Driest inhabited continent on Earth. 35% of total land area can be classified as desert.
UNESCO SITES: 1. Australian Convict Sites 2. Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh, Naracoorte) 3. Fraser Island 4. Gondwana Rainforests of Australia 5. Great Barrier Reef 6. Greater Blue Mountains 7. Heard and McDonald Islands 8. Kakada NP 9. Lord Howe Island Group 10. Macquarie island 11. Ningaloo Coast 12. Pumululu NP 13. Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens 14. Shark Bay, Western Australia 1500km of coastline stretching along two jagged peninsulas and around numerous islands. White-sand beaches, fiery red cliffs, turquoise lagoon and biologically diverse. Dugongs are more than 3m long and weigh almost 500kg, the largest herbivores in the sea and only eat sea grass. Closely related to elephants than to other marine mammals, but closest living aquatic relatives are manatees. Encounters with dugongs and dolphins virtually guaranteed in boat tours from Denham. Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre is great museum. Monkey Mia Resort has controlled feeding of dolphins, Aboriginal heritage walks, sailing, camel trips and stargazing. Also kayaking, swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving and scenic drives. Raft Point in Collier Bay has rock art in cave created by the Worrorra people. great fish chase shows figures representing rock cod and dugong and their Wandjina captors. Perth is closer to Singapore than Canberra. 250 operating mines in WA. WA has 8000 species of wildflower that bloom Aug-Nov especially after rainfalls. Best at Fitzgerald River, Kalbarri, Stirling Ranges, Badgingarra, Alexander Morrison, Yanchip and John Forest NPs, and Kings Park in Perth all good. 15. Sydney Opera House 16. Tasmanian Wilderness 17. Uluru-Kata Tjuta NP 18. Wet Tropics of Queensland 19. Willandra Lakes Region
Outback. 6.5 million sq. km of empty interior. Best seen in winter May-Sept for cooler temperatures. Red kangaroo common and best seen dusk and daw. Common road kill. Nitmiluk NP, near Katherine, has 13 interconnected gorges along the Katherine River, portage between sections with campsites at the 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th gorges. Great star gazing.
Kata Tjuta – Central Australia’s other rocks, a striking group of 36 domed rocks, rising to 545m above sea level, sitting shoulder to shoulder, forming deep valleys and steep-sided gorges. Mt Augustus in Western Australia is a monolith that is twice the size of Uluru. See from the 7.4km Valley of the Winds walking trail. Alice Springs Desert Park – all creatures and plants of central Australia. Royal Flying Doctor Service Base has a half hour tour. Kings Canyon- chasm best seen on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk that leads to the Garden of Eden, a lush pocket of cycads around a natural pool, then winds through a maze of giant beehive-shaped domes. Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands of northern South Australia including Cave Hill, central Australia’s largest rock-art site. Also Red Centre, Pilbara, Cape York, Darling River, Corner Country and Canning Stock Route.
Islands: 1. Lord Howell Island Group (old volcanic islands with cloud forests, most southerly coral reefs in world) 2. Red Crab Spawning, Christmas Island (wet season Oct-Nov in last quarter of moon)
Queensland: 1. Wet Tropics (Daintree NP, Cape Tribulation with coral reefs, Wallaman Falls 1,115′, evolution plants, birds, marsupials, reptiles, frogs, aborigines) 2. Low Islets, (2 small islets off Port Douglas, corals) 3. Mount Bartle Frere, (N Australias highest mountain, Wooroonooran NP, humid rainforest) 4. Barron River Falls and Gorge, (19 miles SW of Cairns, Skyrail and cableway) 5. Hinchinbrook Channel and Island, (dolphins, dugongs, turtles) 6. Mossman Gorge, (Daintree NP) 7. Lawn Hill Gorge, (sandstone cliffs, forests, also Colless Creek, Grotto area near Riversleigh, biodiversity) 8. Carnarvon NP, (peaks, gorges, sandstone cliffs, Carnarvon Gorge, caves with indigenous art, 38miles south of Rolleston 9. Bayliss Cave, (lava tube, high CO2 level) 10. Glass House Mountains (16 ancient volcanic peaks in 4 national parks) 11. Noosa NP (660′ high headland, dunes) 12. Clarke Range (Eungella NP, rainforest, escarpments – Broken River Gorge, diamond Cliffs, and the Marling Spikes, endemic species) 13. Great Barrier Reef 14. Coral Spawning (November, December) 15. Fraser Island (largest sand island and dune system in the world, rainforest, ferns, freshwater lakes, whales) 16. Heron Island (small coral cay, turtles December to April, whales July to August) 17. Wallaman Falls (Girringun NP 50kms north of Ingham) 18. Gondwana Rainforests (mountains, waterfalls, rivers, wildlife from Newcastle to Brisbane, Queensland, subtropical rainforest, geology)
Northern Territory: 1. Simpson Desert (longitudinal dunes, Chambers Pillar, Finke River) 2. Uluru 3. Kings Canyon (Watarrka NP, gorge, biodiversity, sandstone George Gill Range) 4. Jim Jim Falls (Oct-May 660′, Kakadu NP. spectacular gorge, very old rocks) 5. Litchfield NP (waterfalls from Table Top Range, pillars of the ‘Lost City’, termite mounds) 6. Katherine Gorge (13 gorges, long treks) 7. N’Dhala Gorges (rock art with 5,900 rock engravings) 8. Finke Gorge (ancient cycads and plants, rock geology) 9. Ormiston Gorge and Pound 10. Kata Tjuta (36 rock domes half and hour from Uluru) 11. Gosse Bluff (meteorite crater 20 square kms best seen from the air) 12. Kakadu NP (huge sandstone plateau 375 miles long, waterfalls, gorges best in wet season)
Western Australia: 1. Fitzroy River (huge flood, Kimberley gorges, wetlands) 2. Geikie Gorge (Kimberley gorge wetland, fossils, animals) 3. Windjana Gorge (sheer cliffs) 4. Wave Rock (one of many granite outcrops) 5. Cape Le Grand NP (white sand bays, granite peaks, heaths) 6. Fitzgerald river NP (rivers, gorges, cliffs, wildflowers June to November) 7. Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater (seen from air) 8. Murchison River (50 mile gorge through sandstone, Kalbarri NP, 33 miles from Perth, cliffs on ocean, birds) 9. Mitchell River NP and Falls 10. Bluff Knoll (Stirling Range NP, cliffs, peaks stretch for 40 miles) 11. Porongurup NP (oldest hills in world, 12 wooded peaks to 2,000′, karri forest, Castle Rock gives best views) 12. Two Peoples Bay (mainland ark for endangered species between two ancient granite massifs) 13. Karijini NP (Hamersley Range, wild, semi-desert park, 8 red rock gorges, termite mounds) 14. D’Ebtrecasteaux NP (coastal cliffs, beaches, dunes, swamps and lakes, basalt columns) 15. Houtman Abrolhos Islands (coral reef system 62 miles long) 16. Karri Forest 17. Kennedy Range (interior NW, sandstone battlements, 125 mile long mesa, gorges, red sand dunes) 18. Pinnacles Desert (thousands of limestone pillars above yellow sand, Nambung NP with beaches, dunes, plants Aug-Oct) 19. Margaret River Caves (350 caves in Leeuwin-Naturaliste NP, 3 caves open, very hot and humid) 20. Mount Augustus (530 miles N of Perth, solitary rises 2,366′ above a stoney, red sand plain) 21. Mundaring Weir (built in 1903, part of 438 miles long pipeline that carries water inland to goldfields, 404 mile long Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail) 22.Rudall River NP (big, remote, desert, need permit) 23. Serpintine NP (32 miles SE of Perth, river, falls) 24. Torndirrup Peninsula (old rocks, blowholes) 25. Purnululu (Bungle Bungle Mountains, ancient beehive-shaped towers with horizontal bands of layered lichen, several gorges, waterfalls) 26. Ningaloo Reef (whale sharks in March-April) 27. Shark Bay and Stromatolites (2 billion year old living fossils of blue-green algae) 27. Shark Bay (see UNESCO above)
South Australia: 1. Alligator Gorge (Flinders Range) 2. Blue Lake (crater lake that turns blue in September until March) 3. Canunda NP (sand dunes and shoreline, sea stacks) 4. The Coorong (parallel sand dunes with saltwater lagoon, wading birds) 5. Gawler Ranges (dry area with gorges, rocky outcrops, saltwater lakes) 6. Great Australian Bight (longest line of sea cliffs in world, marine park, large animals) 7. Kangaroo Island (third largest island, animals and birds) 8. Limestone Coast (re wines, caves, wetlands, crayfish) 9. Naracoorte Caves NP (fossils, bats) 10. Lake Eyre Basin (covers one sixth of country, 50′ below sea level, usually dry, terminal lake) 11. Nullarbor Plain (worlds largest piece of limestone, divides east and west Australia, sinkholes, caves, Transcontinental Railway has 478km long straight section, Eyre Highway with 150km straight section and many spectacular lookouts to coast) 12. Wilpena Pound (huge, crater-like formation with very old rocks along rim, Flinders Range NP)
New South Wales: 1. Lake Mungo (Mungo NP 613 miles west of Sydney, moonscape of sand, dunes and ridges, fossils, oldest settled area in Australia) 2. Willandra Lakes (dried saline lakebeds) 3. Cunningham’s Gap (Main Ridge NP, pass through volcanic ridges, logging) 4. Myall Lakes NP (on N coast of NSW, 4 main lakes with swamps, dunes, grasslands, forest) 5. Belmore Falls (330′, Morton NP) 6. Greater Blue Mountains (west of Sydney, viewpoints, tablelands, cliffs, gorges, forests, biodiversity, aboriginal art) 7. Fitzroy Falls (Morton NP, 260′) 8. Kanangra Walls (sandstone cliffs and ramparts 430′ over gorges, rivers in Kanangra-Boyd NP) 9. Ben Boyd NP (S coast, cliffs, gorge, rock outcrops along sea, Pinnacles) 10. Mount Kosciuszko (great NP with 6 wilderness areas, highest mountains in country with snow year around, alpine lakes, Snowy Mountains) 11. Warrumbungle NP (volcanic plugs, spires, domes and cliffs, The Breadknife) 12. Sydney Harbor (extends 13 miles inland, 150 miles of shoreline)
Victoria: 1. Barmah-Millewa Forests and Wetlands (periodically flooded red gum forests, birds) 2. Croajingolong NP (along coast, remote beaches) 3. Gippsland Lakes (vast system of rivers, lakes, lagoons, and islands on coast) 4. The Grampians (4 red sandstone ridges covered with forest, waterfalls, streams, wildflowers, hiking) 5. Lake Eildon NP (man made lake, hiking, fishing, camping, Foggs Lookout, Mount Pittinger) 6. Murray River (7th longest river in the world drains one seventh of Australia) 7. Otway Ranges (along S coast of Victoria, rainforest, tall trees) 8. Phillip Island (surf beaches, penguins Aug-March) 9. Port Phillip Bay (38×42 miles, Melbourne on N shore, Mornington Peninsula NP) 10. Twelve Apostles (rock stacks along Great Ocean Road) 11. Tower Hill (on W Victorian coast, nested volcano) 12. Wilsons Promontory (southernmost point of mainland, large coastal wilderness along 81 mile coast) 12. Wyperfeld NP (lakebeds connected by creek, wildflower bloom with rains) 13. Australian Alps Walking Track (400 miles long between Walhalla, Victoria and Tharwa, just south of Canberra
Tasmania: 1. Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair (spectacular 5,100′ peak, 80km Overland Track runs from Cradle Mountain to the lake) 2. Ben Lomond NP (alpine with glacial features, Ben Lomond 5,160′ high, wildflowers, birds, lookout on top) 3. Flinders Island (one of 52 islands between mainland and Tasmania, 40×18 miles, coastal sand dunes and Mt. Strzelecki, wildflowers) 4. Eaglehawk Neck (300′ wide isthmus that connects Tasmania and Forestier Peninsula, Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen, Blowhole, Tessellated Pavement) 5. Freycinet Peninsula (NP on east coast, 1000′ granite outcrops, 27km peninsula circuit) 6. Queenstown (old copper and gold mining town in barren, lunar landscape, rainforest with 338′ Montezuma Falls) 7. Walls of Jerusalem (NP with ring of mountains forming a natural amphitheater, dolerite peaks, pencil pines)
1. Overland Trek, Tasmania
Length: 40 miles (51 miles with the hike around Lake St. Clair)
The Trip: The trail is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in Cradle Mountain–Lake St. Clair National Park. It starts with a gut-busting climb up into the most mountainous highlands of the island before rambling by alpine lakes and grasslands, then diving down into the rain forest. It is recommended as a six-day trip and includes side trips such as a scramble up Tasmania’s highest peak, 5,305-foot Mount Ossa A hut system on the trail means you don’t need a tent. Many hikers also tack on the worthwhile hike around Lake St. Clair, Australia’s deepest lake, to end the hike instead of riding a ferry across to the finish. Tasmania is home to a menagerie of famed wildlife, including the wombat, platypus, and Tasmanian devil.
When to Go: Tasmania Parks and Wildlife requires hikers to book reservations and travel north to south during the prime season of October 1 and May 31.
2. Bay of Fires, Tasmania
Length: 16 miles, 4 days. Stumpy’s Bay to Bay of Fires Lodge
The Trip: Go with the Bay of Fires Walk; it’s the only way in or out. From the start in Mount William National Park to the finish at the impressive Bay of Fires Lodge, the route never deviates from seemingly endless beaches of blinding white sand and surreal rock formations lapped by a turquoise Tasman Sea. Only the occasional headland of granite boulders, turned blood red by lichen or forested points of shoreline, pushes you up and out of the coves. The Bay of Fires walk is a four-day guided trip; you can’t do it solo, as there is no water on the route so no place to overnight. The first day takes you out to a permanent camp at Forester Beach. The second, longer day finishes at the architecturally striking Bay of Fires Lodge. Day three is the ultimate reward: free time on the stunning Bay of Fires coast with the comforts and fine wine of the lodge at your beck and call.
When to Go: October to May is the season for this beach route along the northeastern shore.
3. Great Ocean Walk
Length: 91 km on coast of Victoria.
The Trip: Starts in Apollo Bay 9 (2 1/2 hour drive SW of Melbourne) to near Glenample Homestead. Continue 1 km on to the twelve Apostles and Lock Ard Gorge about an hour away.
4. Bibbulmen Track, Western Australia
Length: About 600 miles from Kalamunda to Albany on the south coast. The track is divided into 58 sections with 49 shelters along the track for thru-hikers.
The Trip: Southwestern Australia’s answer to the Appalachian Trail is quite new. It was first opened in 1979, but did not reach its present complete state until 1998 The Bibbulum is named for the indigenous people of the area (the Bibbulum or Noongar people who still live here), and it winds into the land of the original inhabitants and the wonderland of Australia’s endemic flora and fauna. It’s common to find snakes, ranging from the death adder to the tiger snake. Along the track, there are also rare creatures like the numbat, a termite-eating marsupial that looks like a cross between weasel and opossum, and the chuditch, a quoll or carnivorous marsupial, that is threatened by nonnative, and very poisonous cane toads. Along the Donnelly River, 250-foot-tall karri eucalyptus shelter purple-crowned lorikeets squawking far above in the canopy. Besides all that wildlife, though, it’s the social aspect of the trail that makes it most Australian. At the campsites you will meet hikers from around the globe as well as regular Australians.
It’s easy to access most segments of the Bibbulmun Track for day trips or shorter overnight jaunts. The Bibbulmun Track Foundation even offers Day Walk Map Packs to make it easy to do so. One of the best spots for day walks is in the giant karri forests of the Donnelly River.
When to Go: The austral spring (September to November) and fall (March to May) are the best times, with hikers starting in spring heading north-south to avoid the heat and those in fall making the trip from south-north to outrun the winter.
5. Larapinta Trail, West MacDonnell Ranges. 223km from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder often along knife edged ridges. Spencer Gorge, Windy Saddle, razorback Ridge, Linear Valley, Hugh Gorge.
Unesco: 1. New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands 2. Te Wahipounamu – SW NZ 3. Tongariro NP
Natural: 1. Mount Taranaki* 2. Tongariro NP* 3. Cape Kidnappers* (large colony gannets at S end of Hawkes Bay) 4. Rotorua Geothermal Region* 5. Oparara Arch (S Island, 3 massive arches, largest natural arch in S Hemisphere, glowworms) 6. Marlborough Sounds* 7. Fiordland* 8. West Coast Glaciers* 9. Southern Alps* 10. Sutherland Falls* (second highest in S Hemisphere, 5th highest in world at 1,904′, Milford Track) 11. Poor Knights Islands 12. White Island* 13. Waitomo Caves – 300 known caves formed over last 30 milleion years, 845kms of caves. The caves with the best glow worms in large caverns or squeeze through tiny holes or jump off waterfalls, abseiling, caving, climbing, canyoneering, adventure swimming, rappelling and rafting. Larvae with silk lures that capture passing insects. Dundie Hill Walk is a 27km, 2 day loop hike through bush, caves and farmland. Stay in bunkhouse high on hill. Altura Gardens and Wildlife Park has cockatoos, blue-tongued lizards and morepork owls in 2 hectare private park with 85 species of birds Tawarau Forest is 20km west with walking and track to Tawarau Falls.
1. TE ARAROA
Length: 1,894 miles.
The Trip: Maori for “The Long Pathway,” it is aptly named. It traverses the entire country, from Cape Regina at the tip of the North Island to Bluff on the toe of the South Island. Split into 160 tracks, the trail takes about 120 days to finish, if hikers stick to official recommendations and requires a ferry ride to hop between the North and South Islands.
When to Go:d October through April
2. ROUTEBURN TRACT*
3. Queen Charlotte Track
Length: 44 miles, 3 to 5 days. Ship Cove to Anakiwa
The Trip: A unique journey through the sunny hills of the Marlborough Sounds, the Queen Charlotte follows the dragon’s back ridge that separates the blue waters of Queen Charlotte Sound from those of Kenepuru Sound. Water taxis take you from the town of Picton to the start, at Ship’s Cove, where Captain Cook hung out frequently between 1770 and 1779, and the finish at Anakiwa. You can camp the whole way or choose to turn the jaunt into a cush day-hiking experience where your gear is carried by boat, not yak. Go luxe, and you can crank 15-mile days and stay every night in comfortable lodges at Furneaux, Punga Cove and Portage.
When to Go: Located on the sunny north end of the South Island, near the famed wine growing region of Marlborough, the Queen Charlotte can be done virtually year round.