The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - Travel
Choose your own adventure on an epic Australian odyssey
From the arid landscapes of the Red Centre to lush rainforests and lonely hiking trails, this is a country you can discover by road, rail and river, says Sarah Marshall
Before any co-ordinates had been charted on a map, Australia’s Aboriginal people had their own method for navigating land and sea. Reading the landscape through a series of songlines, they were able to connect sacred waterholes, ceremonial sites and important meeting points. Trees, cliffs, caves and coves were the only signposts they needed to move around.
Many thousands of years later, those spiritual pathways continue to link present-day culture with the past. Dreaming tracks provide a foundation for walking trails weaving through some of Australia’s greatest natural wonders, and dusty roads link geological formations fundamental to the Aboriginal people’s story of creation.
With a land mass equivalent to continental USA, this country within a continent is enormous and the idea of covering all eight states and territories in one trip is enough to send a compass spinning.
Despite its overwhelming size, however, Australia is extremely well connected: rail tracks, river systems, hiking paths and highways give travellers options for exploring with different modes of transport. Passing through diverse landscapes – from glittering golden beaches through to raging red canyons and mistviewpoints shrouded emerald forests – the journey itself quickly becomes part of the adventure.
Whether you have a few days or a couple of months, there are multiple iconic itineraries to follow. Gain an insight into First Nation cultures on guided walking tours through the Outback, cruise coastlines navigated by early European sailors, or jump aboard one of Australia’s long-distance trains for a slow way to soak up surroundings.
Not all trips require engines and wheels. Covering vastly varying terrain, Australia is a land made for walking, with hiking trails providing opportunities to scale magnificent mountain peaks and while stopping to admire the smaller details such as insects and delicate wildflowers.
Combining classic adventures with newer routes, we’ve compiled some of Australia’s greatest road trips, train rides, cruises and hikes designed to deliver the very best this country has to offer. Whether you choose to follow directions on a map or prefer to stick with ancient songlines, all pathways promise rewarding journeys measured in experiences rather than clocked-up miles. Joining the dots is where the real fun begins.