From road trips to secret beaches, day hikes and sunset sails: Alissa Jenkins gives a rundown on hot activities to keep you on the go in New South Wales this summer.
Enjoy the outdoors
01. Head to Sydney’s Royal National Park (drive south of the CBD along the Princes Highway for about 45 minutes, turning into the “Nasho” Park at Loftus). You’ll find some of the best beaches in the Aussie bush here, such as Wattamolla (pictured), which has a sandy unpatrolled ocean beach as well as a sheltered lagoon perfect for young families to wade in. There’s also a picturesque waterfall and a shady grove of trees to fall asleep under after you’ve had lunch. If you really love it – you will! – there is a two-day guided hiking tour along the Royal Coast Track that includes an overnight camp at Wattamolla (see lifesanadventure.com.au). About 10 minutes south of Wattamolla you’ll find Garie Beach (the one on this issue’s cover), which is great for surfing and beach fishing, and has a modern surf club with some of the best public toilet facilities in NSW.environment.nsw.gov.au
02. Skydive over Wollongong’s North Beach for an aerial view of the South Coast beaches and Illawarra Escarpment. skydivethebeach.com.au
03. Take to the Hunter hills on horseback with Glenworth Valley’s extensive horse riding school, which has more than 200 horses and ponies. Visitors can choose from guided or free-range rides, while youngsters can be led.
04. Mountain-bike your way through the Blue Mountains, winding along the region’s network of scenic fire trails. Rides can range from half-day trips to multi-day adventures that take you from Katoomba all the way to Mittagong.
05. Monkey around in the shady forests at Treetop Adventure Park, within Blue Gum Hills Regional Park, Newcastle. There are more than 90 treetop challenges to try, including various flying foxes and swinging bridges. treetopadventurepark.com.au
Take to the water
06. Kayak on Australia’s best-known harbour, past famous landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Tours include kayak tuition and a picnic lunch on a secluded beach, which depending on conditions can take place at Watsons Bay, Double Bay or Shark Island. lifesanadventure.com.au
07. Learn to sail on the calm waters of Pittwater in Sydney’s north, in a relaxed and safe environment. With courses for both adults and children available, everyone can have a go. byra.org.au
08. Dive the HMAS Adelaide, a ship that was deliberately sunk off the coast of Terrigal in April this year to make an artificial reef. The 138m ship is already covered in barnacles and is home to marine life including blue gropers and cuttlefish.
09. Hire a houseboat on the Hawkesbury River for a scenic summer break on the secluded waterway. Stays can range from two days to a fortnight, during which time guests can enjoy swimming and fishing, or pull over for some nearby bushwalking or shopping. hawkesburyhouseboats.com.au
10. Spend an evening on the historic James Craig tall ship as it cruises around Sydney Harbour, and gain an insight into life a century ago. shf.org.au
11. Learn to wakeboard on the Tweed River, with the help of specialist school ProWake Academy. Classes range from half-hour to multi-day and from beginner to professional, with hire gear included. prowake.com.au/academy
Top 3 day walks
12. Sydney Harbour Circle Walk is a 59km stroll skirting the bays and inlets west of Sydney Harbour Bridge, including suburbs such as Balmain, Drummoyne, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Willoughby and North Sydney. Passing pockets of rainforest, historic landmarks and islands, with plenty of public transport points, it can be completed as a series of shorter walks over several days. walkingcoastalsydney.com.au
13. Grose Valley Cliff Top Walk is a breath-taking 3km trek around the edge of Grose Valley, between Govetts Leap and Evans Lookout in the Blue Mountains. It takes about an hour and 45 minutes to complete. www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
14. The Main Range Walk from Charlotte Pass to Mount Kosciuszko is almost 22km in length (taking about nine hours to complete), and can be done on a guided tour. Showcasing some of the best alpine landscapes in NSW, it involves climbing the highest peak in Australia and crossing the renowned Snowy River. wildwalks.com