There’s no doubt that walking is the new holiday black, as Aussies set out in ever increasing numbers to get off the grid and explore some of the country’s most stunning natural landscapes under their own steam. Winter is a great time to do a walking holiday. You’ll enjoy cool and crisp mornings, comfortable day time temperatures and less two-legged traffic on many of the most popular trails. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some amazing extended winter walks. Remember to book your pre and post tour accommodation at ChoiceHotels.com.
Please note: These tours are suitable for anyone of a reasonable fitness level. There is no age limit but guests should be free of mobility issues. There are hills, steps and uneven terrain on most walks.
1. Sapphire Coast and Light to Light Walk (from Merimbula)
Located in southern New South Wales, roughly half way along the coastal route between Melbourne and Sydney, the stunning Sapphire Coast is a walking enthusiasts’ dream destination. Enjoy spectacular windswept coastal vistas dotted with incredible rock formations, as sea eagles take wing on the breeze high above you. There’s plenty of local wildlife to spot throughout the year and keep watch for migrating humpbacks – which make their way up the NSW coast during winter. The renowned multi-day Light to Light Walk in remote Ben Boyd National Park is a must do. Park Trek Walking Holidays offers a four-day winter walk along the Sapphire Coast, with pick-up from Merimbula.
Need pre and post accommodation? If you’re flying in from Sydney or Melbourne, Comfort Inn Merimbula is located just a short distance from Merimbula Airport. It’s a convenient spot to start and finish your Sapphire Coast walking adventure.
2. Arnhem Land, Nitmiluk, Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks (from Darwin)
The Dry is the best time of year to visit the Top End – even more so if you are planning to explore on foot. Cool mornings, dry days, and low humidity all add up to perfect walking weather, and Park Trek offers an amazing eight-day, pack-free walking tour of four of the Northern Territory’s most iconic natural landscapes – Kakadu, Nitmiluk and Litchfield Nationals Parks, and Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory’s north-eastern corner. Traverse a variety of landscapes and encounter majestic waterfalls, dramatic gorges, spectacular birdlife and ancient Indigenous rock art. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Need pre and post accommodation? With its tropical-style pool, contemporary vibe and close proximity to Darwin Airport, Quality Hotel Darwin Airport is the perfect pre or post walking holiday accommodation option in the Northern Territory capital.
3. Scenic Rim (from Brisbane)
Easily accessible from Brisbane, Southeast Queensland’s high country offers walkers of all physical abilities access to a stunning collection of mountains, ridges, escarpments, forests and ancient volcanic plateaus. The Scenic Rim is a hiking hotspot. This quarter circle of densely forested mountains, which once formed part of a volcano, now harbours some of the best walking trails in the region. From getting your head in the clouds (literally) on Mount Mitchell to walking through World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest, the rewards for those on foot are many. Life’s An Adventure offers a four-day Scenic Rim winter walk, departing from the Queensland capital.
Need pre and post accommodation? The new look Comfort Inn Spring Hill Terraces is located within easy reach of the centre of Brisbane, which makes joining your tour a breeze. Clean up those last-minute emails with the complimentary WiFi.
4. Blue Mountains (from Sydney)
The vast Blue Mountains National Park west of Sydney offers no end of incredible bushwalking options. From short rambles to full scale treks, the region will hold you spellbound with its spectacular natural beauty. Meander along well-maintained trails as birdsong rings in the air and unbelievably pretty streams cascade between moss covered rocks. Walking in the Blue Mountains is easy under your own steam (just train it from Sydney to Katoomba and head down to Echo Point), or join a three-day walking holiday with Auswalk. Highlights include the Grand Canyon, Ruined Castle and Valley of the Waters in Wentworth Falls.
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Need pre and post accommodation? Auswalk’s Blue Mountains tour departs from the Sydney CBD and Choice Hotels offers a great range of city accommodation options. If you plan to do your own thing, base yourself at the Quality Inn Penrith – which is located at the foot of the range.
5. Flinders Ranges (from Adelaide)
Ask any walking enthusiast what’s on their bucket list and the Flinders Ranges will almost certainly make an appearance. Walking the famous red ranges is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the South Australian outback. From soaring peaks to plunging gorges, the landscape here feels as old as time itself, and every walk reveals something special. While it’s a punishing environment in summer, mild temperatures throughout the winter months make this the perfect time of year for walking. Tick off many of the region’s most famous natural landmarks – including Wilpena Pound, the Heysen Trail, Brachina Gorge and Alligator Gorge – on a five or seven-day winter walk with Park Trek. These tours depart from Adelaide.
Need pre and post accommodation? Choice Hotels has you covered with plenty of affordable Adelaide accommodation options. For a little pre or post tour pampering, choose from the thirty chic and contemporary rooms (including luxury spa suites) on offer at the The Soho Hotel.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.