Australia is home to some of the most diverse and unique landscapes in the world. Many of these rugged wilderness areas have been declared as National Parks over the years and are looked after by local rangers, government and community groups to maintain the pristine, unspoiled environment.
In fact, Australia has an impressive 681 designated National Parks – and that's not even including the countless nature reserves, gardens and arboretums through the country.
So there's not shortage of opportunities to get out and experience it all on the ground. With plenty of options from day hikes to 15+ day treks, here are five of the best.
Lace up your shoes and I'll see you on the trails!
Kosciuszko National Park, NSW
Unlike the other great mountain peaks of the world, Australia's highest point is a mere 2,228 metres above sea level. This achievable hike in Mount Kosciuszko National Park can be knocked over in a single day (or even a few hours if you take the chair lift up).
You'll pass through New South Wales' premier ski resorts where alpine flowers, icy rivers and snow gums fill the landscape.
Begin in the charming ski village of Charlotte Pass and embark on the 18 kilometre journey towards the top of Mount Kosciuszko. The trail is well sign posted and the path is extremely well maintained by the local rangers due to its popularity.
The track involves a few short, steep hills and a handful of stairs but it is achievable for those with a moderate fitness level.
Distance: 18 kilometres | 11 miles
Time: 5-7 hours
Start: Kosciuszko Road, Charlotte Pass
End: Kosciuszko Road, Charlotte Pass
Highlights of hiking Mount Kosciuszko
Snap a photo at the top of Australia and enjoy panoramic 360-degree views of the Snowy Mountains and surrounding wilderness
Cross the stepping stoned over the famous Snowy River
Keep an eye out for wombats and other Australian wildlife
Take a rest stop at Australia's highest public toilet at Rawson Pass
Good to know
Parking is available near the track head on Kosciuszko Road in Charlotte Pass but may be limited during peak times.
Weather in this area can be extreme and unpredictable, so please ensure you're well-prepared for your visit.
Walking is not recommended in winter as this trail is snowbound. You can cross-country ski or snowshoe this trail in winter but there are no snow poles marking the route.
Drones are not permitted in the area.
Blue Mountains National Park, NSW
Ruined Castle walking track is a jewel among walks in the spectacular Blue Mountains World Heritage area.
Beginning at the Golden Stairs and descending into Jamison Valley, hard walk lets you climb one of the most recognisable landmarks in the valley; the Ruined Castle.
It’s a beautiful rock formation that offers great views over the valley as far as Wentworth Falls and Katoomba.
Descending deep into the valley, you’ll enter the cool, lush rainforest with towering coachwood and sassafrass, and a chance to spot a lyrebird. The track is an historic mining route with tell-tale embankments, cuttings and the tumbled ruins of miners’ cottages.
A steep scramble with some rock-hopping past large boulders leads to the impressive rock formation. At the top, enjoy unsurpassed views of Jamison Valley and Cedar Creek Valley. A perfect spot for a picnic before returning to Katoomba.
Highlights of hiking to Ruined Castle in the Blue Mountains
Visit one of the area most recognisable landmarks, Ruined Castle
Feel the burn as you ascend the challenging but spectacular Golden Stairs with excellent views across the valley
See what you're in for before you set off with the Google Street View Trekker
Distance: 6.6 kilometres | 4 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Start: Golden Stairs carpark, Katoomba
End: Golden Stairs carpark, Katoomba
Good to know
Some areas of this park were affected by fire in 2019/2020. You’ll notice some changes to the landscape, as well as signs of recovery. Some areas may remain closed for longer to allow habitat to recover.
It's a good idea to let someone know where you're going. You can fill in a trip intention form via the NSW National Parks website to send important details about your trip to your emergency contact.
Uluru Base Walk
Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park, NT
Home to Australia’s most iconic natural landmark, Kata Tjuta national Park is more than just a huge expanse of red dust and rock formations. It's a living cultural landscape, humming with ancient wisdom from its traditional land owners, as well as diverse plant and animal life.
At the heart of the Red Centre is, of course, Uluru – also known as Ayers Rock. According to Tjukurpa (creation stories) the park’s unique geological formations were created by ancestral beings that have travelled through the landscape since the beginning of time.
Climbing the ancient monolith was banned in 2019 out of respect for the traditional owners – a decision that was well overdue after years of protesting. But there are still countless ways to take in the magic of the area, including the Uluru Base Walk.
Daily guided tours are held by local rangers free of charge so you can gain further insight into the area's sacred history. You'll come across rock art and wall carvings dating back at least 30,000 years, as well as rare native bird species.
Highlights of the Uluru base walk
See Australia's most iconic natural landmark from all angles
Learn about the dream time stories from the Indigenous people of the Kata Tjuta National Park area
Opt for a sunrise hike to marvel at the landscape during golden hour
Distance: 10.5 kilometres | 6.5 miles
Time: 2.5-3.5 hours
Start: Mala carpark, Katoomba
End: Mala carpark, Katoomba
Good to know
Start the base walk from the Mala carpark in the early morning, while it’s cool. Facing the rock, start by going clockwise. This way, you'll be shaded by from the sun.
Each section will look and feel completely different. Some areas are surprisingly green and lush, providing plenty of wildlife and bush tucker spotting opportunities, while other sections feel open and vast, with very little shade.
You’ll need a national park pass, which you can pre-purchase online for quick and easy entry to the park.
West MacDonnell Ranges National Park
With its rugged, ancient landscape, the Larapinta Trail is one of the most spectacular multi-day hiking experiences in the world.
Stretching through the MacDonnell Ranges, across the sweeping Simpson desert and up through impressive gorgeous and past natural oases, this trail allows keen hikers to get a quintessential outback experience in one of the most spectacular places in Central Australia.
The trail weaves past some of the world's most ancient metamorphic and igneous rock and nearly 600 species of flora. It also links in with other walking tracks within the West MacDonnell National Park, allowing side trips to explore more of the Park.
The trail is best completed over the cooler months between May and August, however, June and July are extremely busy so if you're planning on booking a guided tour, secure your spot well in advance.
Highlights of hiking the Larapinta trail
Simpsons Gap - The land belongs to the Arrernte people. Aboriginal dreamtime stories say that it’s home to a group of giant goanna ancestors.
Serpentine Gorge - A bit of an oasis. Beautiful river red gums grow alongside the semi-permanent waterholes.
Glen Helen Gorge - It’s where the ranges part to make way for the Finke River that flows down to the Simpson Desert. There’s great views of Mount Sonder, one of the highest points in Central Australia.
Distance: 223 kilometres | 138 miles
Time: 15-18 days
Start: Telegraph Station, Alice Springs
End: Redbank Gorge
Good to know
Each trail head has a water tank to refill your water bottles. You'll need at least 2-3 litres per day to keep you hydrated.
There are food storage rooms along the trail so you don't have to carry everything with you all at once.
If you're hiking independently, take cash with you to pay for your campsite fees.
Each section can be reached by four-wheel drive, so you can join or leave the trail at any of the trailheads.
Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair National Park, TAS
Part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, this national park is one of the most spectacular landscapes in the country. Glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains, ancient pine forests and a dusting of snow in winter – the landscapes you see on this multi-day hike will take your breath away (and fill your camera roll).
Beginning at the iconic Cradle Mountain and ending at Australia’s deepest lake – Lake St Clair, this 65 kilometre trek takes you through the heart of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Optional side-trips take you to cascading waterfalls and mountain summits, including Tasmania’s highest peak, Mount Ossa (1617 m).
Highlights of hiking the Overland Track
Summit Cradle Mountain and soak up incredible views of Dove Lake, Peli West and Barn Bluff
Spend a night at one of the most gorgeous camping grounds in Tasmania, Waterfall Valley
Experience Australia's premier alpine walk – one that attracts walkers from across the globe.
Look back at Cradle Mountain from Marion's Lookout
Distance: 65 kilometres | 40 miles
Time: 5-6 days
Start: Waldheim, Cradle Valley
End: Lake St Clair
Good to know
The Overland Track is a serious undertaking, for well–prepared walkers, with a good level of fitness and who understand the risks of walking in a remote alpine area.
Weather can change rapidly and deaths have occurred, even in summer, when people have been caught underprepared in cold, wet and windy weather.
A valid parks pass is required for entry to Tasmania's national parks. You can pre-purchase them online or at a national parks information centre.
Looking to make the trip over to Australia? I'd love to help you get on your way. Get in touch to discuss your options!