From stories and inspiration, to tips and advice and everything else, there’s no better resource on Australian hikes than Neil Fahey’s Bushwalking Blog.
Arguably one of the country’s most experienced and well-travelled hikers, Neil regularly shares his adventures and images on his engaging site that will have you planning your next trek within minutes.
Neil has been kind enough to share some of his experience and advice with us in our latest interview, so take a read for all the inspiration you need to pull on your sneakers and get exploring!
What is Australia’s most underrated walk and why?
Walking in Australia, from an international perspective, is all about the popular trails in Tasmania, the Blue Mountains, and the Northern Territory’s Larapinta Trail, but there are so many other under-explored places.
In Tasmania, The Tarkine Wilderness is an under-explored and fortunately almost untouched (at least in part) haven of Gondwanan cool-temperate rainforest, rich in both Indigenous and European history.Tarkine Wilderness is an under-explored and fortunately almost untouched (at least in part) haven of Gondwanan cool-temperate rainforest, rich in both Indigenous and European history.
My home state, Victoria, is popular for its Alpine National Park hikes and of course the Great Ocean Walk, but my favourite places are Cathedral Range State Park and the Grampians.
Cathedral Range is a small state park, less than two hours from Melbourne, where an overnight hike or two separate day hikes allow you to traverse the entirety of the spectacular mountain range. Its biggest feature is The Razorback, a ridge formed of sharply upturned sedimentary rock which is well worth checking out – even though it’s only a few kilometres long. For some reason I’ve always felt drawn to the place, even before I’d ever been there. There’s something special about it. So much so that I decided to propose to my now-wife there back in May 2015.
The Grampians, while quite a well-known hiking area, has loads of rarely-hiked trails, some of which are absolutely spectacular. Visit the Grampians for the geology, the wildlife, the views, and the wildflowers in spring.
The Grampians are less than an hour away from Thrifty’s rental location in Horsham, making it even easier to access this phenomenal hiking mecca!
What are the most important items to take on any hiking holiday?
I think the most important thing to take on any journey, be it a hiking holiday or just life in general, is your sense of humour. If you can’t laugh at yourself and have a laugh with your companions on said journey, it’s just not worth it. Next up would be some common sense.important thing to take on any journey, be it a hiking holiday or just life in general, is your sense of humour. If you can’t laugh at yourself and have a laugh with your companions on said journey, it’s just not worth it. Next up would be some common sense.
If we’re talking material things, though, you need to focus on safety. People don’t take this seriously enough, even when heading off on an ‘easy’ day-hike. You need to think about the worst case scenario and plan for injuries (including sun exposure or hypothermia), getting lost, hiking in the dark, and getting hungry and/or thirsty. The “10 essentials” are the ultimate guide to being prepared for this. It’s a ultimate guide to being prepared for this. It’s a well established concept and should never be ignored.
What has been your most challenging hike in Australia?
I’ve faced many challenges on my overnight and multi-day hikes, even on the trails that seemed like they’d be easy. My most challenging hike wasn’t one I did unassisted, though.
Back in 2015, I took on a six-day, guided hike of the Larapinta Trail in Australia’s Northern Territory. Although the distances seemed very achievable and we were ferried back to a comfortable campsite each night, the rugged terrain (and a lack of care) resulted in me tearing my meniscus on the third day of hiking. My biggest challenge on this trip was accepting that I couldn’t continue though, so I forced myself to hike a fourth day and further injured myself in the process. The worst part was that the guided/shuttle element of the trip meant I absolutely didn’t have to continue. To be honest, though, I don’t regret it. My knee has mostly recovered now, and I might not have ever seen that part of the trail if I hadn’t kept going. I’m fairly sure I didn’t cause too much stress for the people guiding the trip, either, and fortunately I wasn’t in danger of needing to be airlifted out at any stage.
Which Australian hike is worth the long road trip to get there?
Every year, Australian families and overseas visitors alike make the road trip to Uluru and the Red Centre in droves. It’s time consuming to get there, but it’s expensive to stay in the area, so although there are flights, the road trip seems like a better option. It is absolutely worth every penny and every minute. I had no idea of the power of the red dirt until my two separate visits. My trips to Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and Kings Canyon, and then to take on the Larapinta Trail have changed my life in so many ways. As someone who was born to this land, I feel a great personal connection with these places, but anyone who wants to ‘see’ Australia should absolutely experience them too.
Make your way to Uluru for a hiking adventure of epic proportions with a Thrifty car rental from Alice Springs Airport.
Why are hiking holidays the best kind of holidays?
Hiking holidays are the best kinds of holidays for me because hiking is how I feel most connected to nature, most grounded and, as a result, most at peace. Some people prefer to rock climb, mountain bike, paddle a kayak, or just sit and soak it all up. It’s not about hiking. It’s about reconnecting with the nature inside us, disconnecting from life’s daily stresses and routines, and feeling at one or at peace – or whatever you want to call it.