Rooftop bars and Sunday roasts are great and all (no really, they’re the foundation of our Sydney lives). But sometimes, camping under the stars, exploring gorges, picnicking at hidden coves and driving through desert landscapes are just… better.
We sure are lucky to be living within a short drive’s reach of a heap of national parks—whether they’re coastal, inland, subtropical or arid. Seriously, we are damn spoilt.
But TBH, it’s about time you ditched the classics when you’re itching for a dose of nature—here are 5 under the radar national parks in NSW that are worth the trip.
Warrumbungle National Park
Checking in at around the six-hour drive mark north-west of the big smoke, Warrumbungle National Park is the stomping ground for all things camping and hiking. Oh, and it’s also Australia’s only Dark Sky Park, meaning it’s the ultimate place to go stargazing (and actually score some epic shots of the milky way). You can camp in direct eye line of the Breadknife and Grand High Tops walk which is also an awesome hike to watch the sun go down. Just sayin’.
Bournda National Park
Also bordering the six-hour drive mark (only this time you’re heading south of Sydney) is Bournda National Park. This killer coastal gem has seriously crystal waters and is practically made for anyone who’s a major sucker for secluded and hidden beaches, caves or ridiculously gorgeous coastal walks. Think the Bondi to Bronte on steroids. You’ll want to hit up the Wallagoot Gap which is the indefinite epitome of a secret cove and the Sandy Creek Loop track which gives you access to the Bournda lagoon, beach and bush.
Mimosa Rocks National Park
Your road trip down to Mimosa Rocks National Park will take about five and a half hours and we’re giving you a heads up now—you’ll definitely want to camp out when you get there. This is our way of telling you to pack accordingly because there’s a whole heap of sites neighbouring the beach with your name on it. You’ll have a whole heap of swimming, surfing and paddling locations within your reach, including the glassy waters of Nelson Lagoon.
Mungo National Park
Mungo National Park is one of NSW’s heavy-hitters when it comes to watching the sunset over the sand and trust us, the brutal but beautiful 14-hour drive (stay with us) is unbelievably and undeniably worth it. You’ll want to check out the Walls of China which are incredible clay formations and swing by the Mungo woolshed which is picturesque AF.
Mutawintji National Park
Here’s another epic park where you’ll need to make sure you set yourself up appropriately—the 15-hour drive calls for a lengthy playlist and a book for when your data goes kaput. You can thank us later for that hot tip. Mutawintji National Park is north-west of Broken Hill and has a heap of rocky ridges and gorges to explore including the Bynguano Range trail. Plus, if you take a trip through the Old Mootwingee Gorge, you’ll find a few natural pools to cool down and take a dip in.
Prefer the coast? Here are the best coastal walks in Sydney.
Image credit: Nikita Velikanin