1 The Great Ocean Walk, Victoria
You’ve heard of the Great Ocean Road, but did you know you could walk along this epic part of the southern coast too? Stretching from Apollo Bay in the east to the Twelve Apostles near Port Campbell in the west, the one-way hike will take eight days if you do it all. And we urge you to do so. Hugging the dramatic coastline of Victoria, you’ll pass through forests, cross rocky seashore platforms, hike along the sands of beautiful but empty beaches and along cliffs for soaring views of the Southern Ocean-lashed coast. Some of the road goes along the road. Stay in hike-in campsites (there are seven along the way) or opt for apartments and lodges instead. Aside from the views, highlights include the wildlife you’ll spy along the way. Look and listen out for cackling Kookaburra, mobs of kangaroos and the furry bottoms of koalas above you as you hike. Seals, whales and little penguins are other likely sightings.
2 Spit to Manly walk, New South Wales
It’s hard to believe you’re in Australia’s most populous city as you follow this 6.2-mile scenic trail along the Sydney harbor shoreline past pretty coves and through bushland. You can start at Manly if you wish, but start at the Spit Bridge in Middle Harbor and you can reward your efforts with an ice cream and ocean swim in Manly before hopping on the ferry back to Circular Quay. Allow around three to four hours to complete the trail, which includes paved walkways, bush tracks, boardwalks and some sections of sand, or more if you plan to stop for a swim or picnic along the way. Highlights include a dip at secluded Castle Rock beach, the 1,000-year-old Aboriginal rock engravings at Grotto Point and ogling at impressive harborside mansions.
3 Overland Track, Tasmania
Immerse yourself in the virtually untouched wilderness of Tasmania on this popular but challenging long-distance track through the stunning Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Starting from Ronny Creek in Cradle Valley near the striking mountain, the six-day hike goes through glacially-carved valleys, ancient rainforests, dense eucalypt forests, moorlands, and alpine meadows, past tarns and waterfalls to Australia’s deepest lake, the piercing blue Lake St. Clair. It involves navigating steep trails in remote mountainous areas and sleeping in basic huts and campsites, so you need to be well prepared. But the efforts are well rewarded with the most incredible hiking experience through World Heritage-listed wilderness. If you’re really keen, you can add on a few side hikes including one to conquer Mount Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak at 5,300ft. You can join a guided hike or trek independently, although you must book with the Parks and Wildlife Service. It’s also possible to walk shorter sections of the Overland Track.
4 Valley of the Winds Walk, Northern Territory
The best way to get a real sense of the deep spiritual importance of this ancient landscape is by walking among the rocks. While circumnavigating Uluru is the most popular route to follow in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, the three-hour Valley of Winds Walk around the rocks and gorges of Kata Tjuta is arguably more stirring. Time it right and you can virtually have the soaring ocher-colored domes to yourself. Meaning “many heads” in the language of traditional owners the Anangu people, these 36 monoliths lie just to the north of Uluru. They are also known as the Olgas. Be sure to carry plenty of water and dress appropriately in this rugged terrain. Tread quietly and you may find you have kangaroos keeping you company.
5 Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, South Australia
Kangaroos, koalas, wombats and echidna are just some of the wildlife with which you may find yourself sharing the path on the bush trail that runs around Kangaroo Island. Set off the coast of South Australia, the rugged island is one of the best places to see Australia’s unique animals.
The native flora and fauna remained intact and flourished here thanks to its isolation. The 38-mile route takes five days to complete and traverses a wide range of terrain including woodlands and wetlands. You’ll also spy on numerous native birds, reptiles and plants as you roam. As you skirt the craggy coast, with its rocky bays, strange rock formations and lofty cliffs, keep watch for sea lions, little penguins and whales. Built up an appetite? The diverse island is also a hotbed of gourmet activity with sensational seafood, wines and artisan produce.
6 Cape to Cape Track, Western Australia
Following the coastline of Western Australia’s Margaret River south from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, this 87-mile track delivers incredible Indian Ocean views. You’ll pass pristine white sand beaches and wind-lashed lighthouses, scale soaring sea cliffs (where you may spy passing whales) and hike through towering karri forest. If you’d rather not go it alone (or carry your gear), stroll in style by joining Walk into Luxury’s fully guided small group walk, which includes overnights in luxury lodges, gourmet lunches in local wineries and private chef dinners with matching Margaret River wines. A highlight of the route, which can be accessed in shorter sections, is uninterrupted views of the sun setting over the Indian Ocean – nature’s reward for your efforts.
Don’t Go Small, Go Australia
Now’s not the time to go small. Go big and discover ancient places, welcoming faces and vast open spaces. If you’re ready for a big holiday, we’re ready to say goodbye.
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