Not only is bushwalking a great bonding and memorable experience for the whole family, it equips young people (and older ones too) with an appreciation for nature and wildlife, writes Sarah Hinder.
Spending time outdoors offers young people the opportunity to experience Australia’s unique, diverse and spectacular landscape. Plus, it provides a chance for families to spend time together, away from the bustling, screen-filled environment of everyday life.
For kids and teens, the chance to get out of their fast-paced environments and surround themselves with the sights and smells of the Australian bush, is a grounding and worthwhile experience. Bushwalking offers an opportunity to unwind and to relieve stress – because sometimes we all need to take a step back, marvel at nature, and appreciate that this world is a huge place, bigger than us.
Royal National Park, New South Wales: Wattamolla is a lovely protected beach and lagoon, located an easy walk through the Royal National Park. It’s great for picnics and playing around the beach, with a shallow lagoon perfect for young kids.
Lake St Clair, Tasmania: The trails around Lake St Clair are a wonderful introduction to young bushwalkers. The moss-covered Enchanted Walk traipses along an easy boardwalk, has ‘kids-only’ tunnels with information, and beautiful waterfalls to ogle along the way.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales: There are countless trails and scenic lookouts from which to take in the spectacular Blue Mountains. One of the best ways to explore with kids is to embark on The Great Round Walk, for its sweeping views of the Three Sisters, Jamison Valley and Katoomba Falls, and a visit to Scenic World for a ride on the world’s steepest train.
Nourlangie Rock Art Walk, Northern Territory: Of the 5000 identified Aboriginal Cultural Rock Art sites in Kakadu National Park, Nourlangie Rock is one of the most pristine and important public sites. The trail around Nourlangie Rock encompasses a moderate two-hour walk featuring rare and fascinating Aboriginal rock art along the way.
Cape to Cape Track, Western Australia: Day hikes along the famous Cape to Cape Track are fascinating for older kids. For a great day hike along the Margaret River, the Redgate Beach to Boranup Forest track encompasses crashing waves, surfers, cliffs and forest.
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory: A highlight in the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is the Bardedjilidji Walk along East Alligator River – an interesting track with woodlands, monsoon vine forests and wetlands, plus the option of a guided tour to learn about Indigenous Rock Art and Aboriginal people who once sheltered in the caves along the way. Jim Jim Falls is one of Kakadu’s iconic sites, a 200-metre high waterfall and a great spot for swimming during the wet season.
The Great Ocean Walk, Victoria: The Great Ocean Walk, along the south coast of Victoria, is an epic adventure. The Twelve Apostles, Great Otway National Park and the Grotto are major highlights. There’s the option of day walks – try Princetown to the Twelve Apostles – or multi-day walks and camping – Milanesia Beach to Gibson Steps and Shelley Beach to Cape Otway Lighthouse are among the best.
Daintree Rainforest, Queensland: In Tropical North Queensland, the Daintree Rainforest is a world-class gem for nature-lovers. It’s home to some extreme wilderness for hiking such as along the Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail, but also has various other walks for all bushwalking levels. Myall Beach to Cape Tribulation Beach, the Dubuji Boardwalk and Marrdja Botanical Walk are popular self-guided trails.
Grampians National Park, Victoria: The Grampians National Park has trained volunteers who can assist visitors with the TrailRider. The Grampians are an unforgettable hiking experience home to rugged mountains, fern-filled gorges and spectacular waterfalls.
Muogamarra Nature Reserve, New South Wales: During Spring, Muogamarra Nature Reserve comes alive with wildflowers in full bloom. Home to native animals, Aboriginal rock art and spectacular lookouts and scenery. The TrailRider and Hippocampe are available for hire in Muogamarra during this time.
Kamay Botany Bay National Park, New South Wales: Rich in Aboriginal culture, this historic walk encompasses coastal views and whale-watching opportunities in a TrailRider-accessible environment.
Mt Field National Park, Tasmania: The renowned Russell Falls are an absolute highlight of the park, accessible by wheelchair. The trails throughout Mt Field National Park encompass scenic views and opportunities to spot wildlife.
Wireless Hill Park, Western Australia: Alive with wildflowers during spring, the trails around Wireless Hill Park boast terrific views of Swan River and the city of Perth.
Banrock Station Wetlands, South Australia: These beautifully-restored wetlands are accessible by boardwalk, feature abundant wildlife and insights into the wetlands’ significant role in the River Murray system.
Hallett Cove Conservation Park, South Australia: Recently renovated to allow all modes of accessibility, Hallett Cove is home to an outstanding Aboriginal cultural and geological site surrounded by impressive coastal views.
New South Wales
Cliff Top Walking Track, Blue Mountains for heart-racing views across the Grose Valley, rare black cockatoo and king parrot sightings, wildflowers during spring and stunning waterfalls.
Minnamurra Rainforest, Budderoo National Park for its waterfalls and canyon views along The Falls walk and abundant wildlife.
Kosciuszko National Park for snow, caves, spectacular views and Australia’s highest peak.
Dorrigo National Park for some of the most diverse rainforest on earth, stunning skywalks and waterfalls.
D’Aguilar National Park for its diversity of subtropical rainforest, eucalypt woodlands and remote gorges.
Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk to be entirely immersed in nature by Gondwana Rainforest and its mysterious ancient volcano.
Tamborine National Park for incredible lookouts, waterfalls, swimming holes, and kid’s playgrounds throughout.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park for absorbing the ethereal and sacred Indigenous landscape around Uluru.
MacDonnell Ranges National Park for incredible bushwalks through quartzite rock chasms and Indigenous significance.
Narawntapu National Park for one of the best and most reliable places to view free-roaming wildlife in Tasmania and superb coastal views.
Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park for stunning white beaches surrounded by lush green forests, pristine waters, bird watching, and diverse options for short or full-day walks.
Tarkine Rainforest for day walks and boutique accommodation surrounded by ancient untouched rainforest.
Overland Track for an epic six-day trek across some of the most spectacular and diverse landscapes on the planet, including glaciers, alpine and eucalypt forests, waterfalls and snow-capped mountains.
Serpentine Falls Walk for a serene stroll around and above the cascades, and option to take a dip below the Falls.
Bibbulmun Track for one of the world’s longest walking trails, across forest, coastline and heathlands. The Walpole to Denmark or Denmark to Albany sections are great picks for kids.
Kaiki Walk, Granite Island for exploring the island home to penguins, whale-watching and iconic granite boulders, along an accessible trail.
Southern Flinders Ranges for its rugged, dreamlike landscape, incredible views and magnificent wildlife.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail for a five-day trek around the coastline and cliffs of Kangaroo island, wildlife encounters, or the Hanson Bay Hike for a day walk.