Australia is a continental island nation surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The nation, which is also a subcontinent, covers an expansive land area estimated to a total of 2,969,907 square miles, making it one of the largest countries in the world. Australia is endowed with endless geographical features such as alpine regions, forests, deserts, and offshore reefs. Due to the rich natural heritage, national parks, and protected areas have been established to preserve these naturally occurring resources. There are over 500 national parks in Australia which take up close to 4% of the nation’s land area. Here is an overview of some of the most beautiful national parks that Australia has the offer.
Kakadu National Park: Largest Park
Kakadu National Park is expansive. Located in the Northern Territory, it is the largest national park in Australia and covers an area of 7,646 square miles. The park hosts a diverse ecosystem. Some of the main features in the park are rivers, waterfalls, escarpments, monsoon forests, and sandstone hills. In addition to the physical features, over 2,000 plant and animal species are found in the park. The park was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1992 due to its rich cultural and natural heritage.
Kosciuszko National Park: Second-Largest Park
Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales is the second largest park in Australia with an area of 2,664 square miles. The park is home to Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, and Australia’s highest town, Cabramurra. The park has an alpine climate and is part of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves. It is home to rare animal species, including the critically endangered Corroboree frog, mountain pygmy possum and the wild horse. The park’s vegetation is mainly comprised of alpine woodlands.
Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park: Most Famous Park
Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park is a park in the Northern Territory of Australia. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1987. The park covers an area of 515 square miles. It is home to the world-famous sandstone monolith known as Uluru. Uluru stands at 348 meters above the ground and has a circumference of 9.4 kilometers. The park traditionally belonged to the Anangu indigenous peoples who are actively involved in managing it. The park is mostly arid land with desert vegetation. Fires are common in the park, especially in the early summer months. The fires can cause huge damage to the ecosystem, such as the bush fires in 2002 and 2003. However, some plant and animal species have adapted to these desert fires.
Royal National Park: First Park
Royal National Park was the first national park to be formed in Australia and the second National Park in the world. It was established on April 26, 1879. The park took its "Royal" name after Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1954 to honor the British Royal Family. It covers an area of 58 square miles. The park has a broad range of terrain that includes coastal cliffs, high plateaus, river valleys and beaches.