Ever wish that your life was like the movies? Do you find yourself daydreaming about living as a dashing secret agent, walking alongside dinosaurs or finding a portal to a secret world behind the filing cabinet?
I reckon you probably have, but there’s no harm in a bit of fantasy if it gets us out the door. In fact, New South Wales is home to some incredible environments that resemble the locations of famous films and make you feel as if you’re on a cinematic adventure.
Jurassic Park - Border Ranges National Park
You don’t need to head off the coast of Costa Rica to be immersed in the dense jungle and climb the ancient peaks of Isla Sorna, the famous, mythical island from Jurassic Park.
Instead, head north. Towards the border of NSW and Queensland, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest of the Border Ranges National Park is the perfect place to get your dino-fix. Start off with a stroll up to the Pinnacle lookout where you’ll see the crater escarpment, Wollumbin (formerly known as Mt Warning) and the valley below. Given how ancient the Gondwana rainforest in the valley is, it might be worth keeping your eyes pried for dinosaurs, you know, just in case…
The Brindle Creek walking track should be your next stop. The track is 6km one-way and features the certified Gondwana relic, the Antarctic Beech tree, as well as wild swimming at Evan’s Falls and moss-covered everything (watch your step and don’t swim alone!) Finish the day camping out at Forest Tops campground, it’s the most immersive rainforest experience you can get.
Mad Max - Worimi Conservation LandsView this post on Instagram
The sand-blasted desertscape so central to the Mad Max series is only a few hours north of Sydney.
Don’t bother heading to Namibia – where the filming of the recent fourth film moved after Broken Hill started sprouting wildflowers – head to Stockton Dunes, the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. Parts of the Mad Max 2 are said to be filmed at Tin City which is inside the Worimi Regional Park. Tin City is a strange privately owned settlement at Stockton Beach, enjoy looking at it from a distance but remember not to get too close, this is private property.
To access the Worimi Conservation Area you will need to get a permit through Worimi Conservation Lands (WCL), with a permit you can experience this 4WD haven for beach driving. Load up your rig safely and enjoy this unique family friendly experience, remember to drive responsibly.
If you don’t own a 4WD you can still visit on these incredible guided tours.
Quad biking tours are one of the best ways to enjoy the sand dunes. Check out Sand Dune Adventures an Aboriginal owned and managed tour company that are experts in dune driving and understand the culturally and environmentally sensitive parts of the dune system.
Avatar - Dorrigo National Park
Transport yourself to the lush planet of Pandora with a visit to Dorrigo National Park. The World Heritage Gondwana Rainforest, only an hour from Coffs Harbour is a protected pocket of diversity. You’ll feel as firmly in touch with nature as the Na’vi, as you wander through 600-year-old trees and swim in rainforest pools.
Protect yourself and the rainforest: Watch your step on slippery rocks around waterfalls and avoid swimming in multiple locations or lathering on too much sun cream, this will protect sensitive frog species. Leeches are also common in this area so wear appropriate clothing, read more about protecting yourself against them here.
For a truly immersive experience in the canopy check out the Skywalk lookout, the elevated walkway comes straight out of the visitor centre and places you in the heart of the rainforest, where vines and ferns compete in the misty half-light. Look out for the Hometree – Pandora’s massive beating heart – surely it’s the cause of all this beauty. Prolong the search with a stop at Never Never picnic area, stay quiet enough and nature might come to you.
Mission Impossible - Bare Island, Kamay Botany Bay National ParkView this post on Instagram
Time for an adrenaline injection. If action flicks are your jam then head to Bare Island, part of Kamay Botany Bay National Park. The small island is the site of an imposing fort that’s built into the island itself and home to a chequered past. Walk across the 130-year old footbridge to the Bare Island Gate to meet for a guided tour of the fort.
Some of Bare Island’s rock platforms might look like they’re from Mission Impossible II, that’s because they are! Parts of the second film were shot right on Bare Island. You might want to check out the surrounding area too – the Henry Head walking track is perfect for sussing Bare Island from afar or, if you’re qualified, get below the surface for a bit of scuba action.
Learn more: at an authentic Aboriginal cultural tour of La Perouse with Kadoo Tours.
The Chronicles of Narnia – Kosciuszko National Park
OK, nowhere in Australia quite fits the bill of being under an “eternal winter” but if you’re looking to experience the crispy cold conditions on the other side of the wardrobe, the alpine region of Kosciuszko National Park is a sure bet during the winter months.
Sure you can hit the resorts at Perisher and Thredbo for the usual skiing or snowboarding, but if you really want to see what the White Witch is up to you can’t beat back country snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
Enjoy Kosciuszko but respect the snow and conditions. Please avoid snowshoeing on cross-country ski trails as snowshoe indentations are hazardous to skiers. Explore the snow in the less exposed areas below the tree line or on resort grounds and established cross-country trails. Understand the risks, such as avoiding steep slopes greater than 30 degrees after heavy snow, and avoiding being near the top of a slope where cornices develop. Carry the right equipment, which includes a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), these are available for loan at several locations in Kosciuszko National Park, and follow all other precautions on alpine safety.View this post on Instagram
They say if you can walk you can snowshoe. So if you’ve never tried it, and you’re not an experienced ski tourer or mountaineer, give it a go with an experienced backcountry guide (Parks Eco-Pass tour operator), tours are available for all fitness levels.
Sound a bit gnarly? Why not camp out for a few days at the more forgiving Geehi Flats campground? You can even pretend the White Witch is dead and go in summer, we won’t tell anyone.
Point Break - Eurobodalla National ParkView this post on Instagram
“Surfing’s the source man…swear to god.”
We’re not suggesting you chase a 50-year storm to get your Point Break thrills but if you’re like the “Ex-Presidents” surf gang and can’t cop a crowded beach, head to Eurobodalla National Park on the NSW South Coast. But remember that beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents. These beach safety tips will help you and your family stay safe in the water.
Get euro-bodacious (sorry) at 1080 Beach, a secluded south-facing hook of sand that requires a cheeky bushwalk to reach. If the heat’s a bit high, go into hiding at Brou Lake campground and while away your days within reach of stunning lakes and beaches.
If the waves are flat, prepare yourself for a full day coastal and cultural odyssey walking the Bingi Dreaming track. Be ready for a full day of hiking on the 13.5km coastal route as you trace the song lines of the Brinja-Yuin people, who lived in harmony with the coastal environment.