One of the joys of the Australian outdoors is bushwalking. Locals and tourists alike enjoy making their way through the unique Aussie bush, exploring its hills and mountains, creeks and rivers, caves and trails.
We’ve come up with a list of places where you can go bushwalking throughout the country, and some bushwalking safety tips! Note, some of these places are isolated so a big part of the journey is getting there!
We’ve included a list of bushwalking spots within Australia via state. This is just scratching the surface; however you can find more information and bushwalks at the relevant National Parks Websites provided.
Parks and Forests – Queensland Department of Environment and Science - https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/
Easily accessible from the Brisbane CBD, there are a number of walking trails at Mount Coot-tha that are a good excuse to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get back to nature.
About an hour’s drive north of Brisbane at the Sunshine Coast, the Glasshouse Mountains has a number of tracks for all abilities to explore this picturesque region.
Here’s where you can bushwalk in the only place in the world where two World Heritage Areas are adjacent to each other – the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the walks can be challenging, so be prepared and don’t go into the water because of the crocodiles.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service - https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/
Located west of Sydney, you can easily access the Blue Mountains by car, or even catch the train to Katoomba and walk there for iconic views of the Three Sisters, waterfalls, and historic walking tracks.
An isolated territory in the Pacific Ocean east of Sydney and Brisbane, the natural spectacle of Lord Howe Island has the Mt Gower Walk which includes a hike to the highest point on the island. You’ll need a guide – make sure you book early. When you’re finished, you can then visit the world’s most southernmost coral reef system.
Home to plenty of trails, many people love hiking up to the summit of Australia’s highest point – Mount Kosciuszko, which is advisable to do during summer as the track is generally snowbound in winter.
Parks Victoria - https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/
Located four kilometres from the Melbourne CBD, pack a picnic and traverse the Dights Falls Loop Trail. You’ll be treated to bird watching, historical sites and vistas of the Yarra River.
After you’ve completed the Great Ocean Road along the spectacular Victorian coastline, why not head north through the Grampians National Park for a dose of wildflowers, wildlife and waterfalls.
One the most loved places to visit in Victoria, Wilson’s Promontory (affectionately known as ‘The Prom’) has a number of bushwalks ranging from hours to days. The spectacular scenery includes beaches, rivers and mountains, so bushwalkers won’t be disappointed!
Parks and Reserves – ACT Government - https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves
Bordering Kozciusko National Park in New South Wales, Namadgi National Park has 160 kilometres of defined walking tracks to keep you occupied. Explore granite boulders, Snow Gum woodlands, and expansive grasslands full of kangaroos.
Located in northern Canberra, this reserve has many walking and cycling tracks and traverses a number of habitats.
An easily accessible walking trail, this relaxing seven kilometre walk along the Murumbidgee River will take you past Red Rocks Gorge, plenty of lookouts and keep an eye out for wombat burrows.
Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania - https://www.parks.tas.gov.au/
Taking in one of the most stunning coastlines you’ll ever set eyes on, you’ll never forget the spectacular descent into Wineglass Bay. You won’t want to leave.
One of Australia’s iconic walks, the Overland Track between the World Heritage Areas of Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clare National Parks is a serious walk for people with a high level of fitness. You should probably attempt this walk in a group, but if you undertake it, this experience will stay with you forever.
If you’re after something really remote and isolated, the Walls of Jerusalem National Park isn’t accessible via road and you may need to visit via an organised tour. Home to an alpine environment, you’ll need to bring your own tent, wet and warm weather gear and other gear. Only for hard core bushwalkers!
National Parks South Australia - https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/Home
Located only 30 kilometres from Adelaide, the hiking trails here will take you to rock pools and cliff tops, whilst viewing wildlife such as koalas, kangaroos and echidnas.
A ferry ride southwest from Adelaide, a number of reserves, including Flinders Chase National Park make up a five day trek called the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. You’ll see sea lions, penguin colonies and amazing coast rock formations.
Located in South Australia’s outback, this 95,000 hectare National Park offers everything from short walks to long hikes to experience the wide open spaces in this semi-arid area.
Parks and Wildlife Service WA - https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/
Located adjacent to the Perth CBD, this large, inner city and beautiful park is popular with locals and visitors. With most of the park being bushland, you can view unique plant and animal life – try and spot the unique plant called the Kangaroo Paw.
Home to the famous Bungle Bungle range – a unique geological formation, Purnululu National Park, located in the remote east Kimberley region, has a number of spectacular gorge and chasm walks.
A long distance walking track of over 120 kilometres, the track meanders between the geographic tips of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the Leeuwin-Naturalise national Park, with the start/end points occurring at lighthouses. You’ll see great beaches, forests and you won’t be too far away from the wine region.
Northern Territory parks - https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/find-a-park-to-visit
The walk around Uluru is longer than you think – it’s a total of 10 kilometres which takes in the entire circumference of the rock. Best to do this walk first thing in the morning while it’s cool and there’s plenty of light.
One of Australia’s most famous national parks and almost 20,000 square kilometres in size, Kakadu has unique wildlife, Aboriginal rock art, and diverse landscapes. There are over 30 designated walking trails which are as diverse as the environments they run through.
A popular trip from Darwin or Katherine, there are a number of short walks that take you to waterholes, monsoon forests and waterfalls, to the 39 kilometre Tabletop Track. There are campgrounds located within the park if you wish to stay overnight.
So you’ve picked where you’re going to go bushwalking. While bushwalking in Australia is enjoyed by thousands of people every year, there are a number of risks you need to be aware of, especially if you’re venturing into isolated areas.
Knowing how to avoid these bushwalking risks is the key to safe enjoyment. Here are some of the bushwalking risks to be aware of, with some safety tips:
During dry periods, usually from late spring and throughout summer, the Australian bush is a ‘tinderbox’ that can go up in flames from a range of causes. It is essential that you make yourself aware of any current bushfire alerts and ask a local authority for information or maps about the terrain you will be experiencing.
You must also seek advice about whether a fire ban is in place, in which case it is illegal to light a fire of any kind, however small. If lighting fires is permitted, then always extinguish yours completely with water. If you find yourself caught in a bushfire, contact emergency authorities immediately (call triple zero – 000) and advise of your location.
One of the best ways to do that is to use a GPS-equipped personal distress beacon.
Australia’s reputation for being home to dangerous and deadly animals is world-renowned. Out in the bush, there are snakes, spiders and insects to be wary of, including mosquitoes which can carry Dengue Fever and Ross River Virus.
In estuarine locations of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, saltwater crocodiles can travel much further inland than many people think. Even sharks can make their way into canals and rivers and cause unpleasant surprises for kayakers, swimmers and rowers.
Learn what creatures you may encounter on your travels and pack a first aid kit that contains items that will be helpful in case you experience a bite, sting or other injury.
Never underestimate the power of the Australian sun to make life miserable when bushwalking, not to mention the danger of skin cancer later in life. It is imperative to wear sunscreen (minimum SPF 30+), sunglasses and a hat as well as other sun-protective clothing because sunburn and sunstroke can sometimes be debilitating.
Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day for the best protection. Avoid walking in the hottest part of the day if possible and instead, find a picturesque spot to sit and take in the scenery.
You can download the SunSmart app for iPhone and Android to access the current weather, UV rating, temperature and sun protection times for your expedition anywhere in Australia.
It should go without saying that water is the first priority of items to take bushwalking, particularly depending on where you intend to go.
Don’t rely on the availability of fresh water from streams and waterfalls because, depending on recent rainfall or ongoing drought, it may not be where you hope – plus it may not be suitable for drinking. Even if where you are going has an abundance of fresh water, you may still like to consider looking at gadgets on the market that help you filter it before drinking.
These can be found in camping and hiking stores. In any case, carry as much as you think you will need, and then some, just in case your return is delayed. Also take plenty of food with enough nutrients that will see you through for longer than your planned trip, in case you become lost or injured.
Australia’s weather can be unpredictable so familiarising yourself with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) website or app is vital. It provides up-to-the-minute weather conditions and alerts for storms, cyclones, snow, hail and heavy rain.
Be mindful that when you set out on your bushwalk, the day may be beautifully sunny, with not a cloud in the sky. But within a couple of hours, a storm could roll in and bring with it flash flooding, hail and hazardous lightning.
Consult the Bureau of Meteorology before leaving and take with you any protective items such as raincoats and waterproof gear.
Just like many countries, Australia has its fair share of toxic plant life that could make you very sick or even kill you if ingested.
Just when you think you couldn’t possibly need to eat an unknown plant, consider that if you were lost for several days, without food or water, you may be tempted to keep up your energy by picking some colourful berries.
Before you go bushwalking, look up ‘toxic Australian plants’ on the Internet for the area where you will be travelling.
Given the changes in terrain that occur during most bushwalks, it’s important to wear clothing that can support your body. Uneven, muddy and slippery ground requires sturdy and even waterproof footwear to protect the feet.
You should also wear or take with you clothing that will keep you cool or warm if the weather changes or you find yourself lost overnight.
The risk of injury when bushwalking is quite high, depending on the location. Walkers often fall down embankments, twist ankles, break arms or legs or hurt their necks or backs.
Being aware of how to apply first aid – to yourself and others – is a good way of preparing for your expedition, and packing a first aid kit with the essentials is smart thinking.
Before going bushwalking, you must advise others where you are going. Tell friends or family but also let local authorities know where you are.
Packing a compass or personal GPS will help to avoid getting lost but circumstances such as heatstroke or sunstroke can disorient you and may make them difficult to use.
For a trip deep into hazardous territory, you may want to consider packing flares or a personal beacon. Avoid venturing away from marked trails unless you are very familiar with the area.
Don’t go bushwalking without some method of communication. This could be your mobile phone or two-way radio and remember, in more isolated areas, a satellite phone may be the only way to get reception.
Take with you the numbers for local emergency authorities and remember that in Australia, 000 is the number to call.
Now that we’ve given you the bushwalking bug, get back into nature! The better prepared you are, the more enjoyable your experience will be and the less likely you will encounter any problems. Bushwalking is always an adventure but to avoid it becoming a mis-adventure, pay heed to the above advice.