What really needs to be said about one of the most visited natural sites in Tasmania? Cradle Mountain is breathtaking in every sense of the word, from the initial sight of it rising above the deep sapphire of Dove Lake, to the 360 degree views of rugged alpine wilderness from it’s craggy summit. A six hour trek from Dove Lake, or a short but challenging diversion from the incredible Overland Track, the climb to the summit is worth every gasped breath and aching muscle. Towering granite buttes, tranquil mountain lakes, jagged ravines, wild valleys and sprawling button-grass moorlands paint some incredible remote scenery.
The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, a crown above the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges in the Northern Flinders of South Australia, is a harsh and wild arid wonderland. As far as views go the summit of the Acacia Trail is hard to beat, a scene with the power to make you feel awfully small and incredibly isolated perched atop the ancient granite landscape. Great rings of sharp hills bind rocky chasms, deep gorges, gnarled mountains and unspoilt arid wilderness.
The Red Centre has a lot of incredible and truly iconic sights, with Uluru and Kings Canyon likely topping many similar lists, but the Valley of the Winds walk is something truly special. Just a stone’s-throw from Uluru, the field of titanic red boulders is known as Kata Tjuta, and formerly the Olgas. The 7km walk climbs between towering red cliffs stained with great black streaks and honeycombed with caverns and erosion, to a lookout wedged between two of the monolithic mounds. In the valley beyond lies a sight that well and truly encapsulates the ancient beauty of the Australian outback.
Kosciuszko National Park is simply tremendous. Not to mention utterly huge, and just about every corner of this alpine wilderness is crammed with beautiful scenery. I suppose that as the seventh largest national park in the country, and surrounding its highest point, it’s not too surprising. Broken into seven distinct areas, all offering something a little different, you could lose yourself in Kosciuszko for weeks on end. Mountain hiking, spectacular caves, rugged gorges, wild rivers and some of the absolute best camping in the country.
Above the white sands, turquoise waters and coral gardens of Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia lies the rugged limestone canyonlands of Cape Range National Park. Often missed by many visitors to the area, these arid ranges are the heavily weathered and eroded remnant of an ancient seabed. Now, the sheer valleys, crumbling spinifex-clad ridges and incredible rock formations rise painted in an ancient strata of oranges, whites and rusty outback reds.
Tucked between the pink granite mountains of a little peninsula on Tasmania’s east coast, Wineglass Bay is a truly iconic Australian image. The entire peninsula of Freycinet National Park is nothing short of extraordinary. Azure bays, rocky coves, white sands and forest-clad peaks. While the vast majority of visitors will take in the sight of the bay from the easily-reached saddle lookout, the view from the top of Mount Amos is impossible to beat. Be warned though, the ascent is far from easy, with the steep and strenuous track often approaching the near-vertical.
At 268m, Wallaman Falls holds the distinction of being Australia’s highest single-drop waterfall, and with such an impressive achievement comes an equally impressive view. Falling from within the dense rainforest of Girringun National Park, the area is all part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in Northern Queensland. Catch them on the right day, with a light fringe of mist, a wreath of spray, a vague rainbow and the stunning wall of weathered stone as a backdrop, and they make for a pretty incredible sight.
While the entirety of the West MacDonnell Range in the heart of the Northern Territory is nothing short of incredible, there’s no better place to experience why than Ormiston Pound. From just about any point on the 9km loop track that clambers across the pound, the views are breathtaking. The jagged ridges and distant hills that enclose the tremendous valley run down into a sprawling sea of spinifex, dry riverbeds and rocky outcrops.
From the iconic Three Sisters to the hidden labyrinths of ancient canyons, Blue Mountains National Park does nothing in half-measures. It’s a land of sandstone plateaus, wild valleys, dense eucalypt forest, hidden waterfalls and some truly special places. With more walking tracks to explore than you could shake a stick at, there’s far – far – more incredible vistas to be found here than just those on the well-beaten tourist routes.
Last but not least, the Stirling Range National Park, tucked away in the south-west of Western Australia. Climb to the top of any of the six hike-able peaks in this lush little range of gnarled mountains and you’ll catch some of the best views in the southwest. As one of the top 35 areas for biodiversity in the world, the sheer cliff faces and rocky crags of the higher ranges are surrounded by a vibrant diversity of lush forest, dry woodland, stunning wildflowers and some beautifully unique flora.