(Most of these routes are mostly off road, so no traffic, and nicer on the knees. None of these trails require driving to get to the start, they begin as soon as you step out the door of your accomodation. So backpackers and public transporters can run them, just as much as people with the wherewithall to hire a car).
1. Sydney's North Shore.
Start with running under the Harbour Bridge and take in views of the Opera House. Keep going, round Cremorne Point and Mosman - watch the ferries, climb over a hill all banked up with posh houses. Keep going, out to Taronga Zoo - pretend you're skirting Jurassic Park with its high electric fences, the scary animal sounds, and the significant reptile presence. Keep going, and going, and going... all the way to Balmoral Beach, or The Spit, or even out to Manly if you're hardcore enough. Running in a city does not get better than this.
2. Hobart's The Domain - Tasmania
Loops with stunning views over the city. Botanic gardens at the base. A great spot to get started in Tasmania from.
3. Bicheno - East Coast Tasmania
Stay at the funky backpackers hostel at Bicheno. Do hill training up and down Whalers Lookout, then swing round the rocky shore leaping from rock to rock. A nice trail follows the shore to the beach (fantastic blackberries to re-fuel on if you're there in season), then hit the beach and go for it. Magnificent. Don't run those rocks in the dark, you'll die. But do hang out and listen to the fairy penguins... they sound like alien monsters coming to get you.
4. Freycinet Peninsula Loop - Tasmania
I've mentioned this one before here. Stay in Coles Bay, unless you're rich and can afford the swanky accomodation at the base of the park. Bit of road running/beach running/campsite track running to begin with, then... you reach Freycinet National Park, a runner's dream. There's a well-maintained track that swings out the peninsula to Hazards Beach, then you can turn inland to cross the isthmus and suddenly you emerge onto Wineglass Bay - supposedly and believably 'one of the worlds best ten beaches'. From there it's a hard climb up to the lookout, and then a hard and fast descent back to the road you came in on. Not for the fledgling runner, probably a cool 13 miles or so...? But well worth training up for.
5. Strathan to Ocean Beach - Tasmania
Stay in the town of Strathan, and head out on the sealed road towards Ocean Beach. You don't cover many miles before the road becomes unsealed. Amazing views back over your shoulder to the mountains beyond. As you keep running, probably in total isolation, a roar builds and builds - this is Ocean Beach, its big, and its loud. And when you reach it, it'll take your breath away - assuming you've any breath left. Truely magnificent. If you got to West Tasmania without a car, then chances are the only way you'll reach this beach, is to run there. Well worth it. Just you and the kangaroos.
Oh wow, just writing that lot has made me nostalgic. Take me back... Then again, take yourself there, and let me know how you got on. Heavenly running or your money back.
Picture by Linh_rOm