Not all walks suit all walkers. If you prefer a challenge to a saunter, here are three super-challenging hikes for all the goal-setters out there.

Outback endurance

Surviving in the Australian outback is one of the world’s greatest challenges. Luckily, indigenous communities learnt how to overcome this trial many moons ago, and walking the fabled Larapinta Trail is now possible – and extraordinary. Kicking off in Alice Springs, the Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort by Australian Walking Holidays takes you through the Northern Territory’s West MacDonnell Ranges over six days and five nights. You’ll cross sheer ridges and dramatic canyons; hike through dense bush and open, peaceful spaces such as the Ochre Pits, an ancient quarry where Aboriginal people dug for precious ochre – used as both a pigment and a medicine.

It’s a tough slog: you’ll be walking up to 18 kilometres per day (good shoes and relative fitness are important) but with rewarding moments such as climbing Mount Sonder at sunrise, it’s worth it. At 1380 metres above sea level, it’s the highest point of the trek. Watch as Peregrine falcons swirl above you scouting for prey – just keep your wits about you; you don’t want them to think you’re dinner.

Hill with a view

Hiking around the terrain of Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain on the famed Overland Track should be on every walker’s bucket list. On the six-day, five-night Cradle Mountain Huts Walk you start by climbing the steepest section of the entire track and then drop deep into Waterfall Valley and Barn Bluff, where you camp for the night in a private hut. Trekking through forests, former glaciers and finally at Australia’s deepest lake, Lake St. Clair, you’ll have the option to take additional side-trips if you want to challenge yourself further. Climbing Mount Ossa, the highest peak in Tasmania, is possible when weather permits; it’s a challenging trek, but the views will make you forget every ache and pain.

Head for heights

Soaring above UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island is Mount Gower, an 875-metre former volcano – are you brave enough to conquer it? On the fifth and final day of the Seven Peaks Walk on this spectacular NSW island, you have the option of taking on this eight-hour, strenuous round-trip. There’s the added challenge of walking through a cloud forest at the summit, with all the low visibility that involves. You also need a strong head for heights, because you’re often climbing on some seriously hairy precipices – so if you suffer from vertigo, or aren’t at your fittest, maybe sit this extra hike out, chill back at the lodge with a nice cup of tea, or take on one of the easier optional walks, all with a guide, of course.


This feature was created by Australian Traveller and supported by Great Walks of Australia.