Walking and hiking Australia

The ultimate guide toWalking & Hiking

Sometimes, the oldest method of transportation is the best one. What better way to get acquainted up close with Australia’s gorgeous landscapes than by foot? From short, scenic urban strolls to epic, multi-day cross-country treks, Australia’s walking and hiking scene is as diverse as the scenery you’ll be able to view while doing it.

Each state of Australia is home to countless incredible walks that showcase just how different each state – and each region within each state – truly is. Whether it’s taking a leisurely walk to popular lookout points in Sydney, braving the pristine alpine environments of Tasmania, or anything in between, your feet can be the vehicle to some unforgettable adventures in Australia. We take a look at the best walks and hikes in Australia here.

The Best Walks & Hikes in NSW

New South Wales offers the best of both worlds in terms of walking opportunities, with capital Sydney home to a number of excellent walks close to – and even within – the city as well as entirely different environments in far-flung locations beyond. Stick to Sydney and surrounds, and you’ll find exceptional yet easy-on-the-calves walks such as Bondi to Coogee or the Spit Bridge Walk return optimal views of lovely beaches and towering cliffs in exchange for minimal effort.

Just outside the city awaits some substantial wilderness areas ideal for hiking. Encircled by national park, there’s multiple options for nature-enshrouded walking treks nearby. The Blue Mountains make for an obvious choice, with its expansive, World Heritage protected environment home to countless trails both easy and challenging and showcasing iconic rock formations, sheer cliff faces, hidden waterfalls and dense Aussie bush.

Its recently-popular sister – made famous by online imagery of its Figure 8 Pools – Royal National Park sits just to the south of Sydney and features a mixture of walking and hiking tracks as long as 26km. Aboriginal rock art, views of whales, and some of Sydney’s prettiest unknown beaches can all be discovered here.

Head further north in NSW, and locations such as the Byron Bay Hinterland and its lighthouse, the South Coast walks of Kiama and beyond, Kosciuszko’s pristine alpine terrain, and many others all offer immaculate opportunities to put your feet to work.

The Best Walks & Hikes in Victoria

Victoria’s mix of mountainous and coastal terrain provides it with a range of destinations for those both casual and serious about their hiking. You don’t need a car to soak in much of the incredible seascapes and geology the Great Ocean Road has to offer; in many ways, the Great Ocean Walk is a more intimate look at the stunning stretch from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles.

Elsewhere, Victoria’s duo of outstanding national parks in Wilsons Promontory National Park with its 3-4 day duration Great Prom Walk and sweeping coastal views, and the extensive Grampians Peaks Trail that can span almost up to a full two weeks worth of indigenous culture, ancient canyons, and much more.

For a journey that allows you to pay your respects to our veterans while also absorbing lush fern-based greenery, the Yarra Valley / Dandenong Ranges‘ Kokoda Memorial Walk is a curated walk of 1,000 steps. For rugged coastal scenery and sweeping sea panoramas, head to Phillip Island and embark on the 3.5 hour Cape Woolamai Walk.

The Best Walks & Hikes in Queensland

Boasting its own collection of great walks, Queensland’s walking tracks wind their way through the best of reef, rainforest and island landscapes encompassing four World Heritage listed sites. The Great Barrier Reef and its islands is an obvious excellent backdrop that can be viewed on multiple different walks in QLD – from the hike up Castle Hill in Townsville, the Conway Circuit in the Whitsundays, or the climb up the top of Mt Bartle Frere: the state’s tallest peak.

Rainforest walks are also a big part of what distinguishes Queensland’s walking and hiking scene from other states. Hiking in the tropics provides another atmosphere to standard Aussie bush, with different plant and animal life and ample waterfalls throughout. Explore the Scenic Rim Trail in the foothills of South East Queensland rich with Gondwana Rainforest, or traverse both the Gold Coast Hinterland and Sunshine Coast Hinterland and see their own blend of subtropical rainforest and individual highlights.

Stick to the coast and garner amazing views of Queensland’s signature beaches and sand with the extended Cooloola Great Walk, or simply opt for an adventure through Noosa National Park itself. Don’t forget the Carnarvon Great Walk of Central QLD either, with its mix of amazing gorgeous and the extensive plateaus of the state’s most elevated portion.

The Best Walks & Hikes in Western Australia

Western Australia offers some of the greatest contrasts in landscapes of any state of Australia for a hike, with walkers able to take their pick of tracks that follow alongside some of the most vivid turquoise water in the country, or go the opposite direction and leave footprints in the ochre-red dust of the outback.

Home to one of Australia’s premier long distance walks, the “two lighthouses” trek of the Cape to Cape Track between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste spans an impressive 135km worth of hidden coves, secluded beaches, and pretty coastal scrubland. On the greener side of things, the Walpole to Denmark section of the Bibbulmun Track shows off some of the best of WA’s forests, with sections of towering karri trees and touches of coastline thrown in.

The walk through the Valley of the Giants in itself is one of the most unique in the country, with the ability to stroll through the forest canopy 40 metres above the ground. The diversity of WA’s national parks also shines through, with walking opportunities that showcase the state’s contrasts.

From the alpine wildflowers and exceptional panoramas from atop Bluff Knoll in Stirling Range National Park to the unique, towering beehive-like structures of the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley’s Purnululu National Park, WA’s diversity creates nearly endless delights for aspiring hikers.

The Best Walks & Hikes in South Australia

Whether it’s in the green or red portions of the mainland or offshore on incredible islands, South Australia’s walking scene is extensive in terms of both distances and environments. Many of the most rugged parts of SA are also conducive to some truly epic walks, and some of the best extended walks can also be found here. You don’t even have to venture far from the city to enjoy Adelaide’s best walks.

The Heysen Trail is SA’s flagship and remains one of the most iconic walks in all of Australia, spanning an impressive 1,200km in its totality and covering much of the diversity of the state’s landscapes – from verdant wine regions to arid mountain ranges and everything in between. Of course, it can be done in smaller sections, with the coastal portion regarded as a good blend between ease and scenery.

“Smaller” acclaimed walks in SA include the Arkaba Walk – a 3-day guided walking safari in the Flinders Ranges through to massive Wilpena Pound; the 5-day Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail that covers many of this amazing island’s major natural essentials; and the more-manageable 33km Riesling Trail through the Clare Valley that follows the path of a former railway line and allows time for sampling plenty of local wines and delectable produce.

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The Best Walks & Hikes in the Northern Territory

If you’re the type of walker looking to experience some of our country’s most immense national parks, the Northern Territory delivers in spades. As one of the most “natural” states in Australia, the NT’s range of walks offers a cavalcade of all the rugged beauty one would expect.

Kakadu National Park is a destination in and of itself, with a host of walking trails running the gamut in both distance and length. Its concentration of towering waterfalls, indigenous art and biodiversity is hard to match, with the only limits being the weather and your degree of stamina.

Some of the NT’s most significant individual highlights are also best explored by foot. With the ability to climb now gone, Uluru is still incredible to experience by navigating its base, while sister formation Kata Tjuta offers the several-hour Valley of the Winds walk amongst its towering domes.

Taking things up a notch in terms of challenge and time, both the Jatbula Trail (5-6 days, great mix of Katherine Gorge and Arnhem Land terrain), and the epic and iconic Larapinta Trail (13-15 days spanning valleys, plains, canyons and much more) are staples for veteran walkers and hikers.

Even traversing the edge along the Kings Canyon Rim Walk – a 6km hike along “Australia’s answer to the Grand Canyon” – provides a spectacle of a valley that’s unmatched elsewhere in Australia.

The Best Walks & Hikes in Tasmania

With an alpine landscape that offers majestic scenery that is often entirely different to the mainland, it can be argued that Tasmania is Australia’s premier state for walks and hikes. With high levels of elevation, incredibly clean air and a cooler climate, some of the environments Tassie have to offer are pristine – to say the least.

The most recent, comprehensive showcase of this for walkers is the stunning Three Capes Track; a 4-day coastal walk along the Tasman Peninsula that shows off spectacular views from some of the highest dolerite sea cliffs the world has to offer. Likewise Cradle Mountain – with its distinctive shape – serves as both an element on the epic Overland Track route, or an easier walk in itself with a relatively leisurely stroll around the Dove Lake Track in its wake.

Head to the coast, and the walking opportunities Tasmania have to offer don’t let up. The Bay of Fires, with its vivid orange lichen-draped rocks and glowing waters makes for the backdrop for the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, while Freycinet and Wineglass Bay further to the south both offer a mix of wonderful lookout points and one of Australia’s most acclaimed beaches.

You can even head to an “island off the island” of Tasmania itself and embark on a multi-day walk on Maria Island, home to an incredible array of rare wildlife and sweeping coastal views.