Photo: Mt Barney
They are symbols of state pride, landscapes of extraordinary beauty and often places of scientific or conservation value. National Parks are also magical places for impossibly perfect hikes that lift the heart and help reset the year. Go with one of these 11 local guided tours and learn a little bit more about your own backyard.
Multi Day Guided Walking Holidays
Most luxurious hike, Spicers Scenic Rim Trail: Few places on earth have as many primitive plants that can trace their roots back 100 million years as the lush reserves that make up the Gondwana Rainforest 90 minutes south west of Brisbane. Ascribed World Heritage listing in 1985 – this spectacular terrain is the backdrop for a five-day, 55km guided tour through untouched wilderness. Follow an old logging trail deep into Gondwana Rainforests and take in the dramatic peaks, ridges, and escarpments of the Main Range National Park. Each day ends with a hot shower and a chilled beverage plus a hearty meal and a luxury pillow at the Spicers’ eco-bush camps. The Spicers’ Scenic Rim Trail walk is priced from $3400 per person.
In the footsteps of pioneers, Southern Queensland Country: Keep those boots laced; Southern Queensland Country has a three day/two-night guided mountain trail dubbed by one happy hiker as “a time traveller’s journey through ancient forests in the footsteps of pioneers and graziers.” Starting near Killarney, the hike follows the historic Rabbit Board Fence for 35km to the foothills of Wilson’s Peak and includes a night camping on Farmer Mal’s property and a night in a cottage. $1390 per person twin share.
The most remote outback trek: Follow founder Shelley Hawkins as she takes you across the north western pocket of Outback Queensland – on foot. Small group tours depart from Mt Isa and hikers enjoy guided trekking, sunset refreshments, chef-prepared meals on tables laden with linen tablecloths, and an already-pitched tent and sleeping mat. Try the Big Loop Trail, a five-day, 66km trek that follows the limestone gorges of the Boodjamulla National Park along some of Australia’s most remote and untouched landscapes.
Queensland’s most newsworthy track, O’Reillys To Binna Burra: In 1937 a Stinson Model A Airliner crashed into the surrounding World Heritage listed McPherson Ranges killing five people on board. Ten days later, local farmer turned hospitality guide, Bernard O’Reilly used a generation of bushcraft to clamber over tough terrain to reach the plane and mount a rescue operation for the two survivors. Today experienced hikers can trek the 9.2 km from Christmas Creek to Westray’s Grave and rock hop along the creek bed to get to the crash site. The main prize is physical and mental accomplishment and a sense of tapping into a footnote in Australian history. Go with a knowledgeable guide from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Resort for $399 for two days plus accommodation.
Best bush skills, Mt Barney Lodge: Owner, Innes Larkin has climbed a lot of mountains in his life, including Everest base camp. This passionate man and his wife Tracey, have created out-of-the box weekend hiking adventures that come with an easy sleep at their property, 90 minutes-drive from Brisbane. Try the Mountain Fit Series; three walks in three months at low, medium and high elevation designed to improve fitness, or the “Three Peaks Challenge”, a week of planned mountain hikes that explore the lush wilderness tracts of the Scenic Rim. Release the training wheels and try a a Navigation Workshop and the art of mountaineering.
Blue lakes hike, Fraser Island: It’s the largest sand island in the world and it’s clocked up more than 25 years as a World-Heritage listed site. Now, there’s another reason to visit Fraser Island with the launch of the K’Gari Blue Lakes Hike. Ticking off five of the island’s most beautiful freshwater lakes over a three-day, two-night, self-guided, fully supported trail, the hike includes 4WD transfers to the daily starting point, luggage transfers, and a daily hosted arrival that also comes with a pre-pitched campsite and a hearty meal. Prices start from $650 per person for four to six people.
Southern Rainforest, Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk: A lifetime away from the surfside glamour of the Gold Coast is a 54km trail that meanders along the rim of the ancient Tweed Volcano. In the rainforest-clad hills hikers will spot possums, sugar gliders, and tree frogs and keep an ear out for cockatoos and lyrebirds. Retreat from the heat and team up with Life’s An Adventure for a four day pack-free walk in comfort.
Bite-sized guided hikes for travellers short on time
Fastest rainforest immersion: The Daintree Rainforest is the world’s oldest rainforest and a remarkable biosphere. Dip your toe in this prehistoric wonderland on a three-hour forest walk with a professional naturalist from Venture Deeper. Walks to this prehistoric paradise depart from Mossman Gorge.
Hike sandstone wilderness, Carnarvon Gorge: 720 kilometers north west of Brisbane amongst rugged ranges is an Eden of sandstone wilderness marked by a series of cliffs bisected by deeply eroded gorges. Here knee-deep freshwater streams are scattered with boulders and ochre stencils decorate cliff faces. Take a full day walk with Simon or Michelle from Australian Nature Guides and see the gorge through the eyes of an expert who has lived there for more than 20 years.
Best coastal walk with ancient culture: Move over Disney, the Jellurgal team has a play list of creation stories that are bigger, bolder and better than any Hollywood blockbuster. And each story makes sense of the iconic Burleigh Head National Park that forms the backdrop of this two-hour walking tour presented by Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre.
Hike the baddest back country: Hardcore hikers can now tackle one of the most challenging terrains in the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park with a guide. Trek through lowland rainforest and coral fern-dotted clearings before scrambling over boulders to the Devils Thumb, a significant cultural site that tells the story of fire creation. It’s ten hours and 10km, but the soul soaring views over Main Coast Range make it worthwhile.