Australia is a vast country filled with some of the most unique landscapes anywhere in the world. As one of the biggest countries on the planet, you could easily spend a lifetime hiking through its dreamy landscapes. From coastal walks and alpine treks to Outback expeditions, hiking Australia is as diverse as you can imagine.
When we visited Australia, we faced some of the most challenging treks of our lives. We hiked into the Australian Outback, through tropical rainforests, and found fairytale swimming pools to cool off. Australia was one of the first destinations where we pushed ourselves on multi-day treks and felt a major sense of accomplishment.
Since Australia is such a diverse country, planning a hiking trip requires tons of research. Each region in Australia has a distinct climate and landscapes to present an array of hiking trails. If you have a hiking preference, we’ll break it down to help you organize your vacation. Our Australia hiking guide covers each region, the best time to visit, what to pack, and some of the top national parks to include in your itinerary.
Best time to go hiking in Australia
Before you decide which season is best for hiking in Australia, figure out which regions you’ll visit. Australia is a massive landmass that’s the 6th largest country in the world. And that comes with a lot of landscape and climate diversity that will present different challenges when trekking. So, there really isn’t one best time to hike in Australia. It depends on which specific regions you wish to visit.
For an in-depth look at the best times to visit each region, refer to our best time to visit Australia post. Just remember that Australia has opposite seasons compared to most other countries. Summer is December-February, and winter is June-August. Regions with tropical climates only know two seasons, wet and dry, and the period between dry and wet season has the best conditions. Peak dry season has extremely hot temperatures and the wet season can be a torrential downpour. This will give you the best of both worlds during your Australia hikes.
What to bring when hiking in Australia
While hiking in Australia, you’ll be out in the wilderness and away from modern comforts. That means you must pack the needed supplies for self-sufficiency during your adventures. Here’s a list of essential items you should pack for your Australia hikes:
- Backpack – A 30 to 40 liter backpack should be enough space to carry your supplies on day hikes. But if you’re planning on multi-day treks, then plan on bringing a 55 to 65 liter backpack for camping gear. Choose a backpack with proper waist support to relieve stress on your shoulders.
- Waterproof Backpack Cover – If you are caught in the rain, you don’t want the gear inside your backpack to get wet.
- Water Bottle/Bladder – Bring a 1-2 liter bottle that can be filtered. Water can be scarce on some Australian hiking trails, and you’ll need to pack enough water in a bladder for your hike.
- Navigational Tools – Pack a paper map, compass, GPS, or combination of the three. Don’t strictly rely on your phone’s GPS and always have a backup.
- First Aid Kit – Stock your kit with bandages, anti-inflammatories, antibacterial ointment, antiseptic wipes, medications, adhesive tape, and anything else specific to your needs.
- Mobile Phone – Save important Australian phone numbers in case you have service and need to call someone for help.
- Multifunction Knife – A knife comes in handy for a variety of utility purposes to get out of any tough predicament.
- Firestarter – To start a campfire at night.
- Whistle – If you’re stuck in an isolated section and need to signal for help.
- Headlamp – If you’re in the wilderness at night, a headlamp is a must to observe your surroundings and remain on the trail.
- Repair Kit – In case you have damaged clothing or other material, you want to repair it on the spot.
- Toiletries – Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, and anything you need to refresh between hikes.
- Toilet Paper & Trowel – If you have to use the bathroom and don’t have access to any bathroom facilities.
- Hand Towel – Some trails will leave you drenched in sweat, and you’ll need a towel to dry off.
- Spare Food & Water – Extra water is especially important since some regions of Australia can be extremely hot.
- Extra Shoes – In case your hiking boots get damaged on the trail or for casual activities between hikes.
- Trekking Poles – Not everyone will need trekking poles but they can help on difficult trails.
- Personal Tracking Device – In case you get lost, there will be a way to track your location.
- Camera – To take beautiful photos of stunning nature to show your friends and family.
- Trash Bag – Save a place inside your backpack for a bag to collect your trash from the hike. One of our pet peeves is seeing toilet paper and other garbage on trails in nature. Please don’t leave any of your trash behind!
Australia offers multi-day treks in every region that let you explore the country’s wild natural beauty. For these lengthy hikes, you’ll need to pack your camping gear and prepare to sleep in the wilderness:
- Sturdy Tent – Ensure your tent has a solid foundation and protects you against cooler nighttime temperatures.
- Warm Sleeping Bag – Some regions of Australia can get unbearably cold, and you need a sleeping bag suitable for the chilly temperatures.
- Sleeping Pad – For extra comfort underneath your sleeping bag.
- Cooking Supplies – Ensure you have a lightweight stove, cooking fuel, utensils, plates, cups, cutlery, and pots & pans to make meals at your campsite.
What to wear when hiking in Australia
When hiking in Australia, the right material can make or break your experience. Your exact attire will differ based on your hiking location but know that Australia faces a wide range of temperatures. You could face blistering heat from the sun or brutally cold temperatures at night, so you must prepare accordingly. Here’s a list of essentials while hiking in Australia:
- Several Thin Layers – The temperatures can fluctuate, and you want to adjust your outfit whenever the weather changes. Remember to use the layer system to say dry and warm on the trail.
- Waterproof Hiking Boots – You could face many water crossings and waterproof boots with ankle support are essential.
- Gaiters – Useful for hikes when trekking through water, sand, mud, or snow. They’re also great for lower leg protection against snake bites.
- Waterproof Jacket – While some regions of Australia are extremely dry, other areas can receive a significant amount of rainfall.
- Wool/Fleece Jacket – If you hike in the cooler regions of Australia, a thick jacket is needed for an extra layer of protection. And desert regions can easily dip to freezing temperatures at night.
- Hiking Socks – Bring socks that keep your feet comfortable, warm, dry, and blister-free. Merino wool socks are our favorite material for hiking socks.
- Waterproof Pants – Bring pants that are lightweight and water-resistant in case of rain or water crossings.
- Thermal Underwear – An extra layer of protection for cooler regions of Australia.
- Gloves – Prevent your hands from being exposed to frigid temperatures in colder regions.
- Scarf – An extra layer to protect your face and neck in cold weather.
- Beanie – Protect your head, face, ears, and neck from cold temperatures and fierce wind.
- Sun Hat – The Australian sun can be deadly and a proper hat is essential.
- Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from intense sunlight.
- Sunscreen – Pack SPF50+ sunscreen to protect any exposed skin.
- Swimsuit – From pristine beaches to hidden swimming holes, always have a swimsuit handy.
- Spare Clothes – Always pack at least one change of dry clothes in case of rain or you get drenched in sweat.
Multi-Day Hiking in Australia
Australia’s diversity is off the charts, and multi-day treks are the best way to explore its varied terrain and ecosystems. If you’re on a gap year or visiting for several months, we recommend doing at least 1-2 multi-day hikes in each region. Since Australia is such an enormous country, find the ones that most appeal to your preferences.
The epic 62 km Jatbula Trail in the Northern Territory is among our all-time favorite Australia hikes. It courses through Nitmiluk National Park, leads to pristine swimming holes, and reveals Jawoyn Aboriginal rock art. There are several dangers here in the Outback, so we cover how to survive the Jatbula Trail for you.
But the Jatbula Trail only scratches the surface of the amazing multi-day hikes in Australia. Some others to include on your bucket list are the Thorsborne Trail in Queensland, the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria, and the Overland Track in Tasmania.
What to expect of hiking in the different regions of Australia
From coastal walks and desert treks to alpine ascents, Australia has nearly every type of terrain imaginable. Many of the best hikes in Australia traverse through ancient landscapes that are preserved wilderness areas. Each region has something special for hikers, and you’ll be astounded by the diversity of Australia’s natural wonders.
The Northern Territory is where you venture into the vast deserts of the Australian Outback. But the thrilling bush walks offer more than red-rock monoliths, sandstone cliffs, and arid desert terrain. From day hikes to week-long expeditions, the Northern Territory has some of the best hiking in Australia.
Indigenous culture is strong here, and the world-famous Uluru sandstone rock is a sacred landmark in the Red Centre. Hiring an indigenous guide to learn the history behind aboriginal rock art is an unforgettable Northern Territory experience. Lookout points present sweeping views of the Australian Outback, and multi-day treks lead to eucalyptus forests, refreshing springs, and scenic canyons.
Queensland covers the northeast section of Australia and is where lush rainforests meet pristine beaches. Ascend rocky summits to gaze at the rainforest canopy, waterfalls, and forested mountains. After hiking through sub-tropical forests and plunging cascades, you find empty beaches along the Great Barrier Reef.
Cape Tribulation is the best spot in Queensland to experience the rainforests, beaches, and reefs in one action-packed journey. The road to Cape Tribulation is a bucket-list drive, and you’ll cross breathtaking lookout points of the ocean peaking from the rainforest. And the sandy strips allow you to walk near the reef and witness the most diverse vegetation in Australia. Check out all of our reasons why you should visit Cape Tribulation.
New South Wales
Most tourists visit New South Wales for Sydney, but it also has exhilarating hiking trails. Surf towns highlight coastal walks, and the inland Blue Mountains host thrilling hikes with iconic vistas. Lookout points provide stunning glimpses of the eucalyptus forests, wide valleys, and the famous Three Sisters rock formations.
Nestled in the Southern Highlands, Morton National Park provides images of gushing waterfalls and steep canyons. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park lies just north of Sydney and boasts stunning coastal views from verdant rainforests. Brisbane Water National Park offers peaceful walks that wander to intriguing Aboriginal rock carvings and tumbling waterfalls.
From rolling hills to seaside cliffs, Victoria covers the diverse scenery of southeast Australia. One of the stellar long-distance Australia hiking trails, the Great Ocean Walk courses through coastal towns, idyllic beaches, and the iconic 12 Apostles. As you stand from the sea cliffs, the limestone stacks produce a breathtaking image you’ll never forget.
Great Otway National Park ventures into misty forests and leads to tranquil waterways. Head to Victoria’s interior to tackle the granite peaks, precipitous cliffs, and alpine valleys of Mount Buffalo National Park. Further into the Victorian highlands, Alpine National Park lets you hike the snowy peaks of the region’s tallest mountains.
Around 240 km south of the Australian mainland, Tasmania is one of the best hiking destinations in Australia. The island’s striking landscapes range from rocky outcrops and craggy peaks to cascading waterfalls and sandy beaches. For Australia’s best alpine scenery, the 65 km Overland Track is a life-changing journey for hardy trekkers. The path stretches from the serrated Cradle Mountain to the deep-blue Lake St. Clair, and you’ll hike through the wild terrain of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park.
If you’re a beach bum at heart, hit the coastal trails of Tasman National Park for breathtaking views from dramatic sea cliffs. Freycinet National Park wanders white-sand beaches and sparkling bays, while Mount Field National Park explores Tasmania’s interior forests. With so many incredible hikes in Tasmania, we have a complete Tasmania hiking guide for you, where you can check out 9 of the best Tasmanian hiking trails for an unforgettable adventure.
You might also like: The One and Only Tasmania Travel Guide
The wild landscapes of South Australia venture from the rugged Outback to the sparkling coastline. Tackle the hiking paths of the Flinders Ranges for glimpses of rocky pinnacles and dramatic mountain vistas. Feel serenity trekking the wetlands and red gum forests of the Murray River. When you reach the Fleurieu Peninsula, you’ll encounter a world of rustic farmlands, white-sand beaches, and epic wildlife.
Just south of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island feels like a separate world with its coastal rock formations and secluded beaches. With crystal-clear water and vast wildlife, it’s a paradise for nature lovers. From koalas and kangaroos to snakes and penguin colonies, you’ll feel a special connection to the natural world.
The hiking trails of Central Australia take you deep into the Australian Outback, and its diversity leaves you speechless. Start in Alice Springs to explore red-rock canyons and take a dip in refreshing swimming holes. The world-renowned Larapinta Trail follows the West MacDonnell Range and strolls through arid deserts and steep canyons. At 231km, the trail courses atop rocky ridges, through picturesque gorges, and provides glimpses of geologic marvels.
Finke Gorge National Park surprises with its rare flora dotting steep canyon walls and the verdant Palm Valley. The area includes Red Cabbage Palms, sandstone cliffs, and the ancient Finke River (possibly the oldest river in the world). Ormiston Gorge has scenic swimming spots with piercing red walls rising above you.
Western Australia spoils you for choice with ocean walks, rugged mountains, rocky gorges, and scenic cliffs. The Cape to Cape Track near Margaret River offers breathtaking ocean vistas and strolls through karri forests. Stand atop rolling bluffs and high peaks of the Stirling Ridge to have your head in the clouds. The riverbed of Piccaninny Creek traverses around beehive-shaped rocks and red-rock cliffs of narrow gorges.
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Thanks for checking out our ultimate Australia hiking guide. Hopefully, this has provided the information you need to plan a thrilling trekking expedition in Australia. If you have hiking experiences from Australia or if you have questions or other tips to recommend, please leave a comment below.
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