With breathtaking bushwalks, pristine waterways and unforgettable stays, you won’t want to miss these New South Wales national parks.

Hike a sub-alpine wonderland

Wildflowers, Snowy Mountains, NSW

An exhilarating three-hour trek through thickets of towering alpine ash, enormous boulders and heath dotted with silver snow daisies, the new Guthega to Charlotte Pass walk will lure even the most hardcore winter sports fans back to Kosciuszko National Park in the warmer months. The trail, snowbound in winter, offers sublime views of the subalpine landscape and a carpet of wildflowers come summertime.

The nine-kilometre, one-way trail skirts the Snowy River, flush with shimmering snow melt, before crossing the suspension bridge over Spencers Creek (Australia’s highest at 1627 metres above sea level), climbing to Charlotte Pass and rewarding visitors with phenomenal views of snow-dusted peaks and the Perisher Valley below. Post-hike, unwind in the Japanese-inspired onsen at Cedar Cabin, a minimalist Airbnb in Thredbo village.

Spot a bandicoot after dark

Close up of possum in tree, Wait a White Rainforest Tours

It’s not unusual to see a mob of kangaroos bounding through the bush during the day at Nightcap National Park, an hour’s drive from Byron Bay. It’s once darkness descends, though, that bandicoots, pademelons, micro bats and tawny frogmouth owls emerge, making it prime time to head out on a two-hour expedition with Vision Walks Eco-Tours.

Don a pair of military-grade night-vision goggles and follow an environmental scientist into the pitch-black rainforest, keeping your eyes peeled for nocturnal wildlife. The adventure wraps with a hot chocolate under the stars and a transfer back to town, where a plush king-sized bed at Elements of Byron awaits.

New South Wales is home to 870 national parks and reserves, some of them just a stone’s throw from the city. Find great deals on flights to Sydney now at qantas.com

Sleep in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage

Montague Island, Narooma, NSW

For solitude, it doesn’t get much more remote than a windswept weekend on Montague Island. Sitting nine kilometres off Narooma on the south coast and accessible only by boat, the rugged nature reserve is home to the Head Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage, dating back to 1881. The bright-white granite building boasts unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean and coastline; inside there’s a fully-equipped kitchen and five bedrooms decked out in period decor; a smaller lodge nearby sleeps an additional six people. Look out for lolling fur seals and little penguins on the 1.5-kilometre Montague Island walking track and settle into a wicker armchair on the wide verandah – if you're lucky, you might even see whales passing in spring. Don’t forget to check the NSW National Parks website for safety updates ahead of your arrival.

Go stargazing with an astrophysicist

Nights can get chilly at the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, but astrophysicist Dimitri Douchin provides cosy blankets on a 90-minute Stargazing Tour. Learn to identify constellations in the sky with the naked eye, then glimpse the celestial bodies that make up the Orion Nebula through a professional-grade telescope and see Saturn’s rings and the moons of Jupiter.

Chalets at Blackheath, NSW

After an evening of shooting stars and distant planets, retire to Chalets at Blackheath. Set on the outskirts of the national park, this eco-conscious enterprise of four freestanding chalets offers guests sweeping bush vistas and starry nights around the campfire.

Whether you’re stargazing or animal-spotting, nighttime is guaranteed to thrill in New South Wales. Get great deals on flights to Sydney now at qantas.com

Kayak through the Royal National Park

Bundeena Kayaks, NSW

With its dramatic sandstone cliffs and 16,000 hectares of wild bushland, the Bundeena and the Royal National Park is a nature lover’s paradise – and it’s just an hour's drive south of Sydney’s CBD. Spend a day gliding through the clear waters of Port Hacking with Bundeena Kayaks. Depending on the tide, a three-hour round-trip might include a visit to near-deserted Jibbon Beach, yellow-tailed black cockatoo sightings in Gooseberry Bay or floating down the eucalypt-lined creek to Cabbage Tree Basin. No matter the route, you’ll have plenty of time to stop for a tea break and swim before paddling back to the Bonnie Vale Picnic Grounds.

Blue Mountains National Park, NSW

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SEE ALSO: Why the Tweed Valley is Your New Dream Holiday Destination

Image credit: DNSW, Eurobodalla Coast Tourism (Montague Island), Josh Falls (Chalets at Blackheath)

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