It’s funny isn’t it; the first movement we make as we progress from a crawling baby into a child is the act of walking. Yet it’s from this simple evolutionary step where we continue to derive one of life’s greatest, most rudimentary pleasures. Only the difference with age is that our options extend to far wider frontiers than the confines of a nursery (and we no longer require the safety cushion of a nappy…unless the camp food was dodgy).

For those open to an extended walk near Sydney, you’re in for a more eye-opening treat than Augustus had in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I’ve strolled a big chunk of these within a three hour radius of the city, and the following selections are my stand-out favourites based on their raw beauty, convenience and seclusion:

#1 Bundeena to Otford (Royal National Park)

Time taken: 2 Full Days

With magnificent white-cliff coastlines to bushwalk in the North and rugged, gym-free beaches to surf in the South (Garie Beach and North/South Era), the RNP is something to behold. Accessible by public transport (train to Cronulla, ferry to Bundeena, train back to Sydney via Otford), this gem of a walk has sprawling rainforests, hidden waterfalls, rockpools and a beachside campsite for those looking to spread the 26km trek over 2 days. Although becoming increasingly popular with Sydney escape artists, this is a definite addition to your bucket list this year.

#2 The Grand Canyon Loop (Blue Mountains National Park)

Time taken: Half Day

Not to be mistaken for the Big Daddy in Arizona, this 5.5km / 4 hour stroll competes in it grandeur however. Starting from Neates Glen Car Park in Blackheath, the walk descends through a hidden rainforest of luscious ferns, trickling creeks and hidden tunnels. You’ll weave through gorges towards the depths of the canyon and then climb back towards Evans Lookout to feast your eyes upon the Grose Valley.

#3 Bouddi Coastal Walk (Bouddi Bouddi National Park)

Time taken: 1-2 Days

This is an undulating 8km beachcombing trek which is so nice, you should do it twice (which you’ll have to return to your car anyway!). Two campsites are nestled on golden beaches along it: 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.

#4 Gloucester Tops Circuit (Barrington Tops National Park)

Time taken: 1 Day

A bushwalkers utopia Barrington Tops is a remote section of NSW offering hikers prepared to get off the beaten track the sweetest of rewards. Gloucester Tops Circuit is the standout 7km loop as it combines three of the park’s best walks into a manageable 7km trek. From towering snow gum forests and moss carpets to lively swamp wallabies and grey kangaroos, it’s an almighty experience that is best included as part of long weekend of 4x4ing, mountain biking and wild swimming in the National Park.

#5 Mt Ku-Ring-Gai to Berowra (Ku-Ring-Gai chase National Park)

Time taken: 4 hours or Mid Week Overnighter

The beauty of this one is that there is no need for a combustion engine! In fact, I did this one with two mates on a Wednesday night without having to take a minute of annual leave. Catch the train from Central to Ku-Ring-Gai station and follow the 9km walking track as it weaves down through precarious rock overhangs and narrowing gorges. There are two undisturbed bush campsites by the creek where you can rest overnight, before a sweat-drenching climb back out towards your commuter train back to home or work! #fixuplooksharp

If this article has put some fire in your belly and you’d like exploring some of NSW’s bush walking trails, please bear in mind that whilst rewarding beyond your wildest dreams, these trips can be very dangerous and preparation is paramount. A few bush walking tips to bear in mind:

  • Pack plenty of water
  • Bring a map
  • First aid kit is essential ( and know how to use it!)
  • High energy snack bars are your best buddy
  • Leave no Trace (don’t be a tool, take all rubbish with you)
  • Let friends know where you’re going, just in case the proverbial hits the fan

Happy Exploring!

[THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON URBANLIST]