Explore the Great Outdoors With These Amazing Walks
Posted by Stephanie Mikkelsen on Friday, August 11, 2017
Nancy Sinatra (or Jessica Simpson, depending on your vintage) said it best when she crooned, ‘These boots were made for walking’…
Rather than kicks suitable for a cowboy though, this time we’re all about a sturdier kind – the sort you strap on before heading out into the great outdoors. Hitting the pavement, gravel track or boardwalk is one of our favourite ways to discover a new region – or even see a different side of a much-visited destination. By pulling on your walking shoes, be it sandals, hiking boots or your comfiest pair of sneakers, you can meander along deserted beaches, give your lungs a workout with an uphill ascent, or uncover pristine pockets of a national park.
In a win for every explorer, no matter if you’re a seasoned walker or favour a more leisurely gait, you don’t have to go far to make tracks while you’re away. Australia is teeming with walking opportunities, from coastal paths and rugged routes to easy strolls and wilderness treks. And so to inspire you to get strolling, we’ve scoped out 23 of the best walks from across Australia. With tracks to suit every fitness and experience level, there is definitely something for you. The only question left to ask? What kind of trail mix to pack as a snack…
Great Ocean Walk, The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is an icon of Victoria’s natural landscape, and exploring it by foot is a beautiful way to discover its sites. This track hugs the length of the coastline, from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles near Port Campbell, and will take walkers past national park, eucalyptus forests and breathtaking beaches.
Length: 100 kilometres one-way. Wander a manageable chunk as a short day walk, or tackle the entire trail on a multi-day trip.
Difficulty: Easy to hard. Some sections are fit for families and visitors with mobility requirements. Other sections, such as those that cross isolated beaches or rocky outcrops, are best suited to experienced walkers.
Image: Great Ocean Walk. Mark Watson; Visit Victoria
Bushrangers Bay Trail, Mornington Peninsula
This coastal cliff top track, from Cape Schanck Lighthouse to Boneo Road, was named for two escaped convicts. The track rewards walkers with sea views, glimpses of rocky bays and even the odd kangaroo. Add it into your Mornington Peninsula itinerary to help work off any overindulgence acquired from hopping between cellar doors and restaurants.
Length: 10 kilometres return.
Difficulty: Moderate. The sandy path is well maintained, but there are sections with stairs and inclines.
Cape Woolamai Walk, Phillip Island
Explore parts of Phillip Island’s highest point with one of four tracks in Cape Woolamai. There are three shorter options, signalled with green, blue or black markers. A full circuit loop starts on the surf beach and takes walkers past the Pinnacles rock formation, an old quarry site and beautiful ocean views.
Length: From 4 to 10 kilometres return.
Difficulty: Easy. There are some steps in places.
Mount Oberon Summit Walk, Gippsland
Breathtaking vistas await at the summit of Mount Oberon in Wilsons Promontory. The walk begins in the Telegraph Saddle car park and follows a steady incline as it takes hikers up to a spectacular viewing platform. Tip: the summit can be windy even in summer and remember to watch your footing as you scramble across boulders.
Length: 6.8 kilometres return.
Difficulty: Moderate. Some previous bushwalking experience is an advantage, especially for tracks with short steep inclines and steps.
New South Wales
Bouddi Coast Walk, Central Coast
Have a camera at the ready as you meander Bouddi Coastal Walk. This circuit has beautiful beaches, whale-watching opportunities and a wildflower-dotted path. The full walk starts in Putty Beach and finishes at MacMasters Beach, but it can be divided up into shorter sections.
Length: 8.5 kilometres one-way.
Difficulty: Easy. All sections are clearly marked.
Image: Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, Palm Beach. Isaac Brown; Destination NSW.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, Sydney
Be treated to views across Sydney’s eastern coast from the vantage point offered at Barrenjoey Lighthouse. There are two tracks leading to the lighthouse: Smugglers Track and the Access Trail. Choose to walk both – one on the way up, the other heading back to the parking area – or pick the path that takes your fancy.
Length: 2.2-kilometre loop.
Difficulty: Easy, with some steep sections. The Access Trail is the easiest of the two options.
Six Foot Track, Blue Mountains
Uncover the Blue Mountains on this track that travels from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. This challenging hike follows an old horse track, traversing rainforest and passing waterfalls and gorgeous panoramas. The walk can be divided into three one-day hikes, with dedicated camping grounds along the way.
Length: 45 kilometres one-way.
Difficulty: Hard. Suitable for experienced walkers.
White Sands Walk, Jervis Bay
Sun-kissed swimming spots and tranquil beaches are all yours along the White Sands Walk. The track begins at the Greenfield Beach picnic area, located in the Jervis Bay National Park. Other stops along the path include the Chinamans, Hyams and Seamans beaches.
Length: 2.5-kilometre circuit.
Difficulty: Easy, though there are sections with steps.
Three Falls Grand Hike, Adelaide and Surrounds
Tick off the waterfall triple threat with this hike in Morialta Conservation Park. The Three Falls Grand Hikes makes a great half-day walk, giving visitors the opportunity to scramble over rocks, skirt gorges and gawk at beautiful views. It is a mix of zigzagging paths, river crossings and steady inclines.
Length: 7.3-kilometre circuit.
Difficulty: Moderate, with steep sections and uneven footing in parts.
The Barossa Trail/Jack Bobridge Trail, Barossa Valley
Passing by cellar doors, vine-dotted hills and gorgeous country vistas, The Barossa Trail/Jack Bobridge Trail is the perfect pairing for travellers looking to match their love of wine and walking. This walk is a handful of trails joined together, and is also great for cycling.
Length: 37.4 kilometres one-way.
Difficulty: Easy. Plus there are plenty of rehydrating pitstop opportunities along the way.
Image: Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. Jonathan van der Knaap; South Australian Tourism Commission
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, Kangaroo Island
Explore Kangaroo Island’s rugged landscape with this multi-day Wilderness Trail. Along this route hikers discover spectacular coastline, spy diverse wildlife and cross untouched bushland. The walk starts at the Flinders Chase Visitors Centre and concludes at Kelly Hill Caves. This is a guided walk and bookings are required.
Length: 61 kilometres one-way.
Difficulty: Moderate, and previous bushwalking experience is recommended.
Bluff Knoll, South West
Marvel at WA’s South West from the summit of Bluff Knoll. The trail is located in the beautiful Stirling Ranges, and the walk is great for those seeking a challenging yet rewarding hike. The view from atop the summit is worth any huffing and puffing. Time your walk during wildflower season (roughly September to January) for an extra dose of beauty.
Length: 6 kilometres return
Difficulty: Moderate. The track is almost all uphill, over uneven ground and steps. Bushwalking experience is an advantage.
Cathedral Gorge Walk, Kimberley
Wander between imposing red rock formations and marvel at the ancient landscape as you walk towards Cathedral Gorge in Purnululu National Park. The trail starts in the Piccaninny Creek car park and brings walkers into the heart of a mammoth rock amphitheatre with water pool. The park is open between April and December.
Length: 4 kilometres return.
Difficulty: Easy. The path is relatively flat yet rocky so sturdy shoes are recommended.
Image: Cathedral Gorge. Steve Strike; Australian Pacific Touring Pty Ltd.
Cape to Cape Track, South West
The Cape to Cape Track stretches from the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse near Dunsborough to the Cape Leeuwin close to Augusta. The track runs right through the heart of WA’s premier food and wine region Margaret River, plus travels past coastal scenes, rock formations, headlands and forest landscapes. Allow up to 10 days to complete the entire track.
Length: 135 kilometres one-way.
Difficulty: Easy to hard; sections differ from flat to rocky. Walking tours are available.
Noosa Heads Coastal Track, Sunshine Coast
Noosa National Park is criss-crossed with scenic strolls and the Coastal Track is one of the best. This path hugs several headlands, winding past Hell’s Gates, Lion Rock and Devils Kitchen. It also crosses Alexandria Bay. To beat the crowds, time your stroll for early morning or later in the afternoon – and be sure to keep an eye out for passing dolphin pods!
Length: 6.8 kilometres one-way.
Difficulty: Easy. A steep set of stairs lead down to Sunshine Beach.
Image: Noosa Coastal Track. Peter Lik; Tourism and Events Queensland.
The Carnarvon Great Walk, Central Queensland and Bundaberg
This stunningly scenic circuit starts and ends at the visitor area of the Carnarvon Gorge section of Carnarvon National Park. The whole circuit explores the Gorge and Mount Moffatt sections of the park but it can be divided into short strolls and day walks, too. Please note the walk is closed from November to the end of the February.
Length: 87-kilometre circuit.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult.
Fraser Island Great Walk, Fraser Island
Leave your four-wheel drive at your accommodation as you explore the world’s largest sand island by foot. The Fraser Island Great Walk comes in as a six to eight-day excursion and takes in Lakes Boomanjin and McKenzie and undulating sand dunes. There are shorter day trails on the island too.
Length: 90-kilometre circuit.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The more remote sections of the Great Walk are best for experienced walkers.
Wineglass Bay to Hazards Beach, Freycinet
Don’t make the mistake of heading back down to the car park once you reach the Wineglass Bay lookout point in Freycinet National Park. Continue down the natural steps to Wineglass Bay beach and then over the flat isthmus boardwalk to Hazards Beach. The track continues to hug the north-bound coast, leading to isolated coves perfect for swimming.
Length: 11 kilometres return.
Difficulty: Moderate. There are steep ascents in parts and many steps to reach the lookout point, but the entire circuit is well maintained.
Dove Lake Circuit, North West Coast
Not up for tackling Tasmania’s famous Overland Track? The Dove Lake Circuit is one of the most accessible paths in this rugged region and still delivers the awe-inspiring scenery the area is loved for. The track is flat and duckboarded, and comes backdropped by the imposing peak of Cradle Mountain.
Length: 5.7 kilometres one-way.
Image: Painted Cliffs at Maria Island. Graham Michael Freeman; Great Walks of Australia.
Maria Island Walk, East Coast
The award-winning Maria Island Walk is one of the most popular guided tracks on Tasmania’s East Coast. The island is teeming with pristine beaches, heritage convict sites and towering forests. These multi-day itineraries cover much of the island and include overnight stays in wilderness camps.
Length: Varies depending on the guided itinerary and optional walks.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Some operators even provide pack carrying services.
Barrk Sandstone Bushwalk, Kakadu and Arnhem Land
This rugged sandstone bush track in Kakadu National Park allows walkers the opportunity to marvel at the Nanguluwur art site, as well as the rocky valleys, magnificent escarpments and the trail’s namesake black wallaroo. Head out early in the day to beat soaring temperatures and be sure to pack plenty of water.
Length: 12-kilometre loop.
Difficulty: Moderate to hard. This is one for seasoned walkers: markers along the track are not numbered and the ground can be rough in sections.
Uluru Base Walk, Alice Springs and Surrounds
Perhaps one of the most iconic walks in Australia is the Uluru Base Walk. This awe-inspiring path winds around this incredible sandstone monolith, and it travels past rock art sites, waterholes and outback landscape. Going around this rock, rather than scaling up it, is also the best way to acknowledge the cultural significance of Uluru to the local Anangu people.
Length: 10.6-kilometre loop.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate.
Kings Canyon Rim Walk, Alice Springs and Surrounds
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is famous for a reason. With its extraordinary views across ancient landscapes, this is a track for walkers who want their Explorer socks knocked off. You’ll even make a pitstop in the Garden of Eden, a rock hole flanked by rare fauna. Those wanting a more leisurely walk might opt for the Kings Creek hike, a 2.6-kilometre path.
Length: 6-kilometre circuit.
Difficulty: Moderate. The initial 1000-step ascend can be tough but the reward is worth it.
Image: Rim Walk, Kings Canyon. Shaana McNaught; Tourism NT.
Hero image: Freycinet Experience Walk.