More than 200 Queensland national parks provide visitors often unrivaled views of natural attractions, an insight into Australia's unique ecological environment, and a place for active and passive recreation. No wonder, they are among the country's most visited outdoor sites.
Some of these national parks are close to population centers and easily accessible while others may be in more remote regions and require hours of driving.
Queensland's top 10 national parks are here listed alphabetically.
This is probably the remotest Queensland national park in this list if you're starting off in Brisbane. Boodjamulla National Park is 340 kilometers northwest of Mount Isa in Outback Queensland and 1837 kilometers from the state capital, Brisbane. Previously known as Lawn Hill National Park and located in the state's remote northwest highlands, Boodjamula is reputed to be one of Queensland's most scenic national parks, featuring spectacular gorges, sandstone ranges, and fossils from the past. Camping is available at Lawn Hill Gorge and there are walking tracks of various distances and degrees of difficulty for those wishing to hike into the bush.
From Mount Isa, one of the easier ways to get to the park is on the Barkly Highway, then through Burke & Wills Roadhouse on an unsealed road, which may become impassable during the wet season. Check at visitor centers and with park rangers for the condition of roads into the park.
Bunya Mountains National Park
The world's largest stand of ancient bunya pines is to be found in Bunya Mountains National Park where you'll discover not only rainforests and range-top grasslands but also panoramic views, waterfalls, and colorful birdlife. This Queensland national park is some 200 kilometers or three hours' drive northwest of Brisbane. Steep and winding roads comprise the final mountain ascent.
There are several routes to Bunya Mountains National Park from different Queensland locations. One route from Brisbane is via the Ipswich Motorway, then Warriego Highway, west to Toowoomba. Continue to the town of Jondaryan and turn right towards the Bunya Mountains. At Maclagan, turn left and follow the signs to the Bunya Mountains. About 2 kilometers of this road is gravel.
Carnarvon National Park
In the rugged ranges of the state's central highlands, Carnarvon Gorge in Carnarvon National Park features steep towering sandstone cliffs, strikingly colored side gorges, a variety of Australian plants, flowers and wildlife, and Aboriginal rock art.
The park is about 720 kilometers northwest of Brisbane between the towns of Roma and Emerald. From Brisbane, head west to Toowoomba and take the Warriego Highway through Dalby all the way to Roma. Head north on Carnarvon Highway through the town of Injune towards Emerald. Leave the highway at Springsure and follow the signs to Carnarvon Gorge.
Part of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics of Queensland, Daintree National Park lies north of Cairns. Popular park destinations are Mossman Gorge, beginning just 80 kilometers from Cairns, and Cape Tribulation along the coast a further 30 kilometers away. This is an area of gorges and vast stands of rainforest with ancient plants and rare flora and fauna.
To get to Mossman Gorge. head north from Cairns on the Cook Highway and take the exit to Mossman Gorge just before the town of Mossman. Continue on Cook Highway if heading to Cape Tribulation and take the ferry at the Daintree River crossing. Some roads within the park, particularly the unsealed road north from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield, are suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles.
The highest permanent single-drop waterfall in Australia, Wallaman Falls, is to be found in Girringun National Park. Other popular sections of the national park are Blencoe Falls, Mount Fox, and Dalrymple Gap track.
Access to the various sections of Girringun National Park is via the Bruce Highway between the towns of Ingham and Cardwell north of Townsville. Wallaman Falls is some 51 kilometers, and Mount Fox some 75 kilometers, southwest of Ingham. Blencoe Falls is about 84 kilometers northwest, and Dalrymple Gap about 13 kilometers south, of Cardwell.
Queensland's Great Sandy National Park is divided into two sections, one along the coast from Noosa Heads to Rainbow Beach and the other in the world's largest sand island, Fraser Island, a World Heritage site. The coastal Cooloola section features the Cooloola Great Walk, a five-day walking track, and the Fraser Island section includes the 90-kilometre Fraser Island Great Walk. Whale watching, fishing, diving, bushwalking and four-wheel-drive touring are among the park's many activities.
Access to both sections of Great Sandy National Park requires four-wheel-drive vehicles, with two-wheel-drive access limited to the outer extremities of the Cooloola section. Vehicle access to Fraser Island is by barge from Inskip Point, 15 minutes from Rainbow Beach; and River Heads east of Maryborough.
Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage site, Lamington National Park, some 110 kilometers south of Brisbane, features not only rainforests and ancient trees but also scenic vistas, waterfalls, walking tracks and a variety of flora and fauna. Within the park is located O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat which provides accommodation and a variety of rainforest activities.
Lamington National Park is conveniently accessed from the Gold Coast west through the town of Nerang and onto Lamington National Park Rd.
Noosa National Park, 160 kilometers north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast, is one of the more accessible Queensland national parks, particularly for those holidaying in Noosa and its environs. It's actually a relatively short walk from Noosa town center to the national park headland entrance. The park features picturesque coastal scenery and is a refuge for native wildlife including the koala, glossy black cockatoo, ground parrot and the vulnerable species of wallum froglet.
The headland section of Noosa National Park is within walking distance of Noosa's popular Hastings St through Park Rd. Other park sections may be accessed through Noosa Heads, Coolum, and Peregian.
Springbrook National Park comprises four sections — Springbrook, Mount Cougal, Natural Bridge and Numinbah — some 100 kilometers south of Brisbane. This park is a place of forests and mountain streams, spectacular waterfalls, and walking tracks of various lengths and degrees of difficulty. It is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage site.
The Springbrook and Natural Bridge sections can be accessed from the towns of Mudgeeraba or Nerang; the Numinbah section through Nerang and north of the Natural Bridge section on the Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd; and the Mount Cougal section from Currumbin on the Currumbin Valley Rd to its end. It is best to have a map for these national park access options.
This Queensland national park comprises 32 continental islands 25 kilometers east of Airlie Beach which lies just south of Bowen. A major feature is the world-famous Whitehaven Beach of pure white sand and crystal clear waters. There are a number of secluded beaches, fringing coral reefs, and tall swaying palms to complete the picture of an idyllic tropical paradise. Camping is allowed in the park for which a permit must be secured.
Access to Whitsunday Islands National Park is by private or commercial boat from either Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour. Flights to the Whitsundays' Hamilton Island are available.