Australia might be the smallest continent in size, but it has different landscapes that range from barren deserts to lush ocean-side meadows. A lot of species of animals and plants live here, some of which are endemic to Australia, so it is no wonder that there are over 500 national parks that cover an amazing 4% of the territory of the entire country. As far as visitors are concerned, some parks are more attractive than others but all offer an experience of a lifetime. If you are planning to visit some of them as a tourist, here the most amazing national parks that no visit to Australia would be complete without.
Grampians National Park
Located near Halls Gap in the state of Victoria, The Grampians, as the locals like to call it, is one of the most beautiful national parks in Australia. It was founded in 1984 but its natural beauty had been memorizing visitors for centuries. It is located in a mountainous landscape, so there are a lot of hiking trails that wind through the vegetation unique to the region. Besides forests and cascading rapids, there are a lot of colorful bushes, wildflowers, and shrubs that give the entire region its characteristic look. Rock climbing is an activity that you must like if you are to visit The Grampians and enjoy the stunning views of Victoria Valley that surrounding the peaks have to offer.
Larapinta Trail in West MacDonnell National Park
As far as the north of the country is concerned, the most beautiful national park is arguably West MacDonnell National Park that was founded back in 1992; located south of Darwin, the most populous city in this part of Australia. Its most iconic landmark is the Larapinta trail that traverses the length of the park from east to west. It is over 220 kilometers long and runs alongside the slopes of Mt Giles and Mt Sonder. The landscape is mostly barren with low vegetation but there are numerous chasms, gorges, waterholes, valleys and river beds along its path that tourists stop by. After it gained popularity back in the 90s, the national park’s management marked it well, so nowadays it is safe to traverse. The best time to go there is in the winter, between June and August.
Great Ocean walk
Listed as an Australian Heritage site, the Great Ocean Road runs along the Pacific coastline from Torquay in Victoria, all the way to Allansford in the same state. It is actually a highway but few people experience this trail by car, as hiking is a much better option. In that case, the walk is just above 100 kilometers long and on average it takes 8 days to complete. It runs from Apollo Bay to Twelve Apostles, a set of limestone stacks protruding from the ocean near the coast. Despite its beauty, it might seem as little too much for the average hiker but there are tours that last only 3 day, as the ones offered by Life’s an Adventure that include a helicopter ride. How impressive it must be to watch the sea cliffs from the air!
Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park
Another national park that is located at the heart of Northern Territory is Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa. Since it is at the heartland of Aboriginal territory, the indigenous peoples of Australia run it and make sure that its beauty, that is out of this world, gets shown to the whole world. Its most famous landmark is the eponymous rock plateau that sits in the middle of the desert. It is featured on many postcards from Australia since it rises some 300 meters into the air leaving the impression of a mountain on Mars, rather than on Earth. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987 and for a good reason, because it’s a unique geomorphological feature in the region. Despite the strong winds that carry around the characteristic red sand around, it is visited by quarter of a million tourists each year.
Freycinet National Park
Not all national parks are located on the Australian mainland, as the island of Tasmania boasts with Freycinet National Park. Located northeast of the capital Hobart, it lies at the shores of Coles Bay. It offers a unique experience of sandy beaches and treks through the lush forest vegetation up to granite peaks. If you are lucky, you might run into some of the rare and endemic fauna and flora found there, since the area is extremely biodiverse.
Australia is a continent that throws a bit of everything at the average visitor. Outside from the big cities of Melbourne and Sydney, its natural riches are hidden in the numerous national parks just waiting to be (re)discovered.