How to get wild in the wild
From stunning walks to treetop ziplines, New South Wales offers plenty of opportunities to go wild in the wild. Here are four ways to embrace your adventurous side in nature.
If you want to explore nature and get some adrenaline pumping through your veins at the same time, choose an activity that combines plenty of thrills with oodles of natural beauty. From its wild rivers to its tall forests, NSW offers countless adventures guaranteed to get your pulse racing.
Walk on high
Great walks can stir powerful emotions. Traversing an exposed ledge clinging to a 300m-high cliff while holding a safety rope with the ocean sprawling before you inspires a feeling you’re unlikely to forget. It’s one of the highlights of the Seven Peaks Walk, a five-day luxury guided hike around World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, which sits about 700km east of Sydney. This is one of the Great Walks of Australia’s collection of premium guided walking tours – so expect some great hiking during the day and serious luxury at night.
For another classic thigh-burning walk, consider the Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains – it covers about 45km through valleys, rainforests and creeks (including a swing-bridge crossing of Coxs River) and you can be guided along it on a two-day adventure with Peak Potential. Or tackle the Light to Light Walk, a three-day trek along the spectacular Sapphire Coast; the Sapphire Coast Guiding Co offers guided tours with camping en route.
If time is short but you still feel like a challenge, head for the Red Cedar Falls walking track on the Mid-North Coast. This steep, sometimes slippery, grade 5 trek takes three or so hours return and rewards you with a dramatic view of Dorrigo National Park’s biggest waterfall, as well as opportunities to enjoy some life-affirming cool-downs in swimming holes along the way.
When it comes to pushing yourself and conquering your fears, climbing would have to be right up there with the most exhilarating, leg-quaking action adventures you can try.
Head to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains to tackle one of the many climbing experiences on offer, such as a full-day trip with High and Wild Australian Adventures. You’ll learn the ropes – literally – as you tackle different grades of climbs according to how experienced you are and how comfortable you are with the challenges put before you. When you soak up a spectacular Blue Mountains view from the top of a cliff, you’ll feel like you’ve earned it.
On the South Coast, embark on a rock climbing adventure in Shoalhaven (or enjoy a “cliffnic” on a platform suspended from a clifftop over the Shoalhaven River) with Outdoor Raw. Or, to the north, tackle climbing locations in stunning Watagans National Park or the Nelson Bay region with Out and About Adventures.
To the west, Warrumbungle National Park (located about a 2hr drive north of Dubbo) offers fabulous challenges for the serious climber, including the landmark, 14.5km loop Breadknife and Great High Tops Walk. The New England High Country around Armidale and Glen Innes is one of the state’s lesser-known locales for great walking, hiking and climbing.
Take a trip through the trees
Fly through the trees in Western Sydney or on the Central Coast on the TreeTop Crazy Rider, a combination of rollercoaster and flying fox. Loops, twists, turns and heart-in-mouth freefall drops are all part of the exhilarating fun as you are whisked through the canopy. You can also test your fear of heights by tackling the rope ladders, wobbly bridges and zip lines of TreeTops Adventure Parks at five locations in NSW.
Near Wollongong, Illawarra Fly offers a Zipline Tour through the rainforest, including three flights, two suspension bridges and four cloud stations on which to perch and build up courage for the next challenge.
Alternatively, if you like a view of camels while you’re whizzing through the trees (it takes all sorts), head to Trees Adventure Nowra Park. One of seven Trees Adventure parks across the state, it features more than 70 challenges, 15 zip lines and a cliff-edge obstacle course, all inside Shoalhaven Zoo.
Australia’s longest whitewater trail combines thrills and spills in grade 3 and 4 rapids with moments of serenity in spectacular wilderness. The Clarence Valley Canoe and Kayak Trail covers a whopping 195km between Nymboi-Binderay National Park and the township of Copmanhurst, in northern NSW. It’s divided into eight sections, takes in three river systems and has 12 campsites. You can hire equipment and/or a river guide through local experts including Nymboida Camping and Canoeing.
Sometimes, you don’t need rapids to get the pulse racing: the natural beauty of NSW’s magical waterways can be enough. See the sun rise near Eden, in the state’s far south, from a kayak on one of the area's rivers, have a go at kayaking in Sydney to see another side of the Emerald City, or go beyond the breakers at Byron Bay with Cape Byron Kayaks – if getting up close to a pod of dolphins or a humpback whale doesn’t get your heart beating out of your chest, nothing will.