If your idea of a well-spent weekend is travelling on foot to see beautiful landscapes, then one-day treks are for you. Australian short walks make it easy for us to squeeze in a few hours of our week to experience nature’s beauty, destress and take care of our health, despite our busy lifestyles. But with several options accessible to casual and seasoned hikers alike, which one should you visit first? Here’s my list of the best single-day hikes in Australia to get you packing and perhaps inspire you to take on more challenging multi-day tracks!
1. Sandstone Cliffs at Kings Canyon Rim Walk, NT
One of the most popular single-day hikes in Australia is the Kings Canyon Rim Walk in Watarrka National Park. Here, you’ll see stunning views and landscapes while atop cliffs. I recommend beginning your venture at sunrise, around 6 am, to witness the changing colours of the sandstone walls. The trail doesn’t need a map to traverse, and it will start and end at the car park.
The 500-step climb to reach the summit is a difficult start. However, the first impressive sight of the canyon is well worth the exercise! As you press on, you’ll pass by the Lost City where you will see a beautiful maze of domes and rock formations. You’ll then descend to a prominent stop called the Garden of Eden, which is a fresh-water rock hole. This green oasis absorbs moisture and keeps greenery alive in the canyon, including its ancient cycads.
- Distance: 6km
- Length: 3 to 4 hours
- Grade: 4
- Best time: May to September
- Tip: The trail has very little shade and can be unbearably hot during summer, so wear protective clothing. It’s best to complete the track during the colder months, and although it’s a short trip, make sure to bring enough water and food with you.
2. Wildflowers and Local Birdlife at Bluff Knoll, WA
Bluff Knoll is one of Western Australia’s highest peak, making it a well-known track in the state and the Stirling Range National Park. While it’s a one-day trek, it is rated difficult due to rugged terrains and sudden weather changes. However, braving your way to the peak, which is 1,099m above sea level, will reward you with a spectacular panoramic view of the mountain range. If the weather permits and it’s not too cloudy, an unobstructed view of the ocean is your well-earned reward.
I highly recommend coming to Bluff Knoll during springtime to witness its grand display of wildflowers. This trail is also home to various birds and reptiles – an absolute nature lover’s treat! Before reaching the summit, there are seating areas along the trail. Make sure to take a break when needed, and use your resting time to admire your beautiful surroundings.
- Distance: 6km
- Length: 3 to 4 hours
- Grade: 4
- Best time: August to November
- Tip: Doing this walk during the colder months can be extra hard, especially without the proper gear. Make sure to come prepared for mountain mists, wind chill and rain. Also, bring enough water.
3. Swimming and Whale Watching at Noosa Coastal Walk, QLD
Single-day hikes in Australia are not all about strenuous climbs and mountain cliffs. If you love going to the beach as much as hiking, with unique wildlife sightings on the side, then start planning your next trip to Noosa. A famous beach town in Australia, Noosa also has several short treks available, one of which is the visitors’ favourite Noosa Coastal Walk. It’s the longest among accessible trails, which runs from the Main Beach to Sunshine Beach, and it also has the best views and lookouts.
Tea Tree Bay is one of the highlights of the track, where you can watch surfers in the area. Make sure not to miss the Boiling Pot, Dolphin Point, Fairy Pools and Hell’s Gate. You might chance upon koalas or echidnas along the way. Aside from the amazing coastal views, this short walk lets you see beautiful marine life, including turtles and dolphins. If you can, schedule your walk during winter or spring to witness majestic whales heading to warmer waters to breed.
- Distance: 4km
- Length: 3 hours
- Grade: 4
- Best time: July to October
- Tip: To protect yourself from the harsh Australian sun, start your trek early in the morning and bring sunscreen and water with you. The Noosa National Park beaches are also unpatrolled. Be very careful when taking a dip.
4. Family Trips at Toorongo Falls Circuit Walk, VIC
The Toorongo Falls Circuit Walk is a great way to spend the weekend and bond with your kids. This easy trail features two beautiful falls nestled in a temperate rainforest. After a short 600m hike, you’ll reach a viewing platform to enjoy the cascading Toorongo Falls while being surrounded by towering mountain grey gum, mountain ash, manna, blackwood and lush tree ferns. Continuing your walk will get you to the Amphitheatre Falls where you can see more spectacular river views and spot local wildlife, like a wallaby, possum, sugar glider or black cockatoo. If you want to stay overnight, the Toorongo Falls Camping Area is perfect for roasting marshmallows after bushwalking.
- Distance: 2km
- Length: 5 hours
- Grade: 2
- Best time: Year-round
- Tip: Make sure to bring comfortable shoes and water. You can also bring your pet dogs with you provided that they are under control.
5. Beach Picnic at Wineglass Bay Circuit, TAS
Hailed as one of Tasmania’s Great Short Walks, the Wineglass Bay Circuit offers both a clifftop view of the beautiful Freycinet National Park and an up-close feel of its perfectly curved sandy beach. As you descend Wineglass Bay, you might spot wallabies, pademelons and crabs strolling along the beach. The stunning blue ocean is the best venue to take your next picnic trip to the next level, so make sure to bring your favourite snacks. After which, you can take a quick dip before returning to the trail or continuing onwards to Hazards Beach, which is equally mesmerising. While at the summit, make sure to keep an eye for dolphins and migrating whales.
- Distance: 12km
- Length: 4 to 5 hours
- Grade: 4
- Best time: December to April
- Tip: This track can get steep, and the beaches are unpatrolled. Take extra care if you have kids or someone with health issues travelling with you.
6. Town Hopping at Riesling Trail, SA
Not an adventurous hiker? There are also relaxing single-day hikes in Australia that you can visit. One of which is the Riesling Trail in Clare Valley. A group of locals decided to convert this South Australian railway line into a beautiful recreation trail. Now, trail users can trek or cycle their way from the town of Auburn to Barinia to view villages, hills, natural bushland, rolling vineyards and farms. The terrain is compacted, making it an ideal track even for hiking beginners and wheelchair users. Some popular stops include the art gallery at Leasingham, wineries at Watervale, the historic St Mark’s Church and John Horrocks Cottage at Penwortham, and the Sevenhill Cellars and St Aloysius Church at Sevenhill. Make sure to pack food and take a break at one of the picnic spots in town.
- Distance: 35km
- Length: 5 hours (walking) or 4.5 hours (cycling)
- Grade: 1
- Best time: June to August
- Tip: Car parks in Auburn, Watervale, Sevenhill and Clare allow you to start your journey anywhere you like. Trail signages make it easy to traverse one town to the next. Also, you can bring your bike or hire one if you prefer checking out the sights while cycling.