Australia is a fantastic country all-round. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a typical tourist, budget backpacker, adventurer or sports fanatic; the options Australia presents to you are virtually endless. The sheer size of this continent of a country surely has something to do with that. When I was spending nine months driving a car across Australia, I almost always made sure that I didn’t miss places that offered some interesting outdoorsy activities.
Great Hikes of Australia
I loved visiting as many National Parks as I possibly could. At times I obviously had to make selective decisions – Australia has more NPs than anyone could ever visit. National Parks are particularly great for bushwalking or hiking. I drove all the way from the east coast to the west coast and in this post I wanted to focus on what I thought were some pretty great hikes of Australia in the southern/southeastern states.
St Mary Peak Hike (Ngarri Mudlanha)
Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia
The Flinders Ranges situate themselves in the outback of South Australia. It’s a collection of red-colored mountain ranges, covered in desert vegetation or nothing at all and with an overwhelming abundance of wildlife. There are also a few sites where you can see prehistoric Aboriginal rock paintings.
The Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre is the best place to start exploring the area. There’s a nice camp ground as well.
A fun, long, quite challenging, but very rewarding, hike is the St Mary Peak Hike. It’s a loop hike which takes you to the top of St Mary Peak, the highest point in the Flinders Ranges, where you enjoy truly spectacular 360° views of the surrounding ranges making it one of the great hikes of Australia. It’s tough at times, but those breathtaking vistas are the best reward you could ever get.
The 21.5km loop trail begins at the Visitor Centre and took me around nine and a half hours of hiking to complete. Therefore it’s recommended that you leave before 10am at the latest, preferably even before 9am. It also can’t be stressed enough how extremely important it is to carry enough food and – especially – water. I carried a little over four liters of water and it was all gone before I made it back. It’s outback territory and it gets hot.
This day-long hike is a real challenge, but it’s incredibly rewarding as well.
Mount Stapylton Walk
Grampians National Park, Victoria
This 4.6km return walk to the summit of Mt Stapylton, in the northern Grampians, can be quite strenuous at times. Some parts – especially the last climb to the summit – are fairly to very steep and involves some boulder climbing and rock hopping. Water crossings and potentially slippery slopes make this a walk for the fitter hiker.
You should count on a full three hours, including time for a few breaks to enjoy the views, to finish the walk.
Interesting features you will pass on your way to the summit (and back) are Flat Rock, the imposing – and rather frightening sounding – Taipan Wall and a natural amphitheatre, which offers amazing views.
The hike starts and ends at the Mt Zero picnic area.
Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach Circuit
Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
Freycinet National Park, on the east coast of the island of Tasmania, is probably my favorite national park in the whole of Australia. Wineglass Bay is the most stunning beach I’ve ever seen.
The Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach Circuit starts at the car park. First you’ll have to ascent and descent the Hazards, a series of granite outcrops. The view of Wineglass Bay from the saddle between Mt Mayson and Mt Amos is nothing less than spectacular.
After arriving on the beach you can enjoy nice views of the Hazards before continuing your hike across the isthmus to Hazards Beach. The path leading there is flat and fairly easily walkable. The track then follows the beach for a while and joins up with another track. A simply gorgeous 5km walk alongside the coastline and past the base of Mt Mayson takes you back to the car park. You should reckon five to six hours to complete this beautiful hike.
You can also choose to camp out in Wineglass Bay. At the southern end of the beach lies a basic camp ground where you can pitch a tent. I highly recommend doing this; it’s a fantastic feeling to wake up in a tent near a white sandy beach and azure blue waters and go for a morning swim.
I spent two nights and three days hanging out in Freycinet National Park, relaxing on the beach, swimming and hiking.