After setting her sights on adventures closer to home and completing more than a few hikes, Wendy discovered a deep affection for her home state of NSW.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Unexpected Time Apart

Travel restrictions over the past two years have undoubtedly led to greater inconveniences than just a few cancelled adventures. I may have had more cancelled plans than most though, because my relentless optimism meant I just kept booking trips that were never going to get off the ground. Summer in Europe in 2020—nope. Tasmania in January 2021—not a chance. New Zealand for winter in 2021—lol. And so on. And on.


Snow! But not Tassie or NZ


This meant I kept finding myself with leave booked, psyched for adventure, and ‘only’ the state of NSW to explore. Having lived in Sydney for just a few years, this presented an opportunity to get to know my new home. And while being restricted to one state initially felt like ‘making do’, my backup plans quickly turned into some of the best trips of my life.

After the first lockdown the most enticing thing to do was get out into nature—on foot. With so much closed due to Covid, hiking became the activity of choice for my partner Peter and I. It’s easy to plan and prepare for. It doesn’t rely so much on attractions being open. Even accommodation is simple if you’re able to camp!

Reconnecting with Nature

Mid-2020, as soon as lockdown ended and travel within NSW resumed, Peter and I were off on a six-day hike from Coffs Harbour to Yamba. This was actually two hikes we linked together, the 60km Solitary Islands coastal walk and the 65km Yuraygir coastal walk.

This is a wonderfully accessible hike, as it passes through numerous seaside towns, meaning there are opportunities to restock food, have a cafe meal, or even catch a bus home if you decide to cut your trip short.

The trails follow the coastline closely, meaning each day brings slowly changing views of beaches, cliffs and new opportunities for a dip. NSW beaches are the happy medium for swimming in Australia – warm enough to enjoy the water, but too cold for box jellyfish and crocodiles.


Spending nearly a week walking alongside the ocean and falling asleep each night to the sound of waves lapping on the beach, gave us a much needed mental reset. Our days were shaped by the sun and the tides, and each day strengthened our feeling of connection to the landscape.

Rising at first light, we timed our sections of beach walking for low tide, found shade in the middle of the days, and washed by plunging into the sea.

Read more: The 10 Best Coastal Hikes in NSW


How Hiking Made Me Love NSW Even More, wendy bruere

Another Side of the State

When our plans for Tasmania in January 2021 were cancelled, Peter and I decided to tackle a week-long hike from Kosciuszko to Kiandra. I’d been to the Snowy Mountains in winter, and thought they’d be perfectly nice in summer.

On the first day as we walked from Charlotte Pass to the summit of Kosciuszko, then past Lake Albina and along the ridge above Blue Lake, I realised how much I had underestimated this part of NSW. The rolling hills, wildflowers, and open alpine landscape were a new discovery for me in my adopted home state.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

As the days progressed our hike took us down into valleys and along creeks, visiting a series of historic huts along the way.

Just past Mt Jagungal, we stopped in at O’Keefes Hut which was wallpapered with pages from newspapers from the 1930s and 40s. These pages, in a remote hut several days’ hike from the nearest road, are the genuine article and absolutely worthy of a museum.


A Thousand Different Options

The hiking bug had bitten us harder than any leech or tick we encountered. We set out to explore more long sections of the NSW coastline. Even where ‘official’ multi-day hikes aren’t found it can be possible to create your own.

One long weekend we hiked the breathtaking 30km Royal National Park Coast Track (there are campsites along the way for those who want to break it down into shorter days), then stayed a night in Stanwell Tops before following trails along the escarpment to near Wollongong. After a night in Wollongong, we took a short train ride to Minnamurra to start the 20km Kiama Coast Walk to Gerringong.



Further inland we discovered that Budawang National Park is a magical and varied hiking Mecca. Not for the faint-hearted, the hike to the summit of The Castle involves steep scrambling with the help of fixed ropes. Other hikes in the park take you past rocky monoliths, through dark, mossy forest and open woodland. And up many hills.



We also hiked through the otherworldly Warrumbungles, saw the pristine wilderness of the far south coast, and scrambled through the mist in the Blue Mountains. Turns out there was quite a bit more to see in NSW than I’d realised!

Even Closer to Home

Exploring my own backyard happened on a smaller scale during the first lockdown. Each weekend arrived with restrictions continuing to confine me to Sydney. Unable to head out for weekend adventures, Peter and I mapped out epic day walks through the deserted streets.

Walk One saw us head from our apartment in Erskineville to Bare Island, then along the Cape Banks walking track and back to Erskineville. Walk Two was Erskineville to Coogee, then up along the coast, around South Head and back home. Walk Three was over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then along the coast to Manly, taking the ferry home.



Read more: 11 Beautiful Coastal Walks Sydney Has On Offer

We covered most of the Sydney coastline from La Perouse to Manly. There are short sections of street walking, of course, but for the most part, trails run along beaches, cliffs and forests. For the largest city in Australia, many sections feel remarkably wild and beautiful. At the right time of year, you can see whales from numerous Sydney lookouts.



Read more: 9 Epic Whale Watching Spots Near Sydney

Some of the classic sections of Sydney’s coastline to hike are Bondi to Coogee, Spit to Manly and Congwong Beach to Cape Banks. Best of all, the start and end points for these hikes are quite accessible by public transport, so you don’t need to walk from Erskineville each way like we did.

NSW and I, Together Forever

I would’ve never explored NSW this way without the lockdowns and restrictions. I’ve hiked around 1,000 NSW kilometres in the past two years, around Sydney, along the coast, and through the alpine country inland. And I feel like I’m just getting started.

The slow pace of walking means you experience a place differently than if you stop on a drive through. Walking means feel you the wind and smell the trees, you see the details in the landscape and hear the animals.

If you camp, you see how the bush and the ocean change at night. And everyone knows views are better after a long slog uphill to earn them.

I’ve lived in 10 different countries, and eight different towns and cities just in Australia. Feeling like I belong anywhere can be difficult. But after 1,000km of hiking through NSW’s wild, and not-so-wild, trails, this state is now a part of me.