HOLIDAY AT HOME – HIKE IN AUSTRALIA WITHOUT THE WORRY OF CROWDS
So you’ve been walking your or someone else’s dog almost to death over the last few months, not venturing too far from home (by the way, if you still have the aforementioned borrowed dog, it might be time to return it). Lockdown has not been easy – re-ordering sheds, colour coding the kid’s undie draws; I am sure your domicile has never looked as good.
Hiking has been largely on hold, albeit temporarily in Australia, even though it comes with a near certainty that you won’t see other walkers, let alone have to deal with crowds. Yes, there are a few iconic destinations that can get busy, but those can easily be avoided by arriving at the right time or simply by skipping that small part of that particular walk where the crowds congregate.
It’s still very possible to hike, avoid other people and still enjoy the experience of walking spectacular destinations without having to replicate Burke and Wills. Lugging heavy backpacks is an experience that many have had and don’t wish to repeat. Camping is a great way to see this country, but let’s face it, not everybody’s accommodation first choice. Nor is it viable for those that have, let’s say, lived a little too much. Or if you just want a real toilet close by at 3am!
Self Guided or independent walks are no great secret. They’re very popular in Europe, and many parts of the world. Walking from town-to-town, soaking up the international ambience as you go. Brilliant if we were able to get on a plane, which we can’t. So why not holiday at home? Word has it we are likely to be able to fly domestically well before we can fly internationally. Australian walks are close, offer spectacular scenery, and they come without the issue of crowds. What’s more, each evening you’ll get to settle into a sweet bed and breakfast or the like with an ensuite, a hot shower, a homely 2-course meal and much more.
If you love the idea of being in nature, the challenge of a walk, and want to shift your focus closer to home…. start dreaming.
‘The Bib’ as it’s affectionally called, is one of Western Australia’s go-to walks for locals. Its runs all the way from Perth to Albany, at about 1003kms it’s not something you can walk in an afternoon. The section from Walpole via Denmark to Albany is the most stunning and also the most remote. The bonus is that it’s also the most underused. Spotting other walkers is fairly unlikely. Western Australia must be the least populated place on earth (that’s nearly true, only Greenland is less populated). It has some of the biggest trees in Australia, magnificent forest, huge views over the Southern Ocean, waterways, whales and Denmark one of Australia’s most beautiful wine-growing regions. If you want to immerse yourself in a truly remote Australian, outback destination, then add this to your bucket list.
The Great Ocean Walk is Australia’s most renowned long-distance track. The track travels from Apollo Bay and winds its way via Cape Otway Lighthouse, Castle Cove, Johanna Beach, Aire Valley and Princetown all the way to the 12 Apostles. 105 km’s of coastal scenery, plus Mountain Ash forest, the tallest flowering plant in the world, towering swells and secluded beaches only accessible by foot. It’s also just a few hours from Melbourne by vehicle. Why not drive the Great Ocean Road and soak up all the ambience of one of Australia’s most famous drives.
This walk is popular but it far from being crowded. Prepare to share it with Koalas and Kangaroos rather than other walkers. Victorian National Parks have the good sense to point all walkers in the same direction, from East to West. So, unless you walk very slowly or are on a mission you might not see anyone for days. Even when you do see people they’re going to be like-minded, so you’ll be fine
This region is one of Tasmania’s primo walking destinations and offers up a wide variety of terrain, flora and fauna. Traverse towering dolomite cliffs and walk to the very edge of the continent to marvel at the magnificent views over the Southern Ocean. The gigantic swells at Cape Raoul and Shipsterns Bluff are just one of the many highlights. Cape Hauy, Fortesque Bay, Waterfall Bay and Port Authur among the others. You can get a private transfer to and from your Hobart hotel or airport making it a seamless fully inclusive experience.
There are so many different walking options in the Blue Mountains that it defies the imagination. The walks traverse the edge of the plateau, travel down into canyons and valleys and via waterfalls and running streams. Fortunately for us, the bushfire that went through the mountains last year only marginally affected the walking tracks that we use. This is Australia’s oldest and most loved walking destination. Some tracks literally have a history, tracks have been walked here for more than 100 years. Nothing in European terms, but for a new country like Australia, this means something. Namely, it was love at first sight and this place rocks. The early settlers saw the divine in this place and knocked tracks through so they could revel in its beauty. The Blue Mountains is only 90 minutes from Sydney CBD and has the added benefit of being home to some of the finest eating and accommodation establishments in Australia
The sum of all the parts
There are stacks of other walking options in Australia. Options that will take you on a beautiful silent adventure far from the deafening noise of the city, with only the sounds of nature to keep you company.
Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park are simply spectacular. Bruny Island and the Tarkine also spring to mind as other Tasmania walking destinations that are amazing yet still accessible.
In New South Wales the 4-day Yuraygir Coastal walk, that makes its way from Yamba to Red Rock, via Broomes Head, Minnie Waters and Wooli is a fabulous linear hike.
Fraser Island in Queensland is not just sand as many people might think, it has a network of excellent tracks that are mostly solid underfoot.
In Victoria the Grampian Peaks track and the Great Alpine area both known for having outstanding views and unique terrain.
South Australia still has the Flinders Ranges, definitely the most underrated walking destination in Australia. Hopefully, Kangaroo Island will open next year after being ravaged by the bushfires.
The benefits for you as a hiker are obvious, save yourself the international flight, no jetlag, no passports, no expensive airfares and no risk as Australia will be up and running first before anywhere else. Yee-hah!!!!
Google’ walking holidays in Australia, and you will be more than pleasantly surprised by the results.
So, there you have it.