Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
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It's possibly the most photographed mountain in Australia and the scene looks even better from the top. Scramble through Cradle Mountain's famously bowed escarpment on a long day hike to be rewarded with a hard-earned view that takes in most of Tasmania's highest peaks as well as the line of the Overland Track below.
Bluff Knoll, Western Australia
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The highest point of the short but spectacular Stirling Range, Bluff Knoll is one of those rare mountains where the finest moments may not come at the top. In spring, the slopes are strewn with one of the most brilliant and extensive wildflower displays in the country, but it's a beautiful and manageable climb at any time of year.
Frenchmans Cap, Tasmania
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Take a four- or five-day hike into one of Tasmania's most commanding mountains: the great white quartzite block of Frenchmans Cap. The final ascent finds unlikely ways through the mountain's 300-metre-high summit cliffs, requiring nimble legs and a brave mind. The hike was once infamous for the depth of its mud through the Loddon Plains (aka the “Sodden Loddons”), but a recent realignment of the track has cleaned things up a bit.
Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales
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Ridiculously beautiful Mount Gower might play hard to get – it's been called the toughest day-walk in Australia – but the chance to hike from a postcard-worthy beach to the 875-metre summit of gnarled cloud forest is a unique hiking experience. The climb can only be done with a local guide and there are ropes to assist through the steepest and most challenging sections.
Mount Bogong, Victoria
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Victoria's highest mountain (1986 metres) is suitably reached via one of the most sustained climbs in the country. From Mountain Creek, the well-named Staircase Spur steps up nearly 1500 fatiguing metres to the summit, from where there are vast views over the High Country, including the Snowy Mountains across the border in New South Wales.
Mount Amos, Tasmania
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By rights, mountains this low shouldn't have views this grand. Rising just 454 metres from the sea, the bare granite summit of this Freycinet Peninsula mountain, part of The Hazards, provides one of Australia's classic coastal views, peering straight down into Wineglass Bay. The short, steep climb comes with a few scrambles, but there really are few views to equal it.
Mount Feathertop, Victoria
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The Queen of the Alps stands regal at the heart of Victoria's High Country, connected to Mount Hotham by a narrow hiking trail known as the Razorback. This string-thin ridge provides an excellent day walk across to the summit of Victoria's second-highest peak, or you can take the uphill challenge of the 1400-metre climb from Harrietville, rising through ever-changing bands of bush.
Mount Kosciuszko, New South Wales
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Mount Kosciuszko has an undeniable magnetism for walkers courtesy of its lofty status as Australia's highest peak. Simple trails from Charlotte Pass and the top of Thredbo's chairlifts converge at Rawson Pass before coiling up to the 2228-metre summit. Come for the extensive view but also for the alpine features – glacial lakes, fields of wildflowers – along the way.
Mount Sonder, Northern Territory
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This westernmost peak along the waterhole-punctuated West MacDonnell Ranges forms one stage of the long-distance Larapinta Trail, but is a mighty fine day out in its own regard. Walking tradition is to make the eight-kilometre climb through darkness to witness sunrise from its summit. Watch the alchemy of dawn light on the red desert sands and mountains and you'll appreciate why.
Mount Stapylton, Victoria
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Combining a bit of low-grade scrambling with views of one of the most spectacular and daunting rock-climbing cliffs in Australia, this northernmost peak in the Grampians showcases so much that's good about this range – weathered sandstone, bizarrely shaped rock features, open views and, possibly, climbers dangling from Taipan Wall.
Mount Anne, Tasmania
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The most imposing mountain in Tasmania's south-west, Mount Anne yields only to walkers who pluck up the courage for a final exposed and challenging scramble to its summit. Even if you lack the bravery for the summit push, climb as far as Mount Eliza for stunning views of Lake Pedder and a gorgeous, bonsai-like display of Tasmanian alpine plants.
Nina Peak, Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland
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Rising directly up from a beautiful beach on Hinchinbrook Island, Nina Peak is a small mountain with a large view. Reached by a short but sharp detour from near the start of the spectacular, multi-day Thorsborne Trail, it looks down onto palm-lined beaches and up to the craggy skyline of the highest mountains on any Australian island.
Mount Ohlssen Bagge, South Australia
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Wilpena Pound is one of the most curious mountain destinations in Australia – an isolated ring of mountains that seem to just bubble up from the outback. For walkers, the most accessible of the mountains is Ohlssen Bagge, rising above Pound Gap and the Wilpena Pound Resort. The half-day climb treads up rocky slopes to a summit view across the entire Pound.
Mount Townsend, New South Wales
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Just a couple of kilometres north of Kosciuszko, Mount Townsend draws very few walkers and yet Australia's second-highest mountain – just 19 metres lower than Kosciuszko – is arguably even more spectacular. Its summit of fractured rock has a dramatic view of Kosciuszko and is reached along a faint path that veers off the Main Range ridge about one kilometre north of its higher neighbour.
The Castle, New South Wales
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Captain James Cook thought this slab of a mountain in southern New South Wales so impressive and impenetrable he named it The Castle. It does yield to hikers, but not before some clambering to breach its cliffs. It's a long day walk from the Yadboro River – or a better multi-day walk through an assortment of rock shapes from Wog Wog Creek.
Up Next: Australia’s Greatest Mountain Hikes
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