HIKE SENSATIONAL DESTINATIONS WITHOUT THE CROWDS OR COMPROMISE.

Have you ever hiked to an iconic destination, only to arrive with crowds of other people? It’s disappointing, to say the least. Rather than a serene experience, it feels as though you never left the city; same pressure, same jostling for space; and you ask yourself ‘how is this relaxing?’.

Is it possible to avoid the crowds and still enjoy the experience of a spectacular destination? Of course, it is. And it doesn’t have to be a Burke and Wills style expedition – carting equipment all over the place at your own peril. Camping is a great way to see the country, but let’s face it, not everybody’s first choice for accommodation.

Inn-to-Inn walks are no great secret. We are all aware that Europe, and many parts of the world, offer plenty of walks that can be completed in comfort. Walking from town-to-town, soaking up the international ambience as you go, but are they all that they’re cracked up to be?

Overseas walkers beware.

The overwhelming interest in overseas walks combined with the popular media’s focus on particular destinations has created a perfect storm. Hikers are descending on certain destination walks in plague proportions. Well, certainly ‘plague proportions’ in comparison to the numbers on Australia’s long-distance tracks.

If you love the idea of being in nature, the challenge of a walk, and want to avoid the ‘walking festival goers’ that flock to wherever is trending overseas, then shift your focus closer to home. You can walk and bring the good life along with you, right here in Australia.

The Bibbulmun, WA.

‘The Bib’ as it’s affectionally known, has been one of Western Australia’s favourite walks for a very long time, particularly around the Walpole, Denmark area. However, due to its remote location it is also one of the most underused tracks in Australia. Its sheer length, a lazy 1000kms, makes spotting other walkers fairly unlikely, and let’s face it, Western Australia must be the least populated place on earth (well, that’s what it feels like when you’re there). So, if you want to immerse yourself in truly remote Australian, outback, wilderness then you can’t go past the Bib.

The Great Ocean Walk, VIC.

If the Bib is too far off the beaten track, then try one of the more renowned long-distance tracks – the Great Ocean Walk. This is one of the best 100+kms of coastal walks in the world and it is accessible from Melbourne. It is reasonably well trodden by Australian standards, but not popular enough to be sharing it with crowds of walkers. Why? Because Victorian National Parks have the good sense to point all walkers in the same direction – from East to West. So, unless you dawdle or are on boot camp you might not see anyone for days. Even when you do see people they’re going to be like-minded, so you’ll get along just fine.

The Gold Coast Hinterland, QLD.

The Gold Coast Hinterland, Lamington and Springbrook National Parks are just a 25-minute drive from the 6th largest Australian city – the Gold Coast itself. Somehow the hinterland has remained intact from a time when the continent was connected to Asia. It has managed to avoid the more recent threats of developers, most likely due to Gold Coastian’s fixation on the beach. Thankfully the hoards of thong-wearing, beer-swilling inhabitants, have limited their environmental terrorism to the city. So, you can walk the border track through ancient Gowandland forest completely unaffected by the Gold Coast mess, or civilisation of any kind for that matter.

The list is of long distance walks in Australia, is endless.

In Tasmania there are the 3 Capes, Maria and Bruny Islands; New South Wales is home to the Blue Mountains and Yuraygir Coastal walk to name a few; Fraser Island and sections of the Daintree in Queensland; the Grampian Peaks track and the Great Alpine area in Victoria; the Larapinta in Northern Territory; South Australia hosts Kangaroo Island and the Heysen track (1200kms long), which goes through the Flinders Ranges; and that’s only scraping the surface. On every one of these walks you will find yourself immersed in a superlative landscape that has been preserved in time, and totally enriched by its isolation. The benefits for you as a hiker are simply magnificent and unparalleled – relax in harmony with the wilderness as you soak up the splendid isolation and unspoilt beauty that is unique to Australia.

Save yourself the international flight.

No jetlag. No passports. No expensive airfares. Walking in Australia is a fraction of the cost of walking overseas. Simply jump on a domestic flight, or in your own car for that matter, and be walking that same day. It makes sense, right?

After all of this, if you are still romanticising the idea of the Camino pilgrimage, with its comfortable accommodation, vino and tasty meal at the end of each day. That’s all possible down under too. Google ‘walking holidays in Australia, and you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

So, there you have it.

Australia may not have been on your original bucket list, but take a closer look, because when you do you are going to have to find a bigger bucket.

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