Four stars? Five stars? How about a trillion? Star ratings go through the roof when you remote camp, and getting there under your own steam only ups the wow factor. There is nothing like sitting under the Milky Way with friends – or alone if that’s your thing – after putting kilometres of mountains, beach or outback between you and your car.
Then again, perhaps you want a real bed at day’s end and someone else to cook your dinner. Doing an overnight walk doesn’t have to involve channelling ‘Bear’ Grylls and hefting a heavy pack over interminable distances.
With planning, most people who have done some solid day walks can step up to an overnight hike.
Don’t be too ambitious:
- leave long-distance hikes for later (or for others), start with a one-night walk
- if pack-carrying, choose a walk with days shorter than 8 km if hilly and 12 km if flat.
Keep your pack weight down:
- aim for under 12 kg;
- only take the equipment needed to be safe (this allows you to carry some good food and wine)
- wear the same walking clothes each day – everyone will smell alike
- double up in tents and share the gear between you.
Three great first-time overnight hikes:
Ritchies Hut, VIC
There’s no more beautiful river than the Howqua, out of Mansfield, and few more appealing camping spots than at Ritchie’s Hut, where you have grassed tent space, a fire pit and a drop toilet beside a reconstruction of a 1940s timber-plank fishing hut. Walk the high track in for 6 km of river views and wade across the river twelve times, coming out on the low track.
Carnarvon Gorge, QLD
Fern gardens, aboriginal art, sandstone cliffs, countless birds and mostly-flat walking make Carnarvon Gorge, in central Queensland, perfect for getting your overnight-hiking legs. Walk 10 km up Carnarvon Creek – further with detours to waterfalls, etc (leave your pack on the trail) – and camp at Big Bend (composting toilet, no fires). Coming back, explore the features you skipped going in.
Bass Coast, VIC
Walk the Bass Coast Rail Trail west from Wonthaggi through farmland and along ocean coast, coming in to Kilcunda (10 km) over the town’s historic trestle bridge. Having dined at the pub, slept in a cabin in the Oceanview Holiday Retreat and breakfasted at the General Store, tread the spectacular George Bass Coast Trail to Punchbowl, near San Remo. (While this walk requires a car shuffle there is no heavy pack or cooking!)