To get the best Sydney experience, you might have to walk a little.
We promise you, though, that it won’t have to be far. And if it is, there’ll be so much to see and do along the way that you’ll forgive us. Besides, with all the food and drink we’ve been consuming these past few days, it might be time to put on the walking shoes and head out for a bit. (Featured image: @dilson)
The longest walk in Sydney’s west is called the Great West Walk. At 65kms in length, it’s the big one on this list.
Running from Parramatta to the foothills of the Blue Mountains at Penrith, this walk opened in spring last year thanks to the Walking Volunteers, a group of individuals that go out and map the various walking trails in and around Sydney. You will walk through protected woodlands, across water systems, regional parks and built-up urban areas.
Highlights of the long walk in Parramatta include the 18th-century Old Dairy Cottage and the 19th-century Old Government House. Follow the path and you’ll also come across Wisteria Gardens in Westmead, the Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Gardens in the Western Sydney Parklands, and the Nepean River in Penrith.
See here for the Walking Volunteers’ information kit.
2. Hermitage Foreshore Walk
If you really wanted to, you could walk the entire Hermitage Foreshore Walk and return to your starting point in just an hour, or thereabouts. But if you were to do that, then you’d be walking right past all the sweet picnic spots and the beautiful beaches, which there are five of, to be lounging at.
The walk itself is quite easy, with most of it paved or a timber boardwalk in place with few steps along the way. You can begin either at Bayview Hill Road or Nielsen Park to make your way to Queens Beach, Hermit Beach, Tingira Beach, Shark Beach and Milk Beach.
For dazzling views of the harbour, make a beeline for Strickland House—the 1850s harbourside villa near Milk Beach.
Length: 3.2kms return
3. Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
A walk with a clear destination in mind is a very motivating factor. And when the destination can be seen in the distance, slowly becoming smaller and smaller as you make your approach, then the walk itself is piece of cake even if it is a bit of a trek uphill.
The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Trail is one such walk.
At only three kilometres in length (return trip), this short bush walk will take most people about an hour to complete. However, the Smuggler’s Trail that leads up to the lighthouse is quite steep at one point and with some uneven sandstone steps leading the way up, it will definitely cause many of us to sweat.
The views from up top, though, are worth it. The lighthouse sits at Sydney’s most northern point, Barrenjoey Head, and offers walkers 360-degree views, including Palm Beach and Broken Bay down below.
The walk begins and ends at Governor Phillip Park car park, just past The Boathouse Cafe, on Beach Road. This is where you should be fuelling up if you haven’t brought any snacks with you, which we highly recommend doing during whale watching season.
Length: 3kms return
4. Bondi To Bronte Coastal Walk
Australia, and Sydney in particular, is revered for its magnificent coastline.
The Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk, or the longer Bondi to Coogee Walk, is one of the more well-known walks in Sydney and one of the most popular due to the amazing ocean views, sandstone cliffs, and numerous points of interest along the way, including a Bali memorial, a Virgin Mary statue where apparitions have been said to appear, and an underwater nature trail at Gordon’s Bay.
As above with the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Trail, we recommend walking from Bronte to Bondi so that Australia’s most famous beach is your goal. In total, the walk shouldn’t take you longer than a couple of hours as it’s only five kilometres long (return trip). However, as with most people, you’ll probably end up stopping a number of times along the way and if you go at busy times, you will have to contend with other walkers setting a slower or faster pace.
When you make it back to Bondi, why not stop at the world’s most instagrammable cafe for a tasty bite to eat?
Length: 5kms return
5. Karloo Pools
Leave urban paths behind and step off the wooden tracks, it’s time to hit the bush and kick up the dirt.
And with the weather warming up and the beaches getting packed, sometimes it’s nice to find a swimming hole at the end of your walk, you know, to rest and cool down before getting back up and on your way again.
The round trip to Karloo Pools is six kilometres long with the first half of the trip the easier part since it’s all downhill to get to the pools, which can be swum in all year round. However, like all natural swimming holes, Karloo Pools can get a bit stanky when it gets stagnant, so best go after a big shower, which should be happening more frequently now that the BOM announced the return of La Niña to our shores.
To get to the pools, follow the Karloo Walking Track from Heathcote Station just past the Rural Fire Service building on your left and continue behind it until you see another Karloo Walking Track sign on your right.