By Jennifer Adams, founder of TV travel series Places We Go, mother of 7 year-old daughter Charli, and lover of the adventurous life.
Top 5 Places To Hike With kids In Australia
This is one of my all time favorite photos of my daughter, Charli. She was 5 years old when this was taken on one of our many family hikes; it represents so much about what children, young and old, are really capable of. Her smile and sense of achievement just melts my heart.
"My daughter living the dream"
In my experience, to enjoy a hike with kids you simply need to throw out any of your old expectations of what you would normally trek in a day, slow down and be present. It’s not about how fast, or in fact how far you go, it’s about the time spent both in the great outdoors and taking on a challenge together.
"My teenage niece trekking in India"
And while I am not sure my now 7-year-old daughter would be quite up for a 10-day trek in Nepal just yet, my 14-year-old niece has just returned from a 12-day trek through the Himalayas in India and absolutely loved it.
So in the spirit of no boundaries, but tailoring something to kids - young and old - here are my top 5 places for one-day hikes for kids in Australia. You can vary how long you would like your hike to be, as all of these spots have longer and shorter options. (Oh how we are spoilt for choice here in Australia!)
Wilsons Promontory, Victoria
Wilsons Promontory, or ‘The Prom’, as it’s affectionately known, has long been a popular destination for anyone that loves a good hike. And no wonder, the scenery in this much-loved National Park is world-class. Sitting at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia in Victoria, granite mountains meet white sandy beaches and open bushland merges into dense rainforest that spans thousands of years.
Most people base themselves at Tidal River campsite and settle in for a longer adventure with the kids. (There are powered and non-powered sites, basic cabins, or even luxury safari tents on site, with a general store for extra supplies and a latte in the morning!).
"Wilsons prom – one of the best hiking places in the country!" "Squeaky Beach, Wilsons Prom"
There are so many walks to choose from you can really take your pick. Your best bet is to go to the information office once you enter the park, and choose what you feel is appropriate for the day (pending on the weather etc) – ranging from 2 hour walks to 5 hours or longer
An example of one of the many walks of offer:
Time: approx. 5 hours (longer with kids)
This is a classic taste of the Wilsons Prom Circuit, whereby you are treated to endless coastal views, mixed with bushland and rainforest - but for those who don’t want to camp out all night. You will take the track to Norman Beach (a favourite where we love to play beach cricket!) and you will see views out to the Glennie Group of islands to the east as well as Cleft Group to the south. As you continue on, be sure to stop and enjoy the views of Mount Oberon.
Bay of Fires, Tasmania
One of the most beautiful coastlines in Australia in my opinion, the Bay of Fires in north-east Tasmania is home to pristine turquoise beaches that sparkle against rich red lichen on the countless sandstone rocks - and to say it’s home to some of the most stunning walks in the country is an understatement.
"The beautiful Bay of Fires"
There are many one day hikes in the area, you just need to decide on where, and if your children are a little older, you could even try the iconic four-day Bay of Fires Walk, traversing remote and beautiful landscapes, staying in eco-friendly accommodation.
"Walking amongst the giants"
An example of one of the many walks of offer that we loved was to the Blue Tier Plateau.
The Blue Tier Plateau
Time: Approx 2 hours with kids (but stop for a picnic at the top and make it 4 hours!)
If you love walking among the giants, past trickling creeks and lush bushland, with the smell of gum trees and the ocean off in the distance, the walk through the Blue Tier area, up to the Blue Tier Plateau is simply stunning.
The plateau is an exposed sub-alpine plateau 600 metres above sea level, and while the views of the coastline are breathtaking once you get there, it’s the walk along the giants in an area filled with a rich tin mining and natural heritage history that captured my attention.
There are many routes you can take, we chose a one-hour circuit (that took 2 with our daughter who was five at the time), and also stopped at the plateau at the top for a couple of hours to enjoy lunch and take in the scenery.
One of the highlights is without doubt hugging the Blue Tier Giant, which is the widest living tree in Australia. The huge Eucalyptus regnans has a girth measuring an incredible 19.4 metres.
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
The largest National Park in Australia, and filled with rich Aboriginal history and the timeless tropical landscape of the Top End, I always felt Kakadu was a ‘far away’ adventure that would be saved for the huge family trip one day. That’s until I went there.
Just a couple of hours drive from Darwin down the well-laid bitumen highway, Kakadu National Park is easy to get to, and extremely well maintained for all members of the family to explore, no matter what age or fitness level.
"Sunset over Kakadu National Park"
Covering twenty thousand square kilometers, there are more than twenty-five walks in the National Park that range from half an hour to a scenic lookout, to an overnight hike that’s graded medium to hard. Most trails are well signposted with interpretive maps along the path, stating how far and how long!
A bushwalking leaflet is available at the Bowali Visitor Centre which lists all of the trails.
There are even free guided bushwalking treks for those wanting something a little more structured.
"The rock art of Kakadu"
I will always treasure our time at Kakadu, and never forget exploring the Nourlangie Rock Art Site on one of the free guided walks. It was not only informative - hearing about how Aboriginals lived here for tens of thousands of years - but afterwards our guide took us to a special place that looked high over the park. We watched the pink sunset light up the floodplains below, and you could hear a symphony of calls from varying birds echo across the ancient last as night fell.
Kiama Coast Walk, NSW
I only discovered this walk recently, and it’s an absolute beauty. Hugging the spectacular New South Wales South Coast, it’s certainly one to blow the cobwebs out. I would suggest staying at the historic East’s Beach Big4 Holiday Park as the walk literally crosses through its very own beach (besides the kids will love it and you can enjoy a barbie at the end of the day).
"The Kiama Coast Walk"
Beginning at Minnamurra, this spectacular 22 km trail weaves past headlands, rivers and beaches to Blowhole Point, before pressing on towards the beautiful bays and beaches around Little Blowhole and the rolling escarpments of Gerringong.
"The walk passes Easts Beach, Kiama"
Of course you don’t have to do the entire twenty-two kilometres (depending on the age of your kids). It’s broken into three sections, so you can take your pick, or do the entire thing. Whatever you choose, I would suggest packing a picnic, sunscreen and swimmers.
While you are in the region, make sure you go and check out the Kiama Blowhole, as it’s largest in the world, and when it’s is roaring, it’s a sight to see.
The Cape to Cape Walk, Margaret River, W.A
While the Cape to Cape Walk is one of our countries great long-distance tracks, covering two-hundred-and-fifty kilometres in the south-west corner of WA, like all of our walks noted here you can adapt this for any age and it is such a spectacular part of Australia, it makes for a wonderful adventure for the whole family.
"A birds eye view of the walk from the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse"
Access points along the way allow you to get on and off wherever you choose, so you can select a leg that suits you and turn it into a one-day walk, or camp overnight and make it a two-day adventure!
"Enjoy the journey!"
It stretches over 135 kilometres, along the length of the Leeuwi-Naturaliste Ridge, starting and finishing at the lighthouses at the tips of the Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin (make sure you walk up to the top of the lighthouses and clean out the cobwebs with the winds of that roaring ocean!)
Along all stretches of the path, you’ll enjoy coastal scenery, sheltered forests and pristine beaches. Make sure you pack your swimmers, as there are many places to stop for a dip.
For more travel inspiration go to www.placeswego.com
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