3 December 2012 by Alex Stewart
From the open Outback to the forests of Tasmania, our hand-picked selection of Australia's finest walks will stretch your legs, unburden your soul and encourage you to go walkabout.
Scattered across the country are diverse wild areas encompassing deserts, plateaus, ranges and islands. No matter the type of wilderness, the Australian landscape feels as if you're discovering it for the first time, even when following a well-worn track. It's somewhere to get lost in, figuratively and literally, somewhere rugged where you have to accept the rhythm and rate at which you can explore is dictated by the terrain.
Bibbulmun Track, Western Australia
The Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia is one of the world's greatest long-distance walking trails, stretching almost 1,000km from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills to Albany on the south coast.
The eight-day Bibbulmun & Beyond walk has been carefully compiled to show walkers the best of this award-winning route, from the giant boulders and jarrah forests of the north, through magnificent karri and tingle forests, to the spectacular ocean views, coastal heathlands and national parks of the south, and includes a final-day ascent of Bluff Knoll (1,095m), the highest point in Australia's south-west.
To move between these assorted highlights, walkers will travel by private bus, enjoying a range of full and half-day walks and returning each evening in time for dinner to comfortable accommodation in the towns and villages that line the track.
The Arkaba Walk, South Australia
The Flinders Ranges in South Australia are to many the epitome of the Australian Outback - an ancient seabed sculpted by millions of years of rain and sun into a fractured, furrowed landscape of deep valleys and rugged escarpments, where creeks are lined with river red gums and plains are studded with casuarinas and cypress pines.
It's here, set against the backdrop of the Elder Range and Wilpena Pound, that the four-day Arkaba Walk takes place. Using the luxurious Arkaba Station as both a start and end point, walkers cover between six and 15km a day, roaming across creek beds, open plains and often steep, rocky hillsides.
Evenings are spent under the stars in deluxe swag accommodation, with eco-friendly, communal shower and toilet facilities, and delicious bush meals served around the campfire.
The Overland Track, Tasmania
Discover the rare beauty and extraordinary diversity of Tasmania's World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park by following the iconic Overland Track in the company of Cradle Mountain Huts' experienced guides.
The six-day Overland Track covers 52km from Cradle Valley to Lake St Clair, stopping each evening to relax in the comfort of the only private accommodation along the trail. The huts have been strategically placed to ensure each day's walk is manageable and enjoyable and offer comfortable beds, hot showers, sumptuous meals, freshly baked bread and a glass or two of Tasmanian wine.
Scenery en route includes forests and gorges, mountains and moors, spectacular waterfalls and steep, stony paths. There are also opportunities for a number of side trips, including Mt Ossa (Tasmania's highest peak), Lake Will and a number of lookouts with breathtaking vistas.
Maria Island Walk
A few kilometres off Tasmania's eastern coast lies Maria Island, a carefree and car-free national park full of spectacular scenery. White beaches are bordered by granite boulders carpeted in startling red lichen. Dramatic mountains are cloaked in vegetation that changes with the altitude from tall eucalyptus to blue gum forests to alpine scrub. And sandstone cliffs are studded with fossils that have lain still for centuries.
Living among it all is a stunning amount of native wildlife, including wallabies, wombats, cockatoos, penguins, seals, dolphins and Cape Barren geese, all of which can be seen from the island's many trails.
The most famous of these is the four-day Maria Island walk, a multi-award winning guided hike which on which walkers spend the first two nights in beachfront camps and the final night at the restored colonial home of Italian silk merchant Diego Bernacchi, who lived on the island in the nineteenth century. Candlelit meals are served each evening and no other journey has taken more gongs at the Gourmet Traveller Travel Awards.
Bay of Fires Walk
Discover the breathtaking beaches and wilderness of north-eastern Tasmania on the four-day Bay of Fires walk, which allows you to experience the dramatic landscape, ecology and wildlife at the edge of Mt William National Park.
Explore one of the most pristine environments that Tasmania has to offer, walk the sandy beaches, explore coves and inlets, discover the wildlife-rich wilderness and relax for two nights in the luxurious, award-winning Bay of Fires Lodge, which stands in an unrivalled position, perched above beaches and forests.