Sydney may be well known for its iconic and picturesque walks like the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk, but these five hidden bush walks are its best kept secrets.
1. Curra Moors Loop Track – Royal National Park
A longish but flat walk that promises remarkable coastal views. Scribbly gums huddle at the edge of the track which opens onto a blossoming heath and ocean-facing sandstone cliffs. During spring the flora will give your nostrils a delightful sensory experience, and you may be lucky enough to spot echidnas roaming amongst the shrubbery.
The all-natural Figure 8 Pool, Royal National Park, to Sydney’s south.
Getting there: Getting to the Royal National Park from the CBD via public transport can be time consuming (with no direct links), so driving here is definitely the way to go. Vehicle passes are $12 for the day. Parking can be at a premium here on the weekends so get here early. More information: NSW Parks and Wildlife Service
Distance: 10km loop
2. America Bay Walking Track – Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
One of Sydney’s ultimate picnic spot lies at the end of the America Bay Walking Track, underneath a cascading waterfall surrounded by dense bush. The track follows a sandstone ridge, sitting beneath a canopy of lush gumtrees. Look closely and you’ll find watering holes hidden between red rocks that are filled with yabbies and tadpoles.
Morning sunrise, fog was blanketing the park.
Getting there: America Bay is in the West Head precinct of Ku-ring-gai National Park. Driving here is definitely the best option, however, the track is also accessible from the waterfront if you’re lucky enough to have access to a boat (or tinnie). More information: NSW Parks and Wildlife Service
3. Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head Loop – Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
A long but easy walk that winds through thick mangroves and bush overflowing with red bloodwoods and apple gums. Start the walk at Sphinx Memorial, a striking sandstone monument built in memory of the lives lost during the First World War. End at Bobbin Head, where you’ll find an abundance of picnic tables and barbeques. If you haven’t packed for a picnic, Waterside Bistro (formerly Galley Foods Eatery) is just around the corner and serves up a mouth-watering selection of burgers, seafood and hearty salads.
Getting there: Sphinx Memorial is another one of those places you’ll need a car to get to, with plenty of parking available at Sphinx Memorial. Follow Bobbin Head Road from the Pacific Highway at Turramurra. More information: NSW Parks and Wildlife Service
Distance: 9.6km loop
4. North Head Sanctuary – Manly
Gaze out over a sweeping view of Sydney Harbour and the bustling CBD from North Head Sanctuary. This walk loops past Sydney’s former School of Artillery, as well as what is left of the Catholic Church, Archbishop’s residence and seminary. Hanging swamps and banksia scrub make up some of the unique vegetation along the track. Stop and cool off at one of the number of cute little beaches along the way, and finish with a coffee at Bella Vista Café up on the headland.
Worth the walk: Shelly Beach, a lovely stroll along the coast from Manly Beach.
Getting there: A bus to North Head Sanctuary from Manly Wharf runs regularly. There’s also a bike-path running all the way from the Wharf to North Head Sanctuary. More information: Harbour Trust
Distance: 2 hour loop
5. Benowie Walking Track – Berowra Valley
Pack up and disappear for a few days by hiking the Benowie Walking Track, running between Pennant Hills and Berowra Waters. A mixture of smooth board-walk and uneven dirt that winds steadily amid rural bushland, it’s the perfect walk if you’re planning to camp along the way. Lined with Sydney blue gums and budding blackwattles, Benowie is part of the Great North Walk, stretching from Sydney to Newcastle. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled – you may stumble across ancient Aboriginal rock carvings or the remanets of an old quarry.
Getting there: Most tracks out of Sydney require a car, however this one’s only 1km from either Hornsby or Pennant hills train station. More Information: NSW Parks and Wildlife Services
Distance: 25km one-way