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New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory have numerous national parks and nature reserves. These offer everything from short strolls to extended bushwalks in a wide variety of landscapes including alpine plateau, rainforest gorges and rugged coastlines.
The climate in the eastern areas of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory is generally mild, but variations can be significant depending on proximity to the mountains or the coast. In winter, alpine areas are subject to blizzards and heavy snow falls. Along the coast climate varies from cool temperate in the far south to subtropical in the north. Inland areas, particularly the western half of the state, are hot and arid.
Bushwalking areas and notable walks – New South Wales
North east New South Wales
Border Ranges National Park is a large, world heritage listed national park. There are numerous short walks and a few day walks.
Bald Rock National Park. Granite domes are the feature of this park. There are many short walks to viewpoints as well as the Border Walk, a 13km walk, that takes in part of the NSW/Queensland border.
Warrumbungles and Mt Kaputar are located north of Dubbo. Both parks have spectacular volcanic scenery and extensive track systems providing both one-day and overnight walks, but it is often necessary to carry water.
New England Tablelands describes a series of gorges and plateaux located inland between Port Macquarie and Ballina. There are many small parks and reserves scattered across the area. Gibraltar Range, Washpool, Guy Fawkes and New England are the major national parks here and provide many one-day walks and a wide variety of overnight walks.
Barrington Tops is an elevated plateau north of Newcastle that includes World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforests. It has both one-day walks and a range of overnight bushwalks.
Great North Walk is a marked track that runs from Sydney to Newcastle through low ranges and river valleys. The 250km track takes about 14 days to walk. One-day walks and shorter overnight trips are possible and suitable for walking all year round.
The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is made up of eight parks: Blue Mountains, Kanangra-Boyd, Nattai, Wollemi, Thirlmere Lakes, Gardens of Stone, Yengo National Parks and Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. Most have short walks, but the popular day and longer walks are found in the Blue Mountains and Kanangra-Boyd National Parks. The area is suitable for walking all year, although the best seasons are autumn and spring.
The Blue Mountains National Park is a sandstone plateau west of Sydney, with deep river valleys and numerous gorges. There are six access areas within the park: Katoomba, Blackheath, Glenbrook, Lower Grosse Valley, Mt Wilson and Southern Blue Mountains. Many day walks provide views of the sheer, sandstone cliffs and high waterfalls. There are overnight and longer walks along the river valleys and to some of the peaks. The 3-day walk from Kanangra to Katoomba is one of the best known longer walks in the southern Blue Mountains. Other popular destinations are Blue Gum Forest and Mt Solitary.
Kanangra-Boyd National Park has a range of day and multi-day walks, some of which can be extended into the Blue Mountains National Park. On some walks, high points provide spectacular views of the cliff faces of the Kanangra Walls.
Royal National Park is a coastal park just south of Sydney with some one-day walks and an overnight walk along its coastline.
South east New South Wales
Budawang National Park is a rugged and remote wilderness area which has a series of sandstone mountains. There are some day walks to Pigeon House Mountain and The Castle, but most walks are multi-day trips following rough tracks. The best seasons to visit are autumn and spring.
Kosciuszko National Park is large, diverse and made up of seven areas: Thredbo-Perisher, Lower Snowy River, Khancoban, Selwyn, Yarrangobilly, Tumut and High Plains. The most popular region is the Main Range, a plateau formed of granitic rocks and comprising the highest peaks in Australia. There is a large variety of walks ranging from one-day strolls across alpine grassland covered in wildflowers to trips of several weeks duration. The Main Range Walk is a popular 22km loop that can be done as a long day walk or with an overnight camp. In winter, all the higher areas are snow covered and the park contains the largest ski touring region in Australia. Trips between the Main Range and the Jagungal Wilderness Area in the centre of the park are popular with experienced ski tourers. There are also good cross-country ski trails that start from the Perisher resort, while Thredbo and Mt Selwyn generally cater to downhill skiers. The Main Range can be subject to severe weather at any time of year.
Hume and Hovell Track is an historical trail from Gunning to near Albury. Along its 426km length, the track passes mainly through state forests and avoids the high ranges of the Kosciuszko region. It provides many one-day walks and easy, overnight walks.
Bushwalking areas and notable walks – Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory is dotted with nature reserves, collectively known as Canberra Nature Park, providing short and one-day walks. Popular walks are found in the Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserves. A 66km stretch of the Murrumbidgee River flows through the ACT and offers day walks along the Murrumbidgee River Corridor through five of the nature reserves.
The Canberra Centenary Trail is a 145km circuit around the capital city passing through urban areas and rural environments. It is a shared-use trail that can be undertaken in sections from various starting points along the loop.
Namadgi National Park covers almost half of the Territory, with 160 kms of marked walking tracks and abuts the Kosciuszko National Park and the Bimberi Wilderness Area. Many short and day-long walks lead through woodland, forest, open grassland, along river valleys or visit huts and ruins. Walks also lead to high granite peaks such as Booroomba Rocks and Mt Tennant. Overnight and longer walks are possible including to Mt Bimberi, the highest peak in the ACT.
The start or finish of the Australian Alps Walking Track is at the Namadgi Visitor Centre near Tharwa. From here it meanders southward to Walhalla. The 660km track makes its way across alpine grasslands, along ridges and through tall forests. It takes about six to seven weeks to complete the whole journey. An alternative for many walkers is to complete the track in one- or two-week sections each year.
Sources may not be available in the hotter regions of the state and some alpine areas during summer. Check the status of water sources before departing.
Snowfall can occur at any time of the year on the higher mountains, but in winter large areas are under a blanket of snow and blizzards are more frequent.
Funnel web spiders
Funnel web spiders live in the ground and are found around the Sydney Basin, Blue Mountains, Hunter region, Central Coast and south coast. It is one of the best known and most dangerous spiders in Australia. Funnel web spider venom is highly toxic and considered potentially dangerous. Funnel web spider safety information.
Ambulance cover: essential for all bushwalkers
Interstate visitors should check that their home state or territory ambulance cover has reciprocal arrangements with NSW Ambulance.
International visitors should confirm they have travel insurance that covers bushwalking.
Current weather, emergency and safety information
Well prior to a trip, each group member should, on their mobile phone*:
Install the NSW Fires Near Me Emergency app and become familiar with the warnings, setting a watch zone and notifications:
- Fires Near Me NSW – Google Play
- Fires Near Me NSW – Apple App Store.
Install the Bureau of Meteorology weather app:
- BOM Weather – Google Play
- BOM Weather – Apple App Store
Bookmark the websites below, which provide current local advice and emergency warnings.
- New South Wales weather and warnings summary – Bureau of Meteorology
- Fires Near Me – New South Wales Rural Fire Service
- ABC Emergency – current local emergency information from the ABC
- Hazard reduction burns – New South Wales Rural Fire Service
- Alerts list/map – New South Wales National Parks
- Live traffic NSW – Transport New South Wales
- Current air quality – New South Wales Planning, Industry and Environment
*Useful only when there is mobile phone network coverage.
References and external links
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service – NPWS
- Safety in NSW National Parks – NPWS
- Register your trip; on-line trip intentions form – NPWS
- Access friendly experiences – NPWS
- New South Wales National Parks app:
- NSW National Parks offline maps and park guide – Google Play
- NSW National Parks offline maps and park-guide – Apple App Store
- New South Wales hikes and walks – New South Wales Government
- e-Topo – maps, New South Wales Spatial Services
Bushwalking peak body
Bushwalking NSW – provides general information on bushwalking and on the State’s bushwalking clubs.