A freelance writer with an interest in just about everything.
Published November 6th 2011
NSW is blessed with some spectacular natural scenery, and much of it has been set aside for preservation in National Parks. From unspoilt stretches of coastline to soaring mountain ranges, the state's national parks offer all sorts of experiences for anyone wanting to spend a bit of time in nature. In fact, almost nine per cent of NSW is under the protection of over 850 national parks and reserves.
In terms of visitor numbers, Blue Mountains National Park would have to be at the top of the list. With its deep gorges, sandstone outcrops and hazy blue forests, the parks is visited by more than three million people each year. And with more than 140km of walking tracks, there's plenty of room to explore.
But there's plenty of beautiful spots further away from the city as well. Heading south, it's hard to match the alpine scenery of the 690,000-hectare Kosciuszko National Park or the sparkling beaches of Jervis Bay.
While Lane Cove National Park really is beautiful, and only takes you 5 minutes to forget you're in Sydney, I would have to say the Warrumbungles is a great National park. The camping facilities, (the bigger campsites have powered sites, showers and toilets, smaller ones just the pit toilets!) hundreds of walking tracks and climbs to do, and even with the Siding Spring Observatory close by, it really is a place for families, friends and a few beers. I grew up camping there at least twice a year... we took our bikes and helmets and roamed about while we left our parents at the campsite to enjoy the peace and quiet. The wildlife (kangaroos, birds, goannas and even emus!) wander through the campsites unperturbed by the people, so it's a great place to see them in their own environment. While it's about a 6 hour drive from Sydney, it's dark enough to see every single star, and quiet enough to hear the cooees from the mountain climbers! For anyone who loves camping and doesn't mind the timed showers I highly recommend it as a holiday getaway for all!!
I'm torn between Kosciuszko National Park and the Blue Mountains. It's a tough call to choose just one 'best'. I spent a week walking in Kosciuszko Nat Park which was amazing. I only had two days in the Blue Mountains - would love to go there again for a longer visit.
Like Donts, I also grew up visiting the Warrumbungle National Park during my school holidays. Although I haven't been back for over 20 years (I now live interstate) I've got so many amazing memories of the place...all the wildlife which we'd see on early morning hikes, the possums which we'd see around our caravan at night, and going for lots of wonderful walks. If you haven't been yet, GO!
Another great NSW National Park is the Barrington Tops National Park. Although it's so close to civilisation, you feel like you're a million miles away...
Muogamarra Reserve - infortunately only open for about 6 weekends in late August/Sept. Wildflowers are amazing and walks range form shortish, flattish strolls to quite challenging longer 'hikes'. Is at Cowan , thus readily accessible to Sydney and has some spectacular views over the Hawkesbury. Can also see Barrenjoey Lighthouse in the distance from a couple of spots.