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Great Walks of Australia

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Knifeblade Sandblow Darren Jew & Tourism Queensland
tnsw-Bondi-to-Bronte-walkway Pierre Toussaint; Tourism NSW

Great Walks of Australia

story by: Mike Williams

With its stunning beauty and diverse landscape, Australia certainly is the promised land for trekkers. From sandy coastal and island walks to shaded bush trails, there’s a walk to suit the interest, ability and timeframe of any outdoor lover. Imagine discovering the ancient ecological wonder of the great Australian Outback or traversing mountains made of pink granite. Take the opportunity to be at one with nature, catching rare glimpses of unique wildlife and fabled flora and fauna. 

There are so many great walks to choose from. The time of year may help narrow it down as some walks are better suited to certain seasons. For example, it is recommended to walk the famous Overland Track in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania during the summer months when the days are longer. The 65-km track takes in breathtaking sights of glacier-carved lakes, mountains and waterfalls. 

Alternatively, because of the extreme summer temperatures, trails in the Flinders Ranges such as the Heysen Trail should be undertaken in the summer months and, in fact, some sections are even closed between December and April each year. 

How much time you have available may be another deciding factor. While from end to end the Heysen Trail in South Australia is around 1,200km and would take around 60 days to complete, the accessibility means that most walkers opt to choose just a one or two day section. The 90km Cape Jervis to Victor Harbor section offers beautiful coastal scenery and enchanting wildflowers in the spring. Other highlights of the Heysen Trail include the renowned Barossa wine region and overwhelming mountain views of Mount Remarkable and the Flinders Ranges.

Other tracks have limited accessibility and must be completed in the same trip. If you have a week to spare and are the self-sufficient type, then the boat-accessible Fraser Island Great Walk in Queensland takes five to seven days. The payoff is an easy-to-moderate diverse walk that takes in coastal heathland, mangroves, rainforests, sand dunes and crystal-clear lakes.

The Great Ocean Walk on Victoria's south-west coast is another popular choice and showcases not only captivating coastal scenery and unique wildlife but historical and cultural landmarks too. Be on the lookout for dinosaur fossils in the Otways and for shipwrecks like the Fiji at the appropriately-named Wreck Beach, its home since 1891. The Great Ocean Walk is around 100 km long and takes approximately eight days to complete. However, there are sections that can be taken in two, three or four days.

As with long distance walking all over the world, safety should be the upmost priority. Be prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear and have plenty of water and snacks. Supplies like insect repellent and sunscreen are a must when hiking in Australia. Check the weather, track conditions and tides in advance and be aware of common snakes and other wildlife that live in the area before you set off. Stay on the marked tracks and ensure these natural phenomena are around for generations to come by respecting the environment.

For added safety and to get the most out of your trip, consider joining a guided walk. The guides will know the best way to plan out the walk and optimum photo spots, not to mention safety expertise. Best of all, meals are taken care of and you can amble through the wonderful scenery secure in the knowledge that your accommodation lies ready at the end of day. Also, the local guides may give you more of an insight into the region than you might be able to ascertain from a guidebook.

Regardless of whether you opt for a guided walk or whether you’re keen to embark on a solo mission, Australia offers a plethora of once-in-a-lifetime hiking adventures. Dust off your hiking boots and start planning!

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