The best walking trails in Australia can throw up challenges, but always deliver rewards. Whether you plan to head out for a one-day hike or tackle a multi-day adventure, the rich landscapes of Australia is a treasure-trove for trekkers.
Walking the vast wilderness Down Under has actually been a ritual that dates back thousands of years. The country’s indigenous settlers are famed for their “walkabout” spiritual journeys. Some of the ancient tracks still exist and have been meticulously preserved as World Heritage Sites.
If you’re fit enough, why not follow in the footsteps of the ancients through the outback, across desert land, along the coastline and breathtaking rainforests. You be faced with challenges, but the best walking trails in Australia are well with the effort.
Here’s our top ten.
Fraser Island Great Walk, Queensland
The Fraser Island Great Walk traces the footsteps of the native Butchulla tribes that made the 90-kilometre walk in search of habitable land. Today, the settlements are known as Dilli Village and Happy Valley.
Protected under the World Heritage Trust, this iconic trail takes you through lush subtropical rainforests featuring crystal-water pools and photogenic mangroves – some of the island’s top tourist attractions. Take your swimming costume and have a dip in the striking blue waters of Lake McKenzie.
You can head over to Frazer Island for half-day or full-day walks. If you want to do the entire trail, you will need seven or eight days. It’s a relatively easy walk and you will find campsites and guesthouses along the route.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, South Australia
Kangaroo Island is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most intriguing locations. The Wilderness Trail brings you into contact with a whole host of wildlife, and not just the odd skippy kangaroo. Expect to find wallabies, goannas, birds and echidnas that live and feed off the dense vegetation.
This is one of the few routes on our list of best walking trails in Australia that doesn’t throw up any surprises. There are campsites all along the trail and the track is straightforward enough to be self-guided. If you plan to complete the entire 61km course, reserve at least five days. It is recommended that hikers from outside Australia book accommodation before your departure as this can be a popular route with tourists.
Yuraygir Coastal Walk, New South Wales
With its spectacular beaches, shimmering lagoons and charming coastal villages, the Yuraygir Coastal Walk is arguably among one of the most picturesque trails in the world. The ancient coastal route was once home to emus which thrived throughout the New South Wales coastline.
Starting at Iluka or Yamba, the trail traverses several types of terrain; from secluded beaches, rainforests, paperbark swamps, heathlands, creeks and lagoons. Along the way, you will be confronted with spectacular rock formations teeming with river systems and a diverse range of biodiversity.
Despite some of the challenging terrain, the trail is moderate at best and easily accessible for beginners.
Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales
If you’re looking for a walking trail you can cover in a day, the Mount Gower World Heritage route on Lord Howe Island is a good place to go. The 14-kilometre round trip can be picked off in around 9 hours, 5 hours up and four hours down.
Standing 875 metres high, Mount Gower is not the most intimidating summit to reach, but the walk through misty fern-filled forests is like being in a Lord of the Rings movie. You also get glorious views of the neighbouring Mt. Lidgbird; Balls Pyramid, the world’s largest sea stack.
Along the way, you will come into contact with a diverse range of flora and fauna including rare orchids and woodhens. The trail is considered moderate and guides are recommended. On the descent, you will need to negotiate ledge crossings and ropes sections.
The Kosciuszko Walk, Mt Kosciuszko, NSW
Traversing the alpine wilderness of Kosciuszko National Park, just six hours drive from Sydney brings you into contact with ten of Australia’s highest peaks. Throughout the summer (November to February in Oz), you can claim them all during a four-day organised trek.
The most popular walk, however, is the iconic 13km loop track to Mt Kosciuszko. It takes about 5-hours to complete. The track starts from the top of the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift, on Thredbo and exposes you to spectacular views looking out across the mountain landscape.
Heysen Trail, Cape Jervis, South Australia
Stretching a whopping 1,200 kilometres, the Heysen Trail path is the longest dedicated walking trail in Oz – and one of the wildest. It’s also thought to be one of the oldest landscapes on earth. The Wilpena Pound and the Elder Range in the foothills have been dated to be around 800-million years old.
Taking you through spectacular rural landscapes and over the rolling hills of the Fleurieu Peninsula and Mt Lofty Ranges, this iconic trail invites you to explore some of the most scenic bushlands of South Australia’s national parks.
Some parts of the trail are rated moderate although not out of reach for beginners that have a reasonable amount of experience. There are plenty of options for single-day hikes for hikers of all levels. Check whether a guide is recommended in the area you want to see.
If you want to spend more time in the awe-inspiring part of the world, book a six-day trek covering almost 72km through the Flinders’ regions. Your fitness levels need to be pretty good – you’ll be scaling St Mary Peak (1170m), the highest summit in the Flinders Range together with Mount Remarkable, the lookout point at Spencer Gulf.
Tarkine/Takayna Walks, Savage River National Park, Tasmania
Savage River National Park in Tasmania is arguably one of the most magical destinations on the planet. The raking conservation area is relatively unexplored, and home to untamed 60-million-year-old dense forestry is the oldest cool temperate rainforest in Australia.
The rugged wilderness means that access into the national park’s stunning rainforests is only possible via a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Highlights include the pristine Savage River pouring through a tree-covered gorge, the impressive views at Dip Falls defined by its hexagonal basalt columns and 6000-year-old stone carvings.
You also have the option to take a cruise along the Arthur River and hike along gnarly coastlines. The region is teeming with wildlife including orange-bellied and swift parrots – the world’s rarest and fastest parrots. If you’re lucky you may even spot the elusive platypus at Emu River.
Grand Canyon Track, Blue Mountain National Park, Blackheath, Sydney
Regarded as one of the most awe-inspiring regions in Australia, the trails of Blue Mountain National Park takes you through lush rainforests and brings you into contact with creek crossings, small waterfalls, high cliff walls and rock overhangs.
Among the best walking trails in Australia is the Grand Canyon track, a purpose-built path that was opened in 1907 to protect visitors from the most dangerous section of the canyon. Surrounding by impressive sandstone rocks and ever-present waterfalls, the historic loop track takes you into the heart of the Blue Mountains and an unforgettable adventure.
The trail starts at Evans Lookout and takes you along a shaded track close to Greaves Creek. As you meander through luscious vegetation of ferns and golden wattles you’ll pass mossy overhangs and cross a boardwalk bridge before the canyon opens up in its full glory. There are some tricky semi-ledges to navigate but nothing that will cause too much trouble for beginners.
Overland Track, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
The Overland Track in Tasmania is one of the most famous walking routes in Australia. An 89km evaluated trail takes around 7-9 days to complete but you can head out on a self-guided one tour at various stages of the trail.
Due to its popularity, hikers are advised to book several months in advance. You need to apply for a permit to access Cradle Mountains’ extensive bushland during the summer months. During this time you are only permitted to the trail from north to south starting from Ronny Creek.
The World Heritage-listed landscape is truly enchanting and takes you into the heart of Tasmania. As you emerge from the dense foliage of the rainforest you will catch your first glimpse of the epic craggy peak of Cradle Mountain which hangs over the island’s deepest natural lake, St. Clair.
If you’re fit enough to tackle the entire trail – a six-day binge of breathtaking landscape, you will navigate varied terrains including dramatic rock trails, the ancient Myrtle forest, glaciated dolerite landscapes and uneven plateaus covered in sparkling tarns. Not to be missed.
Larapinta Trail, West MacDonnell National Park
Australia’s other most popular walking trail is the Larapinta Trail, one of the world’s best desert treks and somewhat more difficult than the Overland Track due to the hostile terrain.
As you venture through the barren and rugged red rock slopes of West MacDonnell National Park, you come to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the region. The shadowed gorges, snaking riverbanks, open plains and towering mountain walls are filled with a rich diversity of animals and plants, it can often feel other-worldly.
If you fancy the gruelling multiway trek, you will be expected to cover 231km including the summit of Mt Sonder, the highest point in the West Macs. This is a route that is recommended to experienced hikers only. The views are outstanding and well worth the effort. The trek really fills you with a sense of achievement.
Unlike some of the best walking trails in Australia, the Larapinta Trail is open all year round to everyone. Be warned that the nights can get pretty chilly in the winter months despite the days being warm enough to take a dip in refreshing swimming holes.
If you’re planning a visit Down Under and intend to tackle one of the best walking trails in Australia, don’t forget to download the Sweatcoin app. Our app has a built-in pedometer that counts the number of steps you take and converts them into a digital token you can trade-in for merchandise with over 300 retailers we have partnered with.
So what are you waiting for, download the Sweatcoin app today and get on your hiking boots? The more miles you walk, the more money you earn.