16 Hikes Around Australia You Need to Tackle Right Now
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Did you know Australia is one of the world’s greatest hiking destinations? With room to spare and a diverse landscape, Australia offers every type of hike from the mountainous hinterland to traversing through the red outback and walking from beach to beach. Some are more difficult than others, especially in the more remote parts of the country.
Although every hike is doable. All you need is a sense of adventure and a day or two to traverse Australia’s greatest hikes.
Lace up your boots, and strap on a backpack, these are the best hikes you can tackle in Australia.
New South Wales and ACT
Figure 8 Pools
Royal National Park
The aptly named Figure 8 Pools are both bizarre and beautiful. The crystal-clear rock pools fill with ocean water at low tide, drawing visitors from all over the world for their unique shape. The hike to the pools is not for the faint of heart. You have to plan ahead, to ensure you get there when the tide is right, as most of the time, the pools are underwater. It’s a 6-kilometre walk on a steep, narrow and slippery track, which takes around 4-5 hours each way. You need to aim to get there before midday and walk back up before it gets dark. The park gates get locked by 8:30 pm. Although this hike is tough, it’s also rewarding in the end. Be prepared and understand the rock shelf is only visible at low tide. Waves are notorious for crashing on the shelf at times, so take care at all times.
Lord Howe Island
As far as great walks go, it doesn’t get any greater than the Mount Gower hike on Lord Howe Island. This gruelling 8-hour hike is only accessible with a guide and takes you up a volcanic remnant standing 875 metres tall. Hikers traverse across the mountain’s rugged terrain, encountering the island’s rarest plants and wildlife along the way. The exhilarating part, and hardest part of the hike, is the rope-assisted climbs, which are met with dizzying drops. Once you climb your way to the top, the view will make you forget about the last four hours. You can see as far as the ocean stretches, not to mention the island from end to end. It’s a sight from a Jurassic Park movie, but in reality, it’s Australia’s greatest hike, and definitely, one to add to the bucket list.
Gibraltar Peak Walk
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
There are more than 20 walking trails within this nature sanctuary, but the best track for adventure-seekers is the one that leads straight to the top of Gibraltar Peak. The Gibraltar Peak walking trail stretches through 8.2 kilometres of rough bushland and will take approximately three to four hours return. It’s a popular spot, so plan to get there mid-morning or later in the afternoon. Be on the lookout for a mob of kangaroos grazing peacefully and a few other wildlife on the track. There is a picnic table at the halfway point if you want to stop to refuel or simply need to take a breather. For the best view, carefully climb up to the slightly higher rock ridge, and follow the small trail to the higher lookout area. It’s worth it.
Canberra Centenary Trail
For a multi-day hike, the Canberra Centenary Trail is a 145-kilometre self-guided loop trail, that’s sure to give you a sense of adventure. In the summer, expect shedding eucalyptus and snow in some parts of winter. It takes seven days to trek the trail, although a lack of camping opportunities means hikers complete it in segments. Along the way, you will shift between urban and rural environments, including passing by iconic sites and hidden treasures. Despite its length, the trail is accessible and only marked as a moderate hike. There’s a less than 10 per cent gradient, making it a fairly easy walk.
Victoria and Tasmania
Tongue Point Walk
The Tongue Point Walk is one of the most beautiful one-day tracks inside ‘The Prom.’ Begin at the Darby River car park before venturing onto the 10-kilometre trail. Follow the side track down to Fairy Cove to find a secluded spot to stop and admire the natural surrounds. You will also walk by Darby Swamp, Vereker Range, and Cotter beaches. Take your time to explore the area before heading back up the track to Darby Saddle for coastal and scenery. Toward the end, take the side track to Sparkes Lookout for views of Rodondo Island and Shallow Inlet. You won’t regret the small detour.
Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk
Great Ocean Road
This epic walk, offered between September and May takes four days and three nights to complete—if you want the full experience. Hikers are guided through the cool-climate rainforest, will walk the edge of coastal clifftops, and find themselves staring down the iconic Apostles. Along the way, you will hear stories of shipwrecks and settlements, visit remote beaches, spot seals, wallabies, koalas and other wildlife. The overall hike is moderate, with easy and challenging sections. You will spend nights in a purpose-built walkers’ lodge at Johanna Beach. You can even take a helicopter ride over the Apostles after.
Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach Circuit
Freycinet National Park
Wineglass Bay is one of Tasmania’s star natural attractions. Its white sand acts as a border between azure ocean waters and dense green forest, making for a spectacular sight. On the Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach circuit within Freycinet National Park, you can enjoy the bay both up close on the sand and from afar on clifftops. It’s a 4-5 hour trek, with some rough and very steep sections. You will find yourself in She-oak forests, wandering across long sandy stretches, and get glimpses across Great Oyster Bay throughout.
Dove Lake Circuit
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
The Dove Lake Circuit is one of Tasmania’s most iconic walks. Hikers walk around the stunning Dove Lake and beneath the towering spires of Cradle Mountain. The landscape is diverse, keeping hikers on their toes, transitioning from grassy meadows to sandy beaches, and dewy forests. The highlight is the peak and reflection of still water—in good weather. The circuit is moderate, and takes around two hours to complete, but takes you on a journey you won’t find anywhere else.
Western Australia and South Australia
Nambung National Park
The Pinnacles Desert, located within Western Australia’s Nambung National Park, is one of Australia’s most otherworldly landscapes. Some people say it’s what they think Mars looks like. Thousands of limestone pillars rise from the sand in an eerie stone forest. The walking track is the best way to take in the natural wonder. You can walk anywhere within the mapped route without getting lost, and makes for a fun excursion. In September and October, wildflowers bloom, making for an extra spectacular sight. The walk takes around an hour, depending on how many times you stop to view something rising out of the land. It’s a playground out there, so enjoy.
Karijini National Park
Embark on a 7-hour journey to Western Australia’s second-highest peak in Karijini. The climb starts relatively easy, but then the rough terrain begins when you reach the Marandoo Mine site. This is where the elevation starts. Climb up to a total of 450 metres, across rocky and narrow tracks. Once you’ve reached the top, take in the incredible landscape of the region. You will see mountains and mounds of green pastures, red dirt, and a plateau as far as the earth stretches. It’s a rewarding sight and a great place to take some unique photos.
Heysen Trail Loop
At 1,200 kilometres long, the Heysen Trail is one of the longest dedicated walking trails in the country, but smaller sections of the track can be easily completed in a day. The 13km circuit can be done in 7 hours and is graded moderate, with some challenging sections. There is also a 9-kilometre track that takes around 3 hours to complete and takes hikers through Mylor Conservation Park. The Tanunda Loop walk takes you past cellar doors and wineries in the Barossa Valley. This trail lets you choose where you walk and for how long, which is great if you’re walking with friends or family.
The Arkaba Walk
Traverse across 60,000 acres of Arkaba’s private wildlife conservatory. You will need to book a guide to help you navigate the quintessential outback terrain. The full hike takes four days and three nights, where you stay in luxury wilderness camps under the pristine night sky. Along the way, you will be met with unforgettable wildlife encounters, as well as natural sights that prove Australia has one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. One minute you’re walking by dry creek beds and isolated waterholes, and the nest you’re viewing rolling hills covered in cypress pines, and craggy ridgelines. Your guide will share their passion for conservation and will definitely share some stories of the outback. They will also reveal secret spots on the property as well as recount stories of indigenous explorers and settlers.
Queensland and Northern Territory
Cooloola Great Walk
The Cooloola Great Walk, which begins in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, stretches just over 100 kilometres and typically takes a few days to complete, but one-day walkers can still enjoy some of the splendours of the trail. The walk links to Rainbow Beach via high dunes also known as the Cooloola Sandmass. It’s one of the largest accumulations of wind=blown sand found along the Queensland coast. You will walk through a rainforest, a eucalypt forest, dry coastal woodlands and heath plains. It’s diverse terrain but worth every step.
Hinchinbrook Island National Park
This epic five-day hike includes some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Resembling a setting from Lord of The Rings, the Thorsborne Trail treats hikers to craggy summits, rock pools, staring down steep waterfalls, and along a sweeping sandy bay. You can access Hinchinbrook Island by boat, but you will need to book in advance. The cloud covered mountains can make you feel on top of the world, but it’s not without its risks. Expect crocodiles and marine stingers in the water.
Kings Canyon, part of Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory, overflows with awe-inspiring nature. One of the best ways to experience this stunning part of the world is on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. You will set out at sunrise, descend around 500 steep stairs and find the first peek of the canyon a rewarding experience. Continue on to see the domes of the Lost City, which resemble ancient city ruins. You will then descend to the Garden of Eden a beautiful rockhole surrounded by lush greenery, before climbing back up to take in more high altitude views of the canyon.
West MacDonnell Ranges
Is there a hike more rewarding than the Larapinta Trek? Probably not, but for good reason. This six-day 72-kilometre trek is for any ambitious walker who wants to soak up the ethereal scenery of vast flood plains, rocky outcrops and ancient land. Best walked with a guide, the trail is challenging at times. You will sleep under the stars in wilderness camps, learn about the indigenous owners and stories of exploration while sitting around a campfire with fellow trekkers. There are opportunities to view iconic outback sunsets, including the unmissable one at Mt Sonder.
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