Our favourite way to explore any destination is on foot and during our 18-month road trip around OZ we were on a mission to discover some of the best short walks in Australia.
We love walking as a family activity and getting out in nature, even if it means little Savannah ends up on my shoulders – which tends to happen on some of our longer walks.
Walking is a great way to stay in shape on your travels and we encourage everyone to walk around as much as you can. So get active and put your hiking sandals on and see things at a slower pace – and remember, walking is FREE!
18 short walks in Australia
Here’s a list of some of our favorite short walks in Australia, from a casual one hour stroll to half-day hikes.
1. Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain
Tasmania has a list called “60 Great Short Walks” and one of the most popular short walks in Australia is the Dove Lake circuit beneath Cradle Mountain, one of the most famous destinations in Tasmania.
The track takes you under the shadow of Cradle Mountain, through the tranquil Ballroom Forest and back along the wshore of the lake to your starting point. The track is boardwalk for much of the way and an easy grade, which was awesome for our kids and suitable for all fitness levels – your only challenge will be getting a sunny day!
- Distance: 6 kilometre loop
- Start / Finish: Dove Lake carpark
- Getting there: Cradle Mountain is 2.5 hours drive from Launceston
- Where to stay: Cradle Mountain
Read more – Walking in the shadows of famous Cradle Mountain
2. White Sands Walk, Jervis Bay
This was one of those walks where I could have just kept on walking – even with a 2-year-old strapped on my back.
This walk combines stunning beaches, rock pools, and wooded areas with some bush tracks sprinkled in. Jervis Bay Marine Park offers a stunning back drop as you make your way along the coastal track. If you’re lucky you can spot dolphins and kangaroos. And you get to visit one of Australia’s best beaches, Hyams Beach.
- Distance: 2 kilometres
- Start / Finish: Greenfield Beach / Hyams beach
- Getting there: Jervis Bay is just 180km south of Sydney
- Where to stay: The nearby town of Huskisson
Read more – the sensational White Sands Walk in Jervis Bay
3. All the walks in Karijini National Park
During our road trip, so many people said Karijini National Park was their favourite place in Australia – they weren’t kidding, it’s incredible, and it reminds us so much of Utah! The colours in the rocks, the towering gorge cliffs, the refreshing waterholes and adventurous walks. It was God’s artist studio Down Under.
We spent 5 days there and did all the walks; Dales Gorge, Hamersley Gorge, Weano Gorge, Knox Gorge, Hancock Gorge and Kalamina Gorge.
- Distances: short to long
- Getting there: Karijini is a 3 hr drive from Port Headland in WA
- Where to stay: Karijini Eco Retreat
Read more – Hello Karijini National Park
4. The Lookout, Mount Kosciuszko
If the weather is in your favour, a climb to the top of Australia is achievable. Take the Kosciusko Express chair lift from Thredbo to Eagles Nest and follow the board walk to the rounded peak. It’s a 13km return.
Alternatively, do what we did and walk the shorter 4km return to The Lookout. This was as far as we got with the girls, as the conditions were unfavourable with strong winds, low temperatures, and snow on the peaks.
Stop off at the Eagles Nest Restaurant (Australia’s highest restaurant) for a gourmet hot chocolate before taking the chair lift back down.
- Distance: 4 kilometres
- Start / Finish: Thredbo
- Getting there: 6-hour drive from Sydney & Melbourne
- Where to stay: Thredbo Village
Read more – things to do in the Snowy Mountains
5. Uluru base walk
One of the best things we’ve done as a family was walking around the base of Uluru – the spiritual heart of Australia. The loop walk took us 3.45 hours and is easily one of our favourite walks in Australia!
You’re in the Outback so start this walk early at first light in the warmer months to beat the heat. Start at the Kuniya walking point and head anti-clockwise, take lots of water, snacks and short breaks.
- Distance: 10 kilometre loop
- Start / Finish: Kuniya walking point
- Getting there: 5 hr drive from Alice Springs, 3.5 hr flight from Sydney
- Where to stay: the town of Yulara
Read more – 9 ways to experience the magic of Uluru
6. Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach
Freycinet National Park is our favourite place in Tasmania and the walk to famous Wineglass Bay, is a must. We started our walk early to reach The Lookout for sunrise and to beat the anticipated crowds. From the car park to The Lookout is about a 45-minute walk. A steady uphill climb, but a well-made path
Once you reach The Lookout your reward is a spectacular view over Wineglass Bay. The walk down onto the beach itself is steep but a short one of 20 minutes. We next made the 30-minute flat walk to nearby Hazards Beach, another famous beach in Freycinet National Park.
- Distance: 2.5 hours return for Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach circuit
- Start / Finish: Car park entrance to the NP
- Getting there: Freycinet is a 2.5 hour drive from Hobart
- Where to stay: Coles Bay is on the doorstep of Freycinet
Read more – All alone on Wineglass Bay
7. Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk
When you visit Byron Bay, and you MUST visit Byron Bay, one of our top recommendations is an early-morning walk to the lighthouse. We started from in front of Byron’s famous pub, the Beach Hotel, and followed the path parallel to the beach until it becomes Lighthouse Road.
Continue on the main path from here and head up the headland with incredible sea cliff views back over The Pass and Byron Bay before descending to one of our favourite beaches in Australia, Wategos Beach. Just before you reach the lighthouse, you will pass by the most easterly point of Australia’s mainland, Cape Byron.
- Distance: 6 kilometre loop
- Start / Finish: Main Beach, Byron
- Getting there: Byron is a 9 hr drive north of Sydney or a 2 hour drive south of Brisbane
- Where to stay: Byron Bay has accommodation for all budgets
Read more – Doing the Byron Bay lighthouse walk
8. Noosa National Park
Noosa is a famous beach town in Australia, but it’s the National Park that elevated Noosa to a place that’s worth visiting for us. Before that, I thought Noosa was overhyped and overpriced. We spent a morning walking the coastal track within the National Park from the surf club to Tea Tree Bay.
It’s a beautiful walk and if you look up you might just spot a koala or two. You can also walk into the National Park from the opposite entrance at Sunshine Beach, with sweeping views down the coast. And we saw our first whale for the season breaching just off shore.
- Distance: Noosa to Sunshine Beach 5.4 km one way
- Start / Finish: Noosa Surf club
- Getting there: 1.45 hr drive from Brisbane, 1.5 hr flight from Sydney
- Where to stay: Noosa Heads
Read more – things to do in Noosa
9. Ubirr rock art and sunset walk in Kakadu National Park
Guided walks and talks on Aboriginal rock art and culture run of an afternoon through the Ubirr rock art gallery. An Aboriginal ranger will tell you many of the stories behind the paintings on the wall of the 1 km circular walk.
The rock art is impressive and worth spending time seeing. Go in the afternoon and then head straight up the top of the rock for one of the most unforgettable sunsets over the floodplains of Kakadu and Arnhem Land.
- Distance: 1.5 kilometres
- Start / Finish: Ubirr
- Getting there: 3 hour drive from Darwin
- Where to stay: Jabiru in the heart of Kakadu
Read more – How to explore Kakadu National Park
10. Indarri Falls, Boodjamulla National Park
We believe Boodjamulla National Park in Outback Queensland is Queensland’s best kept secret. Lawn Hill Gorge, at the north of the park, is the biggest and most spectacular attraction with its sandstone cliffs, emerald green river, and lush vegetation.
There are plenty of walks ranging from easy to difficult. Well, we did the difficult trail to Indarri Falls and upper-gorge with the girls and I’d class it moderate. Indarri Falls separates the middle from the Upper Gorge and is just stunning. From here go up the top of the escarpment to the Upper Gorge lookout for amazing views of the gorge and river below.
- Distance: 7 kilometres
- Start / Finish: Campground at Boodjamulla NP
- Getting there: 16 hr drive from Cairns
- Where to stay: Boodjamulla National Park (book ahead) or 1okm’s outside the park at Adele’s Grove.
Read more – Boodjamalla is Queensland’s best kept secret
11. Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk
You can spend $200+ and climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge (recommended once in your life) or the much cheaper option is to simply stroll across the pedestrian walkway at street level and take in the same panoramic views on a lower level, for FREE. It’s one of my favourite city walks in Australia.
Start from The Rocks District and once on the pedestrian walkway wander across to the other side and either walk back or catch the train back to the city from Milsons Point station.
- Start / Finish: The Rocks District
- Where to stay: See my selection of best Sydney accommodation
Read more – 48 hours in Sydney
12. Coastal track in Burleigh Heads National Park
We are currently locals living in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and we love this walk. Grab a coffee from Nook Espresso then head to the point and catch the magnificent sunrise before doing the coastal walk around the headland to Tallebudgera Creek. About half-way back you’ll come to Tumgun Lookout which offers awesome views over Palm Beach.
- Distance: 2.5 kilometres
- Start / Finish: Burleigh Headland
- Getting there: The Gold Coast is one hour south of Brisbane
- Where to stay: Gold Coast
Read more – 15 free things to do on the Gold Coast
13. Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Our Australian road trip opened our eyes to the resilience of our daughters, evidenced by them completing one of the best canyon walks in Australia – Kings Canyon. People told us the girls couldn’t do it, but they made it to the top of “heartbreak hill”, took a rest whilst looking over the sheer 100-metre high sandstone walls, and then kept going.
It was a lovely walk amongst the striped stone domes stopping for lunch at the Garden of Eden. Second best walk in the Red Centre after Uluru.
- Distance: 6 kilometres
- Start/Finish: Kings Canyon car park
- Getting there: Kings Canyon is along the Red Centre Way loop, 3 hours from Uluru.
- Where to stay: Kings Canyon Resort
Read more – Yes you can do the Kings Canyon walk with kids
14. Valley of the Giants
One place we had pencilled in on our Australia trips was the Tree Top Walk through the tingle forest, a popular destination near the town of Denmark in south-west WA. Throw in some seriously big trees, otherwise known as The Valley of the Giants, and it’s one of our favourite walks amongst nature.
The Valley of The Giants derives its name from the large red tingle trees. And giant they are, especially when your kids in their hollowed-out butts, their scale is put into perspective! A birds-eye view of the tingle forest can be gained from 40 metres above ground level as you walk seemingly on air high up in the treetop canopy.
- Distance: 600 metres
- Start / Finish: Visitors Centre
- Getting there: 420 kilometres from Perth
- Where to stay: Denmark
Read more – Walking in the Valley of the Giants
15. Carnarvon Gorge National Park
Many of our readers suggested we visit Carnarvon Gorge on our travels through Queensland, and if you go, a tropical oasis awaits. It’s a special place, and certainly worthy of more than the two nights we stayed here.
There are several walks here including the short walks to Moss Garden and Mickeys Creek, and the longer 18km return walk to Cathedral Cave. Besides the great walks and camping, Carnarvon Gorge is one of the best places in Australia to see Kangaroos in the wild, they were everywhere!
- Distance: 2 – 18 kilometres
- Getting there: 8 hour drive from Brisbane
- Where to stay: Takarakka Bush Retreat
Read more – Go to Carnarvon Gorge you said
16. Wilsons Promontory National Park
Another place we’d barely heard of before our travels around Australia was Wilsons Promontory National Park in Victoria. It wasn’t until friends in Melbourne urged us to visit that we added it to our itinerary.
Glad we did, it’s one of Victoria’s gems! The Prom offers many great walks, for all different fitness levels. We enjoyed a walk around to the point from our campsite at Norman Beach with views over Squeaky Beach, which is now one of our favourite beaches in Australia. And we saw wombats in the wild!
- Distance: 2.5 kilometres
- Start / Finish: Tidal River Campground
- Getting there: 3-hours from Melbourne
- Where to stay: Tidal River Campground (book way ahead)
Read more – Why have we not heard of Wilsons Prom
17. The Pinnacles walk, Grampians
The other national park in Victoria great for hiking is The Grampians, a rugged mountain range renowned for its breathtaking rocky views, rich culture and stunning wildflower displays. One walk we loved was conquering the summit of the Pinnacle’s walk, and at 4 kilometres and a decent gradient no easy feet for our kids, but they did awesome!
The reward at the summit is a magnificent view over the valley below.
- Distance: 4 kms
- Getting there: 3 hour drive from Melbourne
- Where to stay: the town of Halls Gap
18. Bondi Beach to Coogee coastal walk
One of our favourite coastal walks in Australia and my favourite free thing to do in Sydney is the stunning coast walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee – it’s the perfect way to spend a gorgeous few hours in Sydney.
Featuring stunning views of cliffs, bays and rock pools as you pass the beaches of Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Gordon’s Bay. Stop along the way for a swim, or stop at a cafe for a drink and bite to eat.
- Distance: 6 kilometres
- Start / Finish: Bondi Iceburgs
- Getting there: train from Central Station to Bondi Junction. Then bus to Bondi Beach
- Where to stay: See my selection of best Sydney accommodation
Read more – 18 free things to do in Sydney
Need more tips for Australia?
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Have you done any short walks in Australia?
Please share any suggestions in the comments below!