Five must-visit conservation areas

Australia has an abundance of national parks and conservations areas which offer the perfect opportunity to escape the grind of everyday life. Whether you enjoy being by the sea, at one with the tropical rainforest or are invigorated by a mountain climb, these top five spots are far enough off the beaten track to leave your cares behind.

Munmorah State Conservation Area

As part of the Sydney Basin, Munmorah State Conservation Area is easily accessible to those travelling through NSW, but the pristine surf beaches and craggy coastlines make it a paradise for those who enjoy swimming, surfing fishing and bushwalking.

If visiting in the winter, be sure to take your binoculars, as the passing whales are a sight not to be missed. And if you’re an avid bird watcher, some of the species which pass through on their migratory route come from as far as Japan and China, making this idyllic spot a must-see.

There are two campgrounds in the park to choose from, Fraser and Freemans. Fraser campground is close to Fraser beach, which is popular for fishing, diving and surfing, and is patrolled during the Easter and Christmas school holidays.  A short walk from Birdie Beach is Freemans campground, with well-established trees which offer good, natural shade in the sunnier months.

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Musselroe Bay Conservation Area

If you’re looking for remote and untouched, then head south to Tasmania to Mt William National Park. Nestled in the north east of the park is Musselroe Bay, with white sandy beaches totally at the mercy of the elements. The narrow tracks mean that not all areas are easily accessible for camper and trailers, but it does mean that only those truly committed to experiencing the area’s natural beauty are inclined to make the trip.

With numerous bays, beaches and lagoons to choose from, swimming, snorkelling and diving are popular water sports, but fishing is perhaps one of the more-favoured activities.

If water isn’t quite your thing, then there are plenty of coastal walks to choose from, but be careful to check the weather before you set out, as it can be unforgiving.

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Mount Remarkable National Park

Remarkable by name, remarkable by nature, this is one conservation area which truly lives up to the hype. Although popular for bush walking and camping, the local wildlife is only too happy to get in on the act, making it the prefect spot to get to know Australia’s well-loved creatures, including a colony of yellow-footed rock-wallabies.

Autumn and spring are the best seasons to visit the park, when the milder weather makes it more comfortable to get out and about and the vegetation and wildlife is thriving.

Located 45km north of Port Pirie, walking access is provided via Melrose, which lies at the foot of the mountain. For those looking to camp, Mambray Creek offers pitches, but fire restrictions are in place during the summer months.

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Churchill Island

Offering a more nine to five visitor experience than traditional conservation areas, Churchill Island is great for those who may be trying to entertain younger children, or for whom the remoteness of other conservation areas doesn’t appeal. As part of Phillip Island’s nature parks, the emphasis is quite clearly on the local sea life, mainly the renowned fairy penguins, however, the heritage farm does offer an alternative.

As well as meeting the Clydesdale horses and Highland cattle, you can get a sense of what it takes to keep a farm going, with sheep shearing, cow milking and working dog displays to keep you occupied. Churchill Island is accessible via the bridge from Philip Island and, as well as being open to cars, public transport is also available.

If farms and penguins are not of interest, the bush and wetland walks can easily be completed in one to two hours, depending on the walk. And if it’s your first time in the area, don’t forget to take in the penguin parade on the main island, although you may see a few of the little fellas as you walk around.

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Cape Hillsborough National Park

When it comes to options, Cape Hillsborough offers just about everything you could think of, from rainforest to sandy beaches, rocky coastline and volcanic formations. Located 50km north of Mackay on Queensland’s central coast, the park is great for bushwalking and camping, and with a marine park located nearby, it offers something for everyone.

Located so close to Mackay, the weather is pleasant all year round, however, extreme conditions, such as cyclones, may occur between November and March, so it’s worthwhile considering the time of year you choose to visit.

While basic camping is available at Smalley’s Beach campsite, you can stay opt to stay in cabin-style accommodation at Cape Hillsborough, or there is also private rental accommodation available at Seaforth.

There are several trains, which take from 40 minutes to two hours to complete, and which offer the perfect opportunity to experience the diverse habitats protected by the rugged landscape. For those truly experienced campers and bushwalkers, nearby Pioneer Peaks, Mount Martin, Mount Ossa and Reliance Creek offer the chance to truly go bush, with no facilities!

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Where do you like to go to escape? Is there a conservation areas or national park you think tops them all?

Written by Debbie McTaggart