Australia is made for exploring on foot; where roads peter out, trails lure you into otherwise inaccessible landscapes. The outback will soon immerse you in ochre gorges and exploding sunsets. The coast elevates you above blue bays with views to eye-scrunching horizons, while country tracks lead you into buxom hills where cockatoos cackle.
Our most famous multiday walks, such as the Northern Territory's 20-day Larapinta Trail, are beyond the comfort zones of most of us. Others, such as Tasmania's five-day Overland Track, have fallen victim to popularity and require advance booking. Yet Australia is full of escapes, in destinations from Fraser Island to the Flinders Ranges. Here are six to tempt you into getting out, shedding the stresses of the past 18 months, and reconnecting with country.
Wharf to Wharf Walk, NSW
Photo: David Rogers/DNSW
Not every great overnight hike is a marathon. This recently inaugurated 27-kilometre route between historic wharfs at Tathra and Merimbula in southern NSW can be enjoyed over two or three days. But what's the rush? The track winds across ocean-gazing cliffs and loops past plump beaches and bays where sapphire and emerald waters create vivid palettes. You'll have to carry your own food and camp overnight, so book with the Sapphire Coast Guiding Co if you're after an easier, more catered affair. wharftowharfwalk.com.au; sapphirecoastguidingco.com.au
Croajingolong Wilderness Walk, Vic
This is the most scenic section of the Wilderness Coast Walk that extends into NSW. While only 45 kilometres across mostly flat Gippsland landscape, it takes you through rugged country best suited to experienced bushwalkers. Expect plenty of rock scrambles, the occasional wade, and basic campsites. Gippsland High Country Tours takes advantage of occasional access roads to offer a more sedate six-night tour at a relaxed pace, with the focus on wildflowers and bird watching. visitgippsland.com.au; gippslandhighcountrytours.com.au
Kidman Trail, SA
These 269 kilometres through the Mount Lofty Ranges between Willunga and Kapunda are designed for horse and bike riders as well as hikers. The challenging part is that the walk takes well over a week but, on the plus side, you're never far from a pub meal, cellar door or comfortable digs. You also get a rambler's different view of popular South Australian destinations including the Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills and Barossa wine region. Hills stitched with vineyards or patched with forest provide voluptuous scenery, while towns provide regular points of interest. southaustralia.com
Part of the Maria Island Walk. Photo: Matthew Netwon
Maria Island, Tas
Maria Island, just off Tasmania's east coast, has glorious beaches, turquoise waters and windblown landscapes but also historic interest thanks to explorers, convicts and Italian settlers. It also features abundant wildlife and outstanding bird watching in open forests, grasslands and coastal heaths. The 42-kilometre walk takes four days and you'll have to carry your supplies but, in summer, Maria Island Walk organises civilised guided hikes with gourmet dinners and wilderness camps. parks.tas.gov.au; mariaislandwalk.com.au
Jatbula Trail, NT
The 62 kilometres between Nitmiluk Gorge and Leliyn, near Katherine, meander through woodland, sandstone scrub and monsoon forest along the Arnhem Land escarpment. The going is rough, and you'll have to haul your own food and gear, so count on five or six days, though outfits such as Trek Tours Australia can help make things easier. The reward is quintessential Top End landscapes and campsites by refreshing pools. At night, the Milky Way is a star-spangled extravagance. northernterritory.com; trektoursaustralia.com.au
Spicers Scenic Rim Trail will take visitors through five days of natural bushland. Photo: Supplied
Scenic Rim Trail, Qld
If don't want your wilderness hike to mean sacrificing wine and decent beds, this new trail in south-east Queensland, designed by Spicers Retreats, is for you. Luggage is transferred, afternoon tea served, and nights spent in glamping tents, farmhouses or luxury retreats. The 47-kilometre trail is notable for worn-down volcanoes, rainforest and bird life, and the walks, which are led by informative guides, last five or seven days at a pace to suit the moderately fit. spicersretreats.com; parks.des.qld.gov.au
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