The very best way to get under the skin of South Australia is to strap your hiking boots on and get out there. Whether you’re looking for a light stroll or a full-on hiking adventure in the bush, the best way to savour the true flavour of one of the world’s most unspoilt lands is to walk the walk. Here’s our guide to the five ‘must see’ backpacker treks in South Australia.
Without question, the Heysen Trail is South Australia’s number one long distance walking trail, and when we say ‘long distance’, that’s precisely what we mean! This is 1,200km hiking through the unforgiving South Australian outback starting at Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula and ending at Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges.
For serious hikers, the 60-day adventure takes you past Adelaide and up through arid deserts, coastal areas, rugged gorges, dense pine forests, national parks, vineyards, historic towns and vast farmlands but don’t worry if you’re not a world-class hiking expert, you don’t have to do the whole route!
You can join the route for a series of half-day treks, overnight stopovers or even seven-day tours and all walks include overnight stays, food and drink, professional and highly experienced tour guides. If you’re an experienced outback hiker or a novice day-tripper, the Heysen Trail is an experience you’ll never forget.
Flinders Ranges Walk
Flinders Ranges Walk
Staring around 200 miles north of Adelaide at Port Pirie, the Flinders Ranges are South Australia’s largest mountain range continuing up to the dry salt lake at Lake Callabonna around 265 miles away and you’ll find some of Australia’s most incredible ancient landscapes.
As with all walks in South Australia, you can do the entire route or you can break it down dependent on time available as well as your own personal levels of fitness and endurance, from hourly walks to a full-on, week-long experience passing through rolling ridges, forests and the famous Dutchmans Stern and Wilpena Pound, an incredible natural amphitheatre covering 80 square kilometres. You’ll see a wonderful array of flora and fauna, Aboriginal shelters dating back thousands of years, remote gorges and St Mary’s Peak, the Flinders’ highest point.
The various walks through the Flinders Ranges are some of the best bushwalking experiences in all of South Australia, in fact in the entire country and are not to be missed for a true taste of the outback.
The Arkaba Walk
© Wild Bush Luxury
The Arkaba Walk
This is your opportunity to trek through 600 million years of geological evolution while eating, drinking and sleeping in luxurious surroundings – the perfect juxtaposition between the old and the new.
The four-day Arkaba Walk is in the Flinders Ranges mountain range and takes you through harsh but stunning country via Wilpena Pound, the Elder Range and the dry creek beds lined with River Red Gums for a truly immersive experience. You’ll walk through Arkaba’s private wildlife conservancy with Red and Western Grey kangaroos, emus and wallabies as well as stunning birds and you’ll be covering 6-15km a day, dependent on the severity of the terrain.
At night, you’ll be treated to camping in deluxe ‘swags’ as well as a night in an 1850s homestead and you’ll feast on fine food and premium Australian wines. This is hiking, luxury-style.
At 4,500km², Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island and if you’re a wildlife lover, you are in for a serious treat. The island offers walking tours of the beautiful coastline where you’ll feast your eyes on fur seals, sea-lions, platypus and Cape Barren geese, and that’s just in the water! On land, you’ll find what Australia is famous the world over for – kangaroos, koala bears, wallabies, possums and even an evening walk to see penguins in their rookery.
Walks range from four to seven days and highlights include limestone caves full of unusual helictites (deposits formed from calcite-heavy water seeping through rocks over thousands of years), Remarkable Rocks, a half-billion year old wind-formed rock formation that looks more like a million-dollar sculpture as well as sleeping in a lighthouse-keeper’s cottage and recent winner of Australia’s best beach, Vivonne Bay – some claim in a country famed for its beaches.
If you want to walk in Australia, make a beeline for Kangaroo Island. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
The Yurrebilla Trail
© Yurrebilla Trail 56k Ultra
The Yurrebilla Trail
The Yurrebilla Trail shares some of its routes with the famous Heysen Trail but on its own, it is a fantastic, 54km walk split over three days and traverses some of the most spectacular landscapes in all of South Australia.
Starting out at Ambers Gully and finishing at Belair Railway Station, you’re treated to some of the most incredible views of the sea and the city of Adelaide as well as dense eucalyptus forests, amazing waterfalls, deep gullies and for the hungry and thirsty, orchards and vineyards!
On the walk, you’ll pass through some of Adelaide’s best-known tourist sites including Waterfall Gully, the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens and Summit and the Cleland Wildlife Park where you’ll find Australia’s iconic animals in their natural habitat including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, dingoes and the elusive Tasmanian Devil as well as a variety of snakes and reptiles.
There’s plenty of accommodation on the trail and is accessible to people of all ages and abilities so what are you waiting for? Get out there and see it for yourself!
Got the Travel Bug? If you’ve been inspired to travel Down Under to explore these amazing experiences make sure you explore the very best stopovers to Australia and make your trip complete.