The best hikes in Australia range from half-day jaunts through the bird-rich Australian bushland and along sandy beaches lapped by sapphire seas to numerous guided multi-day hikes through Australia’s heart.
Most of the top Australian hikes weave through World Heritage-listed areas, where hikers can see the country’s quirky wildlife – from wombats and wallabies to kangaroos, echidnas, and dingoes. Wherever the walkabout takes you after you put on your hiking pants and hiking boots, the spectacular scenery will be capable of stirring your soul. In this article, we will show you the top-rated trails for hiking in Australia.
Where to Go Hiking in Australia
1. Great Ocean Walk – Victoria
Carving along one of Australia’s most spectacular coastlines, the Great Ocean Walk stretches for 104 kilometers, starting at the town of Apollo Bay, through Port Campbell, and ending at Great Otway National Parks. If you intend to explore the whole stretch after breaking in your boots, you will need 8 days.
One of the most popular stretches lies between Princetown and Glenample. In this section, a clifftop path perches over the Twelve Apostles, a towering coastal rock formation sculpted by thrashing surf and howling winds.
Other highlights include wandering through Australia’s wildlife-rich casuarina forests and wetlands, descending to the windswept beaches where old shipwrecks’ anchors lie, and skirting some of the highest cliffs.
If you enjoy your solitude, you can bring your backpacking tent and set up a campsite along the trail. If you prefer more comfort, you can spend your time in posh hotels and ecolodges.
Duration: 8 days
Distance: 104 kilometers
2. Cape to Cape Hiking Trail – Margaret River
The Cape to Cape hiking trail meanders for 135 kilometers along the surf beaches, forests of giant karri trees, and coastal cliffs. Named for its existence between the lighthouses of Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste, along the coast of Margaret River, the entire trail lies within a national park and will take about 5 to 7 days to complete.
Highlights include a sea cliff featuring views of the pounding surf, coast rock formations such as the Sugarloaf Rock, clean sun-drenched beaches, and cool cascades. One of the trail’s most scenic sections skirts the cliff-tops existing above the Contos Beach where the kangaroos take cover under the shady scrub and the wildflowers flourish in the spring season.
For people who prefer spending their night in a camping tent, numerous camping sites exist along the trail. Also, comfortable accommodation is available.
Duration: 5 to 7 days
Distance: 135 kilometers
3. Mount Gower – Lord Howe Island
Climbing Mount Gower, an 875-meter mountain, on the World-Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, is one of the best hikes in Australia you can do in a single day. The 14 kilometers round trip trail ascends to the mist forests available on the summit of the mountain.
As you climb the lush peak, rare orchids, moss-cloaked trees, and fern-filled forests imbue the paths with a storybook feel. Along the way, you should be able to enjoy great views of Mt. Lidgbird; Balls Pyramid, which is the biggest sea stack in the world, at 565 meters. If you bring your hiking camera with you and you have landscape photography skills, you should be able to capture great memories.
You will need approximately five hours to reach the summit and 4 hours on your descent. You may need climbing skills since rope sections and ledge crossings exist along the way.
Duration: 1 day
Distance: 14 kilometers
4. Kings Canyon Rim Walk – Northern Territory
One of the most famous single-day hikes in Australia, the 6 kilometers Kings Canyon Rim Walk, in the Watarrka National Park, explores the lip of a scenic 150-meter-deep canyon.
Due to the scorching heat, you may want to begin the 3- to 4-hour walk just before dawn. On your way, you will get to view a wide range of wild animals, including White-plumed honeyeaters, zebra finches, and kangaroos.
Much of the trip will involve climbing about 500 steps. This means that you may need to have an average to high fitness to complete the whole trip.
Before starting the trip, ensure that your hydration pack has enough water. Also, be sure to apply sunscreen correctly and carry insect protection.
Duration: 1 day
Distance: 6 kilometers
5. Fraser Island Great Walk – Queensland
Tracing the native Butchulla people’s footsteps, this 90-kilometer hiking trail will allow you to explore the top tourist attractions available on the world’s largest sand island. The trail for hiking in Australia threads along numerous old logging routes between Happy Valley and Dilli Village, through the subtropical mangroves and rainforests, and along the shores of windswept sandy beaches.
Highlights will include hiking along the rainforest boardwalk that borders the Wanggoolba Creek’s clear waters, gazing up at the towering dune that engulfs Lake Wabby, and swimming in Lake McKenzie’s blue waters. At Central Station, you can stop by the exhibits and brush up on the ecology and history of the island.
The relatively easy hike should take approximately 6 to 8 days to finish. Walker’s camps lie along the hiking trail. You can also sleep in Kingfisher Bay Resort or choose to stay in private guesthouses.
Duration: 6-8 days
Distance: 90 kilometers
6. Blue Gum Forest – New South Wales
Saved in the 1930s by passionate bushwalkers who raised funds to purchase the land, today the 16-hectare Blue Gum Forest graces the list of the best hikes in Australia. While it is possible to access the forest from numerous points, the 5-kilometer roundtrip track starting at Perry’s Lookdown is the most popular.
The whole hike is a sensory feast. Cockatoos screech across the Grose Valley, bark crunches underfoot, the fresh earthy smell invades the hiker’s senses, and the water splashes over slick rocks in cool creeks.
While the trip takes a single day, you can always stay overnight. If you have your sleeping bag, you can set up your tent at Acacia Flat campground.
Duration: 1 day
Distance: 5 kilometers
7. Wineglass Bay Circuit – Tasmania
Deriving its name from its voluptuous curves, the Wineglass Bay is a ravishing half-moon of the sapphire sea and white sand. The 12-kilometer walk on the bay features picture-perfect views of the sparkling cove backed by the Hazards pinked-tinged granite peaks.
The walk raises quickly to the Wineglass Bay lookout, allowing you to enjoy great views of the beautiful bay. On your way up, watch out for quirky wildlife – you may be able to view the eastern quoll, wallabies, and wombats.
From the lookout, you can thread through the Hazards and descend to the beach. Linger on the beach for a while to soak up its raw beauty.
If don’t mind sleeping in a tent, you can spend your nights in the rustic camping sites. For people who prefer more comfort, luxury ecolodges do exist on the hiking track.
Duration: 3 days
Distance: 12 kilometers
8. Flinders Chase Coastal Trek – Kangaroo Island
Drenched in windswept, rugged beauty, the Flinders Chase Coastal trail skirts several limestone cliffs overlooking the sea on the western part of Kangaroo Island. The one-way 19-kilometer hiking trail runs between West Bay and Ravine des Casoars and is packed with numerous opportunities to spot the Aussie wildlife.
Wallabies, echidnas, goannas, koalas, and kangaroos are some of the creatures which call the coastal bushland home. If you are lucky, you may be able to spot ospreys, seals, and whales in the sea. Besides the wildlife, other highlights include sea-sculpted limestone stalagmites that rise from the headland.
If you decide to explore this trail for hiking in Australia, you will need good hiking shoes. This is because of the sharp limestone shoreline. Since campsites lie along the route, all you will need to do is choose the best sleeping pad to enjoy your nights.
Duration: 3 to 5 days
Distance: 19 kilometers
9. Larapinta Trail – Northern Territory
Following the West MacDonnell Ranges’ rugged spine, the 223 kilometers Larapinta hiking trail takes approximately 14 days to complete. However, you can choose from a combination of 12 separate sections.
Starting at the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station, the hiking trail weaves west to the scenic Stanley Chasm, Ormiston Gorge, and Simpson’s Gap. The trail culminates with a steep climb up Mt. Sonder, the highest point of the trail featuring 360-degree views over the picturesque desert landscapes.
Sleeping under star-studded desert skies is one of the adventures on the hiking trail. Alternatively, you can pitch your tent at one of the numerous wilderness camps.
Distance: 223 kilometers
Duration: 14 days
10. Kosciuszko Walk – New South Wales
Thanks to Thredbo’s Kosciuszko Express Chairlift, it is possible to do a round trip to the 2,228-meter summit of Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak, in less than 5 hours. Between June and October, the clearly-marked and well-maintained track is usually covered in snow – the 14 kilometers loop is best attempted in the summer season.
From the chairlift, the trail ascends past Rams Head Range, through the wildflower-flecked heathlands, and past Lake Cootapatamba. Being a moderate hike, the hiking trail can be tackled independently by almost anyone.
Duration: 1 day
Distance: 14 kilometers
Globo Surf Overview
As you have probably noticed, most of the best hikes in Australia require more than a single day to complete. However, when hiking in Australia, it is possible to slice up the longer hikes depending on your fitness level and the available free time.
While some of the hiking trails can be explored independently, some may need a guide. Whether you have a guide or not, staying in a group is always a better idea compared to hiking alone – if you have issues on the trail, you will have people to offer help.
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- 10 best Australian multi-day hikes, Australiangeographic.com.au