Top 10 Australian multi-day treks

By Megan Holbeck 14 April 2010
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From mountain traverses to sand islands and outback tracks, these are the best long Aussie bushwalks.

SCATTERED ACROSS OUR continent are diverse wild areas ranging from picturesque, pocket-sized parks to whole regions, vast swathes of land encompassing islands, deserts, plateaus and ranges.

Some are refuges of wilderness, seeming unchanged from the days of Dreamtime, while others are closer to our urban habitat. No matter the shade of wild, the Australian bush has a common trait; it’s still a place you can feel as if you’re discovering for the first time, even when following a well-worn track.

It’s somewhere to get lost in, both figuratively and literally, where the harsh conditions dictate your pace as you weave your way around roots, rocks and branches, discovering a beauty that ranges from the overwhelming to a discreet serenity; where wildlife is still common enough to make rustling undergrowth a paranoid preoccupation for overseas walkers.

It may be rough and rugged but it’s real, offering an escape from your other world, a chance to slip into the slower pace of nature, to accept the rhythm, feel the flavour and digest it for yourself. All of this culminates in making Australia a great place to take a long walk – sometimes a really long walk.

A ‘best of’ list is always subjective, leaving out as much as it includes. Add to this the fact that completing the walks on this list alone would take almost four months, and it gets a lot more complicated! To whittle down the choices, we enlisted the help of the Australian bushwalking knowledge base, a gang of five guidebook authors; John Chapman, John and Lyn Daly, Glenn Tempest and John Siseman, and outback bard Quentin Chester.

1. Larapinta Trail, NT

Larapinta trail

Image: Tourism NT

Location: West MacDonnell Range, Northern Territory

Length: 16–20 days (including rest days)

Distance: 223 km

Difficulty: Hard

Access: One-way walk; good road access along track, including at ends

Info: Walking during the cooler months, from April–September, is recommended. Food drops required.

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2. Thorsborne Trail, QLD

Thorsborne trail

Image: Tourism Queensland

Location: Hinchinbrook Island, Far North Queensland

Length: 4–5 days

Distance: 32 km

Difficulty: Moderate

Access: One-way; boat transport required at both ends

Info: Walking during the cooler months, from April–September, recommended Permits required; need to be booked well in advance

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3. Australian Alps walking track, VIC/NSW/ACT

Larapinta trail

Location: High Country of ACT, NSW and Victoria

Length: 45–60 days (including rest days)

Distance: 655 km

Difficulty: Hard

Access: One-way; road access at both ends.

Info: Best done in the warmer months. Food drops required.

4. Fraser Island Great Walk, QLD

Larapinta trail

Lake McKenzie (Boorangoora). One of Fraser’s most popular drawcards. (Image: Andrew Gregory)

Location: Queensland

Length: 5–7 days

Distance: 84 km

Difficulty: Easy

Access: One-way; boat transport required to island; both ends of the walk accessible by vehicle

Info: Walking during the cooler months, from April–September is recommended. Campsite bookings and permits required.

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5. Wilderness Coast Walk, VIC/NSW

wilderness coast walk

Image: Joanna Egan

Location: South coast of NSW and Victoria

Length: 4–5 days

Distance: 61 km

Difficulty: Medium

Access: One-way; boat transport required at one end, road access at other

Info: Permit required, book in advance 

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6. Overland Track, TAS

wilderness coast walk

Location: Tasmanian highlands

Length: 5–8 days

Distance: 74 km, plus many side trips

Difficulty: Medium

Access: One-way; road access and public transport links at both ends

Info: Permits required from November to May; walk must be completed north to south during this time

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7. Eastern Arthur Range, TAS

Location: Southwest Tasmania

Length: 7–9 days

Distance: 89 km

Difficulty: Hard

Access: Return walk; Trackhead accessible by road, with public transport links in summer

Info: Steep and dangerous climbing required; summer walking recommended

8. Western Arthur Range Traverse, TAS

western arthur range

Image: Dave Cauldwell

Location: Southwest Tasmania

Length: 8–11 days

Distance: 75 km

Difficulty: Hard

Access: Circuit walk; road access and public transport links in summer

Info: Follows a steep and tricky skyline traverse; summer walking recommended

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9. Cape to Cape Track, WA

western arthur range

Image: Andrew Gregory

Location: Southwest Western Australia

Length: 6–8 days

Distance: 135 km

Difficulty: Easy

Access: One-way; road access at both ends

Info: Spring wildflowers are a highlight; water may be hard to find

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10. South Coast Track, TAS

south coast track

Image: Justin Walker

Location: Southwest Tasmania

Length: 6–9 days

Distance: 85 km

Difficulty: Medium

Access: One-way; charter flight or extra 70 km walk to one end, road access with public transport links at other

Info: Walking in the warmer months is recommended

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