Shoes in one hand, bottle in another, the pack on my back is almost the same size as me. I pick my way gingerly across the river. I hesitate. Take a step. Bang.
I slip, and in what I like to think of as a graceful manoeuvre, appear to rapidly take a seat in the middle of the river. I look like an insect on its back for a moment, arms and legs flailing. The camera jerks to the ground, and you can see my uncle’s boots as he rushes to the rescue.
Unfortunately for me, this fateful river crossing was caught on video. I was hiking for the first time, aged 11, on the Six Foot Track. I have since hiked in Tasmania, New Zealand and further abroad, often with my parents, uncles and brothers. We love sharing the fresh air, tranquillity and M&M’s trail mix that are part and parcel of multi-day hikes.
Here are some of our top picks of Australia’s multi-day hikes for families with older kids who enjoy active adventures.
Overland Track, Tasmania
Tasmania is packed full of multi-day hikes of varying lengths amid spectacular scenery. The Overland, from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair, is a family favourite. It takes from 5 to 8 days, with basic huts, water and toilets at every night. You’ll need a permit, and can only walk in one direction during high season (November to May).
Day swap: the Dove Lake Circuit, beside Cradle Mountain and the start of the Overland, is about 6 kilometres and 2 hours long.
Six Foot Track, NSW
The Blue Mountains are the crowning glory of New South Wales. Following a heritage horse track from the 1880’s, the Six Foot Track is 45 kilometres and 3 to 4 days. It runs more or less from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves.
Day swap: Depending on your family’s age range and endurance, there are a few shorter options to embark on. Clifftop Walking Track from Evans Lookout to Govetts Leap (or vice versa) is relatively flat, short and scenic with views of the Grose Valley. Ruined Castle is a rewarding day walk for teens.
Larapinta Trail, NT
The whole Larapinta Trail runs 223 kilometres through the West MacDonnell Ranges, taking 16 to 20 days and requiring extensive planning and experience. Most people do shorter combinations of the twelve separate sections of Larapinta. There are water tanks and some facilities at each trailhead. Highlights on the route include Simpson’s Gap, Ormiston Gorge, Stanley Chasm and Brinkley Bluff. Be sure to walk in the cooler months of April to September.
Day swap: Swap out Larapinta for Kings Canyon Rim Walk.
Fraser Island Great Walk, QLD
This 5 to 7 day hike follows old logging routes, subtropical rainforest trails and beaches on Fraser Island. It is remote but clearly signposted, with small walker’s camps available if you book and pay in advance. Highlights include rainforest boardwalk near Wanggoolba Creek, a swim in Lake McKenzie and Lake Wabby sand dunes. Keep rubbish and food secure and be wary of dingoes.
Day swap: Do sections of the walk as day trips. Depart from Dilli Village to Wongi Sandblow or Lake Boomanjin. Depart from Central Station to Basin Lake or Lake Birrabeen.
Cape to Cape Track, WA
Set off for 6 to 8 days between the lighthouses of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the Margaret River region. Highlights include Sugarloaf Rock, the spring wildflowers of Contos Beach, Cape Clairault and Wilyabrup Cliffs. Take plenty of time off for swims and whale-watching on the coastal track. Water is scarce so plan adequately.
Day swap: popular day walks in the Margaret River region include the Wardanup track in Yallingup, the Bunker Bay loop, and tracks around Hamelin Bay.