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NSW World Heritage Sites & NSW Nature

Lord Howe Island


A remote yet accessible World Heritage-listed destination, Lord Howe Island, is the perfect place to get away from it all. This is a magical island in the Tasman Sea, which is only a two hours’ flight from Sydney or Brisbane.


Here is a place where you can revitalise, de-stress and calm your soul. Lord Howe Island is one of just four island groups in the world possessing World Heritage status, a tribute to its “amazing volcanic geology, its marvellous range of ecosystems, its rare collection of plants, birds and marine life… and last, though by no means least, its exceptional natural beauty.”


Encircled by the world’s southernmost coral reef, Lord Howe is Australia’s prime birdwatching spot. Watch red-tailed tropic-birds somersaulting backwards during their courting ritual. The island is home to 130 permanent and migratory bird species, while more than 500 species of fish and 90 species of coral thrive in its crystal-clear waters.


Spectacular views from Lord Howe’s Mt Gower will take your breath away and walks on the island will give you a delightful experience of nature. Lord Howe’s iconic Ball’s Pyramid is the largest monolithic sea rock in the world. The majestic twin peaks at southern end of the island, Mt Lidgbird and Mt Gower are 875 metres tall.



Blue Mountains National Park


This magnificent land of sandstone outcrops, deep ravines and hazy blue eucalypt forests boasts luxury retreats and the world’s steepest railway. The Blue Mountains National Park, reachable from Sydney by road or rail under two hours, is one of eight national parks that make up the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.


The Blue Mountains National Park, a scenically dramatic region of forested ravines and pristine bushland about 120 km west of Sydney by road, is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. It is listed for its extensive eucalypt forests and natural biodiversity.

The Wollemi Pine, world’s oldest species of tree found in Wollemi National Park, is unique to the Blue Mountains. The region is so densely forested the 40-metre-high trees escaped detection until 1994, flourishing undisturbed in a remote valley less than 200 km from Sydney.

Designated walking trails criss-cross Blue Mountains National Park, passing streams and waterfalls, descending into cool gorges and snaking around sheer cliffs offering spectacular views.


The region’s most famous rock formation is The Three Sisters, a trio of pinnacles best viewed from Katoomba, the largest of 26 mountain towns and villages. These include Wentworth Falls (near a beautiful waterfall of the same name), Faulconbridge and Katoomba. The settlement of Blackheath, full of colonial history, is renowned for its Rhododendron Festival held in November each year.


Enjoy a plethora of adventure activities, art and craft galleries, fine dining, stylish shopping and romantic escapes. Grand Edwardian country hotels predominated in the early 20th-century. An abundance of luxury guesthouses, spas and eco-retreats are available for you to choose from to spend the night. Gardens in these parts are a delight. One of the most striking is Everglades Gardens, laid out in the 1930s by Danish-born landscape designer Paul Sorensen. Don’t miss the tearooms!



Barrington Tops National Park


Barrington Tops National Park, situated about 320 km north of Sydney is a mixture of eucalypt forests, rainforest, subalpine woodlands, swamps and grasslands.


Rainforests occupies only about 0.3 % of Australia yet these shelter about half of all Australian plant families and about a third of the country’s mammal and bird species. Few rainforests are easier to reach than those within Barrington Tops National Park, an easy drive from Sydney.


The park, which includes eucalypt forests, subalpine woodlands and wetlands, also includes a 25-kilometre-long plateau set amongst long-extinct volcanoes. It’s reachable even to those with limited mobility; criss-crossed with an excellent network of tracks offering short, easy walks, steep overnight treks, and much in between.


Villages in the vicinity include charming Gloucester, which is nestled in a valley under a range of hills called The Bucketts, is home to both a school museum and a folk museum. Another town, Stroud, was founded in 1826 in the green Karuah Valley. It still looks the same as it did in the 1850s. Gold mining and cedar cutting history is preserved in small museums at Paterson, Dungog and Clarence Town.


In the Barrington Tops National Park you can spot the eastern grey kangaroo, red-necked and swamp wallabies, red-legged pademelon, platypus, northern brown bandicoot, yellow-bellied glider, sugar glider, mountain brushtail possum, koala, long-nosed potoroo, three-toed earless skink, stuttering frog, grey-headed flying-fox, short-beaked echidna and common wombat.


The birds you can spot ranges from the magnificent wedge-tailed eagle to smaller species like the White-throated needletail, Rufous scrub-bird and wompoo fruit-dove.






Dorrigo National Park


Dorrigo National Park in the rainforest-rich North Coast region of New South Wales is about 450 km north of Sydney (halfway between Sydney and Brisbane). Take the Pacific Highway south from Coffs Harbour, turn right at the Bellingen/Armidale turnoff, then come up the beautiful Waterfall Way.


Dorrigo’s rainforests, on the edge of the Great Escarpment, are amongst Australia’s most easily reached. Dorrigo National Park’s well-known boardwalks (on forest floor and at treetop level) make the going easy for visitors.


Dorrigo Rainforest Centre is a foremost CERRA interpretation centre. The plateau rises to 1586 metres and is at the centre of the now extinct Ebor Volcano, which helped create the region’s topography about 18 million years ago.


You can choose to take short strolls under the rainforest canopy, or to tackle longer and more challenging like the trek (just under 5 kilometres) to the top of Casuarina Falls. It starts from the Never Never picnic area along Sassafras Creek and passes through cool rainforest and eucalypt stands and Aboriginal historic sites. Views of McGrath’s Hump and the Great Escarpment are truly breathtaking.



Mount Warning National Park


The sun’s rays hit Mount Warning before anywhere else on the Australian continent. This 1156-metre-high mountain is the leftover central plug of the Tweed shield volcano.

The park is located about 800 km north of Sydney; near the place the Tweed River meets the sea at the border of New South Wales and Queensland.


The iconic attraction of the national park, Mt Warning, is a volcanic remainder once used by mariners as a landmark to warn them of offshore reefs. Captain James Cook gave the mountain its ominous-sounding name in 1770. The local Bundjalung Aboriginal people know the mountain as Wollumbin, meaning Cloud Catcher.


Sunrise is a predominantly magical time at Mt Warning. Under the established laws of the Bundjalung Aboriginal people, only certain people can climb Mt Warning, so if you choose to respect their wishes, consider a stroll along the 200-metre Lyrebird Track or a picnic at the Korrumbyn picnic area as an alternative to attempting the nine-kilometre return journey.



Mungo National Park


One of the world’s most significant human cremation sites, Mungo National Park, is also Australia’s first World Heritage-listed national park. The park is situated 987 km west of Sydney, and 110km northeast of Mildura


Mungo National Park is a part of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, a chain of dried-out lakes that were once strung between Willandra Creek and the main channel of the Lachlan River in Outback NSW.

Lake Mungo has dried out approximately 14,000 years ago, a huge crescent-shaped dune, called the Walls of China, stretches along the eastern shore of the lakebed. The wind and water are constantly eroding these dunes, of mud and sand. What remains today is a fragile landscape of crinkled, fluted outcrops and shifting sand, which changes colour from a daytime khaki to the vibrant yellows, oranges, and deep wine reds of sun set.


It was at Mungo, that a young scientist stumbled across “Mungo Woman”, the remains of a cremated skeleton of a human. Six years later, he found Mungo Man, buried in a pit strewn with ochre.


Stone flake tools are strewn across the landscape, and peeking out of the mud are prehistoric wombat holes, fossilised chunks of Eucalyptus trees, and the bones of long-dead marsupials, including extinct buffalo-sized wombats and giant kangaroos.



Kosciuszko National Park


This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is one of the world’s best national parks and the biggest in New South Wales. Kosciuszko National Park, which is located about 400 km southwest of Sydney, is five hours by road or 50 minutes by air. Rising above the park is Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko.


The mountainous region between the Australian Capital Territory and the Victorian border is a wild and stunning region and Kosciuszko National Park, spreading almost 675,000 hectares, cocoons the best of it.


Here, in the highest elevations of Australia’s Great Dividing range in the Snowy Mountains, you can walk through alpine herbfields, explore caves and limestone gorges, enjoy scenic drives and stay at historic huts and homesteads – all within sight of the tallest mountains in Australia.


Famous mountain villages in the region are Charlotte Pass Village, the highest resort village in Australia; Thredbo Village, with its great restaurants, and Jindabyne.


Ground elevations Kosciuszko National Park ranges from just 213 metres above sea level up to 2228 metres. The alpine section of the park includes a wetland that is even mentioned in the Ramsar list (a group of wetlands around the world internationally recognised for their ecological, botanical, zoological, limnological or hydrological importance). Some of Australia’s most popular and most beautiful rivers, including the Snowy, Murray and Murrumbidgee, flow from this area. Apart from its winter role as a skiing and snowboarding paradise, the Biosphere Reserve supports wildlife such as the grey kangaroo, the red-necked wallaby, swamp wallaby and wombats.




Montague Island, Narooma


Montague Island, which is mostly Famous for its penguin and seal colonies, is also a superb location for whale watching during the season. The island is located 10km southeast of Narooma and about 350 km south of Sydney.


Montague Island becomes the temporary home of Hundreds of Australian fur seals (up to 700 animals during breeding season) from late August to early December. A separate species, New Zealand fur seals also visit the island regularly. The island is a breeding ground for at least 15 bird species – including about 8000 pairs of penguins.


Small penguins flourish on the island and other bird varieties include crested terns, silver gulls, Australian gannets, mutton birds, hawks, sea eagles and three species of shearwaters.


To safeguard Montague Island’s unique environment, access is limited to regular organised tours run by licensed operators from Narooma and guided by New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers.


Guided tours include plants, animals, the island’s Aboriginal and European past and the Montague Lighthouse, first lit in November 1881. The lighthouse, 21 metres tall and able to be seen well out to sea, was converted to automatic operation in 1986. It is still an essential part of Australia’s coastal navigation system.


From September to November, guided tours expand to include whale watching, as humpback and southern right whales travel south on their annual migration from warmer tropical waters to the cooler waters of the Antarctic.



Solitary Islands Marine Park


Solitary Islands Marine Park is a tiny group of islands, which are spread in an area about 75 km along the Coffs Coast, from Muttonbird Island in the south to Plover Island in the north. These Islands give protection for marine species at the same time providing idyllic conditions for diving, fishing and whale watching. The Solitary Islands Marine Park is located Near Coffs Harbour, some 550 km north of Sydney.


The biggest marine protected area in New South Wales looks breathtakingly beautiful with blue-green seas swirling around jagged islands, and beaches in sandy coves.

Underwater, Solitary Islands Marine Park is one of Australia’s extremely popular scuba diving environments. Divers swim with turtles, take pictures of shoals of multi-coloured fish and move smoothly past banks of rainbow-hued coral. The park’s amazing marine diversity derives from the merging of two great ocean currents: the warmer waters of the East Australian Current, flowing from the tropical Coral Sea; and the cooler northward flow from the Tasman Sea.


Here you will have the pleasure of witnessing greater than 550 species of fish, four turtle species and a variety of marine mammals cruising around 90 species of coral and a host of active ascidians (better known as sea squirts). Each autumn and winter, humpback whales migrate north to calve in warmer waters.


In spring, they go south again to their Antarctic feeding grounds. Coffs Harbour, and the sea around Solitary Islands Marine Park, is among the finest locations in Australia for whale watching, by land and by sea.



Sydney Harbour National Park


Sydney Harbour National Park area (which includes harbour islands and surrounds) was created in 1975. Ever since its birth the area covered by the park has grown rapidly, taking in historic Fort Denison and little Goat Island in 1995. North and South Head, with their huge cliffs standing like giant sentinels at the doorway to the harbour. Sydney Harbour’s islands are Shark Island, Clark Island, Goat Island, Rodd Island and Fort Denison.


Sydney Harbour beaches incorporate Washaway Beach, Reef Beach, Obelisk Beach and Cobblers Beach. The last two, located around Middle Head, are both nude-bathing areas. Other prominent beaches include Chowder Bay (just north of Bradleys Head), Nielsen Park near Vaucluse and Balmoral Beach near Mosman.


The splendid harbour at Sydney’s heart, with its dark green sea, world famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House, is so popular that many visitors (and Sydneysiders) don’t realise that it’s also a National Park. Protected beaches within Sydney Harbour National Park include Nielsen Park, where you can lounge on the beach or unwind under a shady tree, Washaway Beach, Reef Beach and further beaches stretching north of Dobroyd Head not far from Manly.


Dolphins are recurrent visitors to the park and whales drop in too, delighting both city’s inhabitants and visitors alike. Harbour surroundings include heathlands, woodlands and eucalypt forests, with walkways between for easy exploration.


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