns deserve the headlines, there are many other Australian national parks that warrant a slice of attention, too. And it’s time you were in on the secret – we don’t want you missing out on a wonderful experience on your next BIG4 holiday.
It’s time to lift the lid on 10 Australian national parks that you must explore.
1. Mount Etna Caves National Park, Queensland
While this doesn’t rank as one of Australia’s most popular national parks with humans, it’s not a view shared by little bent-wing bats. A huge colony of these creatures congregate here, and witnessing them whiz by during a guided tour at dusk (summer only) is a sight to behold. At other times, immerse yourself in the cavernous limestone-dominated landscape, interwoven with dry rainforest. There’s plenty of scope to learn about the park’s fascinating, and controversial, past.
2. Ben Boyd National Park, New South Wales
Gripping historical and natural attractions combine to create an Australian national park you’ll instantly fall in love with. Photographers will be in their element: contrast dashing red rocks with the bright blue sea. Afterwards, snap away at the remarkable Pinnacles rock formation – reached with ease on a looping walking track – then take a casual stroll to historical Boyds Tower and marvel at the views from atop. The park is easily accessed from Eden, where you can stay at BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Eden Beachfront or Merimbula.
3. Crowdy Bay National Park, New South Wales
Enjoy a wealth of spectacular, dramatic coastal scenery in a park that, fortunately, doesn’t live up to its name. Secluded beaches sit side by side with wetlands and rainforest, ensuring a visit here is a memorable experience. A must-see feature is Diamond Head, a craggy, eye-catching rock formation that makes for a wonderful sight. After a busy day exploring Crowdy Bay, nearby BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Bonny Hills in Port Macquarie makes for a welcoming place to rest.
4. Hat Head National Park, New South Wales
More spectacular coastal vistas abound in what deserves to be recognised as one of Australia’s best national parks. Expect a plethora of jaw-dropping coastal scenery that reveals secluded beaches and coves as well as gigantic sand dunes; then admire magnificent rainforest and wetlands. Enjoy it all on one of many walking trails while keeping watch for abundant bird life. For the best vantage point, join a guided tour of Smoky Cape Lighthouse. Reach the park when staying at nearby South West Rocks, where NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort makes the ideal accommodation option.
5. Great Otway National Park, Victoria
Although this large-scale park doesn’t completely fly under the radar, the extent of its beauty means it should receive far more exposure than it does. Astounding scenery abounds: dramatic coastline, cloud-piercing forests, pockets of fern-cloaked surrounds, and beautiful lakes. And then there is the collection of delightful waterfalls. One of the best vantage points to admire this outrageous beauty is atop Cape Otway Lightstation, which has daily guided tours. Check out the park when exploring the famous Great Ocean Road region.
6. Douglas-Apsley National Park, Tasmania
Marvel at a wonderful assortment of exotic goodies that includes gushing waterfalls, inviting waterholes, dolerite-capped plateaus, and deep gorges, backed by a landscape that contrasts eucalypt forest with rainforest. Admire it all from the top of Lookout Hill, which boasts breathtaking views that stretch to the coast. Don’t miss the striking dolerite formation known as Nichols Needle, while the alluring Apsley Waterhole is another standout park feature.
7. D'entrecasteaux National Park, Western Australia
D'entrecasteaux is entitled to be recognised as one of the best national parks in Australia – it has an unbelievable mixture of natural and historical attributes packed into its boundaries. Occupying a narrow strip of turf, the park has the best of all worlds: sparkling white-sand beaches and jagged cliffs mingle with sky-piercing karri forests and expansive lakes. Bewitching hexagonal basalt columns, various Aboriginal artefacts, and a rich assortment of wildlife are other major park assets. This is an essential stop when travelling in South West WA.
8. Mirima National Park, Western Australia
Witness a series of incredible sandstone rock formations that are bursting with colour. These funky features are likened to those along the famous Bungle Bungle Range and are sure to drain your camera or phone battery. The area is also rich in Aboriginal heritage, allows ample chance to spot wallabies, and is accessible year round.
9. Canunda National Park, South Australia
Sparkling coastal delights are overflowing within this spotlight-dodging park. Jaw-dropping limestone cliffs and sea stacks rule the northern section of Canunda, while in the south expect long stretches of remote beach that gift reliable fishing opportunities. Spotted near Millicent, this beautiful park is well worth wandering through when exploring the Limestone Coast region.
10. Elsey National Park, Northern Territory
Northern Territory has some of Australia’s best national parks and this gem deserves to be rated among them. Elsey’s main attraction is a cluster of thermal pools and springs that are ideal for a warm, refreshing swim. The Mataranka Thermal Pool, Bitter Springs, and Rainbow Springs are the best-known waterholes, while Stevie's Hole is ideal if you’re looking for a cooler spot. The park is near Mataranka and is a great place to break up the drive when travelling in the Northern Territory.