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A Guide to the Best Hikes in Australia: For All Abilities

hiking in Australia
The best hikes in Australia

Australia is a great country for taking long walks and hikes into the countryside or along the many beaches. The best hikes in Australia are some of the best in the world! I personally have a love-hate relationship with hiking in Australia. Told like a true Brit sometimes the thought of hiking in Australia makes me sweat just thinking about it. Hikes in the heat of summer down aren’t that much fun! As much as we love exploring nature and hiking we found ourselves doing a lot more hiking in the wintertime. Of course, we did enjoy some walks in the summer but we kept to easier tracks and all the coastal walks so we could run into the ocean to cool down!

Despite the not so co-operative heat at times Australia has some great walking routes. Whether it’s multi-day hiking or just an afternoon there’s something for all abilities. In this post, I’ve put together a guide to some of the best hikes in Australia across 3 states, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. This list is my no means exhaustive but are these some of my favourite hikes in Australia. 

The Best Hikes in Australia – Queensland 

If you’ve followed my blog for a while now then you’ll know I kind of have a soft spot for Queensland. Home to the beautiful east coast of Australia and the state I called home for 7 months out of 12. Some of the best hikes in Australia are found in Queensland. We completed all of these hikes in winter, not summer. I do not advocate hiking in Queensland in the summer months. Unless you’re used to it of course. But coming from a much cooler, and wetter, British climate I am definitely not used to doing anything with a humidity of 90%! Even in winter, Queensland is hot. The average temperature in Queensland in winter is 24 degrees celsius in the day time. 

Whichever of these hikes you decide to give a go make sure you go prepared. This goes for all the hikes in this post. Plenty of food, water, suncream and a hat is essential whilst hiking in Australia. I’d also take a first aid kit wherever you hike. Some tracks are quite rural and even though we never saw one, snakes do live in Australia. Make sure you’re prepared for all possibilities after all the Australian countryside can be unpredictable. I’d also recommend telling someone where you’re going, you know just in case! 

Some of The Best Hikes in Queensland 

  1. The Glass House Mountains – Mount Ngugun
  2. Gorge Walk – North Stradbroke Island
  3. The Fraser Island Great Walk
  4. Mount Bartle Frere
  5. Mount Coot Tha Brisbane

The Glass House Mountains – Mount Ngungun

Facts

  • Distance: 2.6 km 
  • Difficulty: Easy-Medium 
  • Time: 2 hours return 
  • Advisories: Steep, Stairs, Straight Drop-offs, Cliff Edges 

This hike comes in at one of my favourites during our time in Australia. All of these hikes are brilliant but this one is extra special. Mount Ngungun is found deep in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. As you reach the summit the views of the Sunshine Coast are incredible.  The countryside stretches for miles and in the distance, on a clear day, you can see the coast too.

This is a great hike for beginners in Australia. Though the walk to the summit is steep it’s fairly short with lots of rest areas along the way – you’ll want to stop to enjoy the view anyway. It’s also a great option if you’re solo hiking in Australia too as it doesn’t take long so no overnight planning or anything is required. Time-wise keep 2 hours minimum available for the hike up Mount Ngungun. In reality, it probably won’t take you that long especially if you’re an experienced hiker. Take a picnic and enjoy the panoramic views as you eat. I’m also told that this is a brilliant sunset hike too so if you’ve got a vehicle that’s also a great option. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do this because of the train times back to the city which I’ll go over below. 

Getting to the Glass House Mountains 

The 70 km drive from Brisbane is straight forward around under one hour. It’s the same from the coast but the time depends on where about on the coast you are. The Glass House Mountains are  87 km from Noosa so it’s not much of a difference. There’s free parking at the base of the Mountains and it’s signposted once you reach the town.

Trains run from both the sunshine coast and Brisbane. The train runs hourly from Brisbane and is direct so no need to change. Take the green line from the city straight out to the Glass House Mountains. It does take 1.5 hours via the train but the hike and views along the way are totally worth it. 

For a more detailed post on this hike click here

Gorge Walk – North Stradbroke Island 

Facts 

  • Distance: 1.5 km 
  • Time: 1 hour 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Advisories: Small inclines and a couple of steps 

North Stradbroke Island is the perfect day trip from Brisbane. This island is popular with Aussie locals but often missed by travellers. That’s not a bad thing of course because this island is a beautiful quiet escape from the mainland. North Straddie is a haven for wildlife and marine life spotting which is one of the reasons I love the Gorge Walk. Again, we completed this walk in winter but it could easily be done in summer. This is definitely one of the easier walks on the list.

The gorge walk on Stradbroke Island
The Gorge Walk on North Stradbroke Island

Short in distance with paved tracks all the way around dit’s accessible for everyone. There are a couple of steps and small inclines but you can definitely take a stroller if you carry it up a few of the steps. Though this walk would be easy in summer I still recommend it in winter. During June-November the humpback whales are making their migration from Antartica to Australia for the warmer waters and you undoubtedly be able to spot some from the Gorge Walk.

Pack a pair of binoculars and I’m sure you’ll see whales dancing in the distance. We were lucky enough to spot whales, dolphins and turtles during this walk. It truly is magical and shouldn’t be missed. There’s also plenty of kangaroos to be spotted on North Stradbroke Island too!

Check out this post for more information on taking a day trip to North Straddie! 

The Fraser Island Great Walk – Voted One of the Best Hikes in Australia

Fraser Island also known as K’Gari is an island that can only be described as paradise just off the Australian East Coast. It’ll most likely be quite high up on your Australian bucket-list and with good reason. Stunning beaches sweep the coastline, crystal clear lakes occupy so much of the land and the whole island is made up of 98% sand and 2% rock. Fraser Island is actually the biggest sand islands in the world and one of Australias UNESCO world heritage parks. 

Facts 

  • Distance: 90 km 
  • Time: 5-7 days 
  • Difficulty: Hard (long distance)
  • Advisories: Long distance, inclines, animals, take caution with planning and packing. 

Tackling the Fraser Island Great Walk or Great Sandy Walk will be tough. At 90 km in total its hike only for those who enjoy hiking and taking their time doing so. But what a brilliant way to see the island. Take a week to just explore Fraser Island on your two feet and experience all that it has to offer. Planning is crucial when deciding to embark on this adventure as Fraser Island is full of all the dangerous creatures everyone fears down under, Dingos, poisonous snakes, spiders you name it they live on Fraser! Take a look at these guides/downloads available from the QLD government to plan your great walk on Fraser Island. I really recommend not doing this walk in the summertime as Fraser Island can get some serious heat and humidity but in winter it would be a fantastic experience. 

For more on Things to Do at Fraser Island and which spots you need to see on your walk take a look at this post!

Mount Bartle Fere 

Facts 

  • Distance: 15 km
  • Time: 12 hours 
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Advisories: Elevation 1622 metres 

Nestled in the wet tropics of Far North Queensland sits Mount Bartle Frere otherwise known as Australias highest mountain. For panoramic views across the rainforest and wet tropics then this hike will provide the goods but again a lot of planning is required. This hike is for the more experienced hiker who has embarked on similar excursions and is used to scrambling. There are different tracks to hike this towering beauty but the most direct by starting Josephine Falls. The distance from the falls is 15 km in total taking approximately 12 hours so it’s an early start kind of hiking day. As soon as that Queensland sun rises you want to have made tracks. 

There is the option to camp overnight during this hike! You can find more information about the campsites and facilities on this website! This one is definitely one of the best hikes in Australia but also one of the hardest, plan well and enjoy hiking the highest mountain down under! The summit is usually only exposed 5-10% of the year so if you want those views to plan carefully, the rest of the time it’s hidden underneath the clouds. 

Mount Coot Tha Brisbane 

Facts 

  • Distance:
  • Time: 1-2 hours one way 
  • Difficulty: Easy-Medium 
  • Advisories: Steep incline to the summit 

Mount Coot Tha is one of the best lookouts in Brisbane. The hike up to the summit is well worth enjoying. There is a bus which reaches the summit but where’s the fun in that. This is one of the most reward hikes in Brisbane when you reach the summit the views of the city are beautiful. On a clear day, you can also see North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island in the distance, it really is beautiful. Mount Coot Tha is hands-down one of the best walks in Brisbane. If you’re an early riser then hike to the summit just before sunrise and watch the city wake up beneath you. 

Mount Coot Tha Hike in Brisbane
Hiking to the Summit of Mount Coot Tha
The view of Brisbane from the summit of Mount Coot Tha - one of the best hikes in Australia
The view of Brisbane from the Mount Coot Tha Summit!

Some of the Best Hikes in New South Wales 

  1. Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
  2. The Undercliff Track – The Blue Mountains
  3. Katoomba Falls – The Blue Mountains
  4. National Pass – The Blue Mountains
  5. Bondi-Coogee – Sydney
  6. Rosey Bay to Watsons Bay – Sydney

Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk 

Byron Bay is one of my favourite towns on the Australian east coast. It has something for every kind of traveller. Sunbathing, shopping, eating, walking, hiking, swimming, it has it all! This town has breathtaking views around every corner you turn. It’s also the home to the most easterly point on mainland Australia which can be found on the Cape Byron lighthouse walk. Cape Byron lighthouse overlooks the ocean and rest of the bay. It’s my favourite spot in the whole of Australia to watch dolphins playing in their home. During our time in Australia, we visited Byron a number of times during summer, winter and spring. Each visit we saw hundreds of dolphins from the lighthouse, it really is such a special place. 

If you’ve been following my blog or mainly my Instagram stories for a while you’ll know that I love being outdoors and more specifically walking/hiking in search for wonderful places and spectacular views. Byron Bay is no different. Sure you can have a great time on the beaches and enjoying the endless amounts of cafes, bars and yoga studios. But there are plenty of walks too. The lighthouse is probably the most popular but it’s also probably the best! 

Facts 

  • Distance: 3.7 km 
  • Time: 3 hours return (including photography time)
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Advisories: Steep inclines and steps 
  • If you cannot walk for whatever reason then you can drive up to the lighthouse to see the amazing views!

This walk winds in and out of the bushland, over cliff tops and past gorgeous secluded beaches. Keep looking up every now and again as Byron Bay is home to plenty of Koala’s high in the tree-tops! As you reach the summit look back on the bay in the distance whilst keeping your eyes on the ocean for those playful dolphins. The most easterly point in Australis is quite near the top so keep on climbing – you won’t miss it because everyone will be there waiting to get their photograph snapped in this iconic spot. The cafe at the top does a very nice ice cream which is a great treat after all that walking! 

Byron Bay Lighthouse
The lighthouse on the Cape Byron Lighthouse walk – it’s worth the sweat!

Wentworth – The Blue Mountains 

The Blue Mountains National Park, a rugged landscape just a few hours west of Sydney. It’s a far cry from the madness that lies within the city. The Blue Mountains are a welcome getaway for those looking to reconnect with nature. We spent three days in the Blue Mountains during our time in Sydney and spend each day hiking our way in and out of the hills.

The next three walks listed in this post are all in the Blue Mountains but each one is so different. The Blue Mountains stretch for miles and miles so no two walks are the same. As well the unique landscape the Blue Mountains gets its name because of the haze that sits above the land. Especially on a foggy day, the air that covers the hills looks blue. It’s quite majestic and really hard to explain if you haven’t been and seen it for yourself. 

The only downside to the Blue Mountains is that it’s quite built up. There are villages and towns right up to the edges of the park. Whilst it would be a stunning place to wake up each morning I often think it takes some of the authenticity of just being in the mountains away – but what do I know! 

One of the main towns in the Blue Mountains is Wentworth with a population of 6,000. Wentworth Falls are worth a visit as it’s one of the most impressive waterfalls in the national park. The way they cascade down the mountains is mesmerising. 

Undercliff Walk – Wentworth Falls 

The Undercliff walk is a great walk to see the falls from a variety of different angles. I was so happy strolling in and out of the mountains as well as over and under the cliff tops. My camera was stuck firmly in my palm the whole day. Unlucky for them and me those photos will never get to see the light of day because just as I exported them onto my old laptop I got the blue screen of death. Every photo from the Blue Mountains was wiped! My heart was truly broken for a good few hours! You’ll just have to take my word that this track is beautiful with views across the range that you can only dream of. 

Facts 

  • Distance: 3.5 km return (with the option to merge onto another track)
  • Time: 1-2 hours (2-4 hours if you continue on)
  • Difficulty: Medium 
  • Advisories: Steep inclines, exposed cliff edges. 

Make sure you take plenty of food and water on this walk because you’ll probably continue onto the next track (can’t remember what that one is called/cannot find it online but we definitely continued on for at least another hour and this track looped back around the main carpark). 

National Pass – Wentworth Falls 

The national pass hikes cascades in and out of the mountains, up and down past Wentworth Falls and past an array of panoramic viewpoints. This walk is a little harder than the Undercliff Walk but it starts in the same place. Park at the main carpark for the Wentworth Falls lookout and follow the signs. Both walking tracks are clearly marked. In fact, all of the walks in the Blue Mountains are really well marked out so it’s easy to get around. Be mindful if you plan on hiking the National Pass as some sections are often closed for maintenance and closed in bad weather so always check beforehand. There’s minimal mobile reception throughout the Blue Mountains national park so a map is always handy to have. 

Facts 

  • Distance: 4.5 km return 
  • Time: 2-4 hours 
  • Difficulty: Medium-Hard 
  • Advisories: Steep inclines, exposed cliffs, slippery walking surfaces due to spray from the waterfall

Katoomba Falls Round Walk – The Blue Mountains

Katoomba is another town in the Blue Mountains nestled in between Echo Point and Scenic World. Scenic World is where you can ride a cable car across the blue mountains. It looks like fun but not something that we pay for on our travels. For more information about Scenic World go here. Katoomba Falls is one of the great waterfalls in the Blue Mountains and though I personally didn’t find it as impressive it’s definitely very pretty. The waterfall surges down into the Jamison Valley for over 150 metres. The Katoomba Falls round walk is an easy 2 km walk that shows off Katoomba Falls from different vantage points. Sometimes I enjoy the easy visually pleasing walks just as much as I love the more exhilarating hikes. 

Facts 

  • Distance: 2 km 
  • Time: 1 – 1.5 hours 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Advisories: some slippery area but other than it’s a flat paved track throughout.

Bondi to Coogee – Sydney 

Facts 

  • Distance: 6 km
  • Time: 3 – 5 hours 
  • Difficulty: Easy-Medium 
  • Advisories: Inclines, cliff edges and a lot of stairs! 

This post wouldn’t be complete without adding one of the most popular walks in the country, the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk in Sydney. I’m often dubious when places are known to be touristy. I’m quite good at preparing my mind for what I might be presented with. A lot of people and cameras everywhere. The Bondi – Coogee walk was certainly no exception to the rule. Even in winter, this coastal walk is full of people, locals, tourists you name it they are there. But I have to be honest this doesn’t take away from the beauty of this walk one bit.

The coastline between these two popular Sydney suburbs is simply awe-inspiring. Views of the oceans, beaches at every turn, gorgeous views of the mainland honestly this will quickly become of the best hikes in Australia you do. I know it’s still one of my highlights from living in Sydney. I loved waking up on a weekend and enjoying this walk. 

Beating the Crowds..

It is possible to beat the crowds by waking up very early and getting a head start of everyone else. The sun rises to the left of Bondi Beach and really is special first thing in a morning. There often aren’t many people around but you won’t be alone. Surfers start heading for the beach to catch the morning waves and the swim club has often beaten most of them to it. There’s yoga classes and fitness classes on Bondi Beach every morning. This famous walk begins at the Bondi Iceberg pool which you’ll not be able to miss and weaves in and out of the coastline passing, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee. Each has their own beach unique from the rest. 

Bondi-Coogee Walk in Sydney one of the best hikes in Australia
One of the many stunning beaches along the way …

My best advice for this walk is to plan to have a whole day if not at least 5 hours to enjoy the coast. Pack some swimmers and take a deep in the ocean at each suburb or just take a moment to sit on the beach and take it all in. It’s beautiful with so many scenic points you won’t feel like your moving anywhere half of the time! On arrival to Coogee enjoy a cold beverage from the Pavilion – the food there is pretty good too!

Rosey Bay to Watsons Bay 

The second Sydney coastal walk I’m including in this post rounding up some of the best hikes in Australia comes on par with the Bondi to Coogee walk. It’s just as beautiful but at the other side of the city. The views along the way look onto the harbour rather than out into the abyss. What makes this walk special is the views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge that are constantly in view. 

Facts 

  • Distance: 8 km one way 
  • Time: 4-5 hours 
  • Difficulty: Medium-Hard 
  • Advisories: Long distance with some medium gradient hills. 

At 8 km (one way) it’s not the shortest city walk but by far the best way to see both bays. I’d take a full day out for this walk to enjoy the beaches, cafes and lighthouses on the way. Starting in Rose Bay take the Hermitage Foreshore Track along the coastline. The best thing about this section of the walk is the secluded bays that line the shore. As you walk along the water with the iconic Sydney landmarks way in the distance strip off and take a dip in each of the bays. My favourite beach along the way is Milk Beach, the water is calm and the beach is so much quieter than the likes of Bondi or Manly. It’s perfect for a mid-walk swim. 

Once you reach Watson’s bay there’s an array of restaurants, bars, ice-cream carts, beaches and ocean views. If your legs can carry you a little further then head to camp-cove beach for gorgeous water and yet more insane views of Sydney. Pass the beach and follow the track round to Watsons Bay Lighthouse where you can see all the way to Manly. There’s also a nude beach on the way round called Lady Bay Beach if you fancy.  

For more great walks in Sydney check out this post!

Some of the Best Hikes in Victoria 

  • The Pinnacles Hike – The Grampians
  • Mackenzie Falls Base Hike – The Grampians
  • The Great Ocean Road Walk
  • Melbourne City Street Art Walk

The Pinnacles Hike – The Grampians 

The Grampians is my favourite national park in Australia. Get ready to immerse yourself in nature, adventure and the outdoors at The Grampians. Unlike the Blue Mountains, the Grampians isn’t half as built up and you can walk/drive miles without seeing another soul. It’s also nowhere near as touristy which makes it feel even more like an authentic bush experience! Though they may not be as many people you’ll be guaranteed to see some other native Australians. We walked amongst kangaroos, joeys, emus and koalas it was a surreal experience. 

photograph of is and a kangaroo
Hey there little guy …

The Pinnacle hike is certainly one of the more exhilarating walks in the national park but it can also be completed in stages. The hikes starts in Halls Gap, also a great area to stay which I go into detail about here. And weaves in and out of the national park. Climb peaks tackle stairs and rock formations. Pass water-walls and wander of lots of bridges. It’s a unique hike with stunning views across Halls Gap and the rest of the park at the summit. Though I couldn’t recommend this hike more it certainly requires a certain level of fitness. The hike to the summit is long and steep with narrow passes and a lot of stairs. As I said you can do it in stages which you can find out more about here. 

The Pinnacle Hike Facts 

  • Distance: 9 km 
  • Time: 6-7 hours return including breaks 
  • Difficulty: Hard 
  • Advisories: Up-hill the majority of the way, stairs and uneven surfaces throughout.

Mackenzie Falls Base Walk 

As well as breath-taking views, inspiring hikes there are also some magnificent waterfalls and Mackenzie Falls is the one you want to see! It’s one mighty waterfall crashing against the land but somehow still manages to remain elegant. The hike to get to the waterfall is a breeze. Simply follow the steps and enjoy the leisurely stroll but don’t forget what goes down must come up! It’s a 2 km round trip but the walk to the base won’t take very long it’s the walk back up them that will take a little time with frequent stops if you’re anything like us!

Facts

  • Distance: 2 km 
  • Time: 1-1.5 hours return 
  • Difficulty: Medium 
  • Advisories: Lot and lots of stairs!

The Great Ocean Road Walk

Facts

  • Distance: 100 km
  • Time: 7 days 
  • Ability: Hard (long distance)
  • Advisories: Multi-day hiking experience advantageous

Confession time! We actually haven’t walked The Great Ocean Road we, like most sensible people out there (or boring depending on how you look at it), drove it instead but you can walk if you wish. It isn’t for the fainthearted but it is rated as one of Australias best multi-day hikes. I can vouch that it would be a beautiful place to enjoy on two feet. The Great Ocean Road is beautiful despite being on foot or in a car you can’t escape the beauty. For those wanting to tackle the multiway hike, some experience of long-distance hiking will be necessary for the total distance is just over 100 km. 

This hike takes 7 days to complete and booking for the hiker’s accommodation is required. This website has some really great information on this epic 7-day hike. You can, of course, tackle shorter parts of the walk which may be beneficial to those with little hiking experience. Though it will be tough what and adventure and immense achievement to conquer this hike. The Great Ocean is a beautiful spot enchanted by sea cliff formations, stunning bays and views out into the ocean. Check out my highlights here!

For you more sane people check out my 2 Day Self Drive Itinerary here!

The Best Hikes in Australia Extra: Street Art Walk Melbourne City Centre 

As much as I love hiking through awe-inspiring landscapes and along Australia’s beautiful coastline I also love a good urban walk. You simply cannot visit Melbourne without walking around the city centre enjoying the street art that the city has to offer. You can probably just walk aimlessly all day and you’d come across so many awesome murals.

There are various walking tours in Melbourne some of which are free so these can be cool to go on especially if you get a good guide who knows lots about the history! From Hosier Lane to ACDC there is some street art for everyone in Melbourne. We used this website to plan our walk and it was so helpful and lead us to some really interesting art that we otherwise wouldn’t have found. The great thing about a self-guided city walks Is that you can make them as long or as short as you like! 

Sharing is Caring – A Guide to the Best Hikes in Australia

I hope you enjoyed this post about some of the best hikes in Australia. Walking is great way to explore a new country and it’s usually free which is also amazing. If you’re an avid hiker then make sure you check out my New Zealand posts as there will be lots of walking adventures in there! If you did enjoy this post I would be so grateful if you could share with your friends! 

Happy and Safe Travels 

Alicia 

  • Reply
    Coni
    01/09/2019 at 07:54

    Oh my! Australia was already high up on my list, but now I feel like I need a year there just to hike! I’m loving this! Such a thorough guide. Thanks so much for putting it together. I pinned it for when I finally book the ticket to down under 🙂

    • Reply
      Alicia
      05/09/2019 at 12:07

      Australia has so much to offer! After our year there I can safely say we didn’t see the whole of the country – it’s massive but a year is a great place to start! I hope you get there, the venture to the other side of the world is worth it!

  • Reply
    Vanessa Shields
    01/09/2019 at 08:57

    Awesome post! All these hikes so pretty and like a lot of fun. I haven’t been to Australia but when I do I’d like to do a lot of hiking there. I’m saving this post for when I do go!

    • Reply
      Alicia
      05/09/2019 at 12:02

      They are all wonderful! Australia is an amazing country – I hope you get there! Let me know if you need any other Aussie tips!

  • Reply
    Josy A
    01/09/2019 at 09:12

    I love this! I didn’t realize that Aus had soooo many epic hikes (I mean, it makes sense that it does, it’s such a massive country!)

    What do you do to get over the super hot days? Do you just hike super early in the morning?

    • Reply
      Alicia
      05/09/2019 at 12:01

      Hiking in the morning or evening is a great time to do so in Australia – so much cooler! I prefer the early mornings as when it gets dark the Kangaroos come out and some of them – not that friendly haha! We also take advantage of the coastal hikes in the height of summer – lots of sea to splash around in and cool down!

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