The best national park walks around Sydney usually encapsulate a mix of dry & wet forest, good shade and water views, and more than likely good swimming locations and shower facilities, as well as good access.
The 10 best walks around Sydney – they all require 0.5-1 day and you are encouraged to take food for a picnic and start out early. All trails are well marked, but for safety and the opportunity t do other things, its best to board your train at 9AM at the latest:
- Spit Bridge to Manly Trail (3-4hrs): This walk starts on the NE side of the Spit Bridge and follows Middle Cove around to Manly. The walk incorporates a range of flora including wet & dry sclerophyll forest and heath land, plus outstanding views of Sydney Harbour. Access to the start and finish is excellent, either by car or by bus from Wynyard (All Stop Buses to Northern Beaches), Chatswood or St Leonards Stations (both use 144 bus). Finish the walk with a beer lunch in Manly. There are plenty of opportunities for swimming.
- Sirius Cove Trail (2-3hrs): This walk starts at Sirius Cove and finished at Palm Cove. The walk incorporates a range of flora including wet & dry sclerophyll forest and heath land, plus outstanding views of Sydney Harbour. Access to the start and finish is by car (via Military Road, Raglan St) or Bus 247 from Wynyard Station. This walk can be completed as a circle, which could incorporate a stop for eating if the walk were extended to the north to Mosman. There are plenty of opportunities for swimming.
- Bobbin Head Trail (variable length): There are several walks in this area which cover the whole range of flora and bush settings from creek to estuary, gully to headland. Access is by car and bus from Turramurra Station on the North Shore line. Eat at Bobbin Head, Pittwater or Turramurra.
- Otford Trail (3-4hrs): This walk makes an excellent day walk if you include a visit to any of the South Coast train stations north of Wollongong. Alight the train at Otford Station, climb the hill to the road, then head north until (700m) you see a track to the beach. A longer walk takes you as far as Cronulla, but it requires overnight camping. You can swim at the beach, and there is a shop above the station for refreshments. Catch a country train from Central, Hurstville or Sutherland to Otford Station in the earliest convenience. Some trains do not stop. Each at the shop on the hill or each of the South Coast stations further south.
- Katoomba trails (3-4hrs): There are a number of good walking trails around Katoomba that take in the wonderful views, flora and watercourses in this scenic area. Catch a country train from Central to Katoomba Station in the earliest convenience. Eat at one of Katoomba’s pubs.
- Boudi National Park Trail: This trail is harder to visit than the others. Drive north of Sydney and take the turn off to Woy Woy, then MacMasters Beach. Before you reach MacMasters you will pass through the parking facilities for Boudi NP. This walk takes you along the coast and down to a beautiful unspoilt sheltered bay. Have a picnic lunch and dinner & beer at Terrigal at the Crown Plaza Hotel.
- Bondi Beach Trail (2-3hrs): This walk is probably the most popular because it adjoins a Sydney icon – Bondi Beach in the Eastern Suburbs. Catch a train to Bondi Junction, change to a Bondi Beach bus, then follow this coastal walk south to Crovelly, then catch a different bus back to Central Station. Better still – go the reverse route by getting the bus to Clovelly so you can
- Sydney Botanical Gardens Walk (2-3hrs): This is a great walk adjacent to the downtown part of Sydney. There is no formal trail or starting point, but you can start at Circular Quay, walk around to the Opera House, through the Botanical Gardens to the Domain and the Australian Art Gallery, then on to Hyde Park. You can finish off the walk with a lunch or dinner/drinks in Darlinghurst.
- Fitzroy Falls Trail (3hrs): There are wonderful walks around Fitzroy Falls, which encapsulates wet & dry sclerophyll forest along the Sydney Basin Escarpment. This area can only be accessed by car from Sydney. Follow the south coast freeway, and follow the signs to Picton, then Fitzroy Falls.
- Cowan-Hawksbury Trail: There are several walks around Cowan and Asquith Stations, just north of Hornsby Station, north of Sydney. This is the only area I have not walked in. I suspect the walks are longer and they are certainly more remote.
The walks have to be judged on their merits. Some are better equipped than others, some have more nature, others some cultural aspects, and some involve trips out of Sydney, whereas some might be 5minutes from your hotel. I have attempted to rank the walks in order of preference, but I think they are all good.