black diamond trekking poles
By Kokoda Gear

Go Far and Go Fast: The Best Black Diamond Trekking Poles Reviewed

Trekking poles are just for people hiking Everest or Kilimanjaro right? Nope. No matter if you’re walking through the Himalayas or going on a nice stroll in the local hills, trekking poles can transform your expedition. 

In this article, we’re going to be looking at the best Black Diamond trekking poles. When you’re out on the trail, you’ll need poles you can rely on and Black Diamond is one of the biggest names in the business. 

Plus, you’ll look super pro. 

Read on to see what all the fuss is about and see our trekking pole reviews.

What Are Trekking Poles Exactly?

Otherwise known as hiking poles, they’re hand-held sticks with a nice spike on the end. Swish. But actually, they’re much more than that. 

Trekking poles allow you to distribute weight through the poles as you place them and give you extra balance on tricky terrain. If you’ve ever tried to wade across a river or up a rubble-strewn trail, you’ll know how hard it is to balance!

Using trekking poles also lessens the impact on your joints when you’re on descents. We’ve all longed for the downhill only to start and complain about its effect on our knees. Because poles stabilise and support your weight (and your pack weight!), the force through your legs is less. 

No more aching knees, phew!

Pole technology has changed a lot in recent years and is more practical than ever. Often with ergonomic, comfortable handles and ultra-lightweight, once you start walking with poles, you’ll never look back. 

Who Would Benefit from Using Trekking Poles?

You might think that trekking poles are reserved for serious, long-distance hikers. But just like hiking shoes, there’s a trekking pole for everyone. 

Tackling tough terrain?

Flat or steep, tough terrain might include slippery sections, loose stones, difficult inclines or even snow and ice. Trekking poles really come into their own in these environments and are essential. 

When all of the force travels through your feet, it’s easy to slip and slide. That’s (probably) why mountain goats have four feet. With trekking poles, you can plant them securely and distribute that downward force across your feet and the poles. Be the mountain goat.  

Loose stones are a pretty major hazard on many trails, especially when you don’t know which are unstable. Trekking poles allow you to have a good prod around and quickly discover patches of unstable ground.

All in all, they’ll stop you going head over heels. If that’s not a good thing we don’t know what is. 

Prone to Injury?

From twisted ankles to dodgy knees, hiking can be a risky pursuit. But just as trekking poles take some of the weight off your feet to prevent slipping, they also take some of the weight off your joints. 

Hiking poles are perfect for the older generations too. There’s no reason you can’t be hiking the Kokoda Trail at 90 as long as you look after your joints. Using poles gives you a better wight distribution throughout your arms and legs and provides stability in the body.

Like to Feel the Rhythm?

Trekking poles are even ideal for easier terrain and flat trails. When we walk, getting into a rhythm helps pace the trail, maintain constant effort and stops us from walking too fast only to need a break a mile in. 

When you use trekking poles, you swing them out in front, plant them and push yourself forward. This motion helps build up a rhythm so you can maintain your steady pace and admire the scenery. 

Mother Tell You to Always Stand Straight?

When you’re carrying a backpack there’s a temptation to slump forward. This puts an enormous amount of strain on your spine (which is why your mother always told you to stand straight up). There are lots of benefits of standing up straight including higher energy levels, pretty important while hiking!

Walking with trekking poles keeps you upright and your spine in a good position. Because you’ve got extra balance and stability through the poles, you won’t be tempted to lean forward and give yourself back pain. 

Types of Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Black Diamond is a big name in outdoor pursuits for a good reason. They produce high-quality clothing and equipment that’s built to last. If you opt for budget trekking poles, you’ll be put off by the weight and feel of them and they’ll hang out in your closet instead of going on adventures.

In contrast, Black Diamond is at the forefront of trekking pole technology and there’s a lot more to their poles than meets the eye. 

Shaft Material

Black Diamond hiking poles have shafts made from aluminium or carbon. The type you choose depends on what features you need to prioritise. 

Aluminium

Cheaper and stronger than carbon, aluminium is the most common shaft material for trekking poles. If you’re going to be hiking on seriously tough terrain and put the poles through their paces, aluminium is a solid, resilient option. 

Grab a Black Diamond aluminium trekking pole here

Carbon

Black Diamond Trekking Pole Carbon
Carbon

If you’re all about saving weight, carbon is the lighter of the two. This is ideal for long-distance trails where you’ll notice the weight-saving benefits. Carbon is still strong, but more care is required to prevent them from bending. 

Get the black diamond carbon fibre trekking pole here

Grip Types

When you’re walking for hours, the last thing you want is sore hands from holding your trekking poles. 

Cork

Cork is the dream material for pole grips as it’s breathable. In hot weather, you won’t get that sticky sweat feeling on your palms and it stays insulated in the cold. Cork also moulds to your hands over time and with an ergonomic shape, it’ll be as comfortable as a glove. 

Foam

Foam grips are comfortable to hold as well and absorb sweat from your palms. For long-distance though, you might be at risk of friction blisters. 

Rubber

If you’re planning on hiking a lot in the cold, rubber is an ideal option. It’s well-insulated and reduces vibration through your hand. 

Adjustable Height and Storage

All of Black Diamond‘s trekking poles reduce in size for easy storage. They do this through telescoping or folding into thirds. 

Reducing the size of your trekking poles is useful for when you don’t need them as strapping full-length poles to your pack isn’t ideal. 

Many Black Diamond poles also have adjustable heights using the same locking feature as the collapsible mechanism. This allows you to adjust the height to suit you perfectly and lock them into place. 

Black Diamond Trekking Pole Reviews

Enough about the cool features and benefits of trekking poles in general, let’s take a look at two of the best Black Diamond poles.

Alpine Carbon Z Trekking Poles

These ultra-light carbon poles are impressively resilient and packed with Black Diamond’s coolest features. Their added durability comes from the aluminium rings and protective sleeve to give the best of carbon’s lightweight features and aluminium’s strength. 

Alpine Carbon Z Trekking Poles

Buy an Alpine Carbon Z trekking pole here

What do you get?

  • Dual-density natural cork grip – this keeps your palms comfortable and dry and has a breathable strap. 
  • EVA foam grip extension – when you need to adjust your grip down, there’s a non-slip foam extension.
  • Z- Configuration – these poles collapse into a three-section Z-configuration rather than telescopic. They’re super fast to deploy and pack up small.
  • Length choice – These poles aren’t height adjustable but are available in different lengths so it’s easy to choose the right height for you.
  • Tip and basket choice – You can buy separate tips and baskets that are compatible with the Carbon Z making them poles for multi-terrain use.

These ultra-light hiking poles range from 405g (14.3oz) and 465g (16oz) depending on the length you choose. Because they’re so light and fold up to around a third of their overall length, they’re ideal for long-distance treks and multi-adventure trips. 

The cork grips are something to really cherish as they’re comfortable and only get more comfortable with use. In short, Black Diamond have excelled with these poles and they won’t be out of place on a hike up Mt Kosciuszko.

Trail Back Trekking Poles

If you’re looking for a solid pair of standard trekking poles, Black Diamond’s Trail Back poles might be just the thing. Aluminium and telescopic, these poles store easily and won’t let you down on difficult terrain. 

Buy a Trail Back trekking pole here

What do you get?

  • Rubber grip – the grips might not be breathable but they are comfortable and have a rib pattern to lessen any vibration that comes through. A woven webbing strap keeps your poles secure on your hands.
  • EVA foam grip extension – just like the Carbon Z poles, the Trail Back pair have a foam grip extension.
  • Length choice – these are telescopic poles which allow for adjustable length. They reduce down to under half their full length and have three sections. 
  • FlickLock – The FlickLock mechanism secures the poles at the length you want and keeps them from extending while stored. 

Sturdy and telescopic, the Trail Back trekking poles are great for hikes where weight-saving and size isn’t a priority. At 610g (21.52oz), they’re around a third heavier than the Carbon Z poles but for day hikes they still do a great job. 

The height adjustment on these is a brilliant feature as you can find the most comfortable length for the terrain you’re dealing with. If you’re out trekking in the cold, rubber grips provide more insulation than the Carbon Z’s cork grips too. 

Get Your Trek On

Hiking poles are quickly becoming an essential bit of gear for walkers of all kinds. Their weight distribution and balance functions give you stability on every terrain type, transforming your exertion. 

Black Diamond trekking poles come in a wide range but the Carbon Z and the Trail Back are perfect examples of their dedication to quality and functionality. No matter which poles you choose, remember that comfort and quality are must-haves. You’ll need poles you can rely on when you’re out in the wilds.

Check out our Walking in Australia guides for adventure inspiration and we look forward to seeing you out on the trail with your new trekking poles!

suv tent
By Kokoda Gear

Convenience in a Bag: An Ultimate Review of the Best in the Napier SUV Tent Range

As camping enthusiasts, we love the rugged outdoors. But we also enjoy convenience and practicality.

SUV tents mix camping in the rugged outdoors with the convenience of your vehicle. Unless you’re backpacking in the mountains, you’ll probably have your vehicle with you. And why not optimize on that convenience?

The biggest convenience you’ll find with an SUV tent is you don’t need to unpack all your gear. You can leave most gear in your SUV or truck which allows you more space in your tent.

The SUV tent is versatile. When you’re road-tripping across Australia, pop up your SUV tent at a nearby campsite. You’ll save time and money on your trip by staying in your spacious tent.

Napier is the first company to produce a truck tent back in 1990. Today, they offer a wide variety of SUV and Truck tents to fit any camper’s needs and budget. They’re a long-standing company with years of experience in the SUV tent industry.

If you’re looking for a convenient new tent, check out these Napier SUV tents. You’ll be glad you do!

What to Look for in an SUV Tent

When shopping for any outdoor goods, you’re always looking for quality and features that meet your needs. Napier makes several SUV tents with different features to meet each camper’s unique needs.

Tent Size & Space

The size of your tent is probably at the top of your list. Are you looking for an SUV tent that fits you and your furry four-legged hiking partner? Or do you need something the whole family or friend group can sleep in?

Napier offers tents that sleep anywhere from 2 or 3 people to parties of 5 or more. Some tents can be as tall as 7 feet and almost 10 feet wide giving you a lot of room to move around.

Even if you have a mountain of gear with you, you’re sure to find a Napier SUV tent with the space you need. To be on the safe side, select a tent that can fit one more person than you need.

The other important aspect of size is finding a tent that fits your SUV. Most tent sleeves can fit a variety of SUV vehicles. But always check sleeve sizes just in case.

Tent Use

What are you planning to use your SUV tent for? Where are planning to camp?

These are questions you should ask yourself no matter what type of tent you’re looking to purchase. How and where you use your tent will help determine the materials and features you’ll need.

For example, if you’re planning to camp in wet rainy areas, you’ll need a tent with a quality rainfly and water-resistant materials.

Materials

You’ll want to look for durable materials when shopping for an SUV tent. These tents are typically larger and need to be water and weather resistant. However, the stronger the material, the heavier your tent will be.

Many large tents consist of cotton with a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) coating for extra water resistance. These heavy tents are durable, long-lasting, and weather resistant.

Polyester is the most common tent material because it’s durable and breathable. Polyester is durable and doesn’t damage from the rain or sun. A polyester SUV tent will be lightweight, long-lasting, and comfortable.

Smaller tents typically consist of lightweight and water-resistant nylon. Most nylon will have an acrylic or silicone coating which will help determine the tent’s cost.

Features

A few common features every SUV tent should have are stable poles, a rain fly, and instructions. If you’re new to SUV tents, they can be tricky to put up the first few times. With a little practice, they’re quick and easy to pop up.

Other important features you may want are extra windows for breathability and a bag to store your tent in for safety and convenience. Some will have colored poles to make setting up the tent easy.

Higher-end tents may have a screened-in area, durable waterproof flooring, and hybrid options that don’t always need an SUV. Always check the tent’s extra features to ensure you’re getting a reliable tent that fits your SUV and meets your expectations.

If there’s a particular feature you’re looking for but can’t find, such as a floor cover, you can purchase it separately.

Napier Sportz SUV #8400 5-Person Tent

The Napier Sportz SUV 5-person is a spacious tent everyone in your camping group will enjoy. The tent is complete with a large screen room and a separate sleeping area.

If it’s buggy or raining out, you’ll be able to enjoy the extra space in the screen room. Or you can set up an outdoor kitchen or sitting area.

The tent is 10×10 feet and is about 7 feet tall. The screen room adds an extra 42 square feet of space. You’ll feel like you’re in a small cabin rather than a tent.

This large tent consists of durable weather-proof materials. You’ll find the poles to be reliable and sturdy as they’re made with fiberglass and steel parts. The tent can be set up by one person with ease.

The tent comes with several windows and 2 main doors. Each one has a storm flap for extra privacy and protection. Throughout the inside of the tent, you’ll find strong hooks to hang your delicate or lightweight gear.

The Napier 5-person tent can convert into a standalone tent. There’s no need to worry about whether or not you can pitch your SUV tent with this versatile option.

The only downside is the price. With these many features and quality materials, this tent is going to cost more than other SUV tents.

The Sports series includes 4-person and 2-person options as well.

However, it will last you for years. The freestanding option makes this a 2 in 1 tent.

Napier Backroadz SUV Tent

The Napier Backroadz tent series comes in both SUV and truck models. The main difference between them is the truck tent has the convenience sitting in the bed of the truck rather than on the ground. Both come in earthy gray and green tones.

The Backroadz SUV Tent is another spacious option that can fit 5 adults. It’s a 10×10 foot dome style tent that sits about 7 feet. It offers plenty of space in the sleeping area like the Sportz #8400 model.

It has 1 door and 3 large windows for plenty of ventilation. All 4 have storm flaps for extra privacy and protection during the rain.

Inside the tent, you’ll find a lantern holder and a large gear pouch for extra storage. The vehicle sleeve fits on all SUV, cross-over, and minivan cargo areas.

Setting up this tent is a breeze as it only needs 2 durable fiberglass poles. A large waterproof rainfly comes standard.

This Napier SUV tent is perfect for the minimalist camper looking focusing on utility over frills. It’s an affordable, easy-to-use, and long-lasting tent for the everyday camper.

Napier Sportz Cove Tent

This is the compact SUV tent for the no-frills camper. The cove slides right on the back of your SUV or minivan to offer more shade an easy-access door to your van or SUV.

Unlike the other Sportz series tents, this one is mainly an awning and a door. You’ll have to make sure your camping party is small enough to fit everyone inside the SUV.

The 2-foot awning adds plenty of extra shade. The sleeve is universal meaning it will fit on just about every SUV and minivan out there regardless of the year.

The screened main door allows ventilation but comes with storm flaps for privacy and keeping the elements out. It’s a lightweight and durable polyester SUV tent.

If you’re looking for the most efficient SUV tent, this is the one for you. It’s easy to set-up, minimalist, and is available at an affordable cost.

Sportz Dome-To-Go SUV Tent

The Sportz Dome-To-Go SUV tent is a compact tent with a standalone option. It’s 8.5×8.5 feet and comfortably fits 3-4 people.

Like the Backroadz version, the Sports Dome-To-Go has 3 large windows but 2 doors instead of 1. It also comes with a front awning for extra shade or protection from light rain.

Inside this dome-style tent, there are several storage pockets along the walls and an overhead gear storage area. It’s lightweight and is easy for one person to put together.

Like all Napier SUV tents, this tent comes with a rainfly. The tent sock will get most SUV and minivan cargo areas. Plus, the standalone options means you’re not restricted to your car.

Just a heads up, this tent is not pre-waterproofed, so you will need to do that on your own. The tent’s instructions explain how to do this and allow you the option of selecting a high-grade coating.

You’re Ready to Go Camping

Whether you’re camping in remote areas or road-tripping across Australia, Napier’s series of SUV tents are what you need. You can find tent options to fit your every need and budget.

Now that you have the proper gear, go visit Australia’s best camping spots and unique walking trails.

By Kokoda Gear

Convenient, Hygienic and Colourful! The Ultimate Shewee Review from a Woman’s Point of View

Hold the phone, what’s a Shewee? Does it even work? Read on for a Shewee review that may change your view of the strange device!

Picture this, you’re out trekking and need to go for a wee, and there’s no toilet in sight!

What do you do? Either pull down your pants and squat somewhere, hoping nobody will see you. Or hold on for dear might until you find somewhere to relieve yourself.

Fortunately for you, someone invented a handy device that may change your life forever. You guessed it. It’s a Shewee!

What Is a Shewee?

So, what is a Shewee anyway? A Shewee is a device that allows women to urinate standing up. Not only can you stand, but you also don’t have to remove any clothes.

The device shape is similar to a thin open funnel. You hold the large end of the funnel under your urethra and the thin end funnels outward into the toilet.

There’s an extension pipe which gives extra length to the funnel. This makes it easier to aim if you’re wearing bulky clothing or have to urinate into a jug.

A Shewee comes in a variety of colours. And a Shewee Extreme comes with its own carrying case.

You might wonder if you can use any old funnel from the shop. But unless you want to find yourself in a puddle of pee and chafed thighs, don’t try it. A Shewee’s designed especially for the female anatomy and it fits perfectly.

Buy a Shewee Here

Why Though?

Shewee review

You might think a Shewee sounds comical or just plain weird. But think about it for a second…

Public toilets are gross and that’s if you can even find one. What if you’re camping somewhere rural or on a road trip somewhere off the beaten track? Or waiting in line for the portaloo at a festival and your favourite band is about to play?

With no clean toilet seat to sit on or no toilets to be seen, what can you do? Unlike a man who can discreetly pee standing up, a woman has to expose herself all the way to her ankles in order to relieve herself!

Sure, squatting is good for the thighs. But having to strip down to your birthday suit to go for a pee isn’t fun for any woman.

A Shewee solves all these issues in one handy little device. But how does it work and who can use it?

Want a Shewee?

Who Can Use a Shewee?

shewee

Any woman or girl on any occasion can use a Shewee. Whether you’re camping in the middle of Australia, dancing the night away at a festival, or if you find it hard to hover over grim public toilets, a Shewee is for you.

Some pregnant women or those who have had surgery find it more comfortable to use a Shewee than to hover over a toilet seat. Some who are mobility impaired and others who have sports injuries also benefit from using a Shewee.

Women working in the Armed Forces also use them; they’re even available in Nato Green to make them more discreet. In the UK, certain police forces give Shewees to their female police officers to use when they’re on duty. Vanessa O’Brien even used a Shewee when she climbed Mount Everest. How’s that for a Shewee review?

It really is a device all women can enjoy!

How Does a Sheewee Work?

If you’re not convinced yet, you need to know how a Shewee actually works. When you buy a Shewee review the instructions on the packaging or follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Undo your trousers and push your underwear to one side.
  2. Place the Shewee under your urethra.
  3. Press the device firmly against your skin (but not too hard or you may bruise yourself).
  4. Aim the Shewee funnel away from your feet and towards the ground or toilet.
  5. Relax and urinate!
  6. When finished, give the device a little shake.
  7. Place the Shewee Extreme into the case. Or have a resealable bag ready if you don’t have a case.

The design of the device has been carefully refined over the years to create the perfect fit. Even if you’re doubtful in the beginning, try to trust it; it works.

Get a Shewee today!

What if you tested it out and it wasn’t successful?

Issues and Tissues

As with anything new, it can take time to get used to using a Shewee. The instructions clearly tell you to practice in the shower first to help you get the hang of the device. Because if you don’t feel comfortable enough to do it in your own home, there’s no way you can pee behind a bush somewhere!

Here are some common issues you may face.

Can’t Pee, Won’t Pee

What if you’re desperate for the loo, whip out your Shewee and just can’t go?

You need to relax and give yourself some time. Remember that you’ve spent your whole life either sitting or squatting to urinate. Your body needs time to see that you CAN stand, pee, and be fully clothed at the same time.

Practice makes perfect. So before you take it out for a spin, practice at home.

Oh No! Overflow!

If you’re using a Shewee and find it’s overflowing, there are two things you can do. Firstly, try to control your flow. Constricting your flow to a steady pace gives the funnel the chance to work its magic.

If that still doesn’t work, buy a Shewee Flexi instead. It’s exactly the same as a Shewee, but wider. And as the name suggests, is more flexible.

Splish Splash

If you’re splashing your shoes or your clothing, you may need to angle the device closer to your body. Controlling the speed of your urine can also help to control splashing. Keep a wide stance to protect your shoes from the flow if you keep sprinkling on them.

Again, you can solve this issue with a bit of practice!

Is It Clean?

You don’t have to sit on a nasty toilet. And obviously, if you get it right, you won’t splash all over your clothes. In that sense, it’s clean.

But what do you do with the funnel after you’ve used it? You can’t just shove it back into your bag covered in pee, right?

Actually, the Shewee’s made from Polypropylene, which repels water.

Simply shake it off after use and pop it back into the case. When you get home, you can give it a wash with a little soap and water. If you’re uncertain, give it a quick wipe with a wet wipe before you put it in its case.

To Pee or Not to Pee? A Shewee Review

According to Sheewee, they sell one every 3 minutes! So it’s popular, but does it actually work?

Delphine Chui, a writer for Marie Claire said: “Urinating standing up was enough to make me feel powerful, free, and liberated. And I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was”.

On the Shewee testimonial page, there are many positive reviews. One woman said she used a Shewee in Vietnam would’ve been utterly lost without it. Another happy customer said: “This device is genius. It’s already come in handy for a motorbikes trip and whilst an all-day fishing charter and camping”.

As you can see from these experiences, a Shewee is definitely recommended. Some may scoff or laugh at the idea, but at the end of the day, it’s an impressive invention. It’s discreet, hygienic, and super convenient.

Not only is it convenient for festival-goers and hikers, but it’s also a handy device for those with health issues or even for certain job roles.

So forget the haters and try it out. You’ll never look back!

Where to Buy a Shewee

You can purchase Sheewee products from their website or Amazon.

There are several other brands that create urinating devices. They all have different handy features to make them stand out from the crowd. But the original, starting way back in 1999, is the Sheewee.

Some other brands create the device with hard materials, which can make it uncomfortable to use. We wrote a Shewee review because we believe the original is best. Others use overly soft materials that can be hard to handle and cause spills. So if you’re going to buy one, it really needs to be from the pros.

Prices start from around $20, which you might think is a bit pricey. But can you really put a price tag on comfort? You could buy a cheaper one elsewhere, but might find yourself getting pee everywhere.

The Shewee company has nearly 20 years of experience. You’re guaranteed quality. It’s worth the extra dollars.

Relief at Last!

After reading this Shewee review, are you convinced? If you try one out, all your toilet dilemmas will be a thing of the past. You really will have relief at last!

Pick up a Shewee today and never look back!

Of course, if you’re heading on a camping trip somewhere off the beaten track, you’ll need a lot more equipment. Find out more about the essentials you’ll need on your adventure right here.

Balmoral Beach
By Kokoda Gear

The Ultimate Visitor Guide to Balmoral Beach in Sydney

Every year, nearly 15 million tourists flock to the beautiful coastal city of Sydney, Australia.

With its beautiful beaches (like Balmoral beach), tasty food, and friendly people, it’s no wonder why so many people visit this charming city each year. 

When visiting Sydney, you’ll likely be overwhelmed with the number of options in you in terms of things to do and places to see. 

One place we say you absolutely have to visit is Balmoral Beach. Balmoral Beach is the perfect place to unwind escape the bustling city life of Sydney. It gives you breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbour as well as the chance to spot dolphins playing among the moored yachts. 

Interested in learning more about Balmoral Beach?

Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about Balmoral Beach 

balmoral beach

1. Things to Do

One could easily spend hours relaxing on the white sandy beaches of Balmoral and looking out at the sea. 

However, if you’re one who gets restless after lying around for too long, don’t worry. There are plenty of things to do in Balmoral Beach for those who like to stay active.

Here are a few activities you can partake in at Balmoral Beach: 

Watch the Sunrise 

Get there early enough, and you can watch the sunrise as you stroll down the beautiful Balmoral Beach. 

Sure, this means you’ll have to get to the beach around 6 am. But, once you see the majestic sunrise, you’ll realize that the early wake up was totally worth it. 

Of course, the weather can get hot here pretty quickly, so once you’ve watched the sun come up, you can cool off with a dip in the ocean and enjoy the tranquillity of Balmoral before all the visitors come. 

For swimming, it’s much better to swim on the north end of the beach. This is where the water is crystal clear, and it’s far away from the docked boats at the south end of the beach. 

Go Paddleboarding, Kayaking, or Sailing 

balmoral beach kayak

For those who love stand up paddleboarding, we’ve got good news for you: Balmoral is a prime SUP boarding location due to its flat waters.

Technically, Balmoral is a harbour beach, which means you never have to worry about contending with waves. 

You can rent a paddleboard from the Balmoral Boat Shed, which is located about ten meters away from the wharf. 

Paddleboards can be rented by the hour, half-day, or full-day, and prices start at just $30 per hour. 

In addition to paddleboards, you can also rent kayaks and boats from the Balmoral Boatshed. 

The best part about renting a boat here is that no boating license is required to rent. This is because the boats travel at less than 10 knots on the inland water. 

All rental gear comes with life jackets and a quick demonstration if you need it. 

Go Bushwalking

If you’ve had enough time in the water and are ready to do some exploring on land, then you’re in luck- Balmoral is the perfect place to go bushwalking. 

Head to the south end of Balmoral and link up with the Sydney Bridge to the Spit Bridge walking track. Walk around 1.7 miles (or 2.7km) and you’ll run into Chowder Bay. 

Chowder bay then turns into the Chowder Bay to Bradleys Head Walk. You can walk for as long as you’d like, and then head back to Balmoral when you’ve had your fix. 

On your way back to Balmoral, you should also take a second to look at the Aboriginal rock shelter occupation site. This is open to the public and located at the Esplanade, which is just across from the boathouse. 

Have a picnic

Balmoral Beach is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic in the sun. 

You can enjoy your picnic right on the beach. Or, you can head to the park that’s right near the beach. This park offers lots of grass and is a great place to relax. 

Zoo

If you’re up for some more walking, then you definitely have to do the Balmoral Beach to Taronga Zoo walk. 

This walk clocks in at about 6.5 km (around 4 miles) and should take you a couple of hours at most. Not only does this walk end with a spectacular zoo, but along the way, you’ll get to see beautiful views of the Sydney Harbor, the luscious bushland, and the thriving wildlife. 

If you don’t want to go into the zoo, then you can just turn right back around and head back to the beach. 

However, the Taronga Zoo is pretty amazing. It’s home to over 4000 animals from 350 different species. Some of the animals you can expect to see here include tigers, Asian elephants, meerkats, giraffes, gorillas, and of course kangaroos and koala bears!

Plus, if you’re with your family, the Taronga zoo is a great option, as it offers plenty of activities for kids.  

2. Where to Eat

With all of this walking, swimming, and sightseeing, you’re certainly going to work up an appetite while you’re at Balmoral Beach. 

And not to worry, this place has you covered for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. 

Here are our top recommendations: 

Breakfast

For breakfast, we recommend the following places:

  • Pasture
  • Kazzi Beach Greek
  • Beachhouse Balmoral Restaurant and Cafe (for both casual and fine dining options
  • The Boathouse Balmoral

Out of these options, the Boathouse Balmoral is definitely the most iconic place to grab a bite to eat for breakfast. Here you can enjoy a variety of delicious breakfast options such as toasted banana bread, avocado and tomato toast, salmon fritters, and croissant french toast. 

Coffee

While you can get coffee from pretty much any restaurant around Balmoral, we highly recommend grabbing a coffee from the Bather’s Pavilion Kiosk. 

Right in front of the kiosk is a set of rocky cliffs. Sit here and sip your coffee as you overlook the sea. 

Lunch

For lunch, you have to head the Bottom of the Harbour. It’s a Balmoral institution, and the fish and chips is absolutely the thing to order. 

If you’re not in the mood for seafood, go for one of their burgers. They have a wide selection and even have an option for vegetarians. 

The best thing to do is to order your food for takeaway and then head to the Esplanade, the beach’s best walkway. 

Plop a seat in the shade and chow down on your delicious lunch. 

Dinner

When you’re ready to wind your day down (or wind your night up), then you definitely need to head to Bather’s Pavilion for dinner.

The great thing about Bather’s Pavilion is that it offers both a fine dining and a casual dining option. Both areas serve up Meditteranean cuisine, with the fine dining room boasting a very impressive wine list as well. 

Because this is a big hotspot, it’s recommended that you book reservations for both the fine dining and the casual dining restaurant. 

If the Pavilion is all booked up, you can also head to:

  • The Public Dining Room
  • The Beach House Cafe
  • Il Perugino
  • DC’s Restaurant 
  • Radio Cairo Restaurant
  • Afous Moroccan and Spanish Tapas

Drinks

Once you finish up with dinner, it’s time to get the night started, and there’s perhaps no better place to do it than at The Buena. 

The Buena is a classy pub with marble interiors, leather booths, and luxe detailing. 

If The Buena is a bit too fancy for you, you can also grab drinks at the Beach House, Hotel Mosman, or the Fernery. 

3. Getting There 

Getting to Balmoral Beach is relatively easy. 

The best ways to get there are either by bus or by car.  

If you’re coming from the city, you’ll want to hop on the 248 bus. This bus will take you directly to the beach. For those who wish to travel by ferry, hop on the ferry from Circular Quay to the Taronga Zoo. You can then either catch the 238 bus to the beach or walk the 6.5 km to the beach. 

You can also grab a ferry from the city to Mosman South Wharf. From here, hop on the 233 bus. 

If you plan to drive, just be aware that most of the area around Balmoral Beach is paid parking. At the south end of the beach, you can find a parking lot that charges $6 for the first 2 hours, and then $6 per hour every hour after that. 

You can also do street parking for $8 per hour. 

If you want to avoid paying for parking altogether, then you can park outside the area and then hop on the Mosman Rider. The Mosman Rider is a free bus that takes you directly to the beach. 

Are You Ready to Explore Balmoral Beach? 

As you can see, Balmoral Beach is definitely worth exploring. 

What part of Balmoral Beach are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

And, be sure to check out our blog post on the best free camping sites in NSW. 

Barenjoey Lighthouse
By Kokoda Gear

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

Barrenjoey Lighthouse, constructed in 1881 from locally quarried sandstone, stands 113m above sea level at Barrenjoey Head, Sydney’s most northern point at the tip of the Palm Beach Peninsula which is part of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Overseas visitors may recognize the lighthouse from the outdoor shooting locations of the hit TV series “Home and Away”.

Starting at the western (Pittwater) side of the Barrenjoey Head peninsula, rather than the Palm Beach side, at the far northern end of the Governor Phillip car park (past the Boathouse Palm Beach) a signed walking track to Barrenjoey Headland is well marked. Walking north for some 200 metres along the narrow stretch of beach then turning right at the next sign for 100 metres will lead to a sign that indicates a choice of two tracks leading up the hill to Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

smugglers track

There are two routes to the top, the more sedate Access Trail or the shorter, but steeper, Smugglers Track. The latter has the best views with a particularly good photo spot about half way up overlooking Palm Beach. Ascending by way of the Access Trail then returning via the Smugglers Track will turn the walk into a loop and makes for an easier ascent.   

The Access Trail (Grade 2) at 800 metres is twice as long as the Smugglers Track but is much easier although the road is narrow and some sections are quite steep.  The Smugglers Track, so named by customs officers who built the track to monitor smugglers bringing contraband into Broken Bay around 1850, is a shorter but steeper (400 metres, Grade 3) route to the lighthouse.

barrenjoey lighthouse smugglers track stairs

The Smugglers Track crosses bush land and includes many steps, some of which may be worn and hazardous. Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots are recommended for this short, but steep, climb, and it is a good idea to carry a supply of drinking water, especially on hot days. There are no toilets or drinking water at Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The nearest available public toilets are at Governor Phillip Park. NSW National Parks advise visitors to avoid visiting the lighthouse when weather conditions forecast strong winds, heavy rain or extreme heat.

There is no wheelchair access to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Although it is fairly accessible and a pleasant stroll for the reasonably fit, do make sure to carry comfortable clothes, take a jacket, lenses, sunscreen, water and carry suitable clothes in colder weather because the breeze from the ocean in colder temperatures may not be so pleasant. On particularly hot days a bit of shade might help you avoid sunstroke also – make sure you’re getting plenty of fluids and reapplying sunscreen when you rest.

You can enjoy a Barrenjoey Lighthouse tour any Sunday between 11 am and 3 pm except Christmas Eve, New Years Eve and during extreme weather conditions. Meet at the top, at the Keepers Cottage. The tour takes 30 minutes and costs $5 per adult, $2 per child. The views of Broken Bay, Ku-ring-gay Chase National Park and the mighty Pacific are unforgettable.

Highlights of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

One of the most breathtaking views in Sydney may be experienced from Barranjoey Lighthouse at the northern end of Palm Beach, well worth the walk up Barrenjoey Head to get there. Built in 1881 from sandstone on the site and beautifully restored, it now welcomes visitors from around the world every Sunday. Hear about its history, climb the winding stairs and imagine yourself as the 19th-century lighthouse keeper there. Sturdy shoes or hiking boots are recommended, and to bring weather protection and drinking water with you. Bring your camera too – you will want to revisit these beautiful views again and again.

Palm Beach car park to Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk Distance

The car park is on Beach Road, Palm Beach but the closest location for Google Maps purposes is “The Boat House, Palm Beach”. The car park s just past this point. Distance to Barrenjoey Lighthouse 3km return or 1.4 miles. Time – about 30 minutes up to the lighthouse. Allow the same time for return.

How Hard is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk?

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk Difficulty and Track Conditions

The Access Trail up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse follows a narrow road to the top of the hill and is a considered a Grade 2 track and is suitable for pretty much all ages and fitness levels. It is an urban walk and the walkway is paved but has some steep sections. Once at the top there is plenty of space to walk around and enjoy the views.

The Smugglers Track, although shorter, is more challenging than the Access Trail, so you may consider using to descend on the return trip. It is a fairly steep Grade 3 track 400 metres straight up to the top of the hill. The track crosses bush land and has many steps including some uneven standstone ones. Carrying drinking water is recommended, especially on a hot day, and suitable footwear (sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots) for this short but steep climb.

Disability Access

Please keep in mind that there are no disabled walking tracks on this route. Barrenjoey Lighthouse is not wheelchair accessible.

How to Get to Barrenjoey Lighthouse?

Palm Beach is Sydney’s northernmost beach town. The main parking area at Governor Phillip Park is located off Beach Road and can get very busy at weekends.Driving in from the south, turn into Barrenjoey Road from Pittwater Road and continue along into Beach Road past the Palm Beach Golf Club.  The cost  of parking is $12 per vehicle per day.

Public transportation to Palm Beach – The L90 bus from the bus interchange at Wynyard Station in the centre of the city is a long trip, up to 2 hours at busy periods, and more than 50 stops even on this “limited stops” service. Or take the B1 bus, also from Wynyard, to Mona Vale. Change buses at the Mona Vale terminus for the 199 bus to Palm Beach. Both the L90 and 199 buses now continue on past Palm Beach’s ferry wharf and stop directly outside Governor Phillip Park car park, near the start point of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

Swimming breaks

The Palm Beach peninsula is one of the most famous beach suburbs in New South Wales, located 41 km north of Sydney. Its somewhat remote location and golden sands make it a favoured celebrity holiday spot, but although it is a reasonably quiet beach suburb compared to Bondi Beach or Manly Beach, the area becomes quite busy on warm sunny days, especially at weekends.

Check out more guides to excellent Australian walks.

the kokoda trail
By Kokoda Gear

How Difficult is the Kokoda Trail? (And Other Common Questions)

The Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea is literally 96 kilometres in length. For those of you craving a long, difficult trek through a tropical rainforest, this is the ultimate trip for you!

How difficult is the Kokoda Trail, exactly? Read on to find out (and other commonly asked questions)!

Surviving the Kokoda Trek

Let’s be honest. The Kokoda Track doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being easy. In fact, it’s not only physically difficult, but it will also test your mental endurance. That’s because surviving the Kokoda Trek involves a lot of mud, rain, and hills!

Nonetheless, it doesn’t have to be as challenging as it sounds. You can always condition before your trip to make sure that it’s an easier journey. Another word of advice: You’re going to need a lot of endurance to get to the end of this trail!

How so? When it comes to the Kokoda Trail, you’ll have to work on your ability to continue walking across tough territory for a long amount of time. And if that’s not enough, you’ll also have to learn how to get through potential injuries and exhaustion, too.

Incredibly enough, those that are actually able to finish their trip consider it a personal badge of honour. Sometimes, veterans of the Kokoda Trail claim that it wasn’t nearly as hard as they thought it’d be. Wondering why it was such a breeze for them?

The biggest difference is that these hikers were more than ready for the trail ahead. Plus, they clearly had very high levels of endurance as well. Lastly, they managed to maintain their health throughout the entire trip.

If you want to take your love of hiking to the next level, there are a few things that you should know before you head out onto the trail. For instance, what makes the Kokoda Track so hard?

What Makes the Kokoda Track So Hard?

For those who aren’t sure why the Kokoda Track has a reputation for being gruelling, here are a few reasons why it’s such a killer trek:

  • Sporadic high levels of rainfall, humid weather, and intense heat.
  • Steep sections that can go on for a couple of hours.
  • Rugged and unstable parts of the trail.
  • Frequent creek and river crossings.
  • Heavy mud that can go up to your ankles in parts of the trail.
  • Walking for many hours for days at a time.
  • Isolation from the rest of society (unless you have an emergency).
  • Very few perks and amenities at your campsite.

But have no fear — if you think that you can handle all of that, then you might be the perfect candidate to finish the Kokoda Trail. However, those that simply can’t take it anymore are evacuated to a safe place. That’s why it definitely pays to be prepared for this extreme terrain!

Getting into Shape for Kokoda Tracks

Want to know the key to getting to the finish line? You’ve got to get into great shape to be able to complete the Kokoda Tracks. That being said, the harder you hit the gym, the better.

If you enjoy running, try to get in some regular conditioning outdoors before you book your trip. Don’t worry if you’re not already at the perfect fitness level. Here are some tips to help you out.

First of all, you need to take a hard look at your current level of fitness. Even though you might work out on a daily basis, there’s no harm in getting in additional training. We promise that you won’t regret it!

In case you didn’t know: The fitness level required to take on the Kokoda Trail is well beyond anything you can imagine. Having any doubts about your own endurance? That’s okay; you can always consult with a fitness expert who can make sure that you’re prepared for your trek.

Here’s the deal. One of the most important things to consider is how old you are and if you have any preexisting medical conditions. If that’s the case, then we highly recommend that you talk to your doctor before you attempt to tackle any hiking or training sessions.

What about people who aren’t in the best shape? As soon as you can begin a workout regimen that gets your heart rate up regularly, we don’t see why you couldn’t train for the Kokoda Trail. All that you have to do is dedicate yourself to a strict exercise routine, and you should be good to go!

Kokoda Trek Hiking Tips and Tricks

Looking for some Kokoda Trek hiking tips and tricks? We’ve got you covered. For those living in Australia, travelling along this historic trail on ANZAC Day is practically a national tradition.

If you’re one of the many Australians excited to get their trek on, you can expect to spend the year leading up to your trip training for your rigorous trek. That’s because it takes over a week to finish. Luckily for you, we’ve got the best training advice from Joe Bonington of Joe’s Basecamp!

According to Joe, you’ve got to get used to some pretty steep climbing to be able to manage this trail. As a matter of fact, Joe advises that getting your training in on a treadmill simply isn’t enough. What should you do instead?

Joe continues, “Instead, make sure you train on lots of steep bush tracks with broken and uneven surfaces and train with a loaded backpack so you’re fully prepared for the lay of the land when you start the trek.” Secondly, prepare to experience extraordinary heat on the Kokoda trail as well.

That’s why Joe recommends that you train during the hottest, stickiest days in Australia in advance of your trip. He suggests that you get used to the heat and push through the hot weather. Joe also reminds us that “the more you suffer in training, the less you’ll suffer on the track.”

Finally, you should probably spend some time on your lunges before you hit the trail. How many lunges are enough to be ready for the Kokoda Tracks? All we can say is that you need to make sure that lunges take up the majority of your training sessions.

Try doing your lunges in different ways, like with your foot raised. Don’t forget to get your side lunges in, too. Sounds simple enough!

More Hiking Advice for the Kokoda Tracks

Have you tried walking around with a loaded backpack yet? Surprisingly, this is a fantastic way to get into shape for the Kokoda Tracks. For those that don’t believe us, just ask gym owner Joe Bonington.

If you’ve already decided to take a day pack along with you, then you can expect to carry a few extra pounds on the trail. To build up your endurance, Joe says to apply the principle of overloading while you’re training and keep your backpack loaded with a couple of additional kilograms. He explains, “this way your body will be well adjusted to carrying additional weight on the journey.”

Do you love to learn about the places that you’re travelling to? Then you’ll have a much higher appreciation of the Kokoda Trail if you know about its background first. Thankfully, your guide in Papua New Guinea will tell you everything you need to know about the environment.

Nevertheless, there’s no harm in reading up on the history of the Kokoda Tracks before your trip. Just research online to find out about the legacy of the trail. Better yet, hit up your local library to get the real scoop about your expedition.

Final words: Be prepared to endure some major chafing along your trip. Yes, you read that right. Be sure to bring along a jar of Vaseline or anti-chafing glide to make your journey as comfortable as possible.

So, there you have it. Now that you’re ready to go, make sure that you take pictures during your trip. Don’t forget to invest in a quality pair of hiking boots before you leave!

Get Ready to Hike the Kokoda Trail

Are you getting ready to hike the Kokoda Trail? That’s wonderful news. To prepare for your trip, you’re going to want to spend the next couple of months doing some rigorous training.

What’s the bottom line? If you’re up for the challenge, the Kokoda Trail will be a life-changing experience. If you’re not sure what to bring with you, check out our camping and hiking gear guides!

kokoda
By Kokoda Gear

A Guide to the Kokoda Challenge Annual Event

Australia is home to countless unique walking trails, but the Kokoda trail is one rich in history and tradition.

Completing the Kokoda Challenge is a must on any hiker’s bucket lists!

But what exactly goes into preparation for the challenge? And what should you be expecting from the famous trek?

We set out to answer those questions for you! Keep reading our guide below to make sure you have the best possible Kokoda Challenge experience!

What to Expect

The Kokoda Challenge is a 96km hike that takes place on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. The Kokoda Challenge stems from the Kokoda Track Campaign, a piece of World War II history. Papua New Guinea was under Australian administration, so most of the Allied forces occupying the area and completing the campaign were Australian.

As of recent years, it has become a rite of passage for many Australians to make the same journey. The challenge seeks to remind its participants of the importance of the Kokoda Track Campaign that occurred specifically during the Pacific War of WWII in 1942.

The challenge occurs in July, the driest and coolest month of the year in the area. However, that doesn’t mean that humidity and rain are uncommon. It can get very chilly at night, though, which prompts many hikers to bring thermal layers with them.

Why do people view the challenge as so extreme? Well, hikers cross twelve creeks, walk at night, pass through 9 villages, and climb summits that reach heights of up to 5,000m. The extensive trail begins in Kokoda and finishes to the east of Port Moresby.

The trek is meant to be completed in 39 hours by a four-member team. In honor of the original Kokoda campaign, teams are meant to practice and recognize the importance of courage, mateship, endurance, and sacrifice. Teams need to pay a registration fee and complete fundraising in order to participate in the Kokoda Challenge.

How to Prepare for the Kokoda Challenge

Many people don’t even bother leaving their homes these days, let alone taking a 39 hour walk!

So, if you’re planning on taking on the 96km challenge, you’ll want to be prepared, both mentally and physically!

Physical Training

You should develop a workout routine in order to prepare for the Kokoda Challenge. A training period of at least 1-3 months is advised, though a longer training period will be more effective. The trail is very strenuous, so you need to be physically prepared before you take on the challenge. There should be a focus on lower body and abdominal strength.

Walking every day is an easy way to strengthen your leg muscles, but you will want to aim for a fairly vigorous walk. Eventually, you’ll want to mix some light jogging into your walks. Taking a few hikes at night is also recommended since it’s likely you’ll be walking some of the trail in the dark.

After a few weeks of training, try to bring a backpack on your walks to get a better feel for what the actual experience will feel like. Wear the shoes you plan on wearing for the Kokoda Challenge to break them in and make sure you’ll be comfortable during the trek.

It’s important to practice walking both uphill and downhill. Being able to walk up steep inclines is critical.

Another exercise you can incorporate is cycling. If you live in a bikeable area, you can take your bike to run errands. It’s an easy way to build leg muscle without throwing off your schedule.

If that’s not an option, you can always use stationary bikes at a gym. Step machines or an elliptical are other machines you can use to train for the challenge. Practicing lunges in all directions and doing reps of crunches are also great ways to train.

It’s wise to get a physical evaluation from your general physician to make sure you won’t have any physical complications during the challenge.

Avoid Common Injuries

Blisters are practically unavoidable during the Kokoda Challenge. However, you can decrease the likelihood by using a sport tape, many of which are waterproof. That means you can switch out your socks after crossing a waterway without needing to redo your tape!

Chafing is another big issue during the Kokoda Challenge. The best way to avoid this is by wearing skin tight clothing. It might not be appealing in the humidity, but it’s preferred to chafing!

Meal Prepping

Of course nutrition is important every day of your life, but when you’re participating in such a physically challenging experience, it’s even more so!

You will want to keep your caloric intake between 150 and 300 calories per hour. As far as fluids go, you will want to drink around 650ml every hour to make sure you don’t become dehydrated.

Liquid food is encouraged over solid food, though solid food can be useful in small amounts. Most people will have a natural craving for solid foods, so having it available will make the experience pleasanter.

You will want to avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, simple sugars, or caffeinated. That means no sweets or junk foods!

To best test your snack pack for the Kokoda Challenge, try it out during a long training session and see how your body responds. Make sure not to eat anything while you’re going uphill though!

Build the Right Team

If you aren’t completing the challenge with the right group of mates, no amount of physical or mental preparation will matter. If you aren’t familiar with your group, make an effort to get to know them before the challenge.

You will want to know your teammate’s strengths and weaknesses and the best way to provide them with encouragement during the trail. If you can coordinate your schedules, it’s beneficial to train with the others on your team.

If you struggle with matching speeds, be mindful of who burns out faster. Have them walk in front in order to make sure the rest of your team is keeping pace with them and not exerting themselves more than necessary. That would just result in everyone cramping and tiring out in a staggered fashion.

Become Familiar with the Terrain

You’re going to be walking on uneven, brushy, forested terrain. It will be very steep and hilly at times, so make sure you prepare for that when you train. It’s also important to keep in mind that you will be walking both in daylight and at night.

Newbies often make the mistake of wasting time at one of the checkpoints. They can be inviting at night when your body will be craving sleep, but avoid this temptation as much as possible if you want to complete the challenge in time!

Try to limit your time at checkpoints to five to ten minutes. Give yourself only enough time to fill up your water bottles, buy food, and change any clothes or equipment.

Know What to Bring

You don’t want to be stranded during the Kokoda Challenge without the proper equipment. That’s why it’s important to check and double-check that you have everything before the big day.

It’s important to bring a first aid kit along with you. Include things like bandages, some kind of antiseptic, aspirin, an antihistamine, calamine lotion, and vaseline (good for soothing your feet overnight).

Since you’ll be out in the summer heat, you will also want to load up on sunscreen. Since most of the trek is done at a high altitude, mosquitoes are rare. Nonetheless, bring along bug spray and some antimalarial tablets.

As far as clothing goes, you’ll want to do some planning for your feet alone! Several pairs of socks, both thick and thin, are recommended. You’ll also want to choose appropriate footwear.

Many people opt for hiking boots since the trails tend to be unpredictable. However, an additional pair of shoes may be brought for crossing waterways or to relax in during breaks.

A hat that will provide you with protection from harsh sun and rain is another must. Many participants prefer long-sleeved shirts since they prevent bug bites. Bringing a change of underwear is a good idea too. If the weather seems unfavorable, you will want to bring a lightweight poncho as well.

Aside from clothing, you will want an easily portable tent, a sleeping mat, and a towel or two. A thermostat, utensils, and plates/bowls will be helpful for your meal breaks. Pack up some toilet paper in a ziplock bag!

There are no ATMs around, so you’ll want to bring a bit of cash if you plan on buying anything at the checkpoints or in the villages.

If you’re planning on documenting your experience, you’ll obviously want a camera or your phone to take photos.

Of course, you’ll also need a backpack to carry all of your supplies with you. It’s ideal if your team can divvy up supplies to maximize your space and lighten each person’s load.

Fulfilling Your Goal

Obviously, the Kokoda Challenge is quite the feat. It does require a lot of training and preparation, but it’s not impossible!

The Kokoda Challenge is a unique way of seeing a piece of Australia’s history while testing your endurance and teamwork. You’ll experience the country’s expansive natural beauty firsthand!

Take a look at the rest of our website for more information on the Kokoda Challenge, additional Australian walking trails, and the best gear for hikers!

Seasons in Australia
By Kokoda Gear

Enjoying the Seasons in Australia: What to Expect

Australia is one of the world’s top holiday destinations for 2019 so it makes sense that, this year alone, the country is expecting a total of 10 million tourists. But did you know the seasons in Australia can vary a bit more than you’d expect?

If you’ve already booked your trip to Australia, then you’ve made a great choice. The country offers stunning coastlines, breathtaking nature and a rich history all ready and waiting for you to explore!

But don’t let your trip be ruined by the weather. Most people associate Australia with brilliant sunshine and scorching heat, but this isn’t always the case. Like every other country, Australia has seasons that bring different weather with them.

So make sure you’re prepared by learning all about the seasons in Australia, what to expect and when. To help you out, we’ve put together this handy guide on Australian weather by month.

From spring through to winter, read on to find out everything you need to know!

The Basics of Seasons in Australia

As with most countries, there are four seasons in Australia: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

These each last for about three months. And, as with most countries, as you reach the end of one season, you’ll notice a gradual shift into the next. You don’t just wake up to bright sunshine one day after a wet and windy spring!

Technically, each season starts on the first day of a given month. So when you’re planning your trip, you should consider your exact travel dates. For example, you might have very different weather on 2nd September than on 28th September.

You should also take into account whereabouts you’re travelling. The southeast and west coast of Australia tend to remain fairly mild in their weather variations. In contrast, the north of the country can be more extreme and is fairly tropical at certain times of the year.

These northern areas see two more distinct seasons, which are characterized by the climate they bring. The wet season lasts from November through to April. And the dry season stretches the other half of the year, from April through to November.

These seasons can bring extreme climates with them. So if you’re visiting northern Australia, take this into account when planning your trip.

Autumn in Australia

Sydney autumn

For the northern hemisphere, the months to March, April and May mark springtime. But this period signals the autumn season in Australia.

As you might expect, during the autumn months, the country is transformed into a reddish-gold paradise. Even for seasoned walkers in Australia, this creates an entirely new landscape to explore.

In particular, the city of Orange in New South Wales and the Yarra Valley are great places to visit in Australia’s autumn. Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s most popular wine regions and it doesn’t stop producing come autumn. So you can take a load off and sample some delicious wine after a long day’s walking.

As you move through Australia’s autumn, you will notice, however, that temperatures start to drop off. At the beginning of the season in March, you can enjoy temperatures between 24°C and 11°C (or 75°F and 52°F.)

But come May, these temperatures will drop down to between 16°C and 4°C (or 61°F and 39°F). The days will also start to get shorter, and you’ll notice an increase in rainfall.

If you’re looking for a dry, sunny day walking, then we’d recommend getting out in March. But if you don’t mind the rain, and provided you have the right hiking boots with you, you’ll be able to keep exploring throughout the autumn season.

Australia’s Winter

Sydney Winter

As you would rightly expect, winter follows on from autumn and spans from the beginning of July through to the end of August.

This is the time of year to put away your suncream and get out your rain jacket. However, visitors from the northern hemisphere might be surprised by how mild an Australia winter can be.

Temperatures will rarely reach over 20°C (or 68°F) and usually sit around 11°C (51°F). Nevertheless, they can drop down to freezing temperatures at night and in the evenings.

But this doesn’t mean you have to sit indoors reading your book. A lot of Australians consider winter the best time of year for outdoor activities because they can do them without overheating! It might be cooler, but generally, Australia doesn’t experience as much rain as some other countries do during winter.

It’s considered one of the best time of years for swimming in the ocean. Or—if you really want to cool off—why not hit Victoria state and go skiing or snowboarding?

This is also a great time of year to check out the country’s wildlife. Australia’s kangaroos, pelicans and koalas don’t seem bothered by the drop in temperature. So you can still find them relaxing in their natural habitats and in national parks.

But if you want to go exploring in winter, you might have to plan ahead a bit more. You only get around six or seven hours of sunlight each day. To get a proper adventure in, you need to be ready to go once the sun is up!

Next up Is… Springtime

Sydney spring

Australia’s autumn and spring share a lot of similar characteristics. Neither season is unbearably hot or bitterly cold. And like autumn and winter, spring spans across three months – September, October, and November.

As you progress through the season, you’ll notice a shift in temperature. In September, you can expect temperatures between 16 and 4°C (or 61 and 39°F). But towards the end of November, this will climb to highs of 23°C (73°F) and lows of 10°C (50°F).

The number of daylight hours will also start to get longer and the amount of rain will ease up. This is a great time of year to watch as spring takes over the country.

Plants will start to bloom and animals come out of winter hibernation. You’ll also notice a gradual change as the country regains its vibrant, green landscape.

But if you’re visiting the northern regions of Australia, you should proceed with caution in springtime. This is the time of year that cyclones or tropical storms will hit these areas of the country.

These huge storms can reach speeds of up to 295km/h. Getting caught in one could be extremely dangerous. So if you’re going walking in this area in the spring, always check the forecast before you go out.

Last But Not Least: An Australian Summer

sydney summer

Summer is the most iconic of Australia seasons. It gives the country its reputation of flip-flops, sun-soaked surfers and chilled beers on the beach. And what’s not to like about that?

This is the perfect time of year to find a great spot for camping, pitch up and enjoy everything the country has to offer you. But like every season, knowing what to expect is extremely important for keeping you safe and comfortable while on the road.

From December through to February, the temperature can reach over 28°C (or 82°F). Even on a cooler day, it’ll rarely drop below 13°C (55°F). The sea temperature will also rise, and the rain will hold off, so it’s a great time of year for a splash in the ocean.

But any explorers should make preparations for this heat. Make sure you invest in a fantastic tent with proper ventilation so you don’t overheat. Always carry water with you when out hiking and try to keep out of the direct sun for long periods of time.

And don’t think that this sunshine will put a stop to Christmas celebrations. Australians might not go in for a full roast dinner in thirty-degree heat, but they’ll be sure to celebrate properly. You might even see the odd Christmas jumper down on the beach!

Stay cool along the coast the Eyre Peninsula or in Coffin Bay where you can sample some of the freshest oysters Australia has to offer. Or you can escape the crowds and head on up to Wilsons Promontory. This area offers amazing hiking trails for all abilities.

The Bottom Line

Whichever season you visit Australia in, you’re sure to have the best time, and each season has something different to offer. Just make sure that you plan ahead when organizing your trip. Working with the seasons in Australia is the best way to ensure you make the most of wherever you end up!

If you’re going hiking, don’t forget to pack your poles. And check out our handy guides on how to save on packing space using your hiking backpack!

Mt Kosciuszko
By Kokoda Gear

A Complete Guide to Walking Mt Kosciuszko

Are you planning a trip to Australia? If your answer is yes, you already know there are so many sites to see and things to do. The great Australian Outback, the Sydney Opera House, and the exotic wildlife all make it to every traveller’s list. But a must-see for every adventurous traveller is Mt Kosciuszko.

Hikers, climbers, skiers, and anyone with an adventurous spirit must check out Mt Kosciuszko. Just southwest of Sydney, Mt Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest mountain at 2,228 meters above sea level. It may not be as high as Mt Kilimanjaro or Mt Everest, it does boast a wide variety of actives for visitors of all abilities.

During the winter months, Mt Kosciuszko is Australia’s go-to ski destination. During the summer, you’ll find it teeming with hikers, mountain cyclists, climbers, and more! This mountain is a do-it-all destination.

So, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a fun new adventure or a memorable hike, here’s everything you need to know about hiking Mt Kosciuszko.

Picking the Best Mt Kosciuszko Trail

When the weather is warm, Mt Kosciuszko is full of beautiful trails. Deciding which trail to walk can be a process.

Fortunately, there are trails for people of all abilities. That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on the right trail.

Do you want to summit Mt Kosciusko? Are you looking for a rigorous hike? Or are you looking for a relaxing walk along a gorgeous mountain?

The following trails offer trails ranging from rigorous walks to the summit or easy walks up Mt Kosciuszko.

Charlotte Pass

Summit Trail From Charlotte Pass

The Summit Trail takes you right to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. It offers great views and fairly easy walking.

The Summit Trail is wide and used to be a road many years ago. Today it’s a spacious walking trail with a mild incline. This trail is 18km long, so you must be prepared for the distance.

This 18km long trail will take around 4 to 5 hours to walk. Proper clothing, footwear, and the ability to walk that far are necessary for a safe walk.

Main Range From Charlotte Pass

A challenging walk to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko is the Main Range track. This is a trail for the serious hiker.

Quieter than the Summit Trail, the Main Range offers a real mountaineering experience. Cross rivers, march through the snowdrifts and walk in the clouds as you wander this trail during the summer.

While this walk is more rigorous, it is well worth the challenge. It’s a 22km walk with a grade 4 rating, meaning it’s fairly steep. It takes about 7 to 9 hours to complete the roundtrip.

From Thredbo

Thredbo offers a relaxing walk for those who aren’t looking for a long rigorous walk. You can ride the chairlift up to the summit where you can take your time to appreciate the views Mt Kosciuszko has to offer.

Enjoy an easy 13km walk down the mountain on a metal boardwalk. This trail is perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing and easy-going walk.

Rawson Pass

Rawson Pass is the final leg to the summit. All three trails intersect and finish here. An interesting fact about Rawson Pass is it’s the home of Australia’s highest toilet for public use.

Hannel’s Spur Track

The steepest and most challenging is a hike for only the most experienced hikers. Hannel’s Spur is Australia’s longest vertical trail up Mt Kosciuszko.

In 1840, it was the original route Polish explorer Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki took when hiking to the summit.

Sites to See on Mt Kosciuszko

Along your walk up Mt Kosciuszko, there are many sites and vistas to stop, take a break, and admire.

Blue Lake

Hiking the Main Range Trail offers gorgeous views of Australia’s Blue Lake. It’s one of four mountain lakes but only one of two that has not dried up due to a lowering water table.

During the summer months, you’ll find this lake to be a brilliant cobalt blue.

Blue Lake

Lake Cootapatamba

Not far from the summit is Lake Cootapatama. This post-glacial lake is the highest altitude lake in Australia.

Lake Cootapatamba

Mt Kosciuszko Summit

The final unique feature you’ll experience on your hike is the summit. Breathtaking vistas and views of neighbouring mountain ranges will welcome you as you finish your climb.

The summit is a perfect place for photos, a picnic, or well-deserved rest after a hard day’s climb.

Mt Kosciuszko

Wear the Right Gear

No matter the type of walk, you need the right gear. Wearing the wrong gear leads to blisters, temperature discomfort, and possible injury.

The climate in the mountains is unpredictable. One minute it’s sunny and warm, the next it’s down pouring and freezing! Always come prepared with the proper clothes, shoes, and jackets when walking any mountain.

Mt Kosciuszko is usually a safe mountain to walk and doesn’t always require serious hiking gear. Here’s the gear you should always have ready for hiking and walking in the mountains.

The Right Shoes

Keep your feet, legs, and back happy on your walk with a pair of quality hiking shoes. Wear a pair of comfortable well-fitting shoes when hiking any of the MT Kosciuszko trails.

Waterproof hiking shoes or boots with a non-slip grip are a great option as parts of the trail are known to get muddy and slippery. These are great for the easier trails and necessary for the Main Range Trail.

If you’re sticking to the Summit Trail or the chairlift, you can get away with a quality pair of running or walking shoes. However, a hiking shoe will give you more comfort and support on longer walks.

The Right Socks

Socks play an important role in keeping your feet warm, dry, and blister-free.

Merino wool is common in high-quality hiking socks because it’s soft, breathable, and warm. Pack a pair of merino wool to keep your feet feeling fresh on long walks up Mt Kosciuszko.

Then there’s sock style. When walking in low profile hiking or walking shoes, ankle socks should work just fine. If you’re hiking the rugged trail up Mt Kosciuszko, then tall (just below the knee) thermal socks will feel great.

The Right Clothes

Due to Mountain climates being unpredictable, it’s smart to have warm comfortable clothing. Always dress in layers. You can take layers off if you get too warm but can’t put layers on if you didn’t bring any.

During the warmer months, start with a short-sleeve shirt as your base. Layer a long sleeve over that and if it’s chilly that day, another long sleeve or sweater on top.

As for pants, look for lightweight, fast-drying, and comfortable material. Convertible pants are great if you like having the option of shorts. Your pants should be loose-fitting to allow you a wide range of moving when walking and hiking.

Jackets & Hiking Bags

When hiking and walking Mt Kosciuszko, it never hurts to bring a jacket along. As you climb the mountain, the weather can change, temperatures may drop, and it can be windy. Look for a water and windproof jacket that is breathable and comfortable.

Make carrying extra clothing, emergency gear easy with a light hiking backpack. Hiking bags come in a variety of sizes and can be sized to fit you. If you’re not planning on a long backpacking trip, a light comfortable backpack will work just fine.

You can also pack your water, emergency supplies, snacks, hiking sticks, and more in your hiking bag.

Mt Kosciuszko Safety Tips

Before you walk Mt Kosciuszko you should follow a few safety tips. Be prepared for any issues, large or small, you may face on your walk.

  1. Always bring a full water bottle or bladder on your hike
  2. Bring food such as trail mix, fruit, granola, or other snack foods
  3. Regularly re-apply sunscreen throughout your hike
  4. Pack an emergency blanket in case of an unplanned event
  5. Stick to the trail, wandering off puts you at risk for getting lost or injured
  6. Pack an emergency medical bag in case of injury, headache, or dizziness
  7. Bring a map of the trails you’re taking and how to identify Mt Kosciuszko
  8. Avoid petting or feeding wildlife
  9. Bring extra clothing in case of an emergency or a change in weather

By following these simple safety tips, your walk up Mt Kosciuszko will be fun and safe.

Be Kind to Your Trail

Trails along Mt Kosciuszko are enjoyed by other hikers and wildlife. You must do your part conserving the trail and environment.

Always pick up your trash and other trash you see along the trail. Prevent erosion and damage to plants by walking on designated trails.

Along the trails, you’ll find several facilities. Use them when you can as human waste can contaminate the water and mountain environments. If there’s an emergency, digging a hole far from rivers and lakes is acceptable.

Remember to leave your trail better than when you found it.

Let’s Hike!

Finding the right trail and being properly prepared will make your walk up Mt Kosciuszko an amazing adventure you’ll remember for years to come. The right shoes and clothes will ensure you can explore more of Australia comfortably after your hike.

Want to learn more about hiking and camping in Australia? Check out our latest camping blogs and gear reviews to find the best gear and camping tips.

Byron Bay Camping
By Kokoda Gear

A Backpacker’s Guide to Byron Bay Camping

For those travelling Australia, backpacking in Byron Bay is a rite-of-passage. Famous for its laid-back beach vibe and its culture clash atmosphere, in Byron Bay you’ll find surfers, backpackers, families, retirees, and business people all rubbing shoulders and enjoying the Byron Bay way of life together.

However, while the town oozes a relaxed hippie vibe, unfortunately, the prices don’t reflect this. Visiting Byron Bay is expensive!

To save money on your trip and to experience the town true Aussie-style, we recommend camping instead of splashing the cash on expensive accommodation.

We’re here to help. Here’s our guide to Byron Bay camping so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

About Byron Bay

Found on Australia’s popular East Coast, Byron Bay is a small coastal town loved by visitors and locals alike. On a typical itinerary of the East Coast, Byron Bay is one of the top spots that travellers visit, and there’s a good reason why.

There’s a lot packed into the small town, so there’s plenty to keep anyone occupied, no matter what their interests are. There’s vibrant nightlife, cosy restaurants and cafes, a diversity of alternative therapies, fantastic shopping, and of course, stunning beaches. There’s also plenty of adventure activities to do too, but we’ll get to that later.

A magical vibe surrounds Byron Bay, which is why both overseas tourists and Aussies return to visit again and again.

How Much Does Backpacking Byron Bay Cost?

As Byron Bay is so popular, unfortunately, that means prices are high – it’s not cheap!

However, Byron Bay is still a hub for nomads and travellers living out of a van, a car, or a tent. So, if you’re happy to embrace the back-to-basics hippie lifestyle, then you won’t need to spend too much money to experience the Byron Bay way of life.

If you’re a traveller who’s content with camping with the bare necessities, then you’ll love spending your time in Byron soaking up the sunshine on one of the many sublime beaches, plucking your guitar, and people-watching in the town.

Want to save money? You’ll need to reduce your visits to hipster-style cafes and will need to opt for a communal campsite instead of a fancy air BNB stay. When it comes to food, stick to supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles and try to do as much cooking at the campsite. Not only is it cheaper, but something is liberating about cooking dinner at a campsite, surrounded by like-minded people.

Some might opt for campsite accommodation and (mainly) cooking food from the supermarket, if you do you’ll be able to cover your daily food and accommodation for around $50 AUD. The fun extras on top, such as booze and the various activities around Byron Bay can push your budget up to around $80-$100 AUD.

Luckily, you’re not short of accommodation options when it comes to campsites and caravan parks. And while these camping spots may be more expensive than you’re used to paying, remember – you’re paying a premium for the location.

Holiday Parks in Byron Bay

As mentioned, if you’re looking for cheap accommodation Byron Bay, then camping is your answer! Plus, who needs a fancy five-star resort when you can watch millions of stars from your tent?

Camping in Australia is a must-do, and somewhere as beautiful and exciting as Byron Bay is the best place to do it. Just make sure you invest in a quality tent and camping gear such including a decent stove, so you can embrace the camping experience. Plus, you never know when it might rain – and you certainly don’t want a leaky tent!

There are plenty of campsites in Byron Bay with most of them costing around AUD 20 a night. While they aren’t the cheapest campsite fees, you’re still saving a ton of money than if you were staying in a hotel or even a hostel.

And remember, Byron camping can get very busy especially during Christmas and the school holidays, so always try to plan, especially if you’re thinking of travelling to Byron Bay during these peak periods. Nobody wants to be stuck without a spot for the night!

Here are some of our favourites holiday parks in and around Byron Bay.

The Arts Factory

While The Arts Factory isn’t the cleanest or most modern of campsites, that’s all part of the charm. The Arts Factory has been around for years and years and can be found nestled among the subtropical rain forest.

The Arts Factory isn’t just a campsite and offers heaps of other accommodation options such as van parking and staying in the hostel. The atmosphere of the place is what makes it so special – you’ll be surrounded by like-minded travellers staying on the outskirts of Byron rather than living in a campsite without much character.

Many of the other holiday parks are more geared towards the typical tourist rather than the backpacker, so at The Arts Factory, you’re bound to meet more of your kind.

byron bay arts factory

Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park

If you’d rather camp by the beach (we certainly don’t blame you) then the Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park is a great shout.

Pitch a tent or stay in a camper-van or caravan to set up camp right next to one of Byron Bay’s dreamy beaches. Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park offers regular specials for powered sites especially, so be sure to check the website or make a query over the phone when booking. You never know, you may grab yourself a bargain!

Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park

Free Camping in Byron Bay

Experienced camper? you may be used to camping in free spots. So, spending around AUD 20 on a campsite may seem a bit dear!

Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the town, Byron Bay is particularly difficult to find free spots to camp in.

Even if you just find a random spot to pitch in or sleep in your car on a side road, you’ll likely face a fine for illegal camping by a ranger. As you can imagine, these can be quite hefty, so it simply isn’t worth the risk.

If you’re willing to drive slightly outside the town, then there are some nice rest areas you can set up camp in. However, you should always research the rest area beforehand to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules otherwise again you may risk receiving a fine.

The rest areas around Byron Bay also only offer basic facilities, so don’t expect much more than a toilet! Many of the nearby beaches offer showers, so you may be able to have a rinse there.

Remember to avoid driving in the dark to your campsite, so you can avoid hitting any of the adorable native animals that are attracted to the bright lights of your vehicle during the night.

Here is what we can recommend.

Yelgun Rest Area

The Yelgun Rest Area is a free camping spot located about 25km North of Byron Bay, around a 25-minute drive from the town. You won’t need to worry about any fines, plus, its conveniently located next to the stunning South Golden Beach.

As its one of the only free campsites surrounding Byron Bay, it gets very busy so make sure to arrive early.

What to Do in Byron Bay

Now here’s the fun part – planning what you’ll do in Byron Bay! To make the most of your time in Byron Bay, you’ll want to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery and soak up the hippie vibes of the area.

For beach lovers, there are many gorgeous beaches to chill out on, catch a few rays, work on your tan, and swim from.

There are also plenty of water sports activities to dip your toes in, such as scuba diving, surfing, and hang gliding to name a few.

Julian Rocks off the coast of Byron is a famous snorkelling spot in Australia. Expect to spot sea turtles, fish, rays, and even sharks! Don’t worry – they aren’t a species that will try to gobble you up.

The bay is also an excellent spot to watch whales on their northern and southern migrations, and dolphins can be spotted all year round.

And did you know that Cape Byron is the most easterly point of Australia? And that the sun rises in the East?

That makes a sunrise visit to the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse top of the list for any traveller. Prepare to take plenty of snaps!

Need a break from the ocean? Alternatively, the surrounding lush rain forest makes for a great spot to hike and explore.

For the party animals out there, Byron Bay’s nightlife is kicking, and you can head out every night of the week at one of the many pubs, bars, or nightclubs. The town is also host to a variety of fun festivals that are internationally known, such as Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass, and the Byron Bay International Film Festival.

Ready for Byron Bay Camping?

If you’re in the process of planning your Byron Bay camping trip, you may need some advice, especially if you’re new to camping outdoors. After all, it can all be a bit overwhelming and you don’t want to forget anything important before a big camping trip!

We’re here to help. Here are the top ten camping tents and supplies you need for your next camping trip. Happy travels and enjoy Byron Bay!