We’ve picked out the 5 best child-friendly hikes within a few hours of Sydney. There’s no excuse to not get out there for some quality family time!
Whether you have a baby in a backpack, a toddler in a pushchair or a 5-year-old trailing behind you, there’s a hike for every age bracket within a few hours of Sydney. The best bit? These trails will satisfy adventurous parents too and all that fresh air will make them sleep the whole drive home. Because, Mother Nature is the best babysitter.
Photography by John Harris Photography
#1 Minnamurra Falls, Budderoo National Park.
My daughter holds the records as the youngest person to ever ‘hike’ to Minnamurra Falls. Well, that’s according to the Park Ranger who met us as we walked the trail – when she was three days old. It might sound crazy (and if my midwife is reading this, yes, I took it slowly). But, the elevated walkways and paved trails are easy to manoeuvre with a newborn in a baby wearer. There are even handy benches along the way for breastfeeding pitstops.
#2 Lady Carrington Drive, the Royal National Park
More like an unsealed road than a trail, Lady Carrington Drive is the perfect route for young kids who are determined not to be carried. Start at the Audley end as this has more activity options, with the boat pond, a café for sugary bribes and trees to hang a hammock from (the best way to get our baby to sleep, we’ve discovered). We took our 3-year-old nephew who walked half of the 10km track, amazed by the overhanging rocks, mountain bikers and sticks he had to stop to collect (pack your patience!)
#3 Fairyland Pleasure Gardens, Lane Cove National Park
What child wouldn’t want to go to a place called Fairyland? Starting at Finders Wharf, a stone’s throw from Sydney CBD, this 6km stretch is a favourite for bird watchers searching for the ‘Powerful owl’ – the largest owl in Australasia. The Fairyland Pleasure Ground – once a fairground and now a picnic area – is part of a bush regeneration project. Some of the volunteers even give out business cards that say they’re members of a fairy cult working for a wizard.
#4 Middlehead, Sydney Harbour National Park
Combine a nature walk with a history lesson. Walk the Don Goodsir track, in Sydney Harbour National Park to the old military forts built in the 1800s (do your homework if your kids are old enough to ask questions!) Some of the tunnels are still open to the public and you can look down into the old gun pits. If you prefer peace not war, head to Chowders bay for a serene afternoon of snorkeling and kayaking afterwards.
#5 The Three Sisters in Katoomba
The National Parks website has an ‘access friendly’ section that lists wheelchair friendly trails – which are also perfect if you’re pushing a pram or buggy. The closest is Fairfax Heritage walking track, although this one can get busy especially on a weekend (blame the whale watchers). Venture a little further and the Three Sisters Walk is pram-friendly from from Echo Point to Oreades lookout. Don’t get stuck at the stairs to Honeymoon Bridge!