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Queensland Great Walks

National Trust of Australia (Queensland) has partnered with Queensland Parks and Wildlife to explore some of the Great Walks of Queensland from Currumbin to Cooktown.

With five of  Australia’s  11  World  Natural  Heritage areas and more than 200 National Parks covering 6.5 million hectares, you’d be hard-pressed to experience all that Queensland has to offer; however, choosing any one of the  Great Walks is a perfect place to start.

Each of the walks represents varying degrees of challenges, beauty, and diversity. All have their own unique flora and fauna and conservation concerns, while others lead the way with beautifully presented interpretation- sharing a connection to country through Aboriginal lead narratives of the area. The Great Walks have numerous highlights; here are some not to be missed:

Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk

The 54km Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk is situated within the Gondwana Rainforest and protects the most extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world, including numerous endemic species of flora and fauna, spectacular waterfalls, and almost all of Australia’s remaining Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest. There are varying options of accommodation and camping throughout the area, with Binna Burra Lodge providing choices from luxurious apartments through to glamping and unpowered campsites.

The walk by Australian standards is a Class 4, suitable for experienced bushwalkers with specialised skills, including navigation and emergency first aid, and offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to alk along the rim of an ancient volcano. There are, however, shorter walks available for families, including the majestic Purling Brook Falls circuit. This 4km loop track is a must-experience and has excellent amenities, with a large car park, well- maintained toilet facilities, clear track signage, and breathtaking vistas.

There are 265 steps on this section of the Great Walk, and it’s easiest to commence in a clockwise direction

Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk

The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk is 58.8km with options to complete half-day, full-day, or the entire walk over four to five days. There are some stunning views, including lookouts, waterfalls, rock pools, Obi Obi Gorge, and the Baroon Pocket Dam and its catchment.

The entire area is protected within three beautiful national parks — Kondalilla, Mapleton Falls, and Mapleton. The walk includes sections of Class 2, 3, and 4 tracks, and has a number of bush campsites (bookings for these are essential). The best time to walk is from March to October, and be sure to allow extra time either side of your walk to explore the Maleny region and all it has to offer.

Take your wildlife guide with you to discover the abundance of fauna, with more than 100 species of birds, 70 reptile species, and 30 frog species within the area.

K’Gari (Fraser Island) Great Walk

At 90km, the K’gari (Fraser Island) Great Walk is located on the world’s largest sand island and can take up to eight days to complete. It boasts ever-changing landscapes, including coastal heathland, mangrove forest, woodland, subtropical rainforest, crystal clear lakes, and epic sand dunes, there is something to suit everyone. There are short-walk sections for families to full-day walks for the more adventurous.

Walkers’ camps are available at eight locations across the island, with some fenced and others unfenced. It is important to be dingo-safe by following the recommendations on the clear signage throughout the area.

Kingfisher Resort has a wonderful range of accommodation and dining facilities, and the transfer to the island is an enjoyable journey from River Head on the mainland across the Great Sandy Strait

Tip: Lake McKenzie is a must-visit. Travel outside school holiday season to miss the crowds and make the most of this world-class, pristine environment.

Carnarvon Gorge Great Walk

The Carnarvon Great Walk has become one of Queensland’s great walking adventures, a truly majestic environment that has captured the human and natural history of Australia to create an experience you will talk about for years to come. For those up for the challenge, the full circuit walk, at 87km in length has a range of options, from short strolls, which are perfect for families to a truly challenging seven- to eight-day walk.

It has been said that Carnarvon Gorge is Queensland’s answer to the Kimberley, with continuous breathtaking moments. Setting up a base camp at Takarakka Bush Camp is the perfect starting point for your adventure. Takarakka offers accommodation from safari tents and small cottages to powered and unpowered sites.

Carnarvon Gorge is located approximately 600km northwest of Brisbane and 300km southwest of Rockhampton, so be sure you make the most of your time here, as this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

There is a short 1.5km return nature track at the start of the Carnarvon Gorge trail which is perfect for families. Regular sightings of platypus in the Carnarvon Creek can be experienced here if you are lucky.

Whitsunday Conway Trail

Situated at Airlie Beach this Great Walk takes you through stunning rainforests and beautiful freshwater creeks and lookouts. It is a 27km walk for moderate fitness levels with a smaller 7 km return walk an easy grade 2 standard, perfect for families. Make sure you stop at the beautiful crystal clear waterhole along the way. The superb views from the Mount Rooper lookout across the Whitsunday Islands make this walk a must-do when visiting the region.

Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail

The Ngaro Indigenous people have inhabited the Whitsunday Islands for more than 9000 years. The Sea Trail is 50km in its entirety and is readily accessible from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour, (approximately 12 hours’ drive north of Brisbane and eight hours’ south of Cairns).

The trail provides an enticing mix of scenic walks and waterways across the Whitsundays, with ever-changing landscapes and breathtaking environments. One moment you can be walking through open forests, white sandy beaches, grasslands or rainforest and the next climbing rugged peaks to gain a 360-degree view of the entire Whitsunday Islands.

There is an abundance of marine life which changes with each season and an endemic Whitsunday bottle tree.

Trekking up the 2.2km walking track from Whitehaven Beach to the newly developed lookout is well worth your effort for a bird’s eye view of this world-famous beach.

Thorsborne Trail, Hinchinbrook Island

Hinchinbrook Island is located 8km off the Queensland coast at Cardwell, and appears Jurassic in its dominating rise from the Great Barrier Reef. The challenging Thorsborne Trail stretches along the eastern side of the island for 32km, and it is recommended to allow a minimum of four days to explore all this living environment has to offer.

From every angle, this island is spectacular and at times awe-inspiring, with its endless natural beauty and towering rugged mountains. There is a wealth of diverse and fragile ecosystems, with more than 30 species of mangrove encompassing the island. The local estuarine crocodiles are there to remind you how wild this part of the world can be.

Walker camps for hikers are available at 16 sites throughout the trail, and bookings (well in advance) are essential.

Allow yourself a few hours to enjoy Zoe Falls — you will be left speechless at how beautiful this fresh waterhole is.

Goldfield Trail

The Goldfield Track is 19.5km long with 13 campsites and easily completed in 1-2 days. There is no access to mobile reception so make sure you are safe and bring a satellite phone and first aid supplies. There are some challenging slopes but this work is well worth the event and a moderate level of fitness is required for the whole work. The first 8 km is easy working and perfect for families. May – October is the best time to hike in Cairns when the weather is at its best.

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