From coastal walks and nature hikes to tree climbs and cave explorations, we went high and low to see where your two feet can take you (oh, and we borrowed some hooves, too).
1. Walk ancient clifftops just 45 minutes from the city
Where: Royal National Park, NSW
It’s hard to imagine city life and all its stressors are just 45 minutes north when you’re standing atop the white cliffs of new south wales’ Royal National Park.
There are incredible Easter eggs along the coast track way to find, such as the Figure Eight Pools (great for photos, not so great for swimming due to dangerous freak waves), Little Marley Beach and Wattamolla’s lagoon and beach.
2. Try bush food in the City
Where: Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, NSW ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN
Try black apples straight from the tree and wash your hands with foaming wattle leaves on an Aboriginal Heritage Tour of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden.
Education co-ordinator for aboriginal programs, Jody Orcher, has made sure the tours are in-depth and honour indigenous heritage.
3. Visit an octopus’s garden beneath the sea
Where: Green Island, Great Barrier Reef, QLD
We felt we had to include this activity this year, because it is such a memorable adventure for the whole family.
With no diving experience required, you can actually walk on the sea floor, foot-to-sand and face-to-face with sea life off Green Island.
An underwater helmet is all that keeps you from planting a kiss on passing fish.
Seawalker Green Island is the ultimate underwater experience.
4. Four ways to get high and go low: see the country from the trees and from the caves
Where: Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, Walpole Wilderness, WA
Explore towering red tingle trees from 40 metres above ground.
Adrenaline upgrade: drive two-and-a-half-hours to Pemberton and scramble your way 61 metres up the pegs of the Gloucester Tree, or the 51-metre Diamond Tree, or complete the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk for a heart-pounding view.
Where: Tahune Airwalk, Huon Valley, Tasmania
At the highest point on this walk you’ll be suspended 50 metres above the Huon River.
Adrenaline upgrade: If that’s not enough to raise your heart-rate, take the Tahune Airwalk hang-glider across the rushing river.
Where: Mole Creek Caves, Mayberry, Tasmania
Tasmania has some of the deepest caves in Australia, so if you enjoy a sojourn in the underworld, Tassie is a good bet.
Marvel at crystals, reflective pools and glow worms.
Adrenaline upgrade: Kubla Khan is one of the more spectacular caves at Mole Creek, but you’ll need a permit; only 72 people are granted access each year.
Where: Tunnel Creek National Park, WA
One-time hideout for indigenous legend Jandamarra, who was eventually killed here in 1897 after a siege, Tunnel Creek is part of the ancient Devonian Reef.
The walk is 750 metres of pitch-black excitement, and you have a good chance of meeting a freshwater croc.
Adrenaline upgrade: A croc encounter is enough adrenaline, we feel.
5. Because sometimes four feet are better than two…
Where: Bogong Horseback Adventures, High Country, Victoria
Take a load off and swing into the saddle for these trails with a difference:
Lovely horses, incredible scenery and restorative mountain air, we loved this Bogong trail ride when we experienced it last year, and still think it’s one of the best in the country.
Take a five-day ride to really feel like a pioneer, or if you’re still getting familiar with our equine friends, you can enjoy a day tour – our favourite is the half-day with a long table lunch.
Where: The Flinders Ranges, South Australia
And if horses are just a bit tame for you, why not clamber onto a humped and hairy hoofed steed instead?
Camels played a huge part in opening up the country, and the Beltana Station Camel Experience in the Flinders Ranges is a wonderful way to explore the unforgettable terrain.
Or take a photography-themed trek with Camel Trek Australia.
6. Follow an ancient song line in the Northern Territory
Where: Nitmiluk National Park, NT
Walk 62 kilometres over six days following the ancient Jawoyn song line through Nitmiluk National Park.
The wild, uncurbed beauty of the Jatbula Trail will stay with you for the remainder of your days.
Swim in crystal pools, fall asleep to the sound of teeming birdlife and have an all-round life-altering experience.
You can trek guided or unguided.
7. Connect with the custodians of the land…
Where: Narlijia Cultural Tours, Broome, WA
Born and bred in Broome, with the blood of both the Yawuru people of the west Kimberley and the town’s historic pearlers running through his veins, Bart Pigram is uniquely qualified to lead tours of the area.
Taking keen visitors and locals alike on a walkabout through the town or the mangroves, a tour with Bart is to immerse yourself in one of the country’s most fascinating multicultural and indigenous histories.
What does it mean to be a Yawuru man today?
For me, it has to be the acceptance of responsibility as an indigenous man.
It’s definitely a challenge to balance our cultural responsibilities with the demands of mainstream employment and community commitments.
We have responsibilities to care for the land, our people and our culture and language, which can be done while educating and sharing with curious visitors and open-minded locals.
It’s our responsibility to initiate and make this cultural exchange accessible.
How does your Mangrove Tour tell the story of Broome?
The Mangrove Tour is presented in Roebuck Bay and along the foreshore of Broome’s first boat passage cut through the mangroves by the early settlers.
Here, I can weave in the pearling history as this was also the highway for hundreds of pearling vessels either unloading pearl shell at Streeter’s Jetty or beached at lay-up time.
The older stories that fit this location are the Bugarrigarra Ngan-ga, or what’s generally called Dreamtime stories, that I have had the privilege of learning from the older people of our community.
What’s one fact about broome we wouldn’t know?
There are probably a few, but I have found several references to what is likely the first waterhole that was used by Broome’s first settlers, and was called Jirrgin-ngan by the Djugun/Yawuru people.
Now built over, it was on the corner of Napier and Dampier Terraces, near Roebuck Bay Hotel, and was a vital part of Broome’s history.
It’s a shame that it’s not commonly known.
You can walk in the footsteps of the first settlers, as well as explore the rich heritage of the aboriginal people, visit Narlijia Cultural Tours Broome for more.
8. Understand what it feels like to stand on the edge of the world
Where: Three Capes Track, Tasmania
Wild, remote and raw, Tasmania’s Three Capes Track walk opened last year and has since become one of the must-do hiking experiences in the country.
Taking in Port Arthur, Cape Hauy and Cape Pillar over four days, it’s you, a pack, and a lot of time to be alone with your own thoughts.
9. The city can still surprise you
Where: Melbourne, Victoria
Walk to Art is a walking tour with a difference.
Experienced visual arts professional Bernadette Alibrando will walk you through Melbourne, visiting local artists, designers, milliners and textile artists on the way, while experiencing and learning about the city’s diverse architecture.
10. From the most easterly point in the country
Where: Cape Byron Walking Track, Byron Bay, NSW
Be it sunset, sunrise or moonrise, the Cape Byron Lighthouse walk is a truly spectacular way to stretch your legs.
Don’t bail out once you get to the lighthouse; the pay-off comes when you keep walking to the most easterly point in the country.