Lace up your hiking shoes – it’s time to tackle these luxury Australian walking tours, writes Natarsha Brown.
There’s no denying the healing power of nature: the crisp air, birdsong, mist of waterfalls, aroma of moss and eucalypts. Even better if you can bliss out in the great outdoors then bed down with creature comforts on these guided walks across Australia.
Seven Peaks Walk
Lord Howe Island, NSW
Often called ‘Australia’s Galápagos’, Lord Howe Island is a naturalist’s dream. The island has are more than 200 bird species and 1,600 terrestrial insect species, including the world’s rarest: the phasmid.
Marvel at the island’s highs on the five-day, six-night Seven Peaks Walk, covering 45 kilometres and guided by experts in their field. Nights are spent without Wi-Fi or phone signal at Pinetrees Lodge. Highlights include snorkelling the southernmost coral reef, twitching around the only providence petrel rookeries in the world and scaling the misty cloud forests of Mount Gower.
DURATION Five days
BEST FOR Sea and scenery
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR In 2020, Pinetrees Lodge became Australia’s first carbon-neutral hotel. The Sallywood Swamp Forest Restoration Project is one of its most notable endeavours, aiming to double the amount of this critically endangered forest on the island by 2030.
Three Capes Walk
Tasmania has its fair share of epic hikes. The prettiest of them all may well be the Three Capes Walk. You’ll explore the wild and wonderful Tasman Peninsula over three days with Life’s an Adventure. The coastline here is nature writ large: think hidden caves and towering sea stacks, dolerite cliffs and secluded bays. Sleep soundly in spa chalets at Stewarts Bay Lodge, then up the wow ante with a twirl in a helicopter.
DURATION Three days
BEST FOR Untamed wilderness
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR Boasting Eco Tourism Accreditation, Life’s an Adventure hires local guides and follows a Leave No Trace principle.
The Three Capes Walk, Tasmania © Life’s an Adventure
Wild, wide and wonderful, the east coast of Tasmania is everything you’ve been craving over the last two years. It’s nature writ large, and a true tonic for the soul. And in the absence of infrastructure, the best way to see it is on foot. Some days you will cruise to blindingly blue coves like Wineglass Bay, where the brave take a dip in water best described as invigorating. Others, we walk barefoot on the sand to reach our lodge which is completely off-grid.
DURATION Four days, three nights
BEST FOR Sunrises, walking, wining and dining
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR Staying in an off-grid eco lodge
Scenic Rim Trail
Nearly two decades in the making, the two- or five-day journey connects Spicers Hidden Vale and Spicers Hidden Peaks through the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. The setting and dwellings are equally sublime on the Scenic Rim Trail, staying at the brand’s plush eco-cabins in between. The walk starts in the foothills of the Main Range National Park, the experience sees 12 hikers traverse land previously only touched by Indigenous Australians.
DURATION Two and Five days
BEST FOR Ancient rainforests
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR With a goal of zero net emissions by 2030, Spicers continues to find new ways to innovate. At Spicers Timber Getters, the cabins are designed to be flat-packed at a moment’s notice.
Flinders Rangers Walk
Travel 400 kilometres north of Adelaide to discover the Flinders Ranges. The area is home to fascinating fossil remains, an array of Indigenous rock art and engravings, and weathered peaks more than 600 million years old. The Flinders Ranges are illuminated throughout the day in a shifting canvas of colour, from mauve mornings to scarlet sunsets.
This part of the country is really of another time. Life’s an Adventure’s six-day, pack-free walk here showcases the best of the mountain range, including the natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound, and sections of the lauded Heysen Trail and Brachina Gorge, a refuge for yellow-footed rock wallabies. CEOs (Chief Experience Officers) ensure your every need is met. Lavish accommodations at Wilpena Pound Resort and Rawnsley Park Station guarantee some well-deserved downtime. A scenic flight to take in the sheer magnitude of the region is the final flourish.
DURATION Six days
BEST FOR Delving into history
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR Life’s an Adventure follows a Leave No Trace principle.
Cape to Cape Walk
Margaret River, WA
This four-day, 41-kilometre ramble by Walk into Luxury has to be seen to be believed. The walk goes along undulating limestone cliffs, through towering karri forests and across the pearly-white sand beaches of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.
Staying at Injidup Spa Retreat, each evening consists of a sumptuous dinner before you bed down. Villas come complete with uninterrupted Indian Ocean views, a plunge pool and mini-bar stocked with Margaret River wines. An optional three-night add-on at COMO The Treasury in Perth rounds out the Western Australia sojourn.
DURATION Four days
BEST FOR Coastal beauty
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR Not only is Walk into Luxury certified as a carbon-neutral business, but the team has also adopted a part of the track that they are responsible for maintaining.
MacDonnell Ranges, NT
An outback odyssey in style, this 72-kilometre, six-day adventure by Australian Walking Holidays checks all boxes. The track weaves through the West MacDonnell Ranges. Journey’s highlights include climbing Mount Sonder for sunrise, an Indigenous-led talk in Standley Chasm, and exploring the ochre-red rockfaces of Simpsons Gap. Stay in semi-permanent, architect-designed camps that are fitted out with hot showers.
DURATION Five, six, nine, or 14 days
BEST FOR Deserts and stargazing
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR Composting toilets, low-water-use showers, biodegradable soap and solar lighting are a few of the low-impact features.
North West Queensland
Leave the distractions of modern day life behind and visit one of the most rugged, desolate, and hauntingly beautiful parts of Australia—North West Queensland. With Trek West’s North West Queensland hiking tours, you’ll leave mobile reception behind and completely immerse yourself in the Australian outback, like you’ve never seen it before. You’ll also spend time exploring and relaxing on part of Herbertvale station, a working cattle stations, where you’ll learn more about life on the land while also sleeping and dining in the comfort of Trek West’s hospitality.
BEST FOR Rugged Australian landscapes
K’gari (Fraser Island)
K’gari is a place best savoured slowly. While many visitors see this famous Queensland island on a day tour, you can’t really know K’gari Fraser Island until you explore it mindfully, over several days. Fraser Island Hiking, a locally-owned tour company, offers the Best of the Fraser Island Great Walk tour where everything is taken care of for you, from knowledgeable local walking guides to luxury accommodation and gourmet meals.
DURATION Four days, three nights
BEST FOR Hiking ancient rainforests on Australia’s largest sand island
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR Fraser Island Hiking tours hold an Eco Certification from Eco Tourism Australia.