For outdoor thrill seekers, Australia is a wonderland of rugged terrain and dramatic topography. Time to grab your boots and plan your next trek.
Totaling 138.5 miles, this ranging trail spans 12 sections which can be completed in a single hike or broken into day hikes—each section is vehicle accessible, so hop on and off as suits you.
The trail reaches from Alice Springs in the east to Mount Sonder in the west. The diverse geography it takes in its path makes it one of the most popular treks in the region. From sharply ascending bluffs with views for miles to long, flat, meandering sections past shady waterholes, there’s a stretch to suit every preference.
You’ll need serious outdoors and fitness skills to tackle this one. The roughly 40-mile track takes you through Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in Tasmania. You’ll need to pay a registration fee to complete the hike during the busy months (October–June). And whichever season you choose, you’ll need to plan for exposure to the elements and long, strenuous days.
Conditions are grueling on the six-day journey. But everything you see along the way—from dramatic glacially formed valleys to dizzying mountain panoramas—puts the splendor of the park in full display.
Three Sisters, Blue Mountains National Park
The work of millennia, these astonishing sandstone pillars were once, according to Aboriginal legend, three beautiful women forbidden from inter-tribal marriages to the men they loved. A tribal elder turned them into stone to protect them but, after dying in battle himself, was unable to restore them to human form. Here they stand to this day, their geology so magnificently full of life that the origin of the myth is easily understandable.
The trail to the sisters leads you through forest as old as the dinosaurs and past some of the most stunning formations you’ll ever see.
Coastal Track, Noosa National Park
Because a stunning ocean view is always welcome, this pretty stretch of trail is a must for area visitors. It’s one among several routes in the park, which hosts just over nine miles of prime hiking paths. What makes the coastal track special, of course, is its access to some of the most gorgeous beaches in Queensland. This means that once you’ve done your mileage for the day, you can relax on the shoreline and enjoy the beauty of the sparkling sea.
Great Ocean Walk, Wilson’s Promontory
This meandering 60-mile trail lets you traverse everything from breathtaking cliffs and rocky shores to woodlands and estuaries, all through one of Australia’s most stunning national parks. The park includes access to the southern-most lighthouse in operation on Australia’s mainland.
Suitable for multiday backpacking adventures or hop-on, hop-off day hikes, much of the trail is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. But if you’ll be making the trip with a mixed-ability group, check with park rangers to make sure your path is appropriate for the whole party.
Main Range Walk, Kosciuzco National Park
The 13.6-mile loop covers some of Australia’s alpine high country. Expect spare, rugged beauty and steep climbs. Observe the glacially sculpted geography and cross the Snowy River.
If you visit in summer, you’ll revel in the fiery wildflowers on display throughout much of the journey. But during the winter, expect a white-blanketed landscape best crossed on snowshoes.
Whatever the season, when you reach the trail’s summit, you’ll be at one of Australia’s highest points, surveying mountains in all directions.