Top short walks in national parks

Here's a selection of loops, circuits and tracks to look out for in your travels. For each walk, you can obtain a map and directions at the relevant national park visitor centre.

Find short walks in: NSW   |   NT   |   QLD   |   SA   |   TAS   |   VIC   |   WA

Bushwalking Nationalparks

New South Wales

Prince Henry Cliff Walk, Blue Mountains National Park.

The beauty of this walk is that you can follow it from the Echo Point Visitor Centre (, 1300 653 408) as far as you like, but one of the highlights is right near the beginning: a pedestrian platform suspended between two of the three rock-hewn towers that comprise the Three Sisters rock formation. Even if the fog rolls in, it’s a worthwhile experience, hanging in the ether. That said, stick to the path, as this is a seriously rugged area, and plunging into the valley below is inadvisable.

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Northern Territory

Tjaynera (Sandy Creek) Falls Walk, Litchfield National Park.

A number of plunge pools and streams in the park are Aboriginal sacred sites, but the plunge pool at the end of this walk is fine for a dip. The route snakes along a creek and past a garden of cycads, and should take less than two hours return. For more information, contact the Batchelor office of NT Parks and Wildlife on (08) 8976 0282.

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Kuku Yalanji Walk, Mossman Gorge.

This guided walk with the traditional owners of the land leaves three times a day from the Kuku Yalanji Dreamtime Walks centre ((07) 4098 2595), and takes two hours along a short but rough track. You’ll gain an insight into the local plants and animals, and there’s a post-hike refresh with tea and question time. It’s not often that indigenous culture is this accessible.

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South Australia

Sacred Canyon walk, Flinders Ranges.

This walk takes around an hour-and-a-half, and is both spectacular and spectacularly accessible. Not far by car from the Wilpena Pound visitors centre (, (08) 8648 0048), it takes you along an increasingly narrow canyon, past ancient Aboriginal rock engravings, over pink and orange rocks and rubble. You wouldn’t want to be there when it rains, so check conditions before you head in. It’s a serene spot, and ideal for a picnic.

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Lake Dove walk, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

Do this short walk and it’ll become the standard by which you judge all others. It takes about three hours if you want to properly absorb, and photograph, what you’ll see along the way, and loops right back to the beginning, all circumnavigating the chilly alpine Lake Dove. You’ll walk along rough-sand beaches, skirt granite cliffs, negotiate remarkable cool-climate forest, and on a good day, you’ll have the twin peaks of Cradle Mountain watching over you. For more information, call the Cradle Mountain visitor centre on (03) 6492 1110, or visit

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Tidal Overlook and Loo-Errn track, Wilsons Promontory National Park.

This walk takes under two hours and loops back to the main car park. It takes in coastal scrub and estuarine forest, and you’re almost guaranteed to see a wombat or two along Tidal River. Views from the appropriately named Tidal Overlook are wonderful, even on a stormy day. The river can flood out part of the trail, so check in at the visitor centre before you walk (, (03) 13 19 63).

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Western Australia

Dales Gorge, Karijini National Park.

An effort to drive to (it’s five hours from Karratha), but much less effort to walk, this short route along the gorge rim should only take you a couple of hours, and affords an opportunity to take a dip in one of the Pilbara’s favourite swimming holes, the nearby Fern Pool, which sports a wooden swimming platform. While you’re wandering the gorge, you’ll see waterfalls, sunken gardens and an incredible sunset, if you time things right. For more information, contact the Karratha visitor centre on (08) 9144 4600.

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