Explore the country’s diverse coastline of white sand, rugged cliffs, dense bush and lush rainforest by foot with these excellent coastal walking tracks.
1. Noosa National Park, Queensland
Distance: 10.8 kilometres return
Duration: Three to four hours
One of Queensland’s favourite beach holiday destinations is also home to one of the country’s most beautiful coastal walks. There are five tracks located in the 2883-hectare Noosa National Park, a wildlife sanctuary that’s accessible by a one-kilometre beachfront boardwalk from bustling Hastings Street.
While the easy one-kilometre trail through palm groves is perfect for time-poor visitors or those with kids in tow, the 10.8-kilometre coastal track that traces Noosa Headland from Main Beach to Sunshine Beach and back is the real reason to lace up your boots.
With the turquoise ocean on your left, you’ll walk along a well-maintained pathway lined with pandanus palms and seasonal wildflowers, past quiet beaches and bays, to Dolphin Point where there’s a good chance you’ll spot dolphins or whales. The track is unsealed from this point and journeys through eucalypt forest, above the gorgeous Noosa Fairy Pools, past Alexandria Bay beach, and culminates at Sunshine Beach, which is where you can start the return journey.
The serenity of Winch Cove in Noosa National Park
2. Great Ocean Walk, Victoria
Distance: 100 kilometres (smaller sections available
Duration: Up to eight days
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most iconic road trips in the country, but we suggest parking the car and exploring this spectacular coastline by foot. The Great Ocean Walk is easily accessible from many points, meaning visitors can walk the entire length (which can take up to eight days) or do a shorter section in a day.
Intrepid walkers who want to tackle the entire walk should start at Apollo Bay and head west where the track leads to the Twelve Apostles. The track is a mixture of pathways and boardwalks, rocky platforms, sandy beaches, steep stairs and trails through forested areas.
Hugging the coastline with views of the powerful Southern Ocean below, the walk journeys under tall trees, through wet rainforest, along cliff tops, past Cape Otway Lighthouse and through Great Otway National Park. There are also opportunities to spot kangaroos and koalas, seals at Marengo Reef Marine Sanctuary, and penguins that live at the base of the Twelve Apostles viewing area.
There are a number of purpose-built campsites along the walk, and many accommodation options in nearby towns for those who prefer a comfortable bed and hot shower at night. There are also guided walks including accommodation available through Auswalk and Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk.
Stroll the Great Ocean Road
3. Cape to Cape Track, Western Australia
Distance: 130 kilometres (smaller sections available)
Duration: Five to eight days for the entire track
The Cape to Cape Track traces WA’s south-west coast from Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Walking the entire Cape to Cape Track is a challenge that can take up to a week and will require sleeping at basic campsites. However, the track has five shorter sections that are easily accessed.
Walking along constructed paths, along sandy beaches with famous surf breaks, rugged tracks, through inland forest, with some challenging steep sections, walkers are rewarded with incredible views of the Indian Ocean from cliff-tops. Unique flora and fauna can be spotted, including seasonal wildflowers, soaring karri trees, a plethora of birdlife, lizards, possums and humpbacks.
There are many guided walks available along this stunning coastline, such as an adventurous eight-day tour with Aus Walk, and a shorter four-day tour with Walk Into Luxury, which includes luxurious accommodation and gourmet experiences.
Walk Into Luxury does Cape to Cape in style
4. Bouddi Coastal Walk, NSW
Distance: 8.5 kilometres one-way
Duration: Three to four hours
Located on the Central Coast, just 90 minutes’ north of Sydney, Bouddi National Park is home to more than 100 important Aboriginal sites, one of the country’s first protected marine areas, and ancient rugged landscape.
The Bouddi Coastal Walk can be done in a day, but walkers who plan to make the return trip should begin early as it can take up to eight hours. The track begins at Putty Beach picnic area and includes a mix of beach walking, steep stairs, formed track, and rocky platforms. It ends at Macmasters Beach, where walkers can exit the walk or return.
The walk boasts sweeping ocean views, with the opportunity to spot whales in season and the remains of the PS Maitland shipwrecked at Bouddi Point. The track passes deserted beaches perfect for taking a dip, heads through coastal bushland and pockets of rainforest, too. Little Beach campground is located along the walk and includes basic facilities for those who wish to stay overnight.
5. Walk the Yorke, South Australia
Distance: 500 kilometres, broken up into 16 sections
Duration: Each section takes from one to three days
South Australia’s entire Yorke Peninsula boasts more than 500 kilometres of continuous walking and cycling trails. One of the longest and most spectacular sections is from Marion Bay to Gleesons Landing, a 60-kilometre stretch that can be completed over three days.
Starting in the small town of Marion Bay on the east coast of the tip, the trail heads south along rugged cliffs and pristine beaches, past dunes and historic lighthouses, through spectacular Innes National Park, home to emus, kangaroos and wallabies, and back up the western coast to Gleesons Landing. Camping is available along the track, and there are a number of side trips in Innes National Park that can be added to the walk.
A shorter but challenging walk to consider is the 25-kilometre stretch from Foul Bay to Marion Bay. Walkers should allow up to 10 hours to complete the trail due to its mix of terrain, which includes walking along sandy beaches, rock-hopping and climbing dunes.
Make your way through stunning coastal sand dunes
6. Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania
Distance: 27 kilometres
Duration: Two to three days
Known as the ‘Jewel of Tasmania’s coastline’, Freycinet National Park is Tasmania’s oldest national park and is home to jaw-dropping landscapes and the unforgettable Freycinet Peninsula Circuit.
The track journeys through coastal heathland, woodland and forest, along sandy beaches and Freycinet’s unique orange granite boulders and along ridges with some steep mountainous sections. Wineglass Bay, often named one of the world’s best beaches, is an absolute highlight. As requested by the national parks service, the track should be walked in an anti-clockwise direction to help minimise the spread of root rot.
Walkers can camp at Hazards Beach, Cooks Corner and Wineglass Bay. A four-day guided walk is also available through Freycinet Experience Walk, which includes accommodation in a comfortable lodge each night with gourmet food included.
Cape Tourville Lighthouse walk in Freycinet (Photo: Eliza Sholly)