11 lesser-known national parks to visit

By Matthew Ingles 17 December 2014
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Australia has more than 500 national parks and some get all the glory, but these 11 are some little-known gems

Naracoorte Caves National Park, SA

There are about 26 caves that make up the Naracoorte Caves National Park. Not all are open to the public as some are set aside for scientific research or protection of the caves and their contents. It was official recognised in 1994 for its extensive fossil record, when the region was declared a World Heritage Site. The caves themselves offer self-guided, guided and adventure caving tours all year. As well as a number of walking trails through the 600ha park.


Yalgorup National Park, WA

Yalgorup National Park stretches from south of Mandurah to north Myalup and covers an area of 12,888ha, including 10 lakes. The park is home to a Ramsar wetland site and was added to the list of wetlands of international significance in 1990. Spring and autumn are the best times to explore the park, with walks at Lake Preston and the Lake Pollard Bird Hike and are easy walks.


Dorrigo National Park, NSW

The Dorrigo National Park forms part of the New England Group of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia which were added inscribed World Heritage sites in 1986. The park itself contains a range of forest types that protect an enormous variety of animals and birds. Dorrigo Rainforest Centre is the best place to get great advice on information relating to the park, as well as a range of books and souvenirs relating to the rainforest environment.


Dandenong Ranges National Park, VIC

This national park is well known for the remarkable mountain ash trees and lush fern gullies, making it the ideal picnic and walking area. As the park is located in an urban area and therefore has a long history of problems with feral and roaming animals. A cat curfew was introduced in the area, and since then the populations of lyrebirds and other native bird species have increased.


Nitmiluk National Park, NT

Formerly the Katherine Gorge National Park, this national park’s northern edge borders Kakadu National Park. The gorge and surrounding landscape have great ceremonial value to the Jawoyn people who are the custodians of the park and share management with the Parks and Wildlife Service of the Northern Territory. In the dry season the gorge becomes separated as the river level falls.


Wollemi National Park, NSW

The Wollemi National Park contains the only known wild specimens of the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), a species thought to have become extinct approximately 30 million years ago, but in 1994 three small stands were discovered. There are also a number of Aboriginal sites within the park including cave paintings, axe grinding grooves and rock carvings. Wollemi NP forms part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.


Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater National Park, WA

The park is located in the edge of the Great Sandy Desert and is landscape is the home of desert plains and spinifex grassland. The main feature of the park is the 875m Wolfe Creek Crater, formed by the impact of a meteorite weighing and estimated 50,000 tonnes. The local Djaru people have many Dreaming stories about the crater’s formation. The 2005 horror film Wolf Creek was set in the park.


Flinders Chase National Park, SA

Flinders Chase National Park is located at the west end of Kangaroo Island, 177km west of Adelaide. The park is a sanctuary for endangered wildlife with some introduced to the island from the mainland. The park is also home to two geological monuments: Remarkable Rocks, naturally sculpted rock formations balanced on a granite outcrop; and Admirals Arch, which displays the ability of the ocean to carve the coastline and is home to New Zealand fur seals.


Carnarvon National Park, QLD

Carnarvon National Park began as a 26,304ha area to protect the outstanding scenic values, indigenous and non-indigenous cultural heritage and its geological significance. The area is rich in groundwater and has numerous springs, as well as a key feature, Carnarvon Gorge, Camping is permitted in the park is certain sections at different times of the year.


Southwest National Park, TAS

Located in south-western Tasmania, this area forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is known for its pristine wilderness and remoteness as it is largely uninhabited by humans. Though evidence of both Aboriginal and European exploration of the area there has been no permanent habitations. There is only one small village (Melaleuca) that provides an airstrip and some basic amenities. In the summer time the area are the breeding grounds of the critically endangered orange bellied parrot.


Glass House Mountains National Park, QLD

The mountains were named after Captain Cook, as they reminded him of the huge glass houses of his homeland. About an hour north of Brisbane, the area features the strange formations of extinct volcanic cores created about 27 million years ago. The national park was established in 1994 and then expanded in 2010. Walking tracks allow access to some of the mountain summits, though others are restricted due to safety.