Australia & NZ
8 Hidden Gem National Parks in Australia
Australia has more than a few national parks that merit world-class status and, indeed, a disproportionate number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It takes some work and effort, then, to uncover the best hidden gems of the lot – those national parks that deserve a little more attention from domestic and international tourists alike.
Kalbarri National Park – Photo credit
Washpool National Park
Washpool and Gibraltar Ranges, New South Wales
Washpool, some 500 km north of Sydney, protects a considerable array of rare plant and animal life in a park that measures some 586.78 km2. On the National Heritage List and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Gondwana Rainforests but still under the radar enough to warrant a shout-out here, in our humble estimation.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
We would hole up in glorious Gippsland at any chance opportunity, with Wilsons Prom, or The Prom, a particular enclave with oodles of promise. A mere 150 km from Melbourne, the park is the southernmost on the Oz mainland and unfurls a lot of inherent gems as a result, from stray wombats on the beach to the tip of Mount Oberon.
Kalbarri National Park
Mid West, Western Australia
You have to drive 485 km north from Perth to arrive at Kalbarri National Park but the ride is well, well worth it. Chiefly for the epic Murchison River gorge but also for dramatic cliffs that plunge into the ocean, western grey kangaroos, thorny devils, emus, ospreys and tammar wallaby.
Brindabella National Park
Brindabella Ranges, New South Wales
The Brindabella Ranges that form the physical border between NSW and the ACT provide the basis for a namesake national park on the National Heritage List. While small in stature at 185 km2, the advantage of this oft-neglected but beautiful sub-alpine reserve is its closeness to Canberra – just 30 km west of the city by car.
Mount William National Park
Bay of Fires, Tasmania
A no-brainer to make this list, Mount William comes in at 185 km2 and sports a relatively isolated and empty stretch of coast, not to mention significant populations of eastern grey kangarooes, wombats, Bennetts wallabies, Tasmanian pademelons, echidnas, brush-tailed possums and Tasmanian devils. Plus, Hobart is only 235 km away.
Carnarvon National Park
The Southern Brigalow Belt bioregion (try saying that five times fast) is a vital section of Central Queensland that acts as de facto lungs and also boasts a tremendous cultural legacy. Carnarvon National Park brings it all together in one massive, 2,980 km2 chunk, much of which, rightly, is inaccessible to ordinary visitors. The most famous feature, however, Carnarvon Gorge, is accessible from Rolleston or Injune along the Carnarvon Highway. All 600 km from Brisbane.
Davenport Murchison National Park
We don’t give the NT enough love and when we do, it’s invariably for the usual suspects like Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu. Davenport Murchison National Park is pretty much in the middle of the state, some 1,000 km south of Darwin, and contains an ancient impact crater, among other visual delights.
Lake Gairdner National Park
SA’s Lake Gairdner National Park is just over 400 km north of capital Adelaide but, for all intents and purposes, a world away in terms of scenery and landscape. Stringent public access rules are behind the park’s clandestine character but that’s just fine with us. For birdwatchers, novice botanists and just plain nature lovers, the 5,481 km2 park is a paradise.