Five of Australia’s best hikes
19 January 2021
Unsurprising for a country that is a continent in its own right, Australia has a spectacular array of landscapes – from sun-kissed deserts to rugged mountain passes – all begging to discovered. Hiking is a great way to explore as the slower pace allows you to appreciate the smaller details, like daily wildlife rituals. Getting around on foot is also a low-impact way to travel, generating far fewer emissions than cars, while also boosting your health and fitness. What’s not to love?
Without further ado, here are some of the best hikes in Australia.
The Larapinta Trail, Northern Territory
The Larapinta trail has emerged in recent years as a hot favourite of the Australian Outback. The 223km (139 miles) track, which begins just outside Alice Springs and ends at Mt Sonder, is divided into 12 distinct sections. Hikers pass through open country and along winding gullies, through soaring gorges, dried out riverbeds and shimmering waterholes where you can take a refreshing dip.
Being in the Red Centre, the best time to hike the Larapinta Trail is during the winter months (April through August) as the sun is less intense and you can cover more ground. It’s also recommended to start hiking early in the day, just after sunrise, before things heat up. Because the track has some more challenging sections, it is recommended hikers have at least a reasonably good level of fitness.
Bibbulmun Track, Western Australia
Stretching more than 1,000km (62 miles) from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills, to Albany on the south coast, the Bibbulman track winds through misty jarrah forests and along coastal clifftops. A highlight of this trail is the enormous karri trees, which are some of the tallest trees in Australia, while keen-eyed visitors can spot bobtail skinks, quokkas and blue wrens.
The best times to walk the Bibbulmun Track is during autumn (April to May), winter (June to August) and spring (September to mid-November), which is when the trail blooms with colourful wildflowers.
Cradle Mountain’s Overland Track, Tasmania
Cradle Mountain sits in the stunning Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area, in the state’s northwest. Here you’ll find rocky mountain peaks, buttongrass moorlands, glacial lakes, waterfalls and dense rainforest synonymous with Tasmania.
The walk itself is a 65km (39 mile) six-day, five-nights affair with sections that can be long, rough and steep, but still approachable for those with an average level of fitness. Unlike the Larapinta Trail and Bibbulmun Track, the best time to hike the Cradle Mountain Overland Track is during the summer months to avoid rainfall and possible snow. There are more daylight hours too, which allows you to cover more ground.
Heysen Trail, South Australia
The Heysen Trail stretches 1,200kms (745 miles) from Cape Jervis on the coast all the way into the Flinders Ranges, where you’ll find deep gorges, natural amphitheatres composed of red rock, swimming holes and some of the oldest fossilised rock formations on Earth. If you don’t want to commit to the full trail, one of the more popular options is to tackle 47kms (29 miles) over five days.
This trail, set in Wilpena Pound, begins at Mount Remarkable National Park and passes through magnificent River Red Gum woodland, where you can spot emus, kangaroos and kookaburras. One of the unique things about the trail is that it passes through Adnyamathanha land, and the Indigenous people here still maintain their strong connection to country.
The best time to go is from April to October, when cool mornings and evenings are perfect for hiking.
Mt Kosciuszko Summit Walk, New South Wales
Tackling Australia’s highest peak might seem daunting, but at 18.6kms (11.5mi) the Summit Walk is an approachable weekend hike. Hikers will encounter sweeping views of the Snowy Mountains that straddle the border between Victoria and New South Wales, including the Ramshead Range of Thredbo Valley. While the going can sometimes be tough, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with spectacular alpine wilderness – storied huts that evoke the Man from Snowy River, twisted snow gums and, in early summer, the meadows come alive with the colour of silver snow daisies, marigolds and mountain roses.
The Summit Walk is one of those all-weather adventures. While the best time to hike is in summer (December to March), when temperatures hover between 11-26C, you’ll still need to pack thermals for chilly nights and be prepared with wet weather gear in the event of rain – and sometimes even snow!