Since deciding to hike the Camino de Santiago (an almost 800km hike across the top of Spain), I have been a variety of training hikes – large and small, flat and hilly, easy and difficult. I have discovered a real joy for hiking and being in nature, and uncovered a motivation, persistence and strength I never knew I had.
Long Bloody Walk in Sydney – a 35km charity walk that just about killed me! Read more about that hike here: 35km Walk
Coombabah Lakes Conservation Area – forms part of an estuarine corridor from Lake Coombabah to the Broadwater and South Moreton Bay. It is a mix of boardwalk through swampy areas and gravel paths through scrub and bushland. I have never seen so many kangaroos in any one area other than in some kind of zoo or animal park. Here they live free to wander and, with plenty of fresh grass area on which to feed, they thrive. And so do koalas. There is a stand of what must be their favorite trees here and they eat and doze to their hearts content. The most I have seen here is six, but another time I saw none whatsoever. Hit and miss I guess. It is flat and easily walkable, but there are LOTS of mosquitoes – more than I have experienced elsewhere.
Nerang Forest Reserve – this is where the mountain bike event was held as part of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. So it’s hilly, but not mountainous so has some great hill training hikes. This was a great place to begin my incline training. It is dirt tracks of various degrees of steep and these paths are shared with horses (though I have never seen any here) and bikes (of which there are plenty). It is drier and dustier than some of the hikes I’ve done and can get quite warm, so plenty of water is a must.
Mount Tamborine – part of the Scenic Rim forms from the outpouring of lava from Wollumbin (Mt Warning). This is a plateau mountain 550 metres above sea level. This is Yugambeh land of the Wangerriburra People…and it is stunning. As well as having beautiful subtropical rainforest, there’s also a glowworm cave and a rainforest treetop walk. There is a quaint village atop the mountain with plenty of cafes and surrounding wineries. As far as training hikes go, this was a great place to work on incline.
Tasmania’s Overland Track – a 6-day hike through pristine bushland. This was one of my favourite training hikes and gave me the chance to carry a heavy pack. Read more about that hike here: Overland Track
Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula’s Rail Trail – a 32.5km walk from South Geelong to Queenscliff. This track follows an old (mostly abandoned) railway line. The track is sealed and in really good condition. It is pretty flat and reasonably easy, but there were LOTS of annoying flies in some sections. I did this walk in two section, starting from Portarlington and following it all the way in both directions and back again. Through rolling hills and with views of the ocean, it was delightful.
Springbrook – also part of the Scenic Rim. This is subtropical rainforest with waterfalls and swimming holes and fabulous walking tracks. There can be leeches and ticks and I’ve seen several snakes through here too, and although they were only diamond pythons and not venomous, they were still snakes! As far as training hikes go, this was another great place to work on incline.
Glasshouse Mountains – rise spectacularly out from coastal plains. This is a drier forest environment and simply stunning. There is a nice mix of flat hiking through the plains and hills and sudden inclines.
Western Australia’s Cape to Cape – from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leuwin. This is a spectacular coastal hike, but pretty tough going as there are quite a bit of sand. It was great to experience a different kind of terrain. I also walked from Dunsborough to Cape Naturaliste and that was stunning – there is a seal colony along the way and several gorgeous beaches (one where I was so hot I stripped to my undies and swam despite there being other bathers close by).
Stradbroke Island – easily accessible by ferry and doable for a day trip. There are some gorgeous coastal hikes here, as well as cafes for lunch!
Now there is not much left to do but keep up the fitness and training in preparation for the Camino!