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Words by Katie James

For the hardcore, there are many hundreds of multi-day bushwalks across our wide brown land. They love nothing better than filling a backpack of essentials and heading off into the unknown for a week of silence and discovery. 

And to them I say, good for you! But I’m not hardcore, and I like to have my comforts around me at the end of the day. Chilled wine, good music, a hot shower, a campfire and a warm comfy bed is always very welcoming after a hard days exploring. So here is my list of Australia’s best SHORT walks. 

Northern Territory

Kings Canyon Rim Walk, Northern Territory 

6km, 3.5 hours, moderate

This six kilometre walk follows the rim of Kings Canyon in a horseshoe fashion. Reasonable fitness is required-500 steps need to be tackled before reaching the flat top. You’ll marvel at the breathtaking views of Watarrka National Park and into the canyon itself, before descending into the green oasis of the ‘Garden Of Eden’’.  There are some impressive weathered formations that resemble the remains of an Aztec city, earning them the name ‘The Lost City’.

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Kata Tjuta

7.4km, 3 hrs, moderate

Formed from granite, gneiss and basalt, and spread across 35 square km, 32 red domes (some up to 450 metres high) are waiting to be explored at Kata Tjuta via the Valley of the Winds walk. To gain an insight into the significance of this site to Aboriginal people, visit the cultural centre near Uluru. The weather can be hot and windy and the track can be tricky with vast sections of loose rocks and steep descents. From the car park climb to the Karu Lookout. The track then enters one of the deepest chasms before heading to the Karingana Lookout, one of the most spectacular sections of the walk.

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Uluru Base Walk

9.8km, 3-4 hrs full circuit

This walk is quiet and you are unlikely to encounter large groups of people in most areas. Walk in a clockwise direction. It takes in the Mala and Mutitjulu walks along the way, taking in a beautiful waterhole, past rock art sites, Kantju gorge, and several caves used by the Anangu.

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Photo credit: Xavier Lambrecht

New South Wales

Manly to the Spit Bridge 

10km, 4 hours, easy

Encompassing panoramic views of the majestic Sydney Harbour and swathes of bushland, this is one of Sydney’s iconic walks. Now don’t give this one a miss just because it’s in an urbanised area! This walkway takes in some of Sydney’s most sensational views, with pockets of subtropical rainforest, Aboriginal sites, historic military sites and fishing shacks, hidden beaches and harbourside mansions just a few of the highlights on this spectacular walk.

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Mt Gower, Lord Howe Island 

14km, 8.5hrs, medium/hard

Regarded as one of the best day walks in the world, this walk is graded 10 for difficulty. Mt Gower is an iconic peak at the southern end of Lord Howe Island, rising 875m above sea level. The hike is complete with rope assisted climbs and dizzying drops, and is best experienced with a local guide.  Once at the top, walkers experience breathtaking 360 degree views of the island and it’s crystal clear waters.

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Dorrigo Skywalk and Wonga Walk 

6.6km, 2.5hrs, easy

This world heritage listed national park is an area of exceptional beauty (I waxed lyrical about this a few months ago, read all about it here). This walk will take you above the forest canopy, and then through subtropical rainforest, past ancient figs, underneath waterfalls, and through glades where you can walk with the wildlife.

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Photo credit: Drew Hopper Photography ©

Tasmania

Mt Anne and Eliza Plateau 

15km, 7-8 hours, hard

Regarded as Tasmania’s premier day walk, Mt Anne (1423 m) attracts experienced bush walkers to its imposing sheer faces and spectacular views. Amazing scenery awaits walkers determined enough to endure the very steep final ascent and often inclement weather. The walk begins at Condominium Creek before meandering through exposed plateaus, temperate rainforest and finally the slightly technical and highly exposed climb on the final ascent. Considered a photographers paradise, the views on a clear day have to be seen to be believed.

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Wineglass Bay to Hazards Beach 

12km, 4.4hrs, moderate

Wineglass Bay regularly sits atop the most beautiful beaches list of travel magazines and websites worldwide. Viewing the beach from the lookout marks the start of this walk , and many visitors never venture further than the lookout, but those who leave the crowds behind will be rewarded with one of Australia’s finest coastal walks. Enjoy the white beach, the crystal clear waters, a walk through the low marshy isthmus, a dune-locked lagoon system, and the unique bare granite outcrops of the Hazards. Remember, keep your eyes out the local dolphin population and migrating whales.

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Dove Lake Circuit, Cradle Mountain National Park 

6km, 2hrs, easy

The Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park is a world heritage listed wilderness area, and is renowned for it’s fabulous multi day hikes.  This 6km track is one of Tasmania’s premier walks. It is boardwalked for much of the way. Towards the southern end of Lake Dove you will enter a magnificent cool temperate rainforest. Ancient myrtle-beeches festooned in moss tower majestically from a moss strewn forest floor-the effect is stunning and reminiscent of an ancient cathedral. 

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…Stay tuned for Part Two of our Bushwalking feature-all about the best short walks in all the other states. Where is your favourite bushwalk?

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