As far as nicknames go, The Big Brown Land is a little unfair on Australia. It really undersells it. If you’re a country, you don’t want to be described as big and brown, you want words like breathtaking, green and stunning to precede your name (unless of course you’re Germany, then you would probably be happy with one adjective: Efficient).
But what we’re saying is Australia is a beautiful country full of scenery that consistently surprises. From sweeping coastlines that look like they’ve been lifted straight from your computer’s wallpaper, to luscious, dense rainforests and those interminable stretches of nothingness in-between. It’s a wonderful place to get out and explore.
The best thing about Australia’s cities is that you don’t need to get out too far to start exploring. In every capital city you can drive out to a hiking spot in less than time than it takes most Californians to drive to work in the morning. Here are some of the best places in (or near) this country’s big cities to pull on the active wear, ready the calves and go for a bit of a hike.
Mt Lofty. It’s the Sunday morning haunt for so many Adelaideans. Whether they’re wheezing their way up the mountain, getting in your way to take selfies or running like absolute madmen, the Mount can feel like Hindley Street some Sundays. But don’t let the throngs of people tarnish your opinion on the hike, it’s actually a really nice walk. Thankfully, the steepest part of the hike is also the prettiest, so you can be forgiven for slowing right down to ‘appreciate nature’.
For a quieter and slightly easier walk, head just a bit north to Morialta Conservation Park. The oft-forgotten cousin of Mount Lofty, Morialta gives you a choice of walks ranging in difficulty from doddle to deathwish. Plus, there are waterfalls. Seriously, how could you not like a waterfall?
We couldn’t possibly choose just one for Brisbane, the city’s surrounded by some of Australia’s finest hiking trails. Most of these tracks are about an hour from the CBD. For the vegetation nerds out there, Lamington National Park gives you a healthy choice of trails with a healthy diversity of trees and plants to gawk at. Check out Dave’s Creek Circuit for an interesting walk with cliff views.
For more of a challenge, head up to Mt Tibrogargan. The mountain might look intimidating, but conquering this bad boy is worth it for the views alone. Not to mention how good you feel about yourself afterwards, if your legs still work.
Sure it’s closer to Bacchus Marsh than Melbourne, but the Werribee Gorge Circuit is a worthy day-trip. At around 10kms the hike will take you between 3 and 4 hours, but make a day of it and pack yourself a lunch. You’ll sit down to some very Australian landscapes and river views over cliffs.
If you feel like bookending your day with a bit of wine tasting head out east, past Ringwood and toward Mt Riddell in the Yarra Ranges. The slightly cooler climate means green scenery almost year-round.
If you’ve got half a day up your sleeves, we strongly suggest that you head south to Bundeena for the 12 kilometre Bundeena to Wattamolla track. The Royal National Park’s coastal track makes for a serene hike, but if you really want to sip in the ambience of the area, try the Paddle and Walk Tour. Hire yourself a kayak or stand-up paddle board and get exploring.
Of course, for an overwhelming choice of some of Australia’s most serene scenic walks, the Blue Mountains is worthy of the slightly longer trip. Check out the National Pass (pictured above).
Perth has an abundance of shorter walks within a decent stone’s throw of the city and suburbs. For a good chance at spotting kangaroos and wedge-tailed eagles, head up to Brigadoon and Jumbuck Hill Park. At 9 kilometres it’s a fairly easy affair for the fit, but rewarding nonetheless. The views from the climb up Mt Mambup are excellent, while winter walks take in a flowing Swan River and even a waterfall.
If a shorter trail is more your style, the Whistlepipe Gully Walk is a 3 ½ kilometre trip up the hills to Kalamunda. The trail follows the river and takes in a number of cute little waterfalls.
It’s not so brown and flat, get out and explore your cities outskirts, they’re full of gems.
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