Australia Runaway Travel Stories Top Runs

Top NSW National Parks every trail runner should visit

Want to flee the big smoke for a long weekend? From mountain hideaways to beachside havens, we reveal our top national parks to run in New South Wales.

MEROO NATIONAL PARK

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Want to get away from it all? Tick. Want to camp in deep in the forest? Tick. Want to fish, swim, surf and run? Tick, tick, tick and tick. Meroo National Park is everything you’re looking for in a long weekend getaway. The newest of New South Wales’ national parks nestled between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay, Meroo has something for everyone.

Take some time out on the lakeshore to watch the birds. Venture around the headlands until you find a beach all to yourself. Go for a dip at Sunburnt Beach and spend hours searching treasure-filled rock pools. Then return to your campsite, rustle up a fire and watch curious wallabies emerge from the forest. (Check out our adventures in Meroo National Park here!)

Top Spot: Tuck yourself away at Meroo Head campground where you can wander a few hundred metres to pristine beaches and saltwater lakes. This is a park and pitch campsite, but there’s also a campground suitable for campervans just a couple of kilometres down the road.

MORTON NATIONAL PARK

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Just a hop, skip and jump from Nowra is a playground for mountain bikers, runners, hikers and kayakers. Morton National Park is one of those places that has you wondering why you didn’t visit sooner. Driving there is an experience in itself: winding around the mountains down into Kangaroo Valley.

Stop a while in the quaint village and indulge in coffee and cake. Over the oldest suspension bridge in Australia, Hampden Bridge, it’s just a few more kilometres before you hit the really good stuff: Fitzroy Falls, mountain biking tracks, and kilometres of running and hiking trails.

Top Spot: Bendeela Reserve is a large, spacious and free campground next to the river, complete with nightly entertainment. Each night, wombats take over the flat, munching at grass and using the underside of campervans as their scratching posts!

WATAGANS NATIONAL PARK

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Aside from the fact that this national park is on the edge of the Hunter Valley (that got your attention, didn’t it?), Watagans is also home to a large section of the Great North Walk between Newcastle and Sydney. And all just one hour from Newcastle.

Top Spot: The Basin is a large campsite in the Olney State Forest within Watagans National Park. There are toilets and fire pits, plus a number of swimming holes (if you can brave it!) and trail heads nearby.

CROWDY BAY NATIONAL PARK

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Every morning, visitors sleepily emerge from their tents and caravans and gather on the beach near Diamond Head, peering expectantly out to sea. The first of the sun’s rays hit the ocean and people inhale in awe – the colours are sensational.

Later, you’ll find fishermen standing in the same spot, also peering expectantly out to sea, but for a different reason. Be sure to take a run or hike along the headland trails to the lookout and beyond.

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Return in time to watch the giant resident goanna saunter across the campsite. You don’t really need to go back to work on Tuesday, do you?

Top Spot: Diamond Head campground is well serviced by BBQs, toilet blocks and showers (albeit cold). There’s an onsite ranger who will sell you a fire tower and logs if you get chilly or desire ambience. The campground accessible by 2WDs on an unsealed road. But be sure to book – this is a popular spot!

WOLLEMI NATIONAL PARK

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As the second largest national park in the state, Wollemi is filled with gems just waiting to be discovered – like the Wollemi pine, a new plant species and “living fossil” discovered in 1994.

Another gem is the Wolgan Valley. In the heart of Wolgan Valley you’ll spy more natural beauty in a minute than you will elsewhere in an entire week. Wolgan Valley is a diamond in the rough, showcasing not just gorges carved from the red rock but a ghost town steeped in the history of shale oil mining.

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Trek along the fabulous hiking trails (try the Pipeline Pass to Paragons Lookout). And watch out for red-necked wallabies, wombats, koalas, kangaroos and more.

Top Spot: Newnes campground, at the end of Wolgan Road, is by far the best spot to camp in these parts – and it’s free. There are drop toilets, fire pits and picnic tables, but not drinking water or mobile reception. This is the wilderness as it should be!

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our adventures! Did we miss your favourite NSW national park? Tell us about it!

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