The thought of Australia's mountains may not fill you with the excitement that, say, New Zealand or Canada inspire by the sole mention of their names. But given Australia's size and biodiversity – home to everything from rainforest to arid desert – is the fact that you'll find spectacular mountains in Australia really that surprising? Whether bagging summits is what you're all about or photographing a jaw-dropping view is what brings you happiness, we've got some stellar suggestions in the land Down Under for you.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Only a 90-minute drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a classic stop. Despite the area's popularity, the Blue Mountains' beauty still manages to take you aback. The mountain range – once thought to be an impenetrable barrier by European settlers – is easily one of Australia's best. The meaning of the area's name is just as serene and idyllic as the place itself: blue mist rises from the millions of eucalyptus trees and hangs in the air, creating an atmospheric tint, especially mesmerising during dawn and dusk. You're spoilt for spectacular views here, with dramatic landscapes, rugged cliffs and rock stacks, eucalyptus forests and waterfalls throughout. To chill out after a day in the mountains, head to the town of Katoomba and marvel at how this sleepy town is the residents' everyday reality.
The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia © Visual Collective/Shutterstock
Best hikes in the Blue Mountains:
- Round Walking Track
- Leura Cascades Fern Bower Circuit
- National Pass
- Cliff Top Walking Track
Best views in the Blue Mountains:
- Three Sisters from Echo Point
- Evans Lookout
- Cahills Lookout (great for sunset)
- Lake Burragorang Lookout
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Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
From the blue of the Blue Mountains to the pink granite glow of the Hazards mountain range in Freycinet National Park, never underestimate Australia's natural colour palette. Tasmania is a gold mine of great views and hikes, one of them being Freycinet National Park, with its rocky peaks, secluded bays and dazzlingly soft-white beaches looking out to the Tasman Sea. It's also home to one of Tasmania's most photographed views, Wineglass Bay, a sweeping curved beach framing crystal clear water with a backdrop of those pink-tinted mountains. The mountains' pink tink is due to the presence of pink feldspar, a type of rock-forming mineral.
Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park, Tasmania © Visual Collective/Shutterstock
- Wineglass Bay Lookout
- Hazards Beach to Wineglass Bay Circuit
- Sleepy Bay and Little Gravelly Beach
- Mt Amos (the highest peak in the Hazards)
- Wineglass Bay
- Honeymoon Beach
- Pirates Point at Muirs Beach (for a good view of the Hazards)
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Many people travel to Tasmania just to see the craggy silhouette of Cradle Mountain towering over Dove Lake – and this is undoubtedly one of Australia's best mountains. Lying within Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, this area in the Central Highlands is brimming with life, from its glistening, peaceful lakes to its fairytale forests that wouldn't seem out of place in a Tolkien story. It is truly a hiker's dream.
Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake, Tasmania © THPStock/Shutterstock
- Cradle Mountain Huts Walk
- Dove Lake Circuit, King Billy Track
- Enchanted Walk
- Marion's Lookout
- Cradle Valley Boardwalk and Rainforest Walk
- Cradle Mountain Summit (for more experienced hikers)
- Pencil Pine Falls
- Ballroom Forest
- Dove Lake
The Grampians, Victoria
The state of Victoria is more than just Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road. Just three hours' drive from Melbourne is The Grampians, a national park and nature reserve. It's known for its sandstone mountains warped into rocky, oddly shaped outcrops as well as the many trails (there are over 50), waterfalls, wildflowers in spring and wildlife including wallabies and echidnas. The best time to visit the Grampians is spring and early summer when the wildflowers are in abundance and when the waterfalls will be at their most powerful and impressive. There's a fantastic Aboriginal Cultural Centre here, documenting the Koori people's connection with the area that dates back over 20,000 years – and you can also see some fantastic Koori rock art sites.
MacKenzie Falls waterfall at Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia © Double Blind Photography/Shutterstock
- Hollow Mountain Walk
- The Pinnacle Walk
- Boronia Peak Walk
- The Bainggug Walk
- Mt Sturgeon (Wurgarri) Walk
- MacKenzie Falls
- Reeds Lookout/The Balconies
- Boroka Lookout
- Pinnacle Lookout
- Mt William
Glass House Mountains, Queensland
These 11 isolated pinnacles jut out of the Sunshine Coast's landscape so oddly and dramatically that it's not difficult to see why they've caught the attention of many. Only an hour north of Brisbane, Captain Cook named them the Glass House Mountains because of their "shape and elevation", but it's the Aborigine people who have the most significant connection to these stark rock formations. To them, each one represents a family member fleeing from the incoming tide, now immortalised in rock and forever telling the story.
View of Mountains Beerwah and Coonowrin in Glass House Mountains region in Queensland, Australia © Alizada Studios/Shutterstock
- Mount Ngungun Summit Walk
- Mount Tibrogargan
- Mount Coonowrin
- Mount Beerwah
Bluff Knoll, Western Australia
The highest peak of Western Australia's Stirling Range, Bluff Knoll frequently tops lists as one of the best hikes in Australia. Given that this one area has more plant species than the entirety of Britain and is known for its soaring cliffs, a visit here will be full of varied and astonishing views. You'll pass by creeks, eucalyptus woodland and craggy cliff-faces, ending up 1,099 metres above sea level. Bluff Knoll also refers to a hiking trail as well as the mountain itself – a 6km round trip popular with locals and tourists alike.
Bluff Knoll, Western Australia © Janelle Lugge/Shutterstock
- Bluff Knoll hike
- Talyuberlup hike
- Mount Trio hike
- Mount Hassell hikes
- Summit of the Bluff Knoll hike
Top image: Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia © Visual Collective/Shutterstock