Multi-day expeditions and sprawling road trips are great, but there’s nothing quite like setting up a basecamp and sinking your teeth into exploring a new area. But where to go? Thanks to The North Face and their new Homestead Collection we’re bringing you our favourite aussie adventure playgrounds. Get exploring!
1. Kosciuszko National Park (NSW)
If you’re looking for a well-rounded adventure playground, you can’t go past Kosi. It’s an all-season, endless torrent of activities – in the warmer months, mountain biking, hiking and cave-exploring; and when it gets icy outside, you’ve got snow sports and snow camping, as well as a network of heritage-listed huts and cottages.
Once set up, your possibilities are endless.
If you’re keen on day trips, you can’t go past summiting Australia’s highest mountain. Just a half hour drive from Diggings, you can jump on the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift which will take you to the start of the Kosciuszko walk (doing most of the work for you!), where you can conquer the summit in less than 2 hours!
If that’s a bit soft for you, what about tackling a 1 or 2 night overnighter on the iconic 22km Main Range walk, checking out Blue Lake and returning to Charlotte’s Pass via the Mount Kosciuszko Summit walk.
Between May and the end of October, much of the area is likely to be covered in snow and you’ll definitely be wanting to kit yourself up with snowshoes, cross country skis or, for the adventurous amongst us, fat bikes or splitboards.
- Watsons Crags (only for well-prepared and experienced adventurers)
- The Cascade Hut trail in the Pilot Wilderness (hike, bike, snowshoe or cross country ski)
- ‘Peakbagging’ the Aussie 10 (summit Australia’s 10 Highest Peaks in one hike)
2. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (NT)
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a visit to our country’s beating heart is just about bagging the snap and ticking it off the list. From canyons to camel rides, the Red Centre is actually teeming with adventurous possibilities that are so iconically Australian you’ll be wiping red sand off your sheets for weeks after.
If you drive past the Ayers Rock Resort and the collective throng of buffet-munching guests, you’ll find the Ayers Rock Campground; the only option available for star-hungry campers.
Only 15km from the rock itself, it’s a prime spot to meet likeminded explorers and to uncover every nook and cranny of this adventure playground. And to slam a pumpkin-sized cherry on the top, there’s a swimming pool on site!
Of course, checking out Uluru and Kata Tjuta will be at the top of your list. If you’ve got the time walking a lap of Uluru is the best (and most respectful) way to experience the rock but many shorter walks are possible.
The less well known Kata Tjuta is a must see, only an hour’s drive from your basecamp. The Valley of the Winds walk will blow you away (pun not intended but you can have it).
When you think of travelling through the Red Centre, images of unsealed roads, snake trails and vast open lands broken with the occasional canyon, mountain range or wild swimming hole, spring to mind. The Mereenie Loop road is a 670km track that will realise those dreams for you.
- Photo by @kate_miles_
Widely regarded as one of the most stunning multi-day treks on offer in Australia, the Larapinta Trail weaves for 220km through the West Macdonnell Ranges in Central Australia. Oh the stories you will tell…
3. Scenic Rim (SE QLD)
The Scenic Rim is nothing short of a fairytale landscape in South East Queensland. Stretching from Tamborine Mountain through to The Lost World and Mount Barney, it’s an area of pristine natural beauty where adventure drips into plunge pools and offers explorers across the experience spectrum a plethora of wild possibilities.
There is no shortage of options in the region but our choice basecamp would be Rum Jungle, a subtropical gem tucked away in the saddle of Mt Barney. Blessed with sunrise and sunset views within a short distance, there is also a creek and shelter depending on what Mother Nature serves up for you. Oh, it’s also a beast of a climb to get up there!
Local business, Mt Barney Lodge are always a smart choice in the area too, offering a well-maintained campground (with space for caravans and camper trailers), rustic cabins, a deluxe homestead mini-mansion and options for the glampers amongst us. They also offer a bunch of organised outdoor activities to keep you busy, including rock climbing, abseiling, guided bushwalks, and a navigation course.
Lamington National Park is as juicy as the name suggests – perhaps you could throw a cheeky double microadventure at this one!
4. The Freycinet Peninsula (TAS)
Freycinet National Park (pronounced fray-sin-aye) is a wild and stunning peninsula region on the East Coast of Tasmania.
Embrace the beauty of the windswept Apple Isle, whilst standing atop granite peaks or immersed in the Tasman Sea as it meets white-sand beaches. Picturesque, wild and world-class, you’ll need a few days to play in the Frey.
Or, simply enjoy the wild coastal bush camping experience! Take a few towels to rotate; it’ll be hard to resist jumping into the crisp blue water at every opportunity.
There are a number of easy walks like the Wineglass Bay Lookout hike and the Little Gravelly Beach walk that instantly reward your efforts.
Check out the gorgeous Honeymoon Bay for views of The Hazards, the fantastic pink-tinged granite mountain range that dominate the park.
If you’re more adventurous, the walk up Mt Amos is a beautiful, steep ascent that ends with the most spectacular view of the world famous Wineglass Bay.
Want more? Take 3 days out to hike the entire Freycinet Peninsula Circuit.
To the North of the Friendly Beaches, the Bicheno Blowhole brings the thrills, spurting even small waves high into the air. Bicheno is a laid-back town with options for everything from surfboard hire to wineries. There’s also coffee. This is important intel (in case basecamp runs low).
The granite that gives the region its mind-bending geography is also ideal for rock climbing. Keen climbers are spoilt for choice with dozens of challenging routes that’ll make the trip that much sweeter.
5. Mt Buffalo (VIC)
Al-pining for some lofty adventures? Seriously though, if you don’t feel like you’ve got enough altitude, Mt Buffalo is teeming with possibility. The lofty mountain park features prominent granite tors, over 90km of walking trails and lakeside camping.
We reckon it’s one of Victoria’s most underrated parks.
Lake Catani Campground, situated on the lakeside but protected by Snow Gums, is a well-furbished and central place to pitch your tent. It’s a real summer-only situation, with bookings opening from the start of November and running through to the end of April. You won’t necessarily be overheating though, this alpine campground can be chilly even when the snow isn’t falling.
If you’d rather just kick it near the campground the lake is perfect for a swim, paddle or a spot of birdwatching. You can even head up the Monolith Track and check out the lake from above.
Up for a challenge? Hike in for some remote bush camping at Mount Mcleod or use Mt Buffalo as a springboard into some hardcore hiking or trail running.
Mt Feathertop, one of our Top 5 Mountains to Climb in Victoria, is only an hour’s drive from Lake Catani if starting from the Bungalow Spur Trailhead.
On the way back, hit up Ladies Bath Falls for a cleansing dip. Despite the name, even sweaty blokes can appreciate the crystal clear water and tranquil surrounds before making their way back to basecamp.
6. Albany Region (WA)
With a population of just under 40,000, Albany in WA’s South West is teeming with colonial history, as well as a treasure trove of stunning natural adventure playgrounds on its doorstep.
Traditionally the finishing point of the iconic Bibbulmun Track, Albany has no shortage of activities for the adventurous, including hiking, paragliding, 4WDing, surfing, mountain biking, canoeing, windsurfing and fishing.
Firstly, and we hate to state the bleedin’ obvious, but you’ll need a set of wheels if you deem Albany your adventure playground of the moment. Make sure you get a tent that’s easy to pitch, to maximise campsite chill time.
Moingup Springs, located in Stirling Range National Park, will be the perfect basecamp for the highly regarded hike to Bluff Knoll.
Less than 2 hours drive from Albany, you can’t go past the 6km return hike to the top of Bluff Knoll if you’re in the area, with stunning mountain vistas and towering rock faces.
If you’ve heard of the Bibbulmun Track and thought it sounded alright but you haven’t yet committed to the full thing, why not try the 85km Denmark to Albany section? You’ll get some epic coastal views, a bunch of sheltered swimming spots and clear views down over the Albany Windfarm in West Cape Howe National Park.
If you’ve still got time to kill, head over to Torndirrup National Park only 20 minutes outside of Albany and take on the Bald Head Walking Trail for panoramic views of the Southern Ocean and the historic King George Sound. While you’re in the area, make sure you don’t miss The Gap and Natural Bridge!