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Where to enjoy the best of nature in Australia

26 May 2021

There’s no other place in the world like Australia. One of the world’s oldest and driest inhabited continent, Australia is renowned for its natural beauty, strange and dangerous wildlife, striking landscapes, and ancient heritage, offering its inhabitants and visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. Ski down snow-capped mountains in Mt Hotham, Victoria, hike through the desert in Northern Territory or hike through lush rainforest in Queensland - all in the same season. 

Reconnect with nature or reignite your appetite for adventure - here are 10 national parks across Australia we can't wait to set foot in soon.

National Parks

Djukbinj National Park, NT

Darwin, Djukbinj National Park Adelaide RiverA view of the Adelaide River
Image credit: Tourism NT/Rob Mulally

An hour south-east from Darwin, Djukbink (pronounced jook-binj) National Park is an ecologically valuable park with abundant water and a must-visit for nature lovers. Upon visiting, you’ll be greeted with a floodplain network of billabongs, from Scotts Creek through to Twin Billabong. Birdwatchers will be pleased to know that the park is a major breeding ground for magpie geese, herons, and egrets, so be sure to bring binoculars or a camera when visiting.

The area was a traditional hunting ground for the Limilngan-Wulma people. Today, they co-manage the park with the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory.

What to see and do

  • Unique cultural drive experience from Scott Creek through to Twin Billabong
  • Bird watching - magpie geese, herons, egrets, and blue-winged kookaburra 

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Darwin

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, TAS

Synonymous with nature and wilderness, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is magical in winter. Cradle Mountain is one of Tasmania’s most visited natural attractions set in the northern end of the national park. Be captivated and spellbound with its ancient rainforests, deep river gorges, glacial-carved lakes and snow-covered wildlife.

What to see and do

Where to stay: Discovery Parks – Cradle Mountain

 

Lane Cove National Park, NSW

Discoveryparks lanecove trail hike outdoorsHiking is a popular activity in Lane Cove National Park

Not far from the hustle and bustle of Sydney city centre is Lane Cove National Park, a lush, green escape for those seeking a reprieve from big city life. Explore the park on foot with nature walks - the park’s bush area is home to many native Australian flora and fauna, like the eastern water dragon (one of Australia’s oldest reptile). 

It’s also a popular spot for bird watching, with over 143 species of birds living in the Lane Cove area. Change your scenery by hopping into a canoe/ kayak down Lane Cove River before settling for a bbq at one of the many spots in the park. 

What to see and do

  • Bushwalking on any of the nature trails
  • Bird watching - refer to Avibase (The World Bird Database) to check off the birds you’ve sighted, or track it using the Aussie Bird Count app!

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Lane Cove

Kosciuszko National Park, NSW

NSW yaranggobilly thermal poolThe temperature is warm all year round in Yarrangobilly Caves Thermal Pool.

Image credit: Destination NSW

Winter sports enthusiasts need no introduction to Kosciuszko National Park. The park spoils its visitors with choice: hit the slopes at Thredbo or Perisher Valley, hike to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko, or take a dip in the hot springs at Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool (yes, in winter!), or hop on a mountain bike to try the Thredbo Valley Track.

What to see and do

  • Ski, snowboard at Thredbo or Perisher Valley
  • Enjoy a dip at Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool
  • Horse-riding 

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Jindabyne

Nullarbor National Park, SA

SA nullarbor national park

Image credit: dronedynamicssa

Bordering the Western Australia and South Australia stateline is Nullarbor National Park. The Nullarbor - as it is known - is the traditional land of the Mirning Aboriginal people, who are today recognised as Traditional owners. The Mirning People still have strong cultural links with Country. 

The Nullarbor National Park is home to the world’s largest semi-arid karst (cave) landscapes and contains many diverse species of flora and fauna, including the southern hairy-nosed wombat, dingos, and many species of birds.

Despite its reputedly featureless landscape, be prepared to be rewarded with unparalleled serenity and beauty that only exists in such remoteness. 

What to see and do

  • Go whale-watching at the Head of Bight 
  • Experience the vastness of the Nullarbor 

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Streaky Bay Foreshore

Karijini National Park, WA

WA karijini national park hiking 3Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

Just north of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Hamersly Range sits Karijini National Park, Western Australia’s second-largest park. With summer temperatures frequently topping 40°C, winter is the perfect season to visit. 

The Karijini National Park can feel unworldly, and that’s probably due to the ancientness of the land. The slow process of erosion has carved the shape of the land out of rocks that are 2,000 million years old, to form an intriguing landscape and complex ecology. 

What to see and do

  • Swim in freshwater pools
  • Explore the Karijini gorges
  • Venture through the park on foot on any of its walking trails

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Pilbara, Karratha

 

 

By the water 

Hervey Bay, QLD

Qld fraser island winter escape maheno wreck

The SS Maheno Wreck is worth the visit to Fraser Island.

Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Synonymous with whale watching, Hervey Bay in Queensland comes alive from winter to the end of spring to witness the annual migration of humpback whales. During this season, the whales swim from the icy waters of the Antarctic towards the sub-tropical waters along the Australian coastline to mate and calve. Whale-watching tour operators are aplenty here but be sure to book a spot early to secure a spot. 

About 120km away from Hevey Bay is Fraser Island - the world’s largest sand island and a location well worth a visit. It’s easy to see why the island is also known as K’Gari, meaning paradise by the local Butchulla people who are also Traditional Owners of the land. Drive along the 75-mile beach, explore the Maheno wreck, venture into subtropical rainforest, traverse nature’s park of mangroves, lagoons and climb up towering sand dunes. 

What to see and do

  • Whale-watching 
  • Head to Fraser Island and explore the world’s largest sand island
  • Visit Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Fraser Street, Hervey Bay

Rottnest Island, WA

Rottnest Bike & SnorkelImage credit: Tourism Western Australia

Rottnest Island, Wadjemup, or Rotto is an island just off the coast of Western Australia, 18 km west of Fremantle. Despite its size (19 square km), Rottnest Island makes for a relaxing, coastal getaway with its abundance of nature-based tourism experiences, even during the winter months. 

Explore the island by foot along the Wadjemup Bidi and take in the spectacular coastal headlands, or hop on a bicycle for a different perspective - Rottnest Island is full of activities to keep you and the family occupied!

What to see and do

  • Visit the many beaches and bays of the island
  • Traverse the island’s unique landscapes along the Wadjemup Bidi (walking trails)
  • Get in the water on a pedal, or SUP

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Rottnest

Uniquely Australia

Hobart, TAS

TAS aurora australis howdenThe Aurora Australis as seen from Howden, Tasmania.

Image credit: Simon Kruit

Whether you know it as the aurora australis or southern lights, the ethereal dance of light across the night sky will leave you in awe. Winter is the perfect time to head south to bear witness to nature’s light show, when the days are short and nights, long. 

If you’re planning on catching a glimpse of the aurora australis this season, follow the Aurora Australis Tasmania Facebook page for information on when they’re occurring. 

What to see and do

  • Night photography of the aurora australis or southern lights
  • Visit Mount Wellington for a panoramic view of Hobart - at 4,170ft above sea level, temperatures can drop to -4°C

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Hobart or Discovery Parks - Mornington Hobart

Broome, WA

MoonThe Staircase to the Moon phenomenon.

A uniquely Australian experience, the Staircase to the Moon is a breathtaking sight to behold. A natural phenomenon that occurs when a full moon rises over the exposed tidal flats of Roebuck Bay, the staircase refers to the reflection of moonlight against the water leading from the moon to the shore. 

The Staircase to the Moon happens two to three days a month between Autumn and mid-Spring. There is plenty to do at Town Beach during the occurrence: local markets selling local produce, handmade products and live music fill the streets with vibrancy.

What to see and do

  • Experience the Staircase to the Moon unique natural phenomenon - view dates

Where to stay: Discovery Parks - Broome 

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