Everyone knows and loves the Royal National Park but with a total of 895 National Parks and reserves in NSW, there’s an embarrassment of riches to explore on our doorstep. This also means there are a number of amazing National Parks you didn’t know about but should. When you’ve had your fill of the most popular National Parks in NSW, it’s time to explore the equally rugged beauty of these underrated spots. You’ve got stunning coastal landscapes, bushwalking trails, waterfalls and a lot more to see. Even better, you won’t find them packed with crowds. Here are five to explore on your next hike.
Capertee National Park is located inside Capertee Valley, the world’s second-largest canyon. A fact that blew us away when we first found out. Only 3 hours from Sydney, Capertee is home to a range of plants and wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Aside from being home to local Australian wildlife like kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies, it’s also one of the best places for birdwatchers in NSW. In fact, the Capertee Valley Bird Trail offers 19 marked birdwatching sites if that’s your hobby. Find out everything you can and do in the area here.
Distance from Sydney: 3-hour drive
Go for: Sweeping canyon views, bird watching and camping under the stars.
2. Dharawal National Park
Dharawal National Park is filled with walking tracks and swimming spots with a number of waterfalls and rock pools to cool off in. It’s an important spot for Aboriginal people being the traditional land of the Dharawal Aboriginal people. Don’t miss the Minerva Pool Walking Track which takes you through a short bushwalk to the Minerva Pool, a sacred natural swimming site that is only open for women and children. The Maddens Falls walk will take you to a scenic waterfall surrounded by picturesque bush and flowers in the right season. Located between Stanwell Tops and Camden, this is one of the most easily accessed parks from Sydney. Get more information about it here.
Distance from Sydney: 1-hour, 55-minute drive
Go for: Waterfalls, lookouts and bushwalks.
3. Heathcote National Park
A little further down south from the Royal National Park is the Heathcote National Park and it’s an excellent alternative to Royal if you’re not in the mood for crowds. In this underrated but equally pretty National Park, you’ll be spoiled with scenic waterfalls and lush green surroundings. There are also a number of walking tracks and campgrounds at the park and the Bullawarring Walking track with the lovely Kingfisher Pool is a must-see. It’s also the perfect spot to stop for lunch or enjoy a quick swim on a hot day. See more highlights of the park on the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website.
Distance from Sydney: 1-hour, 15-minute drive
Go for: Bushwalking and camping.
4. Yengo National Park
Yengo National Park is worth the drive out of town if you’re looking for a remote, rugged, outdoor experience. The protected national park boasts stunning views, World Heritage-listed wilderness, rock engravings and aboriginal sites, a number of camping grounds and even a small section of rainforest. You can explore this rugged park on foot or opt for a 4WD or mountain bike to cover more ground. Get more information about it here.
Distance from Sydney: 2-hour, 25-minute drive
Go for: Camping and aboriginal cultural heritage sites.
5. Bungonia National Park
Outdoor adventure lovers will be spoiled at the Bungonia National Park with activities like rock climbing, hiking and caving. The Bungonia Red Track is a tough hike and only recommended for experienced hikers but the caves and views are worth it. If you want to experience the bushland setting for longer, you can stay the night at the Bungonia Campground. Learn more about the national park here.
Distance from Sydney: 2-hour, 30-minute drive
Go for: Hiking and caving.