With day-trippable missions in all directions, Australia’s Sydney has the wilderness credentials to please even the pickiest of mountain climbers, surfers, bush bashers and whale watchers.
On any given day, you’ll find no shortage of options for a mini-adventure so we’ve compiled a list of our top five faves to get you started, get your blood pumping, and get you feeling rugged and primal for a day.
Go on, embrace your inner Bear Grylls. Just don’t be eating the local fauna.
The Coast Track | Royal National Park
Highlights: Awe-inspiring seaside views.
The Royal National Park’s epic clifftop Coast Track stretches 26km and connects to a sizeable labyrinth of shorter tracks. Our pick is the lesser known and very day-hikable 4.4km Curra Moors to Garie Beach track, which takes you through dense bushland and out onto a picturesque bluff.
Stop for some quiet contemplation, maybe spot a whale or two (migration season runs from April to November), then scale down the hillside through a Jurassic Park-esque palm tree forest and across to Garie Beach. Chris Pratt not included.
North Head Sanctuary | Manly
Highlights: A bushland oasis in the big smoke.
This one and a half hour clifftop and bushland hike will trick you into thinking you’re far, far away from civilisation, when in fact you’re only 11km from the CBD. Along the way you’ll find stone bunkers that were used to spot invaders (that never showed up) during WWII and an abundance of coastal vantage points.
Complete your mission and then head back to Manly for post-exploration refuelling. Our pick: Chica Bonitas. Pulled pork. Lagerita. ‘Nuff said.
The Grand Canyon Track | Blue Mountains National Park
Highlights: Descending into the depths of the gully… then clawing your way out.
The Grand Canyon track is not just a hike, it’s an experience. A mountain experience. The 6km loop starts at Evans Lookout, near Blackheath. The initial hike down the valley is easy, but what goes down, must come up, right? You’ll need to channel your inner mountain goat on the narrow track that winds along what is basically a canyon ledge.
A steep climb/scramble brings you across to the other side of the valley. Stop at a vantage point to take in the view and feel the cool canyon breeze wafting across your sweaty face. Look back over the ground you just covered and you’ll feel incredibly satisfied.
Tip: Don’t forget water and high energy snacks. Nobody likes a hungry hiker.
The Coastal Walk | Bondi To Coogee
Highlights: Beautiful people, beautiful view.
If you love the ocean and people watching, the Bondi to Coogee walk (or run) is for you. You’ll find a great selection of Sydney’s finest brunch and lunch fare at both ends of the walk, and an equally ample supply of beautiful people.
The 6km coastal track winds from the headland at south Bondi through some of the less crowded beaches such as Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly. There’s not one section of this hike where you can’t see the horizon, and if you stop and stare for long enough, you’ll end your day feeling pretty damn zen.
West Head & Resolute Beach | Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Highlights: Epic lookout, hidden beaches.
On the northern edge of Sydney lies Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, an area of vast bushland with a water and creek system flowing through the middle. West Head lookout is the best spot to soak up incredible bushland and water views (whales included if you’re lucky) which extend all the way out to Palm Beach and the Central Coast.
Pick a track and get lost, explore ancient Aboriginal cave paintings, or visit the deserted boulder-covered West Head beach. Hit up The Basin for camping, fishing, kangaroos and ferry connections to Palm Beach. Our pick is the 8km Resolute Track loop.
Tip: Seaplane charters run between the city and Palm Beach, if that’s how you roll. Then take the ferry across to one of the West Head beaches.