Step out onto one of Australia’s top trails, traversing wild islands, past clifftop waterfalls or along sandy coastlines.
You can explore Australia on epic road trips, world-class train journeys and even scenic flights, but for the adventurous - and ambitious - one of the most immersive ways to connect with the diverse and dramatic landscapes is on your own two feet.
Take to the trail on one of these extraordinary walks.
Fraser Island Great Walk
Stretching more than 90 kilometres (55 miles) across the world’s largest sand island, the Fraser Island Great Walk takes in tall forests, golden sand dunes and mesmerising blue lakes. Embark on the journey from Dilli Village before trekking through eucalypt forest, over sand flats and finally to deep, freshwater lakes. Don’t miss the bright white shoreline and clear waters of the dazzling Lake McKenzie. It takes about eight days to complete the entire trail, but there are shorter trails for those short on time, too, like the Lake Wabby Walk. Parts of the Fraser Island Great Walk are far from the island’s villages, so be sure to bring along all necessary gear, book campsites in advance and stay dingo safe.
The 1,200-kilometre (745-mile) Heysen Trail is Australia’s longest dedicated walking trail, as well as one of the wildest. It follows the vivid South Australian landscapes from the wildlife and wine regions of the Fleurieu Peninsula to the craggy peaks of the Flinders Ranges, winding through native bushland, coastal plains and historic towns. The trail is not only known for its dramatic nature but also its surprising wildlife. Spot kangaroos, rock wallabies and echidnas as you traverse deep gorges and cross trickling creeks. Serious hikers can tackle the entire trail, but there are also a variety of shorter day walks for hikers of all abilities. If you’re eager to embark on a multi-day hike, check out the campsites and huts along the way. Alternatively, book a guided expedition, which includes expert guides, accommodation and meals.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
Full of native wildlife and windswept coastline, Kangaroo Island is one of Australia’s most intriguing destinations. Along the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, you’ll have the chance to explore the island from the dense eucalypt woodland of Flinders Chase National Park to the stark limestone cliffs of the coast. The trail is ideal for a self-guided journey, with campsites situated at the end of each day’s walk. However, you can also arrange a guided walk with secluded accommodation off the trail. This five-day trek is the experience of a lifetime, allowing you to reconnect with nature from the moment the sun rises until the stars come out. Hikers must book their walk prior to departure.
One of Australia’s most epic outback treks, the Larapinta Trail follows the spine of the rugged West MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory. Expect towering red rock escarpments, refreshing waterholes and steep terrain, as well as the opportunity to visit sacred Aboriginal sites. Take your time as you visit quiet, remote chasms and gorges, including Simpsons Gap, Ellery Creek Big Hole and Glen Helen Gorge. The trail begins at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, and it can take between 12 and 20 days to complete the entire 223 kilometres (139 miles) of challenging track. If you’d rather tackle a shorter section, embark on a day walk like the Counts Point walk. Hikers who want extra amenities and expert guides should consider the Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort.
The Jatbula Trail, which winds through the Northern Territory’s breathtaking Nitmiluk National Park, isn’t only a stunning nature hike but also an incredible cultural excursion. The trail follows an ancient Song Line used by the Jawoyn Aboriginal people. You’ll trek from Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge to the picturesque Leliyn (Edith Falls), marvelling at thunderous waterfalls as they tumble over sandstone cliffs and flow into creeks bordered by monsoon forest. Along the way, you’ll take refreshing swims in natural waterholes, view ancient Aboriginal rock art and experience the region’s unique flora and fauna. While many hikers tackle this trail on their own, you can also enlist the help of expert guides. The Jatbula Trail is graded medium to difficult and is best for hikers with some bushwalking experience.
Known as one of Australia’s greatest walking trails, the Bibbulmun Track stretches over 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) through the heart of Western Australia’s stunning south-west corner. Here, you’ll find forests of karri trees, which are found nowhere else in the world, as well as soft sand dunes, coastal lookouts and the wild southern ocean. Hikers can take a day walk from one of several towns along the route, including Pemberton and Denmark, or embark on an incredible eight-week journey to complete the entire trail. You’ll end the trek in Albany, a perfect starting point to visit some of Western Australia’s most amazing attractions, like the killer whale expeditions of Bremer Bay. Or, head inland and drive the awe-inspiring PUBLIC Silo Trail, where you’ll stop into tiny towns with giant, world-class murals.
Cape to Cape Track
The Cape to Cape Track offers an exhilarating mix of coastal cliffs, cave networks, breezy forests and sandy beaches. The 123-kilometre (76-mile) track begins at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse within the stunning Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Traversing the coast of Western Australia, the walk is one that brings a true sense of adventure and freedom as you stroll the windy foreshore. One of the best ways to dive into the breathtaking beauty of the Margaret River region is to embark on the award-winning Cape to Cape Track with Walk into Luxury. This guided, four-day journey combines small-group hiking, villa accommodation and gourmet food and wine for an unforgettable walking experience.
Great Ocean Walk
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most remarkable and famous road trips, and it’s on-foot equivalent, the Great Ocean Walk, is equally impressive. Beginning at the charming fishing village of Apollo Bay in Victoria, you’ll trek along 100 kilometres (62 miles) of diverse national park, coastal cliffs and breezy beaches. While in parts the trail runs parallel to the Great Ocean Road, the walk also takes you where the road doesn’t, moving through low forest and across unique, honeycomb-like rock shelves. Finally, one of the region’s most beautiful attractions will appear in front of you: the 12 Apostles. These limestone spires are magnificent as they change colour with the sun. The Great Ocean Walk can be done on your own, or with a range of guided group treks.
Tasmania is spoiled with incredible walking trails, but few are as iconic as the Overland Track. The track takes in some of Tasmania’s most famous attractions, like Cradle Mountain and Mount Ossa, and showcases the secluded nature that makes this state a haven for hikers. Reaching roughly 65 kilometres (40 miles), the trail weaves through grassy plains and past towering bluffs and peaks. After a thrilling six days, you’ll end the journey at the tranquil Lake St Clair. Embark on your own, or take on the Overland Track in style with the Cradle Mountain Huts Walk, which sees walkers staying in exclusive accommodation in exceptional surrounds. Weather in Tasmania can change rapidly, so it’s important to be well-prepared for wet and cold conditions. All walkers are required to book online in advance.
Three Capes Track
Tasmania’s Three Capes Track in Australia’s far south-east is the last slice of southern land before you reach Antarctica. The remote location is apparent as you traverse the striking clifftop coastline on the four-day Three Capes Track, with only the waves below to break the serene silence. The track can be tackled independently or with an expert guide, who will offer a deeper knowledge of the unique landscape. Expect to see towering dolerite spires, stark sea cliffs and bright blue ocean water along the way. The journey begins at Port Arthur Historic Site before a ride to the trailhead aboard a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys boat. Walker numbers are limited, so be sure to book far in advance. For a guided journey, check out the Three Capes Lodge Walk, which offers comfortable accommodation and tasty meals.
Bondi to Coogee Coastal walk
One of Sydney’s most stunning coastal treks, the Bondi to Coogee walk winds around the beaches and headlands of the city’s eastern suburbs. Beginning with the iconic vistas of Bondi Icebergs, you’ll walk along clifftops as you pass golden sand beaches, ocean baths and panoramic views. The six-kilometre (3.7-mile) trail takes about two hours to complete, but you might be tempted to stop at one of the walk’s beautiful beaches, including Tamarama and Bronte Beach, along the way. You might even come across large-scale sculptures dotting the coast if you visit during Sculpture by the Sea, the world’s largest free to the public sculpture exhibition. After, reward yourself with the casual yet crave-worthy fare at the seaside Coogee Pavilion.
Australian Alps Walking Track
The Australian Alps Walking Track is often regarded as the country’s best long-distance walking trail, weaving through the high country of Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The 650-kilometre (404-mile) trek can take weeks to complete in its entirety, but walkers can also take on shorter sections, like those offered within beautiful national parks like Kosciuszko and Namadgi. No matter where you choose to begin the journey, you’re sure to come across rugged Australian landscapes, exploring native forests, ascending rocky peaks and traversing exposed high plains. Weather can change without warning, so be sure to prepare for wet and windy weather no matter when you walk.