Walking and skiing areas

  • Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Western Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria

Australia is a large, diverse coountry with areas providing opportunities for a wide variety of both one day overnight and extended bushwalks. In each state, there are literally hundreds of different trips which can be done - a careful study of club programs reveals the enormous diversity that exists. Areas with significant ski touring potential exist in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, where our distinctive snowgum landscape provides scenery not found anywhere else in the world. Although Australian high country is just within the winter snowline and snow cover is spasmodic, ski touring is very rewarding and well worth trying. It is not possible to describe every trip here or even every area. This short guide suggests areas and some walk destinations that are representative of the terrain in each state or territory. For many of these areas, track notes can be found in one of the books listed in Appendix 3.

Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory could be regarded as part of southern New South Wales. While it is small, it has one significant reserve for bushwalkers.

Namadgi: This park covers almost half of the territory and comprises a series of river valleys and high granite peaks. It abuts the Kosciuszko National Park and extended trips often pass through both parks. A wide range of both one day and overnight walks is available.

New South Wales

The spine of the Great Dividing Range provides most of the walking and skiing venues in New South Wales. Sandstone is the dominant rock type, and plateaux, cliffs and gorges are common features on many walks. There are a huge number of trips which can be done.

New England Tablelands: A series of gorges and plateaux in the north east. There are many small parks and reserves scattered across the area. Gibraltar Range, Washpool, Guy Fawkes and New England are the major national parks. The area provides many one-day walks and a wide variety of overnight walks.

Warrumbungles and Mt Kaputar: Inland from New England, these two parks in the north of the state have spectacular volcanic scenery. Both have extensive track systems providing both one day and overnight walks. Often you must carry water in the near desert climate. Most seasons are suitable except summer.

Barrington Tops: An elevated plateau north of Newcastle. While it does snow here, it is not a suitable ski touring area. It has both one-day walks and a range of overnight bushwalks. A marked 11-day track runs to the coast at Tea Gardens.

Great North Walk: A marked track that runs from Sydney north to Newcastle through low ranges and river valleys. The 250 km track takes about 14 days to walk. One-day walks and shorter overnight trips are possible. Suitable all year round.

Blue Mountains: This is the sandstone plateau west of Sydney, with deep river valleys and numerous gorges. Both short and long walks abound. You can walk for several years without repeating routes. Popular destinations are the tracks at Katoomba and Blackheath, Blue Gum Forest, the Gorse Gorge, Mt Solitary, Kanangra Walls, the Kowmung River, as well as the numerous canyons and the wilderness walking in the Wollemi National Park. Suitable all year round, although the most popular seasons are autumn and spring.

Royal National Park: A coastal park just south of Sydney with many one-day walks and some overnight walking along its coast.

Budawangs: A rugged series of sandstone mountains located between Canberra and the coast. There are some day walks to Pigeon House Mountain and The Castle. Most walks here are long multi-day trips following rough tracks. Best times to visit are autumn and spring.

Kosciuszko: Contains the highest peaks in Australia. It is a large and very diverse national park. The most popular region is the Main Range but the Byadbo, Cascades, Jagungal, Kiandra, Cooleman, Bimberi and Bogong Peaks areas are all worth visiting. In winter, the park contains the best and largest ski touring region in Australia. In summer, there is an infinite variety of walks. They range from one-day strolls across meadows to trips of several weeks duration.

Hume and Hovell Track: Created as an historical trail, this 372 km track runs from Gunning to near Albury. It passes mainly through state forests and avoids the high ranges of the Kosciuszko region. It provides many one-day walks and easy, overnight walks.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is often not considered for bushwalking because of the heat. The south has deserts which are very different from the lush, tropical forests near the northern coast. Winter is the best time to walk in any area of the territory. Permits are needed for areas where aboriginal ownership has been recognised.

West MacDonnell Ranges: A rugged desert range that starts at Alice Springs. The Larapinta Trail provides a 14-day walk along the range. Shorter walks based on the track are possible. The nearby Watarrka (Kings Canyon) also provides some good walking.

Photo opposite: Warrumbungle National Park, NSW

Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) provide good one-day walks but overnight bush camping is not allowed.

Katherine Gorge: Also known by its aboriginal name, Nitmiluk. The main gorge provides some good one- and two-day walks, and there is a five-day walk on a marked trail to Edith Falls. Off-track walking is officially discouraged. Permits are needed and cannot be booked in advance.

Kakadu: A large national park with some recognised one-day walks to the major features. Longer walks are all off track and a wide variety of routes is possible. The route from Koolpin Creek to Jim Jim Falls is one well known seven-day walk. Permits for overnight walks have to be applied for months in advance. Winter is the best period here as summer is the wet season and the access roads are flooded.

Queensland

Queensland is a large state with a humid, warm climate for much of the year. Most areas are covered in thick rainforest. Permits are needed for camping in all national parks and booking well in advance is advised for popular places. The main walking season is winter.

Lamington: A well-known national park which is an elevated plateau covered in thick tropical vegetation. Major features are the vegetation and high waterfalls. An extensive track system exists across the park providing many good one-day walks and some easy overnight trips. For those prepared to leave the tracks there are many overnight walks available in the western and southern ends of the park.

Border Ranges: A large national park inland from Lamington. There are very few marked tracks and many good walks following rough routes for experienced walkers.

Mt Barney: The highest mountain in southern Queensland. This is a rugged peak with many cliffs and bare rock slabs. There is a wide variety of routes leading to the summit, with none really easy. While day walks are possible, most trips are two days or longer, and longer trips are possible by visiting neighbouring mountains.

Main Range: A narrow park containing a strip of rugged mountains. The range is generally trackless and suited for experienced overnight walkers.

Girraween, Bald Rock and Sundown: Three national parks dominated by granite. There are many easier one-day walks and a wide scope of overnight off-track walks.

Carnarvon Gorge: Located well inland, this deep gorge has many caves and aboriginal art sites. The lower gorge has good tracks for one-day walks. For multi-day walks, the upper gorge and plateau provide interesting off-track walking.

Fraser Island: Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, featuring dunes and perched lakes. There is a three-day circuit walk in the island’s centre, many short one-day walks, and a trackless national park for exploring at the north end of the island.

Cooloola: A national park just south of Fraser Island. The 46 km wilderness trail is the most popular walk. There are other walks, both one day and overnight in the park on an extensive track system.

Hinchinbrook Island: The largest island national park in Australia. A marked track known as the Thorsborne Trail follows the east coast. This is an interesting and popular four- to five-day walk. Permits are required.

Bellenden Ker: This contains Mt Bartle Frere, the highest mountain in Queensland, located just south of Cairns. This is the wettest area of Australia and fine sunny days are rare. There are good tracks to the summit and also in the nearby valleys providing both one- and two-day walks.

Cape York: The most northern tip of Australia is an extensive wilderness area with few tracks. Provides adventurous, extended trips for experienced walkers.

South Australia

With the lowest rainfall of all the states, South Australia’s dry landscape is the major feature. Reduced vegetation makes off-track walking fairly easy and there is considerable scope for exploratory walks in the desert ranges.

South East: The Mt Gambier region has many small reserves which provide a variety of one-day walks.

Kangaroo Island: The large island southwest of Adelaide. The main reserve is the Flinders Chase National Park. Walks range from one-day walks of several hours to a five-day trackless traverse of the west coast.

Deep Creek: To the south of Adelaide, this conservation reserve provides good coastal walking. A marked track visits the surf beaches. Walks range from one to several days in length.

Mount Lofty Ranges: This range behind Adelaide is also known as the Adelaide Hills. There are several small parks providing good day walks. Morialta, Cleland, Black Hill, Warren and Mt Crawford are popular walking venues. Overnight walks are also possible by using parts of the Heysen Trail.

Mt Remarkable: A small, but significant park north of Adelaide near Port Augusta. There are many day walks or you can visit all features on a two-day bushwalk.

Wilpena Pound: An arid area with interesting mountains and good views. Well known and has some good track walks of one to two days. The Pound also has good off-track walking.

Gammon Ranges: A wilderness park in the northern Flinders Ranges. Walks range from a day trip to Bunyip Chasm to one-week traverses of the gorge systems. There are no marked tracks in the park. Good walking is also available on private land in the nearby Arkaroola area, for which permission is required.

Heysen Trail: A 1000 km marked track running north from Cape Jervis into the Flinders Ranges. Special access has been granted where the track crosses private land. This provides many walking venues for one-day and overnight walks in areas where there are few reserves.

Western Australia

The largest state, Western Australia, has a low population and much of it is extremely dry. There are huge distances between interesting areas. Access is a major planning problem. Most bushwalking is in the southwest corner, but there are interesting areas elsewhere.

Mundaring Weir: The area directly east of Perth has some good walking through jarrah forests. There are one-day and overnight walks based on the Bibbulmun Track. Suitable for most of the year except hottest summer.

Monadnocks: A series of granite peaks southeast of Perth. With good tracks and camping facilities the peaks make good one-day and overnight walks. Suitable all year except summer.

Stirling Range: A rugged range north of Albany. The west end provides excellent one-day walks to the isolated summits. The east end of the park has a rough three-day, ridge-top traverse of the peaks that is suitable for experienced walkers. Best visited in spring for the wildflowers.

Cape to Cape: A marked five-day walking track follows the coast from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. This passes close to Margaret River. The track has many access points and is good for shorter walks as well. Suitable all year round.

Southern Coastline: A series of national parks along the coast provide excellent wilder-ness-style extended walks. D’Entrecasteaux, Walpole-Nornalup, Fitzgerald River and Cape Le Grand are the major parks. One-day walks are also possible. Spring and autumn are the best walking seasons.

Bibbulmun Track: A marked 964 km track that runs from Perth to Albany and takes around seven weeks to walk. Shelter huts, water and toilets are provided at each campsite. Best time to walk the track is spring.

Murchison River: The river is the main feature of the Kalbarri National Park north of Perth. Most walks follow the river gorge and range from one to five days. Suitable most of the year except summer.

Bungle Bungles (Purnululu): Rounded rocky domes dominate this park in the north of the state. Walking is confined to the narrow canyons and gorges and one-day and overnight walks are popular. Limited access to the area is by four-wheel drive only. Suitable for the dry seasons of autumn to spring.

Kimberley: A huge tropical wilderness area in the north of the state. This vast area has many rivers and plateaux to explore. Walking is unlimited for those prepared to explore. Access is difficult and it is only suitable for extended walking trips. Avoid the wet season; most walking is done in winter.

Tasmania

The island state of Tasmania is well known to walkers. It provides some of the longest and most challenging walks in Australia. Glaciated features dominate much of the landscape. There are also many short walks. A permit system for many areas is under consideration.

Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair: A glaciated landscape with lakes, cliffs, peaks and plains providing grand scenery. The major feature is the famous Overland Track which is a five-day walk on constructed tracks. There are also many good one-day walks and overnight walks on lesser-used tracks. Summer is the best period to visit and experienced walkers can be found here all year round. In winter, ski touring is often possible at Cradle Mountain and Mt Rufus.

Central Plateau: The area to the east of Cradle Mountain is an elevated nearly-flat plateau covered with low vegetation. The Walls of Jerusalem is the most popular feature and has good tracks for one-day walks. The remainder of the plateau is an essentially trackless region which you can walk across in most directions. A good area for overnight trackless walks. Summer is the main walking period. In winter ski touring is sometimes reasonable after recent snowfalls.

South West: Rugged, glaciated scenery surrounded by flat plains and dense scrub. Most of the area is a huge wilderness park. The South Coast, Port Davey and Arthur Plains Track form a horseshoe-shaped walking track. This is the only track in the area. Walking any part of these tracks is fairly easy in good weather, but can be very challenging in the severe weather which can occur in the area in any season. Off the track, the walks become harder and popular destinations are Federation Peak, Mt Anne, the Western Arthurs, South West Cape and Precipitious Bluff. Summer is the best period for a visit but even then storms and snowfalls are common on the peaks. Winter snow cover is spasmodic and it is not a suitable ski touring area.

Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers: Another huge wilderness park located between the South West and Cradle Mountain parks and with similar scenery. There is only one marked track—the three-day walk to Frenchmans Cap. The Denison Range, the King William Range and the Prince of Wales Range are all tougher off-track trips, ranging from several days to several weeks.

Mt Field: An elevated plateau near the centre of the island. A good track system provides many good one-day walks and some easy overnight walking. Summer is the best walking season. Snow covers the range in winter and ski touring is often reasonable.

Hobart: Mt Wellington towers over the city. The mountain and the plateau behind provide many one-day walks and some good overnight walks. Suitable for walking for most of the year except winter. Good snow cover is rare in winter and it is not a reliable ski touring area.

Tasman Peninsula: Spectacular coastal cliffs near Port Arthur. A track system exists to most features. There are many one-day walks and an excellent three-day walk to all the main features. Suitable for year-round walking.

Ben Lomond: A high plateau in the north east. The rocky landscape provides rough summer walking. In winter, there is good ski touring when there is sufficient snow cover.

East Coast: Maria Island, Freycinet Peninsula and Douglas-Apsley are the three major parks. They all have marked track systems and provide good one- to three-day walks. The area is suitable for year-round walking as the climate is much drier than the rest of the state.

North Coast: Mt William, Asbestos Range and Rocky Cape are three smaller parks with one-day walks. Good for year-round walking.

Victoria

Victoria is the smallest mainland state, has the highest population density and is primarily covered in farmland. Even so, there many parks and reserves and this state has some of the most diverse walking areas in Australia.

North West: An area of semi-desert and flood plains. Wyperfeld, Little Desert and the Hattah-Kulkyne National Parks provide both one-day and overnight walks to lakes and sand ridges. Winter is the best walking season, as it is very hot and dry for much of the year.

Grampians (Gariwerd): A series of sandstone ranges rising above level plains, also known as Gariwerd. Has many constructed one-day tracks in the Wonderland, Mt Difficult and Mt Stapylton areas. The Victoria Range, Major Mitchell Plateau, Mt Difficult and Black Range provide good two-day walks. Suitable for most of the year except hot summer periods.

Great South West Walk: A 15-day, 220 km circuit in the far southwest corner of the state. Features are the gorge of the Glenelg River and the varied southern coastline. Shorter circuits of two and three days based on Mt Richmond or the coastline are possible. There are also many one-day walks in the region.

Mt Cole and Langhi Ghiran State Forests: A region of granite outcrops east of Ararat. There are many walking tracks along the range and a variety of overnight trips can be planned. Good in autumn and spring. A good area for less-experienced groups as the ranges are not high in altitude.

Otway Ranges: Covered in tall forest, this range rises above the southern coastline and contains many waterfalls. There is a variety of marked tracks to many waterfalls providing good one-day walks. There are also many opportunities for off-track exploring and longer walks. The most popular regions are near the towns of Aireys Inlet and Lorne, behind the Cumberland River, near Beech Forest and around the coast at Cape Otway.

Lake Mountain: In winter, this is a popular but small ski touring plateau. In summer, there are many walking opportunities that link to nearby ranges such as Cathedral Range, Mt Bullfight and Mt Torbreck.

Kinglake, Mt Disappointment and Strathbogie Ranges: A series of granite ranges north of Melbourne. There are many good one-day walks and some excellent weekend walks for those willing to explore. Suitable most of the year.

Baw Baw Plateau: An elevated plateau with timbered ridges and open valleys. An excellent overnight ski touring area when under snow. Also a good summer walking area for one-day and overnight trips.

Wilsons Promontory: The southern end is the most popular destination for beginners. While very scenic, it can be overcrowded and a strict permit system applies. The northern end is less visited and best seen on a three-day walk. Suitable for year-round walking.

Licola Region: A small town which is on the access road into the southern section of the Alpine National Park. There are many good one-day walks and an infinite variety of overnight trips. Base-camp style trips are popular. Lake Tarli Karng, The Crinoline, Caledonia River, Snowy Bluff, Mt Darling, Bryces Gorge, Moroka River, Wonnangatta Valley and Mt Howitt are all popular destinations each with several approaches. Suitable for the warmer months from spring to late autumn. In winter the higher peaks are usually snow covered and offer interesting skitouring.

Howqua Region: Mansfield is the closest town for the western access into the Alpine National Park. A wide range of short and long trips of all standards is possible. Eagles Peaks, The Bluff, Mt Magdala, Mt Howitt, Cross Cut Saw, Speculation, Razor, Viking and Mt Stirling are just some of the favoured places here. Suitable for the warmer months. In winter, Mt Stirling provides the easiest access to many cross-country ski trails; other higher peaks are under snow and suitable for experienced ski tourers and offer extended trips.

Bogong High Plains: Part of the Alpine National Park, this is the highest region of Victoria. In winter, it is normally covered by snow providing excellent ski touring. In summer, the open alpine meadows invite walking in most directions. The highest peaks Mt Feathertop, Mt Loch, Mt Cope, Mt Nelse, Spion Kopje and Mt Bogong are all worth climbing. Mt Hotham is the base for a good range of marked ski-touring trails and some off-trail touring.

East Gippsland: A series of remote ranges and parks provide some interesting walks. The Cobberas, the Snowy River and side gorges, Coopracambra and Tingaringy National Parks and Errinundra Plateau are all worth exploring. Some one-day walks are possible, but the area is best suited to multi-day trips.

Croajingolong: A large coastal national park in far east Gippsland. The classic walk is a one to three-week coastal traverse. Shorter walks of weekend circuits and one-day walks are also good.

Australian Alps Walking Track: Running from Walhalla near the Baw Baw Plateau all the way to Canberra, this 765 km track follows the Great Divide and can be walked in seven weeks. A popular variation is to walk one- or two-week sections each year.