Guest Post by Gabrielle Lakusta
When planning a visit to Sydney, NSW, there’s more to see than the Opera House and Bondi Beach. If you’re in the city and looking for something to do other than the city-specific destinations, try one of these hikes near Sydney.
These hikes aren’t just great for getting out of the city, but it’s a great introduction to Australia’s native flora and fauna, which is served up in larger and more diverse quantities than what’s found in the city.
Some of these spots require a vehicle to access, however others have publicly-accessible transportation, if you don’t have a vehicle. Remember to be prepared, bring water, snacks and have a fully-charged smartphone. If hiking alone then make sure to share your hiking plan with someone you trust.
And finally, it is relatively normal to encounter wildlife while hiking in Australia. What’s most important to know is to never approach wildlife, enjoy from a distance and definitely never attempt to feed wildlife. This isn’t just illegal, but it can have severe consequences for the health of wildlife and their natural behaviours.
Figure Eight Pools in the Royal National Park
6-9 km, 4-5 hours return
The Royal National Park is about an hours drive outside of Sydney and is a perfect destination for hikes and sightseeing. It’s a good intersection between city life and the great outdoors as the city is still visible in the distance from the park. The Figure Eight Pools is one of the most popular hikes in the area, and definitely the most popular in the Royal National Park.
The hike itself is unique due to the coastal views over the area, and finishes at these uber instagrammable figure eight pools. What’s important to know about this hike is that it can be a dangerous destination. Follow all local advice, as outlined by the national park and only go during low tide. There’s limited cell phone reception along the trail and serious accidents have occured here.
When following the safety protocols, this is a fantastic hike for any day of the week or year—but make sure to slop on the sunscreen during the summer! Pro tip: instead of following the regular trail via Garrawarra Ridge, take the Coastal Trail, which ends up in the same destination.
Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains
1.4 km, 45 mins to an hour return
The Blue Mountains is well known for its natural beauty and serenity. Within the Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls is one of the most scenic places to visit, and there’s numerous trails around the area. To find the path down to the bottom, just head past the top of the waterfall and follow the trail down the escarpment. There’s only one trail heading down here so it’s unlikely you’ll get lost.
To get a better view of Wentworth Falls, follow the hiking trail past the top of the waterfall and down to the bottom. When regular tours are heading to the area, the tour groups dominantly stop at the top of the waterfall. This was, the bottom of the falls may offer more peace and beauty from below, and with less crowds.
The reason this trail adds more depth to the scenery is because it’s not just about the waterfall. There’s also rocky escarpments amid the gum tree forests, and so much more natural beauty. This can be an intense hike for some, so remember to take your time and enjoy.
Perrys Lookdown to Blue Gum Forest in the Blue Mountains
4 km, 3-4 hours return
Whether the Blue Mountains are busy, or you just want some peace away from the crowds, this is the hike to do. Perrys Lookdown is both a viewpoint and a free campground in the Blue Mountains. This hike goes down the rocky escarpment into the Blue Gum Forest below.
Don’t get discouraged by the steps down, it might be a windy stairway, but it’s definitely worth the views and the hike. The hike back up is definitely more about endurance, but take breaks as necessary. For this reason, give yourself plenty of time for the hike, and don’t attempt too close to sunset.
Expect quiet relaxing views, while spending an incredible time in nature. Make sure to have a snack below before heading back up via the same track.
Carrington Falls in Budderoo National Park
0.6 km loop, 30-45 mins return
Budderoo National Park is about two and half hours drive from Sydney and well-worth the day trip out. Not only is it in-between other stunning tourist destinations, such as NSW’s Jervis Bay, but it feels worlds away from the busy city life of Sydney. This hike around Carrington Falls is short and more of a walk, but can be combined with other hikes in the park, if you’re up for it.
What’s special about this hike is the drop of Carrington Falls, which is 90 metres down. It’s not only an impressive waterfall, but a beautiful untouched gum tree forest around. On a warm and breezy day I love to smell the eucalyptus from the trees. Look out for black cockatoos which frequent the area!
This trail around the viewing points of Carrington Falls is new and well-maintained. It’s mainly a raised walking path through the bush, before the trail heads back towards the parking lot through the bush.
Warris Chair Lookout in Budderoo National Park
1 km, 1 hour return
Last on this list of hikes near Sydney, NSW Warris Chair Lookout in Budderoo National Park is a quick and beautiful walk. It’s less of a hike because the trail is relatively flat, but it makes it great for those of all ages to enjoy the nature.
This is a great spot to find wallabies and kangaroos in nearby fields in the first section of the trail. Later when the trail heads into the bush, it’s surrounded by tall gum trees, which is a good bird spotting area.
If you’re up for more of a walk, there’s also Missingham Lookout trail in the same area which has different views of the area. The views at both lookouts, look down into the vast forest below and rocky escarpments, which have some similarities to the Blue Mountains.
About the Author
Gabrielle Lakusta is a travel blogger and freelance journalist currently based in Australia. She founded and writes for Gab Travelling, a travel blog sharing information on travelling and living Australia.