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.

 ?? ?? i In the red: hiking Walpa Gorge in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
i In the red: hiking Walpa Gorge in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

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