New South Wales abounds with national parks. As far as Sydney itself is concerned, if you are around the Opera House, the zoo or many of the other attractions on the waterfront, you are actually IN a national park! Sydney Harbour National Park covers areas of the harbour's North and South Heads, and weaves a somewhat unsteady way along the harbour shores. The park was established to protect many of the islands and foreshore areas around this oh-so-famous harbour. The park has great places to swim, bushwalking tracks and picnic areas with a wide range of activities.
Around 30 km south of the centre is the Royal National Park, the only âroyalâ park in Australia. It is thought to be the first ever national park in the world, having been set up in 1879, and is certainly the most popular with visitors in New South Wales, if not actually nationwide. Features include walking tracks, beaches facing the Pacific, camping and picnic areas and water sports.
At around 50 km from the city centre, the Blue Mountains national park is easily accessed and well worth the trip for some spectacular countryside and bushland, full of fresh-air walking trails across mountains and valleys.
Slightly further away is the Kanangra Boyd national park, filled with scenic delights with exotic names such as Thurat Spires, Kanangra Walls and Mount Cloudmaker all of which and more provide perfect photo opportunities. Nearby are the Jenolan Caves, with nine show caves open to the public. If youâre not in a hurry to get back to the city you can stay overnight at the Caves House, a Victorian style guesthouse with numerous accommodation options, a restaurant and a bar. During summer there is a series of music concerts at the caves.
If you crave whale watching, head for the Kamay Botany Bay national park and the Cape Solander vantage point where these extraordinary creatures can be spotted during the whale migration season. The park lies across the two headlands at the entrance to Botany Bay, with the La Perouse section in the north and the Kurnell section in the south.
If you want a picnic, there is probably nowhere finer to spread it on the ground than at Picnic Point on the Georges River just south of Bankstown and across the river from Sutherland Shire some 25km from Sydney and near the main entrance to the Georges River National Park. This area is one of Australiaâs earliest recreational places, having been established in 1795.