National Park passes explained

National Park Passes Explained

Australia might be one big country, but each state has different rules and regulations when it comes to visiting national parks and setting up for the night - and it's important to take note!

By understanding how national park passes work, and checking to see if park fees are involved, you're not only making your trip planning process much less stressful, but you might also save a dollar or two. So here's our quick state-by-state guide that will ensure you're prepared the next time you visit a national park.

New South Wales

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In NSW, 45 of the over 850 national parks require a motor vehicle entrance fee - which is generally $7 per day. That means it works out cheaper to purchase an annual pass, of which there are four options: an all parks pass ($190), multi-park pass ($65), single park pass ($22) and a country parks pass ($45). It's important to note though, that only an all parks pass includes your entry to Kosciuszko National Park.

An annual pass also doesn't include any camping or accommodation fees (which vary from park to park), landing fees, boat landing fees, and entry into museums and Discovery Centres.

Passes can be purchased online at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/annualpass or call 1300 361 967 for more information.

Northern Territory

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All visitors to Kakadu National Park require a park pass, which includes entry to the park, ranger guided walks, and access to interpretive materials like the Visit Kakadu app.

As of April 2016 a new seasonal pricing structure was introduced, making it cheaper to visit during the tropical summer months from November to March. This now means an adult pass costs $25, concession $19, child $12.50, while children 4 years and under are free. During the dry season (April to October) the prices are $40 for an adult, $30 for a concession, $20 for a child, and children 4 years and under are free.

The Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock and Olgas) has an entry fee of $25, though children 15 years and under are free. This pass is valid for three consecutive days. 

Most other national parks in the NT do not have an entry fee and only charge for camping, however, if you are driving through Aboriginal land you MUST have a land permit. Permits can take up to 10 days to be processed and approved, so ensure you plan ahead and leave time for approval to be granted.

Queensland

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There is generally no entry fee required for day trip visits to national parks in Queensland. However, if you plan a trip to Cooloola, Fraser, Moreton or Bribie Island, you will need a vehicle access permit to enter.

Camping permits are also often required if you plan on staying overnight or longer in a park or forest, and these must be obtained online, at a booking office or by phone before arrival at your destination. Fees may vary depending on your park of choice.

South Australia

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A vehicle entry fee of $10 applies when visiting all of SA’s national parks, which is reinvested into the conservation of the parks.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources offers a few different options: multi-park pass - $90; holiday pass (great for short visits) - $40; desert parks pass (when heading to the outback) - $160; Kangaroo Island pass (includes admission to Kangaroo Island tours) - $70; and a single park pass - $60. Concession rates are also available.

Passes are valid for 12 months except for the holiday pass, which is valid for two months. None cover camping, but a camping option is available with each park pass. The passes do not include camping in Naracoorte Caves National Park and Wilpena Pound Resort.

Passes can be purchased at SA’s DEC offices or online. For more info, visit www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks or call (08) 8336 0926.

Tasmania

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A park pass must be purchased for entry to national parks in Tasmania. There are three passes to choose from: daily pass ($24); holiday pass ($60); annual pass ($96); two year pass ($123). Visiting Cradle Mountain requires a separate entry fee.

The holiday pass is valid for eight weeks and seems to be the most popular option for interstate visitors, it also includes free use of the Cradle Mountain shuttle bus.

For more information, visit www.parks.tas.gov.au or call (03) 6233 2621.

Victoria

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Victoria does not charge any entry fee to visit its national parks.

Camping fees do apply, however, and they range from $28 to $60.80, depending on the popularity of the park and the level of services and facilities offered. Most sites cater for up to six people. Due to this, it is extremely vital to book ahead when planning your camping trip, as it is not unusual for campsites to completely book out, especially during peak seasons.

For more information, visit www.parkstay.vic.gov.au or call 13 19 63.

Western Australia

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Visitors to WA must pay to enter most national parks, and separate camping fees (charged per person, per night) also apply.

There are three park entry passes to choose from: day entry pass ($12); holiday pass ($44); and annual all parks pass ($88). The holiday pass is valid for four weeks. Concession rates are also available. 

Separate fees apply to Monkey Mia Reserve, which can be purchased on arrival at the park. Day entry costs $12 for an adult, $9 for a concession, and $4.50 for a child aged 4-15 years old. Month passes are also available.