Australia’s best tree-top walks

By Signe Cane 8 April 2014
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Embark on a tree-top adventure for a completely fresh perspective on life in the leafy canopy.

An unpdated version of this article has been published here.

THERE IS A whole world of wonder to be found in the dappled light of a forest canopy, but humans rarely get to see it at eye level. We gaze up at it from below or occasionally get a peak from a plane at a canopy top, but rarely do we understand what its really like up there; that is, unless you go on a canopy walk.

These walks elevate you to the same height as the insects, mosses and animals that live in the canopies heights, letting you peek into a world sometimes infinitely richer in life than the forest floor. We scoured the nation for the best of these and found many opportunities to take in life from a different angle.

Tahune AirWalk, TAS

The Tahune AirWalk in Tasmania takes you along eucalypt treetops with breathtaking views of the Tahune Forest Reserve’s canopy. At two points you find yourself swinging on suspended bridges across the wild Huon and Picton rivers. The walk’s steel structure is 29m above the ground and almost 600m long, culminating in an impressive 24m-long cantilever, a steel structure that holds you out above a rushing river junction. You can choose a hiking path uphill to the AirWalk from Arve Road. You can also visit the Forest and Heritage Centre in nearby Geeveston.

Get there: It’s an hour and a half to the start of the walk from Hobart by car 

Tickets: Adult $26 Child $13 Family $52

Opening hours: 9:00a.m.–5:00p.m.

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, QLD

The steel structures of the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk let you explore the canopies of the pristine rainforest on Tamborine Mountain in south-eastern Queensland. Encounter the rainforest up close as you walk amongst the butterflies 30m above the ground. The 1.5km walk meanders intermittently through the canopy and rainforest floor. Take your time to read the information panels along the way.

Get there: It’s an hour’s drive from Brisbane or 50 minutes from the Gold Coast

Tickets: Adult $19.50 Child $9.50 Family $49.50

Opening hours: 9.30a.m.–5p.m. (last walks at 4p.m.)

O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk, QLD

Nine suspension bridges give O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk in Queensland a thrill factor found nowhere else. The bridges are 180m long and sway 15m above the ground. For an even more exhilarating experience, two observation decks high above the walkway climb nearly 30m above the rainforest floor. While there look out for a few of the 160 species of sub-tropical birds like the Albert’s lyrebird, Wompoo fruit-dove and Topknot pigeons as you wander the canopy, observing canopy plants and wildlife along the way.

Get there: It’s a two hour drive from Brisbane or just over an hour from the Gold Coast

Tickets: Free

Opening hours: All day, year round

Mamu Tropical Skywalk, QLD

On the Mamu Tropical Skywalk you will encounter one of the largest remaining stands of complex vine forest in the Wet Tropics. Located in the traditional country of the Ma Mu Aboriginal people of northern Queensland, the walk’s track winds across the forest floor to a 37m-high observation tower from which you can see the stunning vistas of the World Heritage-listed rainforest. Then you can walk along a sustainably built 350m-long walkway built 15m above the ground, you will encounter the rich insect life, birds and butterflies of the lower canopy while reading signs that tell you about the rich and complex history of the area.

Get there: It’s a one and a half hour drive from Cairns

Tickets: Adult $20 Child $10 Family $50

Opening hours: 9:30a.m.–5:30p.m. (last entry 4:30p.m.)

The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, WA

Home to the last forest of red tingle trees in the world, the Valley of the Giants in Western Australia is aptly named. Towering high above the forest floor, some of these ancient and impressive eucalypts are more than 400 years old. The Treetop Walk reaches 40m at its highest. Constructed out of lightweight steel trusses that will sometimes sway in the wind, the walk loops 600m through the canopy and takes in bird’s-eye views of gullies. Follow a trail to the Ancient Empire boardwalk on the forest floor which winds up, down, through and around several of the giant tingle trees, starting at ‘Grandma Tingle’.

Get there: It’s a five hour drive from Perth

Tickets: Adult $19 Child $9.50 Family $47.50 Concession $13.50. Children U6 are free

Opening hours: 9:00a.m.–5:00p.m. (last walk at 4:15p.m.)

Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk, NSW

The impressive sandstone cliffs of the Illawarra escarpment in New South Wales are the backdrop of the Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk. Take in the beauty of the rainforest as you wind your way along elevated steel platforms 30m above the ground. This steel construction is the only canopy walk in New South Wales and spans the forest for 500m and features two swaying cantilevers. In the end you climb a spiral tower nearly 50m above the ground. From here, 710m above sea level, breathtaking views stretch all the way to the ocean.

Get there: it’s one and a half hours from Sydney or a two hour drive from Canberra

Tickets: Adult $25 Child $10 Family $64

Opening hours: 9:00a.m.–5:00 p.m. (last admission 4:15p.m.)

Otway Fly Tree Top Walk, VIC

The longest and highest steel canopy walk in the world, the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk is nestled in the temperate rainforest of the magnificent Otway Ranges in Victoria. The round-trip from the visitor’s centre is almost 2km long, letting you trail the forest floor before you ascend to a walkway that’s up to 25m above the ground. ThYou can wind your way for 600m on steel pathways before reaching the 47m-high spiral tower for a birds-eye view above the crowns of the trees. For extra thrill you can also sway in the wind on the cantilever that juts out above the picturesque Young’s Creek.

Get there: It’s a two and a half hour drive from Melbourne or one and a half hours from Geelong

Tickets: Adult $25 Child $10 

Opening hours: 9:00a.m.–5:00p.m. (last entry at 4:00p.m.)

Daintree Discovery Centre Aerial Walkway, QLD

Discover ancient plants deep in the heart of the oldest intact tropical rainforest in the world, the 180-million-year-old Daintree rainforest in northern Queensland. Make your way to the Daintree Discovery Centre to experience the 14m-high Aerial Walkway. It will lead you through mid-level canopy of the most biologically diverse rainforest in the world. Along the way make sure you don’t miss the impressive views from the top of the 23m-high canopy tower. More than just a tree-top walk, a visit to the centre also offers boardwalk trails along the forest floor, enlightening audio tours and educational guides on conservation.

Get there: Drive two hours north from Cairns or an hour north from Port Douglas

Tickets: (with 7 days of re-entry) Adult $32 Child $16 Family $78

Opening hours: 8:30a.m.–5:00p.m.