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The Best Wildlife & National Parks Around Sydney

  • Tuesday 21st January 2020

Want to get back to nature in one of the many national parks around Sydney? Here is a list of the best.

Sydney Harbour National Park

Exactly as it sounds, this National Park lies right in the heart of Sydney. It incorporates many foreshore areas, including walking tracks along spectacular cliffs. Check out the Spit to Manly walk for breathtaking views. The park also includes the harbour’s numerous small islands, many of them accessible by boat for a small landing fee, and perfect for a picnic!

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

Welcome to Australia’s second-oldest national park! There’s a stunning mix of natural habitats, from the sheltered beaches of Pittwater to rugged valleys at the northern limits of suburbia. Discover the indigenous hand stencils on Red Hands track at West Head or the native animal rock carvings on the Bobbin Head track. Stop for a meal at the historic art-deco Bobbin Inn or take the ferry from here to Palm Beach.

Lane Cove National Park

A more genteel experience, this national park hugs a small river valley in northern Sydney. It’s popular with cyclists, negotiating the hilly bends to the valley floor. There are picnic areas along the river, which can be hired for large family events. The upper part of the river is freshwater, and the lower is salty, separated by a concrete weir. It’s not suitable for swimming, but you can hire a rowboat or canoe at the boat sheds.

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

While our national parks are teeming with wildlife, they’re shy and often hard to find. So head to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo to spot the Aussie Big 5. See kangaroos, platypuses, koalas and a crocodile and a wombat up close!  Feel like you’re in the outback in the heart of the city. It’s a hassle-free nature adventure for the whole family, and the best way to see Australia’s favourite animals in one place. Get your ‘awwws’ ready to meet the furriest faces in the country.

Dharawal National Park

In Dharawal, south of Sydney, you’ll find the brilliant red Gymea Lily, with a flower stem several metres tall! Waterfalls and swimming holes are a feature of this beautiful park. Book a walk with an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger, who’ll open your eyes to a Koori view of the park. Find bush-foods and medicinal plants under their expert guidance.

Dharug National Park

Head up the Old Northern Road to experience this historic area on the Hawkesbury River, where convicts and settlers once farmed. The area is also rich in indigenous heritage and was the site of confrontations between two groups of people with wildly differing needs. The park is quite rugged, with sandstone cliffs and caves in the hills. Listen for the calls of lyrebirds, bowerbirds and rare cockatoos.

Kamay Botany Bay National Park

Kamay Botany Bay National Park has many areas of historical significance. It’s where, back in 1770, Aboriginal people first saw the HMS Endeavour and Captain Cook. Today, you can discover Bare Island, a favourite for divers and snorkelers, with a surprisingly diverse array of marine life. Cape Solander is a top spot for winter whale watching.

Thirlmere Lakes National Park

Here’s one for the twitchers. About 1.5 hours south-west of the CBD, this park has 5 placid freshwater lakes, full of birdlife. Around the shoreline, there are ducks and herons, and in the air, White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Pack your binoculars and watch them swoop low for fish. Then cook up a tasty meal on one of the lakeside BBQs.