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Published October 24th 2019
National Parks to visit within 2 hrs drive from Sydney
Sydney's National Parks are home to world-class beaches, walking and cycling trails, spectacular wilderness, culture and colonial heritage overlap. They are also home to a diversity of landscape and wildlife, from rainforests, bush to seaside and alpine.
The list below features National Parks that are located within 2 hours drive from Sydney CBD. So why not explore one or all on your next day trip?!
Discover World Heritage sites and natural wonderlands with the list below:
1. Bents Basin State Conservation Area
Where: Bents Basin Road or Wolstenholme Avenue, Bents Basin (1 hour approx from Sydney CBD)
When: Park gates open at 9am-5pm (May-September) and 9am-8pm (October-April)
Cost: $8 per vehicle/ per day.
Details: Bents Basin forms a deep waterhole, part of the Gulguer Gorge on the Nepean River between Camden and Penrith. It is a popular picnic spot and offers plenty of things to do with the whole family.
Highlights: Water-based activities, including swimming and canoeing, an array of picnic spots, and Caley's Lookout Track.
Accommodation: Car-based and caravan camping is available. The camping area includes hot showers, electric barbecues, fire rings for campfires, and kitchen and shelter area for hire. There is also a kiosk opened on weekends.
Image Courtesy from Places to go, things to do in Sydney Facebook
2. Blue Mountains National Park
Where: Many access points including Great Western Highway between Glenbrook and Mount Victoria, Oberon-Colong Stock Route. There are also railway stations at Glenbrook, Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba, Blackheath, and Mt Victoria. See website for all entry points. (1 Hour approx. from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, 24hrs- Some parts do close overnight- see website.
Cost: Entry fee only applies in the Glenbrook precinct: $8 per vehicle/ per day.
Details: This World Heritage Listed landscape is home to massive cliffs, deep rainforested gullies, and water-smoothed sandstone canyons.
Highlights: Widespread eucalypt habitats, rare and threatened species, the many walking tracks (over 140km of trails), cycling trails, the impressive and iconic Three Sisters, the Giant Stairway at Echo Point, the many Lookouts, and scenic drives.
Accommodation: Car-based camping is available in the Euroka near Glenbrook and Murphys Glen near Woodford areas.
Where: Putty Beach Rd, Killcare Heights (1 ½ Hour approx. from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, 24hrs
Cost: Entry fee only applies in the Putty Beach precinct: $8 per vehicle/ per day.
Details: This National Park offers diverse and delightful reserves, picturesque views along the windswept coastline and plenty of opportunities to enjoy a swim, picnic or leisurely walk.
Highlights: Small secluded beaches fringed by rainforests, sandstone cliffs, coastal heaths, coastal walks, picnic areas, and the wreck of PS Maitland located in the heart of the Park's marine protected area.
Where: Near Gosford- Click here for Park entry points.
When: Daily, 24hrs, except for Girrakool Picnic Area open 9am-5pm, daily and Somersby Falls open 8am-8pm during daylight savings and open 8am-5pm other times, daily.
Cost: Entry fee only applies at Somersby Falls and Girrakool Picnic Areas: $8 per vehicle/ per day
Details: Brisbane Waters National Park is home to sandstone landscape that is rich in Aboriginal art. It is also home to the popular Somersby Falls Picnic Area. There is plenty to do and see here from swimming, walking paths, lookouts, picnics and more.
Highlights: The engravings at Bulgandry Aboriginal Art Site, boardwalks, beaches including snorkelling beach at Lobster Beach, Somersby Falls, Staples Lookout, The Great North Walk, and Girrakool Picnic Areas.
Where: Near Camden – Nattai region, along Burragorang Rd (1-1 ½ from Sydney CBD)
When: Daylight hours only.
Cost: $4 per vehicle / per day
Details: Burragorang State Conservation Area is a window on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and from the lookout, there are breathtaking views of Lake Burragorang and the Nattai wilderness. It also accounts for 80 percent of Sydney's water supply!
Highlights: Burragorang Lookout, barbecue areas, kids playground, and short views of Nattai wilderness.
Where: Near Windsor- Wiseman Ferry Rd, Cattai (50mins-1:15hr from Sydney CBD)
When: All year round- 8am-5pm (May-September) and 8am-8pm (October-April) Cost: $8 per vehicle / per day
Details: The Cattai Farm area was originally a land grant to First Fleet assistant surgeon Thomas Arndell. It features Arndell's cottage, historic grain silos, and ruins of a windmill believed to be the oldest industrial building in Australia.
Highlights: Variety of plant communities, rare dry rainforest, grassy picnic areas, barbecues, and shelter sheds near Hawkesbury River, extensive walking tracks, and picnic areas near Cattai Creek
Accommodation: Car-based camping is available year-round- bookings are essential.
Details: This multi-hued sandstone landscape forms part of Sydney's green belt and protects vital clear-water tributaries to the Hawkesbury River. The National Park makes you feel like you have stepped back in time with the spectacular section of the convict-built Old Great North Road as you walk up to Devines Hill.
Highlights: Spectacular walks, Australian Convict Sites, picnic areas, cycle trails, and mountain biking.
Where: Northern Beaches region- Garigal can be accessed from multiple entries across suburbs in the Northern Beaches- see website. (20-40mins from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, 6am-6:30pm (8pm close during daylight savings)
Cost: $8 per vehicle/ per day at Davidson Park only. Details: Impressive expanse of diverse bushland, great scenery, water and bush views, waterfalls, significant Aborignal sites and heritage can all be found at this National Park.
Highlights: Davidson Park popular for water-based activities including boating, canoeing, and fishing as well as picnicking can be enjoyed here, many walking trails, mountain bike trails, and lookouts.
Where: There is no car access, but you can walk from Heathcote or Waterfall Train Stations on the Illawarra Train Line. See website for all details.https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/heathcote-national-park/visitor-info (40mins-1hr approx. from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, sunrise to sunset
Cost: No entry fees.
Details: You will find wild and rugged landscape, making it perfect for walkers. In spring, Gymea Lilies give a scarlet glow to the gullies, making a stunning view not to be missed.
Highlights: The spectacular walking trails, swimming at a hidden pool along Heathcote Valley Creek, and remote camping.
Where: Entry to the La Perouse side is via Anzac Parade, La Perouse and entry to Kurnell side is from the end of Captain Cook Drive, Kurnell. (40mins-1hour approx. from Sydney CBD)
When: La Perouse: Daily, 7am-8:30pm (November-March) & 7am-7:730pm (April-October). Kurnell: 7am-7:30pm (August-May) and 7am-5:30pm (June & July)
Cost: La Perouse Area: No Fees & Kurnell Area: $8 per vehicle / per day
Details: This National Park is rich in history; with two headlands of Botany Bay (La Perouse and Kurnell) are rich in Aboriginal and European history. Discover Captain Cook's landing place at Kurnell, enjoy the many walks or enjoy a swim at the beaches.
Highlights: Snorkelling beaches, spectacular lookouts, coastal and bushwalks, picnic areas, whale watching (during migration season), tour of Bare Island Fort at La Perouse, La Perouse Museum, diving beaches, Cape Solander, and Aboriginal Discovery Tour
Where: There is a ferry access to the National Park from Palm Beach Wharf or car access. See the website for details. (30-50mins approx. from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, sunrise to sunset- Bobbin Head and Appletree Bay are closed from 8pm-6am during daylight savings and from 5:30pm-6am other times. Gates to West Head are closed from 8:30pm-6am during daylight savings and from 6pm-6am other times.
Cost: $12per vehicle / per day
Details: There are plenty of things to do and see including, many spectacular walking trails, mountain biking tracks, marinas at Bobbin Head and Akuna Bay, and fishing. The rugged cliff lines and pristine waters make ideal for water-based activities.
Highlights: Spectacular lookouts and views, Aboriginal engraving sites, kayaking, canoeing and other water-based activities, fishing opportunities, camping, the many trails for walking and cycling, picnic areas, birdwatching opportunities, and Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
Accommodation: The Basin Campground is one of Sydney's popular beach camping spots. Facilities include amenities block, picnic tables, barbecue facilities, drinking water, public phone, showers, and toilets.
Where: Max Allen Drive or Riverside Drive, Lane Cove
When: Daily, 9am-7pm (daylight savings) and 9am-6pm (other times)
Cost: $8 per vehicle / per day
Details: The picturesque Lane Cove River winds through a peaceful bushland valley. There are walks and cycle trails to enjoy through the bushland, breathtaking vistas and around the foreshores. Water-based equipment can be hired at the Lane Cove Boatshed.
Highlights: The 5km Riverside Walk, Great North Walk, and other walking trails, picnic spots, cycle trails, boating opportunities, canoe or kayak, and the Pennant Hills section for off-road biking, walking or running opportunities.
Accommodation: Camping and cabin accommodation options are only available at Lane Cove Tourist Park.
Where: Ironbark Rd, Mangrove Mountain (1-1 ½ hr from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, 24hrs
Cost: No entry fees
Details: This Central Coast National Park protects Aboriginal sites and offers an array of nature experiences. It also boasts 4km of Hawkesbury river foreshore, where you can paddle through mangroves and enjoying fishing.
Highlights: Walking trails to Mount Olive can be at the end of Ironbark Rd, lookouts, Emerald Pool, mountain bike trails, kayak, fishing and horse riding.
Where: Multiple access points- see website. (40mins to 1 ½ hr from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, 7am-8:30pm
Cost: $12 per vehicle/ per day
Details: This historic National Park is the first in Australia and is placed on the National Heritage List. It is home to an abundance of nature and outdoor activities from walking and cycling trails, scenic drives, lookouts, water-based activities, birdwatching and wildlife spotting, and more.
Highlights: Wattamolla, Garie, and Burning Palms beaches, the array of picnic spots across the National Park, historic Audley Boatshed, Kangaroo Creek- where you can hire canoe, rowboat or kayak, beach fishing, surfing, swimming and snorkelling, bush camping, bushwalking, cycle trails and scenic drives.
Details: Evidence of the rich history of European occupation can still be seen in the relics of agriculture, immigration and military training. The National Park is home to one of the largest remaining areas of Cumberland Plain Woodland.
Highlights: Walking trails, including the history trail of Migrant Heritage Trail, Longneck Lagoon, birdwatching opportunities, picnic spots, cycling trails, and horse riding trails.
Where: Bradleys Head Road, Mosman and other entry points. (10mins-30mins from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, sunrise to sunset.
Cost: Bradley's Head Carpark: $8 per vehicle/ per day, North Head Carpark: $5 per vehicle / per day, Chowder Bay Road parking: Weekdays: $3 per hour or $16 all day, Weekends & Public Holidays: $4 per hour or $20 all day.
Details: This National Park protects islands and foreshore around Sydney Harbour. It is home to breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, natural bushland, secluded sandy beaches, harbour islands, and rugged sandstone cliffs. It is also home to the oldest surviving fort in Australia.
Highlights: Hornby Lighthouse, spectacular coastal and bushwalks, swimming spots, snorkelling at Chowder Bay, convict-built buildings and military fortifications, Aboriginal sites, lookouts, picnic areas, wildlife spotting, birdwatching opportunities, Bradleys Head Amphitheatre, Goat, Clark and Shark Islands, Neilson Park, and Strickland House.
Where: Remembrance Drive, Picton (unsealed road- 1 ½ - 2hrs from Sydney CBD)
When:Daily, sunrise to sunset.
Cost: No entry fees at the moment- It is under review. Check website for updates.
Details: Being part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, this National Park is fringed with five-freshwater lakes that are abundant with waterbirds and surrounds of quiet patches of bushland. The Lakes are thought to be an impressive 15 million years old!
Highlights: Thirlmere Lakes Walking Track, the heritage pump station, birdwatching opportunities, swimming opportunities, canoeing or kayaking, and picnic spots. Do note no powerboats are allowed.
Where: Wilfred Bennet Drive or The Entrance Road, Magenta (1 ½ - 2hrs from Sydney CBD)
When: Daily, sunrise to sunset, Crackhead Lookout closed from 8pm-5:30am daylight savings and 6pm-5:30am other times and Pelican Beach Road Lookout closed from 8pm-5:30am daylight savings and 6pm-5:30am other times.
Cost: No entry fees.
Details: Divided into two, the National Park conserves the last patch of coastal rainforest on the Central Coast. The varied landscape offers an array of nature-based activities to enjoy. The National Park is also home to striking coastlines, red gum forest, diverse wildlife, and rich Aboriginal heritage.
Highlights: Surfing and swimming beaches, fishing spots, whale watching opportunities (during migration season), Crackhead Lookout, Pelican Beach Road Lookout, The Coast Walking Track, picnic spots, and walking trails.