For a few years now our Explorer Project crew have been scouring the country, sniffing out the best microadventures in Aus like hippy pigs to psychedelic truffles. But sometimes you’ve only got a day or two to cram in a wild escape, and if you’re a Sydney-based Rat Race Resident™ this couldn’t be more essential. Luckily for you, there’s a phenomenal spread of adventures to choose from — we’ve hand-selected 70 of the best day trips from Sydney for you to get jiggy with.


From hikes you can reach by train, to cheeky canyons, wild swims and stunning summits, consider this list your go-to resource for weekend adventures. There’s over a year’s worth of adventurous weekenders below, reckon you can crack them all?

Been on a rad escape that hasn’t made the list? Submit it to the Explorer Project and help us get everyone off the couch and into the wild.

Leura_waterfalls_blue_mountains_D.Quaranta

Photo by @domforty

Gaze Off Evans Lookout And Hike The Pulpit Rock Walk

Blackheath – Blue Mountains

From the misty Grose Valley to the stunning Govetts Leap waterfall, this is a Blue Mountains favourite. The Pulpit Rock walk is a must, walk along the cliffs with endless views to one side. Both are especially good at sunrise.

Walk The Coastline Between Kiama And Gerringong

Kiama, Gerringong

Scramble over a massive coastal rock arch, watch out for whales migrating and dip your feet in at secluded pebbly beaches.

Catch Sunrise At Kanangra Walls

Kanangra-Boyd National Park

With a super early start (or a campout nearby) you can watch the iconic cliffs of Kanangra-Boyd National Park catch their morning rays. It’s seriously so photogenic.

TIM NORTHEY Kanangra Walls Blue Mountains NSW

Photo by @tk_north

Walk Along And Below Massive Coastal Cliffs At Garie Beach

Illawarra

Just south of Sydney you can scramble over boulders below 100m+ cliffs, or take in the view from above on the Coast Track.

Catch The Train To The Only Station In Australia With No Road Access (And Shower Under A Waterfall)

Brisbane Water National Park

Wondabyne station is sandwiched between steep bushland and the water. Catch the train north for an hour and hike up that hill — your efforts will be rewarded when you reach the tranquil Kariong Brook Falls and have an excellent wild swim.

Don’t stress if you get warm on the trip back to the station, you can jump off the wharf while you wait for your train!

Do The Double! Bike And Hike To Splendour Rock

Katoomba, Blue Mountains

This is a rad combo. Ride a mountain bike down the Narrowneck Trail (an adventure in itself) then hike through the valley to Splendour Rock. This one’s more of an overnighter unless you’re very fit.

Take The Sydneysider Pilgrimage — Hike The Coast Track

Royal National Park

It’s the quintessential Sydney bushwalk: hiking along the cliffs of Royal National Park will make you feel lucky to live in Australia’s biggest city. Not only can you reach the hike by public transport (and a private ferry), it’s also totally doable in a day trip from Sydney if you’re fit. Better start planning!

Find the Waterfall Between Sydney and Canberra

Mittagong

Did you know that there’s a huge waterfall between Sydney and Canberra? Just out of Mittagong is a bush track that takes you to Forty Foot Falls, with Sixty Foot Falls further down the way to back it up (inventive names, I know).

There’s also an abandoned 84m long tunnel to explore. Go and get wild.

Go Horse Riding In The Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley

Less ‘wild’ and more ‘wild west’, horse riding in the Hunter is a blast, especially if you throw in a visit to a winery (or 3) and a night out under the stars.

Camp Near The Sea Cliff Bridge

Coledale

Did you know that you can camp down near the Sea Cliff Bridge, right on an epic surf beach, only 1.5 hours (if that!) from Sydney? You can. Do it.

Ed Dallimore Seacliff Bridge south coast nsw sun rise

Photo by @59photos

Paddle Out To An Island (And Camp On It)

Mooney Mooney

A short paddle out into the end of Mooney Mooney creek brings you to Snake Island. Isn’t it time you embraced the pirate life?

Walk Through Slot Canyon At Bungonia Gorge

Bungonia National Park

Canyoning doesn’t always need wetsuits and ropework — the red track through Bungonia Gorge is a deep slot canyon full of massive boulders that are just asking for a scrambling. There’s a great campsite if you’d like to hang out for longer.

Photograph Bombo Quarry And Cathedral Rocks

Minnamurra, Kiama

The striking rock formations of Cathedral Rocks, and their man-made counterparts at Bombo, are incredible photographic subjects. Throw in a swim and a trip to Kiama blowhole (or the Little Blowhole and you’re set). Oh and you can bring your dog!

adrian mascneon, bombo quarry, nsw, coastal

Photo by @adrianmascenon

Paddle To The Base Of Warragamba Dam

Blue Mountains

Escape the heat with a paddle down the Nepean River. Relax in natural spa baths and waterfalls before heading back or set up shop and crack a brew on the riverbank.

Read: The government wants to raise the dam by 14m, read about why this is a bad idea here.

Test Out The Rope Swing At South West Arm Pool

Royal National Park

Escape the crowds heading to Figure 8 Pools and Wattamolla, a short bushwalk into the park unlocks an awesome natural waterpark, with cliffs to jump off into the deep water.

Catch A Train To Your Canoe And Paddle Up Kangaroo Creek

Royal National Park

There are few things as satisfying as an adventure you can reach via public transport. A short train ride and a 4km walk through gorgeous bushland brings you to Audley Boatshed, where you can rent a canoe and paddle upriver. Feel those worries slip slide away.

Seek Out Historical Cave Paintings At Maiyingu Marragu Aboriginal Reserve

Wolgan Valley

The cave paintings in Blackfellows Hand Cave remain protected from the elements and offer a glimpse into Australia’s cultural history. Walk quietly through the ancient rock pagodas and leave time to really appreciate this special place.

Spot Wild Koalas Without Leaving Sydney

Western Sydney

Catching a glimpse of the iconic Aussie native, the koala, can be a bit of a faff. Luckily Matt ‘n’ Kat have found the perfect place to up your chances. You can even reach it by train!

Koala spotting Henry Brydon

Photo by @henry_brydon

Discover The Hidden Waterfalls At Wattamolla

Royal National Park

6 layers of waterfalls. A secret lagoon to swim in? Wattamolla doesn’t have to be a day of fighting with the crowds — walk up behind the jump rock and discover a little hidden paradise.

Cool Off In Lower Bowens Creek Canyon

Mt Wilson – Blue Mountains

In the warmer months there are few cooler places to hide out than a canyon in the Blue Mountains. Does abseiling down icy waterfalls with ferns brushing your face sound like a wicked day out? Check out this adventure.

Find Your Quiet Place In Serendipity Canyon

Mt Wilson – Blue Mountains

Descending into the tranquil confines of a lush Blue Mountains canyon is an experience like no other. You’ll need either the skills, mates with canyoning experience or the dosh for a guided trip to pull this adventure off.

What's In A Name // Serendipity Canyon (NSW) Merridy Cairn-Duff canyon river

Photo by Merridy Cairn-Duff

Do The Eagle Rock And Check Out Curracurrong Falls

Royal National Park

Make your way along the Coast Track for clifftop goodness and waterfalls pouring into the ocean. Look out for ocean birds and even whales from the panoramic viewpoints!

Plunge Into A Pool At National Pass

Wentworth Falls – Blue Mountains

Descend down steep steps to the base of Wentworth Falls and you’ll uncover a plunge pool playground. You can even shower under the falls! Cruise along to the base of Empress Falls for another dip, then eat all of your snacks before climbing out of the valley. What a day!

You can reach this adventure on the train. How good!

national pass, blue mountains, wild swimming

Photo by @pidge101

Have A 5-9 Mid-week Microadventure

Royal National Park – or anywhere you can reach after work and be back in time for the next morning!

What could be more rogue than leaving work with a stonkin’ great pack on your back, ready to sleep wild in the middle of the week. Shake up your everyday and reclaim your weeknights with a mid-week microadventure. This one’s accessible by train but the possibilities are endless.

Walk Along The Huge Escarpment Above Wollongong

Wollongong

Only an hour south of Sydney you can hike this epic track, stuffed with panoramic views of the ocean and clifftop lookouts. Check out how the native flora changes as the walk climbs to the Brokers Nose summit.

Rent Some Fat Bikes And Tear It Up At Stockton Dunes

Worimi Conservation Lands, Newcastle

The Southern Hemisphere’s largest stretch of sand dunes is just north of Newcastle! Grab some bikes with oversized tyres (or bring a big rig if you’ve got it) and enjoy the barren sands and Mad Max vibes. There’s camping nearby!

fat bikes stockton dunes

Photo by @henry_brydon

Get Your Feet Wet At Maddens Falls

Dharawal National Park

Maddens Falls cascade down a series of steps on their journey towards the ocean, creating an immersive amphitheatre of water. Spend the day here or drop in on the way to other southern adventures.

Seek Out Glow Worms, Ruins, Rocky Cliffs And Stunning Valleys At Newnes

Newnes – Wolgan Valley

If driving down mysterious dirt roads to intriguing ruins is your thing (I think it’s everyone’s thing?) then a trip to Newnes should be top of your list. Take the trip over the Blue Mountains to the Glow Worm Tunnel (you can even ride there) or make it a weekender at the free campground.

Photo by @henry_brydon

Hike From Glenbrook To Springwood Without A Car

Glenbrook, Springwood – Blue Mountains

The 20km hike from Glenbrook to Springwood features stunning wild swimming and beautiful campsites, all in the foothills of the Blue mountains right next to Sydney. Whether you choose an epic day hike or a leisurely overnighter, you can cut down on faff by catching the train to the start of this hike.

Climb Mt Mitchell For Endless Ocean Views

Stanwell Park

This epic bushwalk starts down at the ocean near the famous Sea Cliff Bridge and quickly climbs up the escarpment beneath towering gums, before reaching a few epic vantage points that look north or south. You can easily catch the train to the start of this hike and you can extend it by walking south, all the way to Austinmer.

Explore Ku Ring Gai National Park

Ku Ring Gai National Park

Ku Ring Gai National Park isn’t even out of Sydney! It’s a huge protected area to the north with cliffs, coastal views, bulk native plants, even Aboriginal carvings. In less than an hour you could be walking towards a waterhole with a waterfall. Go!

Hunt Down A Waterfall Within Sydney

Ku Ring Gai Chase

Sometimes you don’t even have to leave Sydney to go waterfall chasing. Upper Gledhill Falls is sandwiched between the Northern Beaches and the North Shore, but that doesn’t mean it’s holding back! There’s even a large pool at the base to swim in. Cheerin’!

jeremy lam, gledhill falls, northern beaches, north shore, sydney, nsw, waterfall, wild swimming

Photo by @jeremylamx

Go Waterfall Chasing In Leura

Leura – Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains is full of stunning waterfalls, but few reach the sheer wonder that’s on offer around Leura. From the Pool of Siloam, hike through the valley, sus out the cascades and finish with your neck craned skywards at the base of Bridal Veil Falls. Feel the spray on your face.

There are also some epic lookouts nearby that you should definitely tick off and you can continue on to the Giants Stairway to ascend up to the Three Sisters.

Snorkel The Burnt Out Catherine Hill Bay Jetty

Catherine Hill Bay

Back in 2013 a fire burnt out this massive jetty that’s reminiscent of surf movies on the Californian coast (any Point Break fans out there?). It’s abandoned now but you can still snorkel or spearfish the underwater ruin.

Canoe Through Kangaroo Valley

Lake Yarrunga – Kangaroo Valley

Whether it’s a 3-day camping epic like the link above or an afternoon paddle up Shoalhaven Gorge, Lake Yarrunga is an exquisite place to dip your oar. No powered boats, no houses, just yourself, your paddle and bulk nature.

Photo by @aronhailey

Find The Classic Sea Cliff Bridge Viewpoint

Scarborough

Head south of Sydney on a coastal road trip taking in Royal National Park and the Sea Cliff Bridge. The options are almost endless but checking out the bridge from above and seeking out the hidden falls in the national park are a must!

Abseil Down Malaita Wall Into The Jamison Valley

Katoomba – Blue Mountains

Skip the steps and descend by rope into the Blue Mountains’ most famous valley. With Mt Solitary and Ruined Castle at your back, this 5 pitch abseil will give you a new perspective on the valley and get you up close and personal with the epic cliffs.

Visit Australia’s Grand Canyon

Blackheath – Blue Mountains

The Grand Canyon track has been one of the best day trips from Sydney for over a century, and it’s not hard to see why. The lush canyon is chock full of ferns that exist in the cool microclimate created by the shade of the canyon walls.

Experienced canyoners can abseil in and access the upper parts of the canyon but if you aren’t a rope expert you can still explore a little ways up the Grand Canyon from the other end.

Escape Bondi And Claim Wreck Beach For Yourself

Port Stephens

Cruise up the Pacific Highway up to the end of the Port Stephens headland — you’re looking for Tomaree National Park, home to the tranquil and deserted Wreck Beach. Hike in with your picnic and spend the day alternating between sand and surf. Hot tip: bring 2 towels so one’s always drying.

While you’re there, make sure you climb up Mt Tomaree for a stellar view of the coastline.

Explore Conjola Beach And Its Coastal Rainforest

Conjola Beach – Shoalhaven

The Narrawallee Creek nature reserve takes in the protected coastline between Ulladulla and Lake Conjola. There are dunes, wetlands and coastal forests to explore, as well as spots to swim, fish and spot kangaroos. Go midweek and you’ll probably have it all to yourself!

Walk Through Dry Canyons And Climb Donkey Mountain

Wolgan Valley – Newnes

From the top of Donkey Mountain you’ll see panoramic views of the unique rock formations that make up the Wolgan Valley. The walk up is a labyrinth of canyons and pagodas — make sure your nav skills are up to the challenge!

Photo by Dan Jee

Climb Drawing Room Rocks For A Cracker View

Berry – Shoalhaven

The Drawing Room Rocks hike is a fantastic day trip from Sydney and the perfect intro to the Shoalhaven. Starting in lush rainforest, you’ll quickly ascend through drier scrub before reaching the rocky summit. Intriguing rock formations are perfect for a picnic whilst you take in the view of 7 Mile Beach to the East, Kangaroo Valley to the West and Jervis bay to the South.

Hike Up Mt Dawson And Look At The Second Widest Canyon In The World

Wolgan Valley – Newnes

Straddling the ridge atop Mt Dawson you’ll be floored by the sheer size of the Wolgan and Capertee Valleys. The Capertee Valley is a huge valley to the west; flat-topped rocky mountains poke out of the plains while closer by, jagged cliffs and outcrops dwarf you. There’s even camping here if you’ve got the time!

Climb The Castle

Budawangs, Morton National Park – Shoalhaven

The Castle is a massive rocky outcrop 4 hours south of Sydney. It’s a bit of a mission to get down and back in a day, with over 800m of elevation gain to the summit, but the views of Didthul (Pigeon House Mountain) and the coastline are more than worth it. Camp the night before if you can.

Roadtrip Through The Shoalhaven

Shoalhaven – South Coast

Pristine beach sunrises, epic clifftop lookouts and lush rainforest. The Shoalhaven combines the wonder of the Blue Mountains with salt-kissed beach vibes. It’s only 2 hours south of Sydney so you can spend a whole day exploring.

Climb Mt Solitary In A Day

Katoomba – Blue Mountains

The famous Mt Solitary is usually climbed as part of a multi-day hike, but trail runners and fit hikers can and do go up and down the mountain in a day. While the above adventure is about camping (do it if you have the time), day trippers can drive to the trailhead and make it a 24km one-day mission.

Get Your 4WD Muddy In The Watagans

Watagan State Forest

Just itchin’ to throw your shiny rig in the deep end? A short drive north of Sydney, the Watagan State Forest is ready to receive your rig. Just be careful of all the ditches and mud pits, it might not want to give it back!

Stand On Baltzer Lookout And Hanging Rock

Blackheath – Blue Mountains

The rock formations near Blackheath never cease to amaze. Hanging Rock is an almost comically perfect prow of rock that sticks out over the valley — paired with the epic Baltzer Lookout, this is one of the Blue Mountains’ must-do day trips.

Baltzer Lookout & Hanging Rock // Blackheath (NSW) Daniel Mulder. lookout, person, tree, horizon, sunrise, clouds, gap

Photo by Daniel Mulder

Go Bouldering At Palm Beach

Palm Beach

Bouldering in summer can be a bit of a task, so maintaining close proximity to water is a must. The boulders at Palm Beach are right on the sand, perfect for an early climb, a dip and brunch!

Conquer Mystery Mountain

Wolgan Valley – Newnes

The triangular mountaintop of Mystery Mountain beckons! Towering over Newnes Campground, this short and sharp scramble takes you 370m above the valley floor, giving you mega views down the valley and a bird’s eye perspective of your mates back at camp.

Adrian Mascenon, Mystery Mountain, Newnes, Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains, NSW, climb, summit, sunrise

Photo by @adrianmascenon

Laze The Day Away At Ladies Well

Barrington Tops

Ditch the stress of the city and drive north to Ladies Well, a gorgeous swimming hole without a big walk in. There’s a campsite nearby to optimise your driving-to-chillaxin’ ratio but if you don’t mind chucking on a few podcasts, this is a worthwhile day trip.

Find The Lost City In A Fourbie

Clarence, Bell, Newnes Plateau

Get proper off-track with a drive to the Lost City. The maze of 4WD tracks on the Newnes Plateau will lead you to a bizarre collection of rock formations that you’d never expect only 2 hours from Sydney. Make sure you’ve got the skills to find your way out again when you’re done!

Drive And Camp On The Beach At Lake Macquarie

Red Head Beach

Read Head Beach is one of the only places in NSW where you can drive your 4WD on the dunes, park up and spend the night. If you’re looking for a sandy, all-Aussie driving adventure, this is one of the closest to Sydney.

Ride The Bike Paths Of Bowral

Bowral

The idyllic Southern Highlands is best explored by bike nowadays. Bike paths criss-cross the pastoral paradise dipping in and out of quaint towns (with quainter cafes).

Seek Out Water Nymphs Dell

Wentworth Falls – Blue Mountains

This quiet pool and series of waterfalls is only a short drive into the Blue Mountains, but you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world. Bring a book and spend the day down here.

Hike Down To The Ocean, Find The Middens Of The Dharawal People And… A Nudist Beach?

Royal National Park

The Jibbon Track is a short hike down to a peaceful part of the coast where you can swim, snorkel and explore to your heart’s content. Aboriginal rock carvings and middens show that the area has been well known for thousands of years, yet it’s still quiet enough for people to get their kit off at a nudist beach to the north.

Photo by @robmulally

Don’t see your favourite day trip on the list? We Are Explorers articles are submitted by readers. Join the Explorer Project and put your adventure on the map!

 


Feature image by @adrianmascenon


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