Australia National Parks
The first laws to protect the country's scenic areas were passed in Tasmania in 1863. In 1879, the Royal National Park was established south of Sydney - Australia's first, and the world's second, national park.
Since then, about 3200 national parks, conservation parks, reserves, and refuges have been set aside in Australia and Tasmania, totaling more than 40 million hectares (99 million acres), 5.3 percent of the Australian land mass. A further 38 million hectares (94 million acres) in 228 marine and estuarine areas have also been set aside.
Most Australian national parks and reserves are within easy reach of main cities and towns; access varies with the park - some are reached by road, some by air, and a few by rail. Many parks contain fragments of Aboriginal culture - paintings, burial grounds and ceremonial sites. These rare, sacred sites are protected and, in some cases, parks are owned by the Aboriginal people.
Every year, more than four million people visit Australia's national parks. As a result, almost all parks have good walking tracks and picnic spots; most allow camping in designated areas and some allow bush camps. Where camping is not allowed, suitable camping grounds or accommodation are usually nearby. Visitors also enjoy abseiling, bushwalking, botanical pursuits, and discovering Australia's colorful birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Special thanks to the Australian Tourist Commission for help with this story.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication