Sydney’s got it all—sparkling beaches, a vibrant city center, impressive architecture. But if you want a true sense of the local landscape, get your feet into walking shoes and go on some “bushwalks” (Aussie for “hikes”) in and around the city. Not only can a bushwalk work off those beers you might have drunk last night, it also gives you the opportunity to check out the native flora and fauna.
Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay Walk
If you only have time for one bushwalk, check out the Bradleys Head and Chowder Bay Walk. This is a fairly gentle three-mile track that’s accessible by ferry or bus, making it an appealing option for travellers without cars. The bushwalk provides too-good-to-be-true views of Sydney Harbor, and takes you through eucalypt forests that are home to sulfur-crested cockatoos, laughing kookaburras, and blue-tongued lizards. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services offer an app for this walk, which you can download on your iPhone and Android. The app tracks your progress, and tells you the stories of history-packed sites, such as the mast from the HMAS Sydney, which stands on a cliff edge at Bradleys Head.
Manly to Spit Bridge Trail
On the Manly to Spit Bridge Trail, you can enjoy both bushland and beach. This six-mile walk winds along the sandstone coastline between two famous seaside towns—Seaforth and Manly—and offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. As you travel along, you’ll end up on some gorgeous beaches like Forty Baskets Beach in Balgowlah and Reef Beach in Manly, so don’t forget to bring your “cossie” (which means “swimsuit”). You can tailor this walk any way you’d like—power through the whole thing for three or four hours, or walk part of it before wandering off to a pub for a schooner of beer.
Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head Loop
The Ku-ring-Gai Chase National Park is a 20-mile journey from the city centre, but it’s well worth the trip. One of the most beautiful walks in this park is the six-mile Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head Loop, which takes you through forests of smooth bark apple gums, fern tree plantations, and thick mangroves along a saltwater estuary. As you trek this easy-graded trail, you may come across “middens,” which are old collections of shells and bones leftover from aboriginal people’s meals, as well as aboriginal rock engravings. When it’s time to stop for some “tucker” (what Aussies call “food”), the Bobbin Head Picnic Area is the perfect spot. You might even find some kangaroos there!
Grand Canyon Track, Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains National Park tends to be on the must-see list for travelers, but with over 80 bushwalks in this region, it can be a tricky decision to choose one. The Grand Canyon Track shows you the best-of-the-best of the Blue Mountains World Heritage area, leading you into an incredible sandstone canyon complete with waterfalls, creeks, and vegetation that stems from ancient Gondwanaland. This four-mile bushwalk is classed as medium-grade, and it can take up to four hours to complete. But if you’re keen to keep going, you can easily hop onto the nearby Clifftop Walking Track.