As the founder of We Are Explorers, Henry has done heaps of exploring. Here’s his round-up of the five best overnight hikes near Sydney, plain and simple, so you can get out there ASAP.
It’s funny isn’t it? The first move we make as we progress from crawling baby to child is to get up and walk. Yet it’s from this simple evolutionary step that we continue to derive one of life’s greatest pleasures.
The only the difference age brings is more options – they extend to far wider frontiers than the confines of our playpen (and we no longer need a nappy… unless the camp cook-up was dodgy).
If you’re keen for an overnight hike near Sydney, you’re in for a more eye-opening treat than Augustus had in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I’ve strolled these hikes, all within a 3-hour radius of the city (and all accessible by public transport with a bit of extra walking), and they are my stand-out favourites thanks to their raw beauty, convenience and seclusion.
With magnificent white-cliff coastlines to hike along in the north and rugged, gym-free beaches to surf in the south (Garie Beach, North Era and South Era), the Royal National Park is something to behold.
Accessible by public transport (train to Cronulla, ferry to Bundeena, train back to Sydney via Otford), this gem of a trek has sprawling rainforests, hidden waterfalls, rockpools and a beachside campsite for those looking to spread the 26km trek over 2 days.
It’s becoming increasingly popular with for good reason, it’s one of the best overnight hikes in New South Wales, and it’s basically in Sydney!
Do This Hike: The Coast Track // Royal National Park (NSW)
Leaving the quaint town of Blackheath, this walk descends down the famous Grand Canyon (one of the best day walks near Sydney) before turning away from the crowds and heading deeper into the valley. The quiet campground at Acacia Flat has some drop toilets but that’s about it. It’ll just be you, the towering cliffs and the native Aussie bush, be ready for an early (golden) sunset!
The next day walks out through the Blue Gum Forest, an extraordinary protected area that was nearly cleared for a walnut farm, and finally a tough hike out beneath the whispy wonder of Govetts Leap waterfall. This hike is an absolute classic slice of the Blue Mountains and a fantastic introduction to overnight hiking. Put it on your list.
Do This Hike: Hiking Blackheath To Acacia Flat (NSW)
This is an undulating 8km beachcombing trek which makes for a beaut out-and-back overnight walk. Luckily it’s so pretty that hiking back the way you came won’t be a stress.
Two campsites are nestled on golden beaches along the Bouddi Coastal Walk: Little Beach and Putty Beach, both of which will have your friends furiously tapping the hearts on your Instagram feed.
Shipwrecks, wildflowers, whale-watching, deserted beaches… sounds like paradise to me!
Ever wanted to camp on top of a mountain? Mount Solitary’s your guy. Standing proud in the Jamison Valley, this massive, flat-topped mountain is within sight of Katoomba, but you’ll feel worlds away as you’re engulfed by birdsongs, wind in the gums and your thumping pulse as you climb the Korowal Knife Edge ridgeline.
Don’t underestimate this Blue Mountains overnight hike. With over 1000m of climbing, no guaranteed water at the top and a full 30km of hiking if you walk from Katoomba Station, you’re in for an epic few days.
Luckily, the views from the massive sandstone cliffs are worth every step.
First step, jump on a train north to Wondabyne, Australia’s only train station without road access. Have a swim at the end of the jetty to cool down, then hike up to the ridgeline, through wildflowers and scrubby heath, towards Pindar Cave.
You’ll cop views all the way to the ocean and down to Pittwater, but it’s fairly exposed so make sure you’ve got a good supply of H2O.
You can sleep in the epic Pindar Cave overhang (tent free if you’re not stressed about bugs) before hiking back to Wondabyne, or continue on to Patonga where you can get the ferry across to Palm Beach and the bus back to town.
Pro tip: have a beer while you wait for the ferry. You’ve earned it.
Kariong Brook Falls is a great place to cool off on the route to Patonga and you can camp out near Mt Wondabyne instead of the cave.
A Few Hiking Tips
- Pack plenty of water
- Bring a map (here’s why)
- First aid kit is essential (and know how to use it!)
- Personal Locator Beacons are lifesavers where there isn’t reception, you can often rent them
- High energy snack bars are your best buddy
- Leave No Trace (don’t be a tosser, take all rubbish with you)
- Let friends know where you’re going, just in case the proverbial hits the fan
Feature photo by Rachel Dimond