If you’re keen to top up your knowledge of priceless World Heritage natural environments and Aboriginal culture, here are three ways to learn something new on your day trip or multi-day adventure in NSW national parks.
Discover stories of the pastView this post on Instagram
The Bare Island and Cape Banks ultimate day tour is the perfect day trip for Sydneysiders. You’ll take in the rich history of the La Perouse area in Kamay Botany Bay National Park on this guided walk, past the Henry Head fortification, a 1930s depression camp and the wreck of the SS Miami. After a BYO lunch, wander over to Bare Island for more stories of military engineering and deception.
Prefer something a bit more cruisy? Take the Goat Island convicts, castles and champagne tour in Sydney Harbour National Park. You’ll walk a 1.5km loop of Goat Island while learning about Australia’s early convicts, before boarding an historic timber vessel and discovering the history of Kirribilli House and Admiralty House, as you sip bubbly and enjoy a catered lunch.
If you’re heading north, stop in at Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park, near Coffs Harbour. The best time to explore the gaol is by twilight with an NPWS guide. As the sun sets over the bay, you’ll discover what life was like for the prisoners who lived and worked in the gaol during the late 19th Century (the view from the sentry’s lookout is truly spectacular).View this post on Instagram
For a chance to strike gold, make your way to Hill End Historic Site, around four hours’ drive from Sydney near Bathurst. On this self-guided tour, you’ll learn all about life during the gold rush, as you wander the streets of the colonial gold mining town. Try your luck gold panning at Fossicking Ground before stepping into an original mineshaft at Bald Hill Tourist Mine.
Ranger tip: Remember that parks are natural environments and can be unpredictable. Always check the NSW National Parks alerts page for up-to-date information on closed parks and safety alerts.
Take an epic road tripView this post on Instagram
Feeling more adventurous? The Greater Blue Mountains drive encompasses 1200km of sealed road, with plenty of towns to check out along the way. It’s a great way to learn about local Aboriginal culture, as well as the plants and animals that inhabit Blue Mountains National Park. Stop off at Blue Mountains Heritage Centre for maps and tips on what to see along the drive.
On the South Coast of NSW, you’ll find the Coast to the Highlands scenic drive – Kangaroo Valley. Winding its way from Nowra through Kangaroo Valley, you’ll discover the lush rainforest, waterfalls and mountains of Morton National Park. Don’t forget to stop in at Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre — you’ll find loads of information about the local history, wildlife and birdwatching of this unique area.
It doesn’t get more epic than a 14-day coastal tour from Sydney to Cairns via Dorrigo National Park. This group tour with Travel Australia is perfect if you’re travelling alone and looking to make some travel buddies. Every day, you’ll learn something new from the hand-picked iconic sites and hidden gems along the coast, with plenty of sun, surf and sand thrown in for good measure.
Discover Gondwana: learn about the incredible world of ancient living fossils on a short tour in Dorrigo National Park , or Gumbaynggirr culture rainforest tour
Learn from a local
There’s no better way to learn about Aboriginal culture and rock art than seeing it for yourself. In Goulburn River National Park near Mudgee, you can take an Aboriginal cultural tour and see the land through the eyes of the Wiradjuri People. Share in a spiritual smoking ceremony, hear singing in the Wiradjuri language and find local bush tucker, to connect with the land in a whole new way.
To truly understand the past 40,000-plus years of Aboriginal cultural history, take the Mungo walk the Walls of China tour in Mungo National Park near Mildura with an Aboriginal NPWS guide. Not only is the outback landscape incredible, but you’ll discover a newfound appreciation for the cultural significance of the area.
Follow Aboriginal Dreaming tracks on the South Coast of NSW, in Eurobodalla National Park, on a guided tour with Minga Aboriginal Cultural Services. Your local guide will share their knowledge of the practices that sustained the Yuin People, including which native plants are used for food and medicine, how to find fresh water, and how tools and weapons are made from bush materials.
On the North Coast of NSW, the Gumbaynggirr culture rainforest tour, in Dorrigo National Park, Gumbaynggirr Ranger Matt guides you through the Dorrigo rainforest where you’ll learn the language and culture which have been part of this landscape for thousands of years. Discover the rainforest like never before and appreciate its rich resources, which Gumbaynggirr people have sustainably nurtured for millennia. In Sea Acres National Park join Aboriginal Ranger Nardjaon on the Muluman tour or Yun yi barragay tour where she shares stories of culture and celebrates Sea Acres connection to Birpai culture, you’ll leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Birpai connection to Country.
Did you know? NSW National Parks works to preserve and protect Aboriginal culture through various projects and programs, including Aboriginal artefacts and Aboriginal sites.