As summer heats up, national parks in NSW are preparing for a busier season than usual and expect visitors to boost regional economies during their stay.
However, only wildlife will be on the move in many national parks on the NSW South Coast and some further inland where 40 per cent remain closed due to bushfire and flood damage.
Clyde River National Park, Conjola National Park and Bermaguee Nature Reserve are among the 16 parks (see the full list below) that closed after the Black Summer bushfires and floods in early 2020 and are yet to reopen.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has been busy carrying out repairs to reopen the parks ever since.
Work on the trails in Mares Forest National Park, near Wombeyan, recently finished and the park reopened on 1 December. This is welcome news for bushwalkers eager to get back outdoors. Some damaged signs remain but these will be replaced during the coming weeks.
However, the damage will take longer to clear in other parks. Many trails, lookouts and camping grounds remain off-limits in parks that are open, such as Deua National Park.
This summer will provide a chance for Aussies to explore parks in some of the lesser known areas, especially after NPWS advised that bookings at its popular campsites were soaring before the Christmas holidays.
“These holidays will be unlike any before, with many people holidaying domestically this year and NSW national parks are the state’s home of nature-based tourism,” said NPWS visitor experience director Julie Bishop.
Why not check out some hidden gems in Abercrombie River National Park and Murrumbidgee Valley National Park – both are within a three-and-a-half hour drive of Canberra.
Ms Bishop also said demand for accommodation is strong across NSW. However, no booking means no holiday this year under the current COVID-19 restrictions.
People must book camping and accommodation ahead of their arrival and the current COVID-19 rules for public gatherings and social distancing apply to all activities in the parks.
From 1 December, the NSW Government increased the number of people who can gather outdoors in a public space – which includes public parks, reserves, beaches and public gardens – from 30 to 50.
That means more families and friends can get together during the Christmas and New Year break.
Ms Bishop predicts visitors to national parks will bring billions of dollars into regional areas.
“In 2018, park tourism and management expenditure contributed $17.85 billion in total economic output and supported 74,280 direct and indirect jobs,” she said. “A boom for park visitation is a boom for regional economies.”
The latest information on camping and accommodation in NSW national parks is available here.
National parks closed in southeast NSW due to significant bushfire damage:
- Araluen Nature Reserve
- Badja Swamps Nature Reserve
- Berlang State Conservation Area
- Bermaguee Nature Reserve
- Biamanga National Park
- Clyde River National Park
- Conjola National Park
- Frogs Hole Nature Reserve
- Gourock National Park
- Illawong Nature Reserve
- Kooraban National Park
- Majors Creek State Conservation Area
- Monga National Park
- Murrah Flora Reserves
- Wadbilliga National Park
- Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve