The New England High Country is chock-a-block with national parks that are crammed full of natural wonders and well worth the trip.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the many Countries on which these adventures take place. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


From secluded wild swims to multi day hikes through Gondwana World Heritage Rainforest, the New England High Country is a zone for adventurous souls.

These six national parks feature more trails, gorges, waterfalls, and campgrounds than you’ll ever achieve in one trip (challenge accepted?) and showcase environments unlike anywhere else on earth.

Before visiting, don’t forget to pre-book any NSW National Park campgrounds, pre-pay any entry fees where it’s needed (or grab an annual pass) and remember to leave no trace.

1. Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

Apsley Falls

Dunghutti Country

Distance from Walcha: 19.5km, 15 minutes
Why: Sunrise, Sunset, Walk, Lookout, Waterfall

Apsley Falls is something else entirely. You drive through rolling hills and arrive to discover a gorge so vast and expansive it’s a little bit mind bending. You can view the 65-metre-high gorge from the campsite but for the best 360-degree views, hit the Oxley Walk or the Gorge Rim Circuit.

The gorge has eroded over millions of years thanks to natural forces like water, gravity, wind, ice, and temperature, to name a few.

Walking the Gorge Rim circuit, you can see the grazing country you drove by to get here; you’ll probably wonder how you didn’t fall off the edge (which isn’t likely or possible, but the adrenaline of possibility is present nonetheless).

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The spectacular view of Apsley Falls from the Gorge Rim Circuit

As for the area itself, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park is home to part of The Green Gully Track. This circuit track is a 65km hike beginning and ending at Kunderang Trail.

It takes approximately 4-5 days to complete and ventures deep into the Apsley-Macleay gorges, sleeping in historic stockman’s huts along the way. Bookings are essential with NSW National Parks.

Budds Mare

Dunghutti country

Distance from Walcha: 44.1km, 45 minutes
Why: Sunrise, Sunset, Lookout

When in the Walcha region, Budds Mare is the spot for sunrise. There is 6km of unsealed road which is manageable in a 2WD in dry weather, but you’ll be doing it slowly. Here, a slow trip is the way to go, as you’ll undoubtedly be greeted by roos and sheep, and even (in our case) escorted by rabbits to your destination.

The site itself looks onto the Apsley River Gorge, and for you naturalists out there, Budds Mare is the ecotone between dry rainforest and eucalypt forest. For sunrise, you’ll likely have the place to yourself – no better spot to welcome the day.

Dangars Falls

Anaiwan Country

Distance from Armidale: 17.2km, 18 minutes
Distance from Uralla: 30.6km, 26 minutes
Why: Walk, Hike, Lookout, Swim

Much like Apsley Falls, Dangars Falls has been carved from millions of years of erosion; there’s a heck of a lot of sedimentary rock here. The lookdown is only 800m from the car park and beyond that, there are a ton of hikes to get stuck into.

If you’re looking for a swim, you’ll hike the 7.2km Salisbury Waters route. On your way, keep your eyes peeled for Spotted-Tail quoll, Peregrine falcons, and Yellow-Spotted Bell frogs. Reception is sketchy, so pack snacks and plenty of water.

Read more: Underrated Gorges, Epic Hikes, & Wild Swims Along the Waterfall Way

Gara Gorge

Anaiwan Country

Distance from Armidale: 19.9km, 22 minutes
Why: Hike, Swim

Gara Gorge is arguably the most family-friendly location to appear on this list. The water is fresh but shallow so it’s an ideal spot for a picnic day with small kids. For deeper bodies of water, simply walk a short distance to the Blue Hole.


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Beautiful views at Gara Gorge


The gorge is surrounded by a 5.5km track. Any time after 9am, the sun has some sting so slip slop slap and perhaps invest in a spiderweb management stick (or marvel at their grandeur, your call).

Read more: Underrated Gorges, Epic Hikes, & Wild Swims Along the Waterfall Way

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Take a dip at the Blue Hole

2. Kwiambal National Park

Macintyre Falls

Kamilaroi Country

Distance from Inverell: 88.6km, 1 hour, 10 minutes
Why: Swim, Climb, Waterfall

Here’s a place to bring a fat picnic. Macintyre Falls is only a short walk from the car park, with two lookout options: main and beach.

The main lookout is on the way to the ‘beach’ access. You’re greeted by towering boulders, big flat rocks (for picnics and tanning), and a large body of water fit for bomb dives.


ARM002 Natural Wonders: A Guide to New England’s Best National Parks, Constance Allen, person diving into Macintyre Falls in Kwiambal national park

Dive into the refreshing pool at Macintyre Falls


Beware: Some rocks are mossy (a lesson I learned the hard way), but the water is worth the slippery entry … and it’s surprisingly warm. At 8am, the falls were deserted so that’s as good an excuse as any to embrace nature’s echoes.

Read more: How to Stay Safe Around Swimming Holes and Waterfalls

3. Gibraltar Range National Park

Boundary Falls

Ngoorabul Country

Distance from Glen Innes: 61.3km, 42 minutes
Why: Swim, Atmosphere

This family-friendly waterfall is accessible via a 400m walk from Boundary Falls Campground. The Gibraltar Range is 1170m above sea level so as you can imagine, the water is chilly as.

Boundary Falls, surrounded by a dense and green forest, feels out of place in remote New South Wales and is more like what you might see in Far North Queensland.


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Find serenity at Boundary Falls

Raspberry Lookout

Ngoorabul Country

Distance from Glen Innes: 61km, 41 minutes
Why: Sunset, Sunrise

Just a two-minute drive from Boundary Falls campground is Raspberry Lookout, a place to park up for a sunrise or get a gorgeous hue at sunset.

Raspberry Lookout is a prime scene to birdwatch, bask beside blooming Guinea flowers, and observe the unbelievable granite rock formations that have weathered over millions of years. Also, here’s a bold idea: pack some raspberries … it’d be rude not to.

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The views from Raspberry Lookout are worth it!

Lyrebird Walking Track

Ngoorabul Country

Distance from Glen Innes: 61.6km, 42 minutes
Why: Walk, Lookout

The Lyrebird walk leads to a lookout that is humble and delightful. There are views of smaller waterfalls scattered amongst the forest. The walk is an ideal early morning activity for when you might be sluggish and not up for an iron-man hike.

Duffer Falls

Ngoorabul Country

Distance from Glen Innes: 68.9km, 45 minutes
Why: Hike, Waterfall, View

If favourites are allowed, Duffer Falls is a shoe-in. The Duffer Falls hiking track starts from Boundary Falls campground and it’s a 7km return trip.

Depending on your fitness, you should allocate between 1.5-3 hours for the hike alone. As Gibraltar is effectively in the clouds, you’ll need to bring a raincoat and prepare for an uneven gravel track littered with puddles (highly recommend stomping in them).

When you reach Duffer Falls you’re rewarded with incredible forest views and the placid sounds of a waterfall. The following instructions are recommended only for nitty-gritty explorers: there’s a steep path down the hillside to reach the waterfall.


ARM002 Natural Wonders: A Guide to New England’s Best National Parks, Constance Allen, Gibraltar range national park, swimming hole

Duffer Falls requires some rock scrambling but don’t worry….it’s worth it


To do so, you won’t need abseiling equipment, but you will need a reliable set of feet and free hands to balance on necessary trees and rocks. The water is fresh and delicious, and the view? Well, it’s worth the risk, but take it carefully!

4. Torrington State Conservation Area: Blatherarm National Park

Thunderbolts Lookout

Kamilaroi Country

Distance from Torrington: 1.5km, 4 minutes
Why: Sunset, Sunrise, Hike, Lookout

This lookout is best for travellers who love a heart starter. The walking track is a 2km return and it’s listed as a medium grade, but this grade won’t make a lot of sense until you reach the rock formation at the peak of the walk.

Bear with me here – the large rocks at this summit appear to be Thunderbolts Lookout. But – and this isn’t made obvious by signs – if you slip through the space between two of the largest rocks, you’ll find yourself in a cavernous paradise.

The cave is quite dark but, spoiler alert, it leads to scattered rocks, followed by boulder staircases, and eventually a ladder. The ladder leads to a platform granting 360-degree panoramic views of Torrington State Conservation Area. While tantalising at any time of day, Thunderbolts has golden hour written all over it.


Thunderbolts lookout

Nothing beats a sunrise at Thunderbolts Lookout

Ugly Corner Falls

Kamilaroi Country

Distance from Torrington: 10.8km, 15 minutes
Why: Hike, Atmosphere

Let’s put aside this unfortunate and cruel name because Ugly Corner Falls is serene and surrounded by Torrington wattle. It’s incredibly isolated and drier than a lot of falls in the New England region, so although it’s best viewed after rain, don’t count this fella out.

Ugly Corner Falls’ tranquillity is almost hypnotic. The rocks at the falls are uneven so keep a fair distance from the edge. The hike there is all downhill so prepare for a harrowing hike back. And by that I mean: allow for around 15 minutes there and 20 minutes back.

5. Bald Rock National Park

Bald Rock

Ngarabal Country

Distance from Tenterfield: 28.6km, 23 minutes
Why: Sunrise, Sunset, Hike, Views

This ‘little’ guy sits north of Tenterfield and just below the Queensland border which passes over rock’s western side. Bald Rock is Australia’s largest granite monolith (single block) rising 200m around the surrounding bush.

You’ve got two options as to how you’re going to reach the summit. You can scale the rock face or you can hike the 3.2km loop.


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Rewarding views from the top of Bald Rock


The track itself is a bit deceptive to be honest because the views are pretty spectacular throughout. They’re so consistently good that you’ll find yourself thinking, ‘This is it, I’ve reached the summit!’ only to discover no, you have not, as more white dots stretch out in front of you.

Once you get to the top, the summit is just … wow. You can see both New South Wales and Queensland and a smorgasbord of mountains and locations that are significant to both states. Depending summer rain, mozzies can be annoying, so spray accordingly.

Read more: A Weekend in Tenterfield: Where to Stay, Adventure, and Eat

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Sunrise at Bald Rock is definitely worth it

6. Boonoo Boonoo National Park

Boonoo Boonoo Falls

Ngarabal Country

Distance from Tenterfield: 33.8km, 37 minutes
Why: Walk, Swim, Waterfalls

This is a pack-a-picnic joint. You’ve got several different lookouts scattered to show off the various views of the park. The highlights of course, are the swimming holes and waterfalls.


ARM002 Natural Wonders: A Guide to New England’s Best National Parks, Constance Allen Boonoo Falls, still swimming hole

Splash around at Boonoo Boonoo Falls


Water holes near Cypress Pine campground are large enough for accessories, so don’t be afraid to bring your stand-up paddleboard!

Quite spectacularly, Boonoo Boonoo is home to Red-Tailed Black cockatoos. These birdies are under threat nationally; it’s a real treat to see them out and about, thriving together. If the preservation of national parks weren’t incentive enough, the presence of Black cockatoos is the all-important reminder to leave no trace.

7. Sections 7 & 8 of the National Trail

Ever heard of the National Trail? The 5330 kilometre route runs from Cooktown in Queensland to Healesville in Victoria along the Great Dividing Range.

The trail is multi-use, so you could encounter cyclists, people on horseback and even ultra-runners while you’re out there.

Sections 7 & 8 run through New England High Country and links some of the best locations mentioned in this article.

Traversing the region self-supported on bike or foot you’ll pass through Oxley Wild Rivers, Mummel Gulf, Werrikimbe, New England, Gibraltar Range, Washpool and Guy Fawkes. You can find out more about the route on its website.

FAQs New England National Parks

Will I have reception?

Chances are, no you won’t. Your best bet is to download offline Google Maps, All Trails, Avenza maps or similar, and if you’re feeling vintage, a physical map.

Can I camp at any of these locations?

Most of these spots offer onsite campgrounds. Prices vary so check out the NSW National Parks website and for a comprehensive list you can read more here.


New England High Country Natural Wonders

It’s safe to say New England has some pretty epic national parks. Looking to plan a road trip to the region? We’ve got you covered with the New England High Country’s best road trips.