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Spectacular coastal view of prime whale watching location at Cape Solander, Kurnell, in Kamay Botany Bay National Park.
Photograph: Andy Richards/NSW National Parks and Wildlife ServiceKamay Botany Bay National Park

NSW’s national parks have had a record number of visitors since the end of iso

People across the state have flocked in their thousands to the great outdoors

Written by
Maxim Boon

NSW is spoilt for choice when it comes to natural splendour, and newly released data by the state's National Parks and Wildlife Service has shown that here in NSW, we certainly don’t take that for granted. As the state has emerged from iso and movement around regional and rural areas has become less restricted, attendance of the state’s many national parks has boomed, proving that a little time out in nature really is the best blues buster.

The latest figures show that stays in campgrounds across the state in July were up by more than a third compared to the same month in 2019. Thousands of Sydneysiders have also been getting their steps in, the release reveals, with visits to the beautiful Hermitage foreshore track overlooking Sydney Harbour more than doubling in the period between March to June: 106,479 visitors, compared to 43,560 last year.

The National Parks on Sydney’s fringes received the most significant boosts in attendance, especially at the many harbour and ocean lookouts. The West Head at Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and Barrenjoey Head on the Northern Beaches peninsula both had in excess of 60 per cent more visits year on year over the March to June quarter. Henry Head in Kamay Botany Bay National Park was also a crowd pleasure over the same period, receiving a new record number of sightseers over the same period.

This surge in visits is a welcome boon for the national parks and the businesses that rely on the tourism they attract. In August last year, visits to NSW’s 870 national parks reached record highs, topping 60 million annual visitors for the first time. However, since that peak was reported, last summer’s devastating bushfire disaster followed in short order by the state’s travel shutdown in response to the health crisis have all but hollowed out the economies of tourism-centric destinations across the state. With the closure of both NSW’s northern and southern border in the past week, the recovery of these struggling communities has once again been thrown into doubt. An increase in domestic tourism within NSW, driven by the state's wealth of natural beauty, is some positive news in an otherwise bleak forecast as Australia heads into the peak season of spring and summer.

Wondering where you can get your nature fix? Visit one of the seven best national parks within 100km of Sydney.

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