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Our 6 epic backpacker camping & hiking trips you won’t regret

Epic backpacker camping and hiking trips across Australia, exploring its coasts, Outback, Tasmania, Kimberley, the Great Barrier Reef, and Snowy Mountains.
backpackers watching the sunset while leaning on the on a car while camping and hiking
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Buckle up, because we’re about to embark on 6 epic backpacking journeys across the stunning, wild, and breathtaking landscapes of Australia! This isn’t just any trip; it’s a full-blown camping and hiking adventure into the heart of nature’s most spectacular playgrounds, where every turn on the road is a story waiting to unfold, and every campsite has a million stars for company. For backpackers seeking the thrill of discovery and the joy of simplicity, Australia’s diverse terrain offers an unparalleled experience.

Imagine waking up to the sounds of waves serenading the shore, hiking through forests where the trees whisper ancient tales, and gazing up at a night sky so clear, that it feels like the universe is putting on a show just for you. From the rugged cliffs that kiss the ocean to the sacred sands surrounding Uluru, from Tasmania’s wild heart to Kimberley’s untamed beauty, and from the underwater wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef to the snow-dusted peaks of the Snowy Mountains—we’re diving headfirst into the incredible mosaic that is Australia’s great outdoors.

So, grab your gear, summon your inner explorer, and let’s set off on a journey where the landscapes change as quickly as the stories. Ready to create camping and hiking memories that will have backpackers grinning from ear to ear for years to come? Australia is our canvas, and adventure is our brush. Let the backpacking journey begin!

First up; Our must-have Backpacker hiking and camping essentials

Before we get going, let’s get the gear and essentials out of the way. When setting off on a camping and hiking backpacker adventure in Australia’s great outdoors, packing the right gear is crucial to ensure you’re prepared for everything this vast and varied landscape has to offer. Here’s a concise guide to what you should bring along:

  • Backpack: This is a no-brainer. A sturdy, weatherproof backpack (60-70L for long trips, 40-50L for short).
  • Shelter: Lightweight, waterproof tent, sleeping bag (appropriate for the season), and sleeping bag.
  • Cooking gear: A portable stove goes a long way, fuel, lighter, biodegradable soap, and a small pot.
  • Hydration: Water filter/purification tablets and a durable water bottle/hydration system.
  • Food: High-energy, non-perishable snacks and meals like trail mix, energy bars, and dried fruits.
  • Clothing: Layered, moisture-wicking clothes, waterproof jacket, hiking boots/shoes, and several pairs of socks.
  • Navigation: Map and compass or GPS (with a backup map).
  • First aid kit: Including personal meds, bandages, and blister care for those long hikes.
  • Personal items: Sunscreen, insect repellent, toiletries, and a headlamp/flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Emergency gear: This is crucial for any backpacker adventure out in the bush. Whistle, multi-tool/knife, and emergency shelter (e.g., bivy sack).
  • Extras: A book, journal, or cards for leisure, and remember to leave no trace when leaving your camping and hiking adventure.

Remember, you don’t want to be out in the bush without the right equipment or too much equipment. Packing light with all of the essentials ensures you’re prepared for whatever the adventure throws at you.

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Hit the road to the Great Ocean Road

Backpackers travelling the great ocean road

Start your backpacker adventure in Victoria by hitting the famous Great Ocean Road. This stunning route offers incredible views of the Southern Ocean, dramatic limestone cliffs, and iconic landmarks like the Twelve Apostles. For a memorable camping experience, pitch your tent at Johanna Beach or Cumberland River Holiday Park. Imagine waking up to the sound of the waves and watching the sunset over the ocean. You’ll also have the chance to wander along seaside paths, take a dip in hidden coves, and enjoy fresh seafood. And don’t forget to explore Otway National Park, where ancient rainforests, massive waterfalls, and unique wildlife like koalas and kangaroos await backpackers.

How to get to the Great Ocean Road?

From Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road: The adventure begins about 103 km (64 miles) southwest of Melbourne, in Torquay, where the iconic Great Ocean Road starts. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive from Melbourne to Torquay, marking the beginning of your scenic journey.

Must-dos along the Great Ocean Road:

  • Drive along the coastline with endless ocean views
  • Camp by the beach and enjoy nature’s best wake-up call
  • Discover hidden beaches and tasty seafood
  • Adventure through Otway National Park and spot some local wildlife

Discover the heart of the outback in the Red Centre

Backpackers camping and hiking at uluru rock formation in central australia

Next, backpackers can head to the Red Centre to see the ancient landscapes of Australia’s Outback. Camping near Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a must-do for sunrise or sunset views over Uluru, the sacred monolith. Wander the desert, visit the breathtaking Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), and dive deep into the region’s rich Indigenous culture. Camping under the stars here is magical, offering a crystal-clear view of the night sky. If you’re up for it, take a hike around Kings Canyon for stunning views of this rugged terrain.

How to get to the Red Centre?

From Alice Springs to Uluru: Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia’s Red Centre, is located about 450 km (about 280 miles) southwest of Alice Springs. This journey by car can take up to 4.5 hours, leading you through the captivating landscapes of the Outback.

Red Centre highlights:

  • Step back in time with the Outback’s ancient landscapes
  • Catch a sunrise or sunset over Uluru
  • Learn about the area’s deep Indigenous roots
  • Stargaze like never before

Go wild in Tasmania

Backpackers camping and hiking ground in tasmania australia

For backpackers seeking a wild camping experience, Tasmania is the place to be. This island state is a haven of untouched nature. At Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, you can hike through old-growth forests, climb rugged peaks, and camp beside serene alpine lakes. Consider taking on the famous Overland Track for a multi-day hike that showcases some of the most stunning landscapes. Venture into South-west National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for kayaking, long treks, and wilderness camping. And keep your eyes peeled for Tasmania’s unique wildlife, including Tasmanian devils, wombats, and platypus.

How to get to Tasmania?

From Hobart to Cradle Mountain: Tasmania, an island state known for its wild and beautiful landscapes, invites campers to explore its natural wonders. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Hobart, can be reached in around 4 hours by car.

Tasmania’s best bits:

  • Camp amidst the pristine wilderness
  • Hike through ancient forests and rugged mountains
  • Explore the secluded South-west National Park
  • Adventure through the landscape and spot unique wildlife

Adventure in the Kimberley

Backpacker enjoying kimberley australia white  sand near body of water during daytime

For a truly remote experience, backpackers can head to the Kimberley in Western Australia. This rugged, secluded region is famous for its ancient landscapes, dramatic canyons, and pristine beauty. Camp near the Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park and be amazed by the unique beehive-shaped rock formations. Take the Gibb River Road for an off-the-beaten-path adventure, discovering hidden waterfalls and remote campsites. And don’t miss Mitchell Falls – a challenging hike leads you to this stunning four-tiered waterfall.

How to get to the Kimberleys?

From Broome to the Bungle Bungles: The Kimberley, a remote and rugged region in Western Australia, is famed for its ancient landscapes and untouched beauty. The Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park is about 700 km (435 miles) from Broome, roughly a 9-hour drive, offering an adventure through some of Australia’s most unique landscapes.

Kimberley must-sees:

  • Experience remote camping at its best
  • See the unique landscapes and dramatic gorges
  • Camp among the Bungle Bungle Range’s beehive formations
  • Take a wild ride on the Gibb River Road

Camp by the Great Barrier Reef

Two backpackers riding kayak at the great barrier reef

Experience one of the world’s natural wonders by camping near the Great Barrier Reef. Explore islands like Fitzroy and Lady Elliot, and camp in designated spots. Dive or snorkel to see vibrant coral gardens and a plethora of marine life. Enjoy pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and breathtaking views of the reef. It’s also a great chance to learn about conservation efforts to protect this delicate ecosystem.

How to get to the Great Barrier Reef?

From Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef Islands: The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, is accessible from Cairns. Fitzroy Island, for example, is just a 45-minute ferry ride away.

Great Barrier Reef highlights:

  • Island camping and exploration
  • Dive into an underwater world of colour
  • Enjoy the sun on stunning beaches
  • Discover the rainforest and reef views

The Snowy Mountains await

Backpackers hiking and camping at the snowy mountains australia

Finally, head to the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales for alpine camping and adventure. Kosciuszko National Park offers trails through alpine meadows and to the top of Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak. Winter brings snow sports to life at resorts like Thredbo and Perisher. In the warmer months, try fishing in mountain streams, spot wild horses and wombats, and soak in the tranquillity of nature.

How to get to the Snowy Mountains?

From Canberra to the Snowy Mountains: The Snowy Mountains, home to Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak, are located approximately 180 km (112 miles) southwest of Canberra, about a 2.5-hour drive.

Snowy Mountains adventures:

  • Camp in the high country
  • Hike through stunning alpine scenery
  • Enjoy winter sports and summer hikes
  • Fish in pristine streams and relax in the great outdoors

Are you ready for your backpacker adventure? You won’t be disappointed!

Silhouette of backpacker standing near camping tent ready for a hike

What an awesome backpacker camping and hiking ride we’ve been on, hopping from the sun-kissed shores of the Great Ocean Road to the mystical heart of the Red Centre where Uluru stands tall and proud! Australia, with its kaleidoscope of landscapes, has thrown open its doors, inviting us into its wild heart, its serene beaches, its ancient forests, and its rugged outbacks.

We’ve meandered along the dramatic coastline, setting up camp where the ocean whispers goodnight and the sun greets us with a dazzling morning show. Then, off to the Red Centre, where Uluru, in all its ancient glory, reminds us of the stories etched into this land, painting the sky with colours so vivid they stay etched in our memory.

Tasmania showed us its wild side, with forests so ancient and mountains so majestic, they seem like something out of a fairy tale. And let’s not forget the Kimberley, where the adventures are as grand as the landscapes are vast, leading us through a world where time seems to stand still.

Diving into the aquatic wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef, we were greeted by a world so colourful and alive, that it felt like stepping into a living rainbow. Then, to cap it all off, the Snowy Mountains called us to their peaks, offering adventures that had us skiing, hiking, and even fishing in their pristine streams.

From the thrill of the coast to the quiet of the mountains, every stop has been a chapter in an epic tale of adventure, filled with moments that make us laugh, gasp, and sigh in awe. Australia isn’t just a place to visit; it’s a place to be lived and loved, a journey that turns backpackers into storytellers.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, because the Land Down Under is waiting for backpackers just like you, leaving you with stories that echo with the spirit of adventure, friendship, and the sheer joy of discovery.

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