Explore Australia’s National Parks and you’ll discover the stories of the first peoples to call this great land home. Traces of ancient indigenous traditions, from more than 60,000 years ago, are there to be found in our sprawling sun-baked deserts, in our dense rainforests, in our rolling mountains and in the cliffs and caves of our many coastlines. Encountering this colourful diversity – of culture and of country – is a must for families pursuing the heart of the Land Down Under.
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Kakadu is a tough outback act to beat. With its astonishing ridges, billabongs and bucketloads of rock art, it’s a dream landscape for adventurers. Ranger-guided activities can be enjoyed at no extra charge, and private companies operate unique tours ideal for family groups. With Animal Tracks tours your family can spot wildlife while on safari and forage for bush tucker to be enjoyed at a special sunset dinner. Ayal Aboriginal tours will give you insight into local knowledge of floodplain country, and Pukadul tours boast some awesome didgeridoo, spear throwing and weaving demonstrations.
Mungo National Park, New South Wales
NSW is bursting with a variety of parks by the beach, in the outback or under the cool canopies of rainforest trees. It was a tough pick, but we chose the Walls of China walk in lakeside Mungo National Park. The wacky formations and nearby sand dunes can be enjoyed on foot, by 4WD, or even by bike (cool!). Try a tour with an Aboriginal park ranger, which includes a special welcome to country ritual, lessons in local history and information about Willandra Lakes.
Our other favourites in New South Wales are the stencil ochre paintings in Red Hands Cave (Blue Mountains NP), heritage walks in Kuring-gai Chase and an Aboriginal Discovery guided tour of the Warrumbungle NP.
Daintree National Park, Queensland
The Kuku Yalanji people are the traditional owners of this sparkling jewel on the coast of Far North Queensland. Mossman Gorge, one half of the rainforest park, has frequent shuttle bus services (so it’s super easy), a Visitor Centre, Indigenous Art Gallery and several walking routes. Follow the boardwalks, check out the lookouts and if you’re feeling brave, try out the Suspension Bridge before tagging along on a Dreamtime Walk tour. On the tour, you’ll make some bush soap, be part of a traditional smoking ceremony, and take a peek into a traditional hut before chowing down on some damper served with tea.
Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia
Majestic ranges, deep valleys and unusual rock formations make for a rich and beautiful Dreamtime history in this spectacular national park. In fact, local elders recently found a rock shelter in the ranges that they think is 50,000 years old! This is the oldest evidence of human habitation in the entire country, as previously it was thought that Indigenous Australians lived here around 40,000 years ago. Creation stories (such as how the landscapes came to be) can be experienced through song, storytelling and dance of the local desert rock people, the Adnyamathanha. Or walk the trails around Wilpena Pound, Sacred Canyon and Yourambulla Caves, which vary in length and grade (for the active, eager adventurers and for those with little legs!). We also like the sound of Iga Warta tours and those at Tickle Belly Hill.
Click on your state to learn more about cultural heritage, natural marvels and family-friendly activities on offer at New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory national parks.