Great Australian Hikes
Australia has an incredibly rich diversity when it comes to natural beauty, local wildlife and outdoor adventure. As a country we're spoiled for choice - golden beaches, lush tropical rainforests, arid outback deserts and dense bushland in equal abundance across the land. Keen hikers are the ones that really benefit from this variety of environments, with an array of walking tracks that weave in and around these settings on offer. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of great Australian hikes to inspire you to lace up your boots and hit the trails this season.
Arguably Australia's most well-known trail, the Larapinta is an extended walking track that stretches 223 kilometres through the Northern Territory. It runs east to west from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder, and follows the West MacDonnell Ranges along the ridge line and down on the plains in the West MacDonnell National Park. Well-marked with notice boards detailing each of its 12 sections, hikers are best to make the journey - which can take between 12-14 days - during winter when temperatures are cooler (in summer, it can reach upward of 45°C). Along the way, be sure to spend some time at Simpson's Gap, Serpentine Gorge and Ormiston Pound as well as taking in the spectacular nightly outback star show.
The Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory stretches 223km from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder. (Image courtesy of Tourism Northern Territory)
Tasmania's Overland Track is a 65km bushwalk that winds through Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It is managed and maintained by Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife, with a series of public huts available for rest stops. Most trekkers take five to six days to complete the journey through terrain that includes glacial mountains, rainforest, rapid rivers and alpine plains. Temperatures can drop to below 0°C in winter, with snowfall common especially in the middle of the year. Local flora and fauna is abundant - the eagle-eyed may spot echidnas, Tasmanian devils, wombats and quolls - while side visits along the shores of Lake St Clair, the summit of Cradle Mountain and Mount Ossa, and the lookout of The Labyrinth are recommended.
A mix of alpine plains, lush rainforest and glacial mountains makes the Overland Track in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area a must-see. (Image courtesy of Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service)
Traversing the Darling Range in Western Australia, this famous track runs just over 1,000km from Kalamunda in the east of Perth to Albany. 58 well-marked sections take hikers through state forest and national parks, farmland, and coastal forest and scrub in the south. Most visitors opt for single day trips or small multi-day treks, but for the hardcore, each section takes about a day to complete so you're looking at approximately 6 to 8 weeks if you want to go the full distance. Wildflower season (September to November) is popular, as are highlights such as Mundaring Weir, the Murray River Valley, Karri forests between Donnelly River and Denmark, and the Tingle forest near Walpole.
58 sections and 1,200-kilometre long, the Bibbulmun Track, Western Australia is a hiker's dream. (Image courtesy of Tourism WA)
Lamington National Park
This national park is situated on the Queensland/New South Wales border and lies on the Lamington Plateau of the McPherson Range. It makes up the northern portion of the 23-million-year-old Tweed Volcano and is flush with rainforests, birdlife, waterfalls and scenic mountain views. There are more than 150km of walking tracks, accessible mostly from Binna Burra and Green Mountain, although avid adventurers may want to take on the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk. Elabana Falls and Morans Falls are also features. In 2009, Lamington National Park was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland as a 'natural attraction'.
Lamington National Park in south-east Queensland is home to the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk. (Image courtesy of Destination Gold Coast)
Great Ocean Walk
The Great Ocean Walk courses along the majestic coastline for more than 100km of the Great Ocean Road. Setting off from Apollo Bay, it offers 104km of trails through Victoria's national parks, rainforests and seashores to the iconic Twelve Apostles where it ends. It takes around eight days to complete, with opportunities to see wildlife and the breathtaking coastal landscapes along the way.
The Great Ocean Walk piggybacks the Great Ocean Road, one of Victoria's most popular visit spots. (Image courtesy of Visit Victoria)
At 2,228 metres, Mount Kosciuszko is Australia's tallest mountain. One of the seven summits, it is located on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. The 14km loop from Thredbo to the summit and back takes about five hours, weather pending, with trekkers encountering snow, high winds and rainfall at times. December through to March is popular when the alpine wildflowers are in bloom.
Head to the top of Australia via the Kosciuszko Summit Walk in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. (Image courtesy of Visit NSW)
Six Foot Track
If you're up for a challenge, the Six Foot Track is a three-day, 44km one-way trail leading from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves in New South Wales. Criss-crossing through state forests and the Blue Mountains National Park, expect to see heritage sites, waterfalls and valley views, before finishing at the limestone Jenolan Caves. There is a lot of history attached to this former horse track.
The Six Foot Track is an old horse track that traverses the Blue Mountains National Park in New South Wales. (Image courtesy of Visit NSW)
Connecting Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges to Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula is the 1,200-kilometre long Heysen Trail. Many walkers choose smaller sections of the track for overnighters or multi-day treks, but the full distance can be completed in around 60 days. Cliffs, natural bushland, vineyards, farmland and coastal areas are crossed as it winds its way from the inland to the ocean. Highlights along the way include the stunning Wilpena Pound, the famous Barossa Valley and Mount Lofty.
Wilpena Pound on the Heysen Trail, South Australia. (Image courtesy of Walking SA)
Images courtesy of:
Tourism Northern Territory
- Website https://northernterritory.com/
Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service
- Website https://parks.tas.gov.au/
Destination Gold Coast
- Website https://www.visitvictoria.com/
- Website https://www.visitnsw.com/
- Website https://www.walkingsa.org.au/