The great outdoors is central to Australia’s attraction, with splendid vistas ranging from volcanic plateaux, rainforests and glorious coastline to the vast swathes of the Outback. The best way to explore the stunning scenery and its heritage is on foot and a range of options are possible for multi-day walking experiences ranging from leisurely coastal walks such as the Great Coastal Walk in Victoria and the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk in Tasmania to challenging treks such as the Larapinta Trail in Northern Territory or the Overland Trek across Cradle Mountain and the Lake St Clair National Park.
Australia’s human history is wrought with tales of success and failure of countless pioneers and adventurers as well as the indigenous inhabitants. Much of this is still evident on walks through even the most remote regions. On the Freycinet Peninsula in eastern Tasmania, walkers follow bush tracks through coastal forests once trodden by Aboriginal Oyster Bay Tasmanians some 30,000 years ago. More recent human heritage is marked by the shipwrecks of early British settlers 200 years ago on the Victoria coast and former penal settlements on Tasmania.
Accommodation options are almost endless and the remoteness of the wilderness does not mean forsaking creature comforts. The Scenic Rim Trail in Queensland includes a couple of nights in a luxury safari style camp (complete with wine masterclass), followed by a night at Spicer’s Peak Lodge where helicopter flights and a luxurious spa awaits. The Bay of Fires Lodge is an award-winning contemporary timber and glass structure serving gourmet meals in the Mount William National Park. Guests enjoy oysters, handmade chocolates and Tasmanian cheese and wine at the aptly named Friendly Beaches Lodge in the Freycinet National Park. For the more intrepid, guests can sleep under the stars in the Flinders Range in South Australia (after enjoying canapés, a campfire-side three course meal and fine Australian wine, of course), or in a traditional swag camp in the Northern Territory listening to the soundtrack of the nocturnal outback.
Below are just two of the walks recommended by our Australia specialist:
Arkaba Walk – South Australia
Exploring the outback of Flinders Range and the private Arkaba Conservancy, the Arkaba Walk extends some 45 kilometres over four days and covers a varied terrain. A great introduction to Australia’s great outback, its wildlife and pioneering heritage, the trail explores the stunning topography of the Willpena Pound and the Elder Range. Field guides translate the landscape of the bush pointing out kangaroos, emus and wallaroos as well as recounting stories of the early pioneers who tried, and often failed, to settle the land.
Two nights are spent out in the bush in ‘star beds’ – raised wooden platforms with a comfortable mattress and bedding where guest can watch the night sky before falling asleep. Despite the bush camp’s simplicity you can expect canapés before a three course meal, fine South Australian wines and a hot water bottle to snuggle up to. The final night is spent in a beautifully restoted 1850s homestead, once a sheep station, now a private conservancy.
Maria Island Walk – Tasmania
This walk explores one of the remotest points in Australia, taking in rare wildlife, astounding sandy beaches and some fascinating convict heritage off Tasmania’s eastern coast. The pace is reasonably gentle, covering 25 kilometres along beaches and bush tracks over four days (with the option of extending if you wish). The first day involves sailing across the Mercury Passage to Maria Island and exploring eucalyptus forests en route to Haunted Bay. The walk continues the next day along five beaches, spotting sea eagles and dolphins before settling in at White Gums Camp. Heading inland the trail winds through mountain peaks and Tasmanian blue gum forests to the World Heritage Site of Darlington on Maria Island’s northernmost point. Now a small settlement of historic buildings, Darlington was once a penal station accommodating over 600 convicts.
Two nights are spent in secluded simple wilderness camps on the edge of splendid white beaches which invite shell hunting and swimming in the pure seawater. Fine Tasmanian wine accompanies candle-lit three course dinners. The final night is at a heritage house in Darlington where a gourmet dinner awaits.
If you want to find out more about walking holidays in Australia contact Red Savannah's travel specialists on 01242 787800.