20 September 2019
Get out and about to discover the natural wonders of Australia’s most diverse and exciting State.
You don’t need to be super-fit to walk to the top of Australia’s highest peak, the 2,228m Mount Kosciuszko. Take one of two options: the 18.6km return trail from Charlotte Pass or the 13km return track from Thredbo (which includes a small cheat: a ride on the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift). The trails are smooth and well maintained, and there are long stretches of sturdy metal walkways. The best time to conquer Kosciuszko (try saying that fast five times) is from December to March, when the snow has melted and the wildflowers are in bloom. A note: even in Summer, it can be chilly and windy at the top, so be sure to pack a jacket.
Where: Kosciuszko National Park is in the Snowy Mountains, about six hours’ drive south-west of Sydney.
The most extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world stretches down the east coast of Australia. Step into this unforgettable wilderness in the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Barrington Tops National Park. Its dramatic peaks were carved by ancient lava flows and rise up to 1,500m above sea level. Walking trails range from gentle hikes that take only a few hours to challenging overnight treks where you can set up a bush camp as the sun sets.
Where: Barrington Tops National Park is a five-hour drive north of Sydney.
On the western edge of the city, the Blue Mountains are a favourite weekend getaway for Sydneysiders wanting a hit of rugged cliffs, hazy eucalypt forests, dramatic waterfalls and ancient caves. You could discover a new lookout point every day, taking in breathtaking views over lush gorges and valleys. Hassans Walls is the highest lookout in the Blue Mountains at 1,100m, with extraordinary vistas in every direction. Hike up to the Kanangra-Boyd lookout to see Mt Cloudmaker ringed in mist or take the 10km return walk to Burramoko Ridge (Hanging Rock)—the views are sublime.
Where: the Blue Mountains are a 90-minute drive west of Sydney.
Sydney is a buzzing, bustling metropolis, but you’ll be amazed at how much untouched wilderness exists within the city. Most of the harbour foreshore is protected as part of the Sydney Harbour National Park, while the coast is threaded with walking trails, secluded patches of green and hidden beaches. Try the Taronga Zoo to Chowder Bay trail for great views back across the harbour. See Sydney’s iconic eastern beaches on the Bondi to Coogee walk, visit the city’s northern tip on the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk, or test your fitness on the two-day, 26km Coast Track from Bundeena to Otford in the Royal National Park on Sydney’s southern fringes.
At this national park in the State’s far west, you’ll find a stunning landscape of rich red earth, secluded waterholes, dramatic ridges, towering red gums and saltbush plains that stretch all the way to the horizon. The area has been of special significance to local Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years, and the park is home to well-preserved Indigenous rock art. Pitch your tent at the Homestead Creek campground and sleep under a canopy of a million stars.
Where: Mutawintji National Park is a three-hour drive from the town of Broken Hill in western NSW. Broken Hill is a 2.5-hour flight from Sydney.
Stretching 65km from Angourie to Red Rock on the North Coast, the Yuraygir Coastal Walk is one of NSW’s great multi-day treks. The Clarence Coast is the least developed stretch of coastline in the State, so you’ll be surrounded by nature at its most pure: fields of wildflowers, native animals and sweeping ocean views. Look out for dolphins frolicking in the surf or, if you’re visiting between May and November, whales migrating north. There are eight beach and riverside campgrounds along the way, and a few cabins and holiday parks if you prefer a little more comfort.
Where: Angourie, at the start of the Yuraygir Trail, is a 7.5-hour drive north of Sydney. The closest airport is the Clarence Valley Regional Airport in Grafton, a 1.5-hour flight from Sydney.
Get a different perspective of Port Stephens’ beautiful beaches on horseback. Sahara Trails offers two beach riding experiences, including a 1.5-hour trek along the sand and into the waves before climbing the huge sand dunes of the Woromi Conservation Lands. For intermediate riders aged 14+. Beginners can take the slightly more tame bush trail ride through pretty casuarina forest.
Where: Port Stephens is a three-hour drive north of Sydney.
Walk in the footsteps of the Aboriginal Brinja-Yuin people, who have lived around Moruya on the South Coast for thousands of years. The Bingi Dreaming Track follows an ancient Songline that links camps, ceremonial and trading sites, fresh water and food sources. The 13.5km trail passes beaches (perfect for a cooling dip), lakes, heathlands and forests, and you can expect to see kangaroos and wallabies lazing in the sun and, from May to November, whales cruising up the coast.
Where: the Bingi Dreaming Track is in the Eurobodalla region, a 4.5-hour drive south of Sydney.
Built in the late 1880s, Lady Carrington Drive started life as a scenic carriage trail through the Royal National Park, on Sydney’s southern edge. The trail, now closed to traffic, has morphed into one of the State’s prettiest cycling routes. Starting at Audley, the trail runs for 10km one way, following the edge of the Hacking River and flanked by huge sandstone cliffs. Pack a picnic in your pannier and stop at one of the three designated rest areas along the trail or eat at the Audley Dance Hall and Cafe, a beautifully restored 1940s building. Finish the day paddling the pretty weir on a kayak hired from the nearby Audley Boatshed.
Where: the Royal National Park is a one-hour drive south of the CBD.
What’s better than one waterfall? Seven waterfalls! Go deep into the Valley of the Waters on the Wentworth Pass loop walking track in the Blue Mountains. The track passes no less than seven waterfalls, ranging from the jaw-dropping 867m Wentworth Falls to the gentler moss-covered cascades of Sylvia Falls. Don’t be surprised to see wetsuit-clad abseilers making their way down the face of Empress Falls. There are icy waterholes to swim in and shy lyrebirds hiding among the foliage.
Where: the Blue Mountains is a 90-minute drive west of Sydney.
For more information on planning your trip to New South Wales, head to VisitNSW.com