Australia's Most Spectacular Hikes

The view from Bluff Knoll, the highest peak in the Stirling Range National Park | Courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
The view from Bluff Knoll, the highest peak in the Stirling Range National Park | Courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
Photo of Ellie Griffiths
9 February 2017

Australia is home to an array of spectacular coastlines, mountains and cities, but it is the hiking trails that appeal to hundreds from the across the world. The sense of solitude and escape provided through crossing the spiritual lands while discovering the lush rainforests and travelling along the coastline is believed to complete not only the natives but the visitors too.

Bibbulmun Track, WA

Divided into 58 sections, with 49 shelters, the Bibbulmun Track inspires both families and hardcore, speed hikers to take on this journey through the bush. Winding through the flora and fauna of native Australia, this track is based on Aboriginal traditions where one would head into the bush for months at a time on ‘walkabouts’. First opening in 1979, the track did not reach its complete state until 1998.
Passing through towering karri and tingle forests, down mist-shrouded valleys, over giant granite boulders and along breathtaking coastal headlands the 1000 kilometer track attracts hikers from around the world. However, if you have limited time, you will find plenty of options for short walks and can base yourself in one of the nine unique towns along the Track.

Best time to hike: September through to November / March through to May

© Courtesy of Bibbulmun Track Foundation

Stirling Range Ridge Walk, WA

Lying in contrast against the desert landscape of Western Australia lies the alpine respite of the Stirling Mountain Range. Over 320 kilometers southeast of Perth, the almost 30-kilometre hike will take you roughly three days to complete, with the highest peak and final summit of the track being the iconic Bluff Knoll. Beginning at Mount Ellen, you will come across a diverse selection of native wildflowers including the kangaroo paw and mountain bells, as well as an array of native animals from eagles and parrots to goannas and lizards. Throughout the trail, there are many unoccupied camping caves suitable for camping; however, there are no facilities throughout the route, so ensure you carry plenty of water with you.

Best time to hike: August to October

View from the Bluff Knoll trail | Courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Overland Track, TAS

Up to 8,000 people from across the country and the world travel to the Tasmanian wilderness to explore the World Heritage Area. With 2,500 acres of rolling moorlands, ancient beech forests, alpine meadows and glacial valleys to discover, the 75-kilometre trek – including side stops along the way – provides a true natural escape taking you to the summit of Mt Ossa (1,615 metres) where you can take a splash in Australia’s deepest natural freshwater lake, Lake St Clair. No matter when you visit, be prepared for mud as the weather is likely to change in the blink of an eye, expecting snow, ice, rain and sunshine all year-round. Taking up to eight days to complete the trail, this iconic walk requires the booking of huts in advance – and the New Pelion huts are best known for wombats visiting the campers in the evenings.

Best time to hike: November to April (to avoid snow and ice, although do expect this any time of year)

Cradle Mountain Huts Walk | Courtesy of Great Walks of Australia

Great Ocean Walk, VIC

One of the easier hikes through Australia will take you across the rugged western coastline from Apollo Bay right through to Glenample. Offering both shorter day treks to hiking the full 60 miles, taking up to eight days, you will come face to face with both gum and eucalyptus trees in Otway National Park and cliff tops with some of the most breathtaking views across the ocean. Whether you camp along the trail or book accommodation in one of the many beachside towns, the best way to end your trip is tying it in with a sunset hike through to the 12 Apostles. Throughout your trek, be wary of the tide as there are specific areas not passable when the tide is high.

Best time to hike: June through to September

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, VIC | Courtesy of Tourism Australia

Six Foot Track, NSW

The Blue Mountains National Park offers one of the most complex hiking trails in any national park throughout Australia. Standing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Six Foot Track will take you along a heritage horse track from 1884 through the park where you’ll pass through eucalyptus forests, walk by waterfalls and cross or walk down to the gorges below. However, it is the trip to Katoomba to see the unparalleled views of the distinct rock tower formation known as the Three Sisters that will truly take your breath away.

Best time to hike: September through to November

Sunset on the Three Sisters, Echo Point, Katoomba. View features Mount Solitary in middle distance | © Sally Mayman / Destination NSW

Conway Circuit (Whitsunday Great Walk), QLD

Perfect for kayaking and snorkelling, the Whitsundays – a subtropical national park off the coast of Australia – is a popular escape destination. However, if an alternative vacation is what you are after, then a trek through the Conway National Park on the mainland is in order. With one of the most picturesque views of the islands, the stretch from Brandy Creek to Airlie Beach passes through the Conway State Forest for a truly spectacular escape. Take in the scents of the strangler figs, Alexandra palms, tulip oaks and Colocasia (elephant ears), come face to face with the spectacular Ulysses butterflies and climb to the summit of Mount Hayward for a view like no other. Travelling across 28 kilometres, there is an array of difficulties required to complete the full length.

Best time to hike: April through to September

Great Walk | © Brooke Miles Photography (2014)

Larapinta Trail, NT

For a spiritual escape, a journey that is bound to change you, heading out along one of the most popular hiking trails in the world is for you. Travelling 223 kilometres across the beautiful but brutal terrain, this hard, one-way walk starts in Alice Springs, leading you to finish atop of Mount Sonder (1,380 metres high). Along the way, you will come face to face with unexpected oases, unique earth forms and big desert skies whilst exploring the Indigenous heritage of the land. Throughout the journey, you will be witness to some of the most colourful and spectacular sunrises and sunsets across the landscapes with the dingoes, rock wallabies, reptiles and myriad birdlife.

Best time to hike: May through to September

Larapinta Trail by World Expeditions, Simpson’s Gap, West MacDonnell Ranges, NT | Courtesy of World Expeditions / Great Walks of Australia © Graham Michael Freeman

Thorsborne Trail, QLD

For an exclusive hike like no other in Australia, a booking for a permit on Hinchinbrook Island is highly recommended. With most of the island prohibited to the public, only 40 people are permitted on the island at any given time – requiring boat transport at both ends of the one-way trail. Famed for ‘varied terrain, craggy mountains, delicate heath vegetation flourishes, patches of eucalpt and rainforest’ and stunning beaches, the island is protected, falling within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Travelling across 32 kilometres, the trail will take approximately five days to journey.

Best time to hike: May through to October – ensure you book your permit well in advance

Hinchinbrook Channel and Island | Courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

Wilsons Promontory, VIC

At the southernmost tip of Australia’s mainland lies one of the most loved places in Victoria, Wilsons Promontory. Offering an array of bushwalks that will take anywhere from just under an hour to over three days to complete, you will endeavour a journey through open forests and rainforests, huge granite mountains and spectacular coastlines and beaches. Traditionally owned by the local Aboriginal tribes, there is a multitude of accommodation options from camping and caravans to huts, cabins, retreats and lodges at Tidal River.

Best time to hike: September through to November

Mount Bishop at Wilsons Promontory | Courtesy of Tourism Victoria © Gavin Hansford

Heysen Trail, SA

Passing through some of the most breathtaking landscapes South Australia has to offer, the 1,200-kilometre hiking trail is only open for seven months of the year. Taking you through coastal areas, pine forests and vineyards, native bushland, farmland and historic towns, you will be taken through the Barossa Valley and Wilpena Pond. For beginners, and those hiking with children, the southern section from Cape Jervis to Spalding is recommended, whilst the northern section from Spalding to Parachilna Gorge is a challenging yet rewarding hike.

Best time to hike: April to October, trail closed during the ‘Fire Danger Season’ (November to March)

Wilpena Pound | Courtesy of SATC © Adam Bruzzone

** Please be respectful of the native flora and fauna. Also, due to the vast landscape covered, whether you are hiking for one day or longer, ensure you have plenty of food and water as there are numerous hikes that contain limited to no facilities.

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