11 Of Australia’s Most Epic Hikes
You like being healthy, right? How about being fit? Or happier? It’s remarkably easy to be all these things by taking in the world around us. The benefits have been scientifically proven – there’s nothing like spending time in nature to get you back on track, feeling calm, focussed and alive. And if you want to explore further than the end of the street, it’s time to venture to these impressive destinations.
The Australian landscape is overflowing with memorable, eye-popping nature trails and hikes that so many of us have never even experienced. Driving out of town on a day trip, a weekend, or a week-long adventure is certainly more relaxing than dealing with airports, so stop planning another trip to Bali and revel in what’s beautiful about Australia. You’ll be healthier for it, too.
Here are our picks of Australia’s most epic hikes.
Scenic Rim, QLD
One of Queensland’s prime tourist destinations is Scenic Rim, massive mountainous region in the south east of the state that covers not just one, but six national parks – plus a world heritage-listed rainforest and three dams. Just over an hour from Brisbane (and even less from the Gold Coast) this spot lives up to its title with some of the grandest and most beautiful scenery this country has to offer as well as a selection of art galleries, wineries, country pubs, bushwalking trails, chateaus, and much more.
Be sure to also experience the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk in the south that includes thriving rainforests, Antarctic beach trees, the great Springbrook Plateau and the decadent Alcheringa Lamington Holiday Retreat.
The Bibbulmin Track, WA
Sure, everyone knows Perth for the tranquillity of its perfect beaches, but head just 30 minutes east of the city instead and you will discover Western Australia’s capital has even more to offer (and you don’t even need a full tank of petrol to get there). Ranging from day hikes to an epic eight-week trek that covers the full near-1000 kilometre track from Kalamunda to Albany, there are enough ways to leave the world behind on the Bibbulmun Track.
Cape To Cape Track, Margaret River, WA
The breathtaking 135-kilometre Cape to Cape Track along the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge sits three hours’ south of the WA capital. Departing from the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and finishing at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, this hike is specifically designed to bring people closer to nature. Your views will alternate between incredible cliff tops and pristine, white sandy beaches. The entire walk takes five to seven days, but day trips are just as beautiful and will make you forget all about presentations and board meetings.
And if you feel you’ve earned it (you have) try the Margaret River Discover Co. Wine and Adventure Tour. With an assortment of flexible day tours, you’ll find native foods and wines are just the cherry on top of canoeing and wildflower tours.
National Pass, Blue Mountains, NSW
Ninety minutes out of Sydney you’ll find yourself winding through the majestic Blue Mountains National Park. The awe-inspiring vistas will cure what ails you as you take in rolling mountains, waterfalls, verdant valleys and canyons.
Starting at Wentworth Falls, the National Pass is “six kilometres of majestic wild scenery and waterfalls” in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. One of the walks literally has you trekking down the side of a cliff face, with the historic Grand Stairway cut into the mountain. You will marvel at how something so beautiful can be so close to the city and why you haven’t taken advantage of it sooner.
You Yangs Regional Park, VIC
Most consider the drive from Melbourne to Geelong to be uneventful, but nestled less than an hour from Melbourne is the You Yangs Regional Park, which has a bushwalking track for every mood. You can find brief dog-walking trails or longer hikes of up to three hours. Pack your water bottle and snacks – that’s all you will need when venturing down the highway for this unexpected oasis between Victoria’s two biggest cities.
Or if a family/romantic outing is more your jam, pack a basket and enjoy the picturesque Yellow Gum Picnic Area for some tranquillity with your significant other.
The Heysen Trail, SA
This 1200-km trail is one of South Australia’s pride and joys and, depending on where you start, it begins only 90 minutes from Adelaide (or nine hours from Melbourne if you’re road tripping in that direction). The entire distance is estimated to take between 50 and 60 days and an end-to-end guided tour is available.
Suitable to hikers of varying experience, some sections of the Heysen Trail are nonetheless closed through summer due to ongoing threats of bushfire. But when it is open, expect breathtaking views of Kangaroo Island from Deep Creek Conservation Park, the rolling mountains of the Flinders Ranges, 19th century townships like Quorn and the Barossa-adjacent Kapunda, and the camping grounds of Parachilna Gorge.
Uluru Base Walk
You don’t need me to tell you that the Northern Territory is home to one of the most unique landscapes in the world, including the seemingly endless stretches of red dusty highway to get there. There is almost no sight in this country worthier of a road trip than Uluru, up against the red, dry, shimmering horizon.
Whether you’re making the six-hour drive from Alice Springs or Priscilla style from Sydney, you certainly can’t miss this monolithic landmark. While the Uluru Base Walk is shorter than most at only 11 kilometres, it’s a truly unforgettable experience; unlike anything on Earth. Head out before midday to avoid the strongest heat and discover not just the serene power of the rock, but thriving plant life, wildlife, and geological marvels.
And if that’s not enough, just a 50km drive west of Uluru is Kata Tjuta. Named after the Pitjantjatjara word for “many heads”, this is another fantastic work of natural wonder with 36 steep-sided domes created by nature over time. Multiple walks offer hikers the chance to see rare plants through Walpa Gorge and more experienced hikers can tackle The Valley of the Winds, which plunges you deep into the heart of this ancient land.
Glow Worm Tunnel, NSW
A perfect excuse to bundle the whole family up on the weekend and get some fresh air and exercise, this family-friendly trek doesn’t just stop at glow worms, but offers the chance to see other wildlife like kangaroos and wallabies, as well as a variety of plant life and rock formations. Plus, the trail has a nine-kilometre extension if you want to make a day of it.
The Overland Track, TAS
Warning: this mighty hike is not for beginners or amateurs. Starting at Cradle Mountain and ending at Lake St Clair (Australia’s deepest lake), the 65 kilometre Overland Track cuts a path through some of the world’s richest World Heritage-listed alpine forests. This trek is no easy feat, and perfect for experienced walkers. Bookings are essential for the journey, but you can choose between eight, six, or four-day trips.
Your days will be full of hiking through eucalypt forests, waterfall spotting, glacial-carved valleys, golden buttongrass moorlands, beautiful alpine meadows and gawking at Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa. If you’re game, you can DIY this track but this is not for amateurs and you need to ensure you are prepared.
If you don’t want to miss out on this level of natural wonder, variety and serenity and you’re happy to hand over some cash, you have the option of choosing a guided tour. You’ll be indulging in a hot shower, tasty meals made from local produce, Tasmanian wines, and, yes, a comfortable bed.
Bonus: Award-Winning Guided Splurges
We know not everyone can afford this type of immersive getaway, but if you become hooked on the nature high (expect it) and want to take things to the next level, we’ve included two bonus experiences.
Freycinet Experience Walk, TAS
You don’t actually need to fly to Tasmania if you’re in Melbourne. You can make a day of it, bundle everything you need into your car and get yourself to the MS Spirit of Tasmania. You’ll disembark in Devonport, and from there it is a three-hour drive to Freycinet National Park where you can participate in the special four-day hiking experience, Freycinet Experience Walk.
Real adventurous types will definitely want to opt in for a hike from Cook’s Beach to the top of Mt Graham, some 580m above sea level. It’ll be a true test of your fitness, but if you take the challenge it is one you’ll be proud to have accomplished. Not only will you see Tasmania’s enviable forests up close, you can also go dolphin watching, snorkel and swim in clear-as-crystal waters, plus get up close and personal with the wildlife of Wineglass Bay and the birds of Saltwater Lagoon.
The 12 Apostles Lodge Walk, VIC
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s must-see destinations, a location built for the scenic driver to be able to take in everything majestic about our beautiful country. Two hours from the start of the road is The 12 Apostles Lodge Walk – a four-day exclusive guided walk, capturing the second section of the Great Ocean Walk. You will be guided through picturesque coastline, supplied with delicious meals (the lodge you stay in has an in-house chef) and finish it all off with a helicopter ride over the Apostles. You know, just your standard hiking experience. You’ll need endurance to get through the long trails, but at the end you won’t be able to deny its healing powers for the soul.
Exploring is easy with Toyota Yaris Hatch, with a two-tier boot and 60/40 split fold rear seats, you’ll have plenty of space for your outdoor gear and equipment. For more information, click here. Yaris: Find The Drive Within You
Glenn Dunks is a freelance culture writer. He has written for a variety of online and print publications including Junkee and has authored books on Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, and the Cannes Film Festival. He tweets a lot at @glenndunks