We wanted to visit Australia for several reasons. Koalas and kangaroos, for one. The Great Ocean Road, for two. The Great Barrier Reef, for three. Actually, ordering these experiences is kind of pointless, because all of them is unique in their own way. And the wonderful beaches and coastal walks have their well-deserved place on that list.
We did a lot of short coastal hikes during our road trip along the Eastern coastline. They were perfect, because they offered such pretty views, and also because most of them started from or ended at fabulous beaches where we could spend the rest of the day chilling out, swimming or just playing in the waves. Here are our favorites.
Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell National Park, Victoria
The most famous rock formation of the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles. They are formed by erosion, and actually, there are only 8 of them. Even the original number of the Apostles was 9, but one of them collapsed in 2005.
Though it could sound like you just get out of the car, take a look at them and get done with it, we think it’s worth spending at least an hour at the Twelve Apostles. (Besides, “getting done” with any kind of attraction just sounds weird to us; you want to get done with your homework, not the Twelve apostles. 😛 )
There are four lookouts connected by a wheelchair accessible boardwalk. It’s an easy stroll, but we stopped so often (and took so many pictures) that it took an hour to do it. And it’s absolutely worth seeing the Apostles from every possible angle!
Split Point Lighthouse Walk, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Split Point Lighthouse was another nice walk along the Great Ocean Road. We stopped in a parking lot in the small town of Aireys Inlet. We already saw the lighthouse from there, so it was obvious where to go.
A short walk led us up to Split Point Lighthouse. But the lovely white lighthouse is not the true attraction there – several lookouts behind it offer astonishing views of the coastline from above.
Cape Byron Walking Track, Byron Bay, New South Wales
Another lighthouse with scenic views. The Cape Byron Walking Track from Wategos Beach to Cape Byron Lighthouse is a bit steep, but breathtaking all the way.
Cape Byron is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. This track, ribonning around the headland, offers spectacular coastal views – and they say, you can even catch a glimpse of playful dolphins if you’re lucky (we weren’t 😀 ).
Allow a couple of hours for this track. Another important thing to keep in mind so that you can truly enjoy the walk: do it in the morning or around sunset, especially in the summer. There is very limited shade on the track, and it’s better to be on the beaches in the hotter part of the day. And Byron Bay does offer a great variety of beaches.
White Sands Walk, Jervis Bay, New South Wales
The beaches of Jervis Bay with their perfectly soft, fine, pure-white sand are the most special we’ve seen on the Australian mainland. White Sands Walk is an easy track that connects all these bays. It starts from Greenfield Beach and ends at Hyams Beach.
Greenfield Beach picnic area offers free parking and lovely picnic benches with free electric barbecues. It’s a thing we’ve only seen in Australia so far: public parks and public beaches often offer free electric barbecues. And they are nice and clean.
White Sands Walk is about 2 kilometres one-way, and we walked a major part of it barefoot, literally in the white sand. In theory, we could do this walk within an hour there and back. In reality, we stopped to take in the views very often (yeah, for taking pictures, too), and we spent hours on Hyams Beach, playing in the waves.
You better not hurry anywhere when you find such a perfect little paradise on this planet like Jervis Bay. At least that’s our opinion.
Coggee to Bondi Beach Walk, Sydney, New South Wales
Large cities are not especially famous for natural treasures or amazing beaches in general. Sydney is an exception. The coastal walk from Coggee Beach to Bondi Beach is inside the city, and this walk alone would have made us fall for Sydney.
One incredible beach follows the other, and nice parks, cafés, colorful little houses and fabulous coastal views add to the magic. We’ve seen the strangest cemetery we’ve ever seen on the way: Waverley Cemetery is full of palm trees and vibrant colors, and it also offers those incredible coastal views.
We started the walk from Coggee Beach, because we thought parking is easier and cheaper there than at Bondi Beach (uhm… wrong). But this full day walk was worth even that ridiculously expensive parking bill.
We started with a swim at Coggee Beach. The next was Gordon’s Bay that’s a great snorkeling spot with an underwater nature trail. Of course, we had to try that, too. No surprise, this walk took a full day, because then came Clovelly Beach, Bronte Beach and Tamarama Beach.
The last one would have been Bondi Beach, but we saw it only from the distance. We had to turn back to reach the parking lot before our ticket expires. (Bah, yeah, we thought we allowed ourselves enough time for this walk… we were again wrong.)
Coastal Track, Noosa National Park, Queensland
Noosa National Park is only 2 hours drive from Brisbane on the legendary Sunshine Coast. This park is a mix of turquoise bays, perfectly sandy beaches, scenic coastal walks and eucalypt forests. The best way to get a taste of all of these is walking the Coastal Track.
This track starts from busy Noosa Main Beach and ends at remote Alexandra Bay. There are several fabulous bays along the way, as well as the Fairy Pools – a tidal rock pool that got this name because it’ fabulous. 🙂
We walked until Hell’s Gates, and returned to Noosa Main Beach on Tanglewood Track that took us through an eucalyptus woodland. This loop is about 7 kilometres long. The terrain is quite easy, but with all the beaches on the way, a full day flies by quite fast in Noosa.
Read more about Noosa National Park in this post!
Oceanview Track, Burleigh Head National Park, Queensland
Connecting two amazing beaches, Burleigh Heads Beach and Echo Beach, the Oceanview Track is an easy walk with pretty coastal views. We started it from the Northern entrance of Burleigh Head National Park (from Burleigh Heads Beach), but you can start is from the Southern entrance, too (from Echo Beach). Parking is a bit of a hassle at both entrances.
The track is 1.2 kilometres one-way, and it’s worth to make it a loop by taking the track in the rainforest on the way back.
Kulki Boardwalk, Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park, Queensland
This short and easy walk (it takes about 15 minutes there and back) gives a taste of the unique habitat where the rainforest meets the reef. It’s also a great introduction to the UNESCO protected Wet Tropics of Northern Queensland.
The boardwalk starts from Kulki Beach parking, and you can also walk to Cape Tribulation Beach from there. But don’t even think of going into the water at this magical beach. Estuarine crocodiles are quite common in this area – as warning signs at these beaches will inform you. So we skipped the swimming part for this one.
Hill Inlet Lookout Walk, Whitsunday Islands National Park, Queensland
This last walk is an exception. Not just because it rewarded us with one of the most amazing views we’ve EVER seen, but also because it’s not on the Eastern coast of the Australian mainland. It’s located on Whitsunday Island.
We visited it with a group tour, and that’s your best option, too. Since Whitsunday Island is uninhabited, there’s no regular ferry or boat that connect it with the mainland. Read more about our day trip to the Whitsundays in this post!
Now back to the Hill Inlet Lookout Walk. It was the highlight of our day on the Whitsundays – and it’s quite a big thing to say since the Whitsundays are a piece of heaven on Earth. The walk to Hill Inlet Lookout is easy and beautiful. You can even do it in flip-flops, as we mostly walked in the soft, white sand or on the boardwalk.
And then the view! The view from the lookout can easily compete with any of the wonderful panoramas we’ve ever enjoyed. We couldn’t get bored with the countless shades of blue and green below us, and their shades were changing as clouds were moving through the sky. It’s a view we’ll never forget.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any favorite coastal walks in Australia?
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