10 of Australia’s best hiking destinations
Amid a growing trend towards slower travel, these great Australian hikes provide the perfect change of pace.
It’s no secret that putting one foot in front of the other has significant physical and mental benefits.
Walking can prevent certain diseases, boost immune function, enhance fitness and generally prolong your life.
According to auswalk.com.au, there were 18.4 million bushwalking trips taken in Australia in 2014, and that number had soared to 27 million by 2018 – a 47 per cent increase. Trips to national parks also surged in popularity, from 22.8 million to 30.3 million.
There is a growing trend of travellers looking to experience destinations in a new way – at a slower pace – to promote mindfulness while enjoying the outdoors, and leaving minimal footprint on their adventures.
These destinations cater for beginners to experienced hikers and are among the best in the country.
1. Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park (Tasmania)
Part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, this park is home to the world-famous Overland Track and iconic Cradle Mountain.
It features ancient rainforests, alpine heaths, lakes and breath-taking lookouts.
The park also provides a rich habitat for wildlife, including Tasmanian devils, quolls, platypus, echidna and many bird species.
2. Mount Feathertop (Victoria)
Standing at 1922m, Mount Feathertop is Victoria’s second highest mountain.
The most scenic route to the summit is via the jagged, craggy spine of the Razorback Ridge from Mount Hotham.
This is a full-day, difficult hike with the option to camp overnight near the summit.
Beginners can enjoy a short walk along the ridge to experience the classic mountain scenery.
3. Wilsons Promontory (Victoria)
At the southernmost point of Australia’s mainland, Wilsons Promontory is one the most popular national parks in the country.
It features more than 80km of wilderness bushwalking trails, spectacular coastal scenery, abundant wildlife and isolated white-sand beaches.
4. Great Ocean Walk (Victoria)
Stretching 104km from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles, the Great Ocean Walk meanders along high cliff tops and sandy beaches and through a section of the Otway National Park.
Beginners can complete small sections while others who tackle a multiday experience can camp or enjoy a range of accommodation along the way.
5. Royal National Park (NSW)
Established in 1879, Royal National Park is Australia’s oldest national park and a long-time favourite for Sydney bushwalkers.
The Coast Track runs for 26km and crosses varied terrain along cliffs and beaches and takes in takes in many Aboriginal cultural sites of the Dharawal people.
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6. Blue Mountains (NSW)
The foothills of the Blue Mountains begin 65km west of Sydney and rise to 1100m.
A variety of walking trails traverse eucalyptus forests, Aboriginal rock art sites, remote rivers, limestone cave systems and magnificent sandstone cliffs.
7. Fraser Island (Queensland)
A colossal vegetated sandbar (120km x 15km), Fraser Island feels like another planet.
Visitors flock here to swim in pristine lakes and crystal-clear creeks, relax along remote sandy beaches and walk through majestic rainforests.
Keep an eye out for dugongs, dolphins, whales, green sea turtles and many seabirds.
8. Larapinta Trail (Northern Territory)
Quickly emerging as one of the most popular walking treks in Australia, the Larapinta Trail extends for 223km along the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder.
Navigating desert plains, dolomite foothills, quartzite ridges, gorges and waterholes, the trail is a great way to experience the Red Centre.
9. Flinders Ranges (South Australia)
With its ever-changing colours, weathered peaks and rocky gorges, the Flinders Ranges are South Australia’s showcase walking feature.
Their most characteristic landmark is Wilpena Pound, a large, crescent-shaped, natural amphitheatre that covers 80km and contains the range’s highest peak, St Mary Peak.
10. Cape to Cape Track (Western Australia)
Passing over high cliffs, through varied bushland and across isolated beaches, the 125km Cape to Cape Track is Western Australia’s premier coastal walk.
It meanders along the whole length of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge and features two lighthouses at its start and finish.
All these destinations offer short, easy walks for beginners and longer, difficult walks for experienced walkers.
More information can be obtained from local visitor centres or national park websites.
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Written by Craig Sheather.