Ten titanic hiking treks: Australia's greatest long distance walking trails

There's going for a walk, and there's going for a walk. And for Australia's long-distance walkers, a stroll in the park just won't cut it. Across the country, there are some serious multi-day walking trails aimed at those prepared to battle blisters and camp in the most basic way imaginable. For those with good boots, a GPS, and serious stamina, these titanic treks should be on your hitlist…

The Bibbulmun Track

Where? South-West WA

Couple on Bibbulmun Track near Sand Patch

Photo: Tourism WA

Stretching 1,000km from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills to Albany on the south coast, the Bibbulmun Track is all about dams, waterfalls and forests. Along the way, the yellow triangular markers featuring Waugul, the Aboriginal Dreaming serpent, become ubiquitous. If you're going to do the whole track, camping out is a necessity, as there are gaps of several days between access points. But some sections can be tackled as day walks from towns such as Dwellingup, Pemberton and Walpole. See bibbulmuntrack.org.au

The Cape To Cape Track

Where? South-West WA

Cape to Cape track above Conto Spring Beach.

Cape to Cape track above Conto Spring Beach. Photo: Destination WA

Maybe you want to work your way up to the Bibbulmun Track? In that case, the Cape to Cape Track heads across the Margaret River region. It's about 125km from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin – which means five to seven days of clifftops, dramatic dunes, gorgeous Indian Ocean beaches and there's accommodation near enough to avoid camping if you don't want to slum it. See capetocapetrack.com.au

The Great Ocean Walk

Where? Apollo Bay to Port Campbell, Victoria

Great Ocean Walk - Hero shoot

Photo: Visit Victoria

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The Great Ocean Walk largely focuses on the bits the Great Ocean Road skips. When the Road goes inland across Cape Otway, the walk hugs the coast. That allows you to take lightly-visited spots such as Shelly Beach, Blanket Bay and Rainbow Falls before the classic treat of the Twelve Apostles at the end of the 100km, eight day walk. See greatoceanwalk.com.au

The Sydney Coastal Walk

Where? Sydney

Friends enjoying a walk along Forty Baskets Beach, Balgowlah.

Photo: Destination NSW

By far the easiest big walk in terms of being able to scarper off to a pub and comfortable hotel room every night, the Sydney Coastal Walk covers 100km around Sydney's coast. It swallows up justifiably famed existing routes such as Manly to the Spit Bridge, the Hermitage Foreshore Walk and Bondi to Coogee, turning the harbour and beaches into one long trail. It kicks off at the Barrenjoey Peninsula, finishes in Cronulla and takes eight days.

The Heysen Trail

Where? Parachilna Gorge to Cape Jervis

Heysen trail

Photo: SATC

Australia's longest dedicated walking trail takes in many of South Australia's highlights on its 1,200km journey. It starts rough and rugged, heading through the Flinders Ranges, before gradually getting much more genteel through the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula. It'll take between 50 and 60 days to cover the whole route. See heysentrail.asn.au

The Larapinta Trail

Where? The Red Centre

The Larapinta Trail is one of Australia's grandest adventures on foot.

Nobody's going to be under any illusion that a twelve day, 223km through central Australia is going to be easy. But the Larapinta Trail doesn't half pack in some spectacular sights. Starting at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. The gorges, chasms and photogenic swimming holes of the MacDonnell Ranges pile up thick and fast, although with daily stretches covering up to 28.6km, you'd better enjoy the desert sun. See larapintatrail.com.au

The Australian Alps Walking Track

Where? Canberra to Walhalla, Victoria

Snaking through a series of national parks and the highest country in Australia, the Australian Alps Walking Track requires very careful planning. Not least because the track markers disappear in the wilderness areas. A GPS, full topographical maps and wilderness experience are required to tackle the full 650km, extremely up-and-down route. But you can cheat and just take on pleasant one day sections near Mount Bogong, Kiandra and the Namadgi National Park. See theaustralianalps.wordpress.com

The Tasmanian Trail

Where? Across Tasmania

Photo: Alamy

Photo: Alamy

From Devonport to Dover, this mixed use trail tends to be about idyllic rural areas rather than spectacular national parks. It doesn't pass through the latter because horses aren't allowed in. The trail combines bush, farmland and stock routes of varying quality, occasionally flitting through quaint small towns. See tasmaniantrail.com.au

The Overland Track

Where? Tasmania

Overland Track Tassie

Photo: Tourism Tasmania

If you want proper mountains, lakes and howling, bitter winds on your long walk, then the Overland Track goes across the bits of Tasmania that make for better photos. Starting at Cradle Mountain and finishing at Lake St Clair, the Overland Track is six days and 65km of glacier cut valleys and alpine meadows. A good half of the track is at an elevation of 1,000 metres of more, so be prepared for all conditions in remote spots where your phone doesn't work. See parks.tas.gov.au

The Bicentennial National Trail

Where? Healesville, Victoria, to Cooktown, Queensland

Originally designed for horse-trekking, this is the big beast of Australia's long-distance walking trails. The Bicentennial National Trail largely follows the Great Dividing Range for 5,330km. It pulls together existing tracks and stock routes. It's explicitly for self-reliant walkers – many campsites have no facilities at all, and you're often a long way from the nearest town. Still, it's nice when you get to the northern stretch and you can swap worrying about snakes for worrying about crocs. See bicentennialnationaltrail.com.au

See also: Six of the best scenic walks around Melbourne

See also: Take a walk on the wildside with these six Sydney hikes

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