And that’s just what I’ll do, because one of these days I’m gonna walk all over you!!
Great weather, amazing scenery and a cheap place to buy running shoes and active wear all combine to create the perfect cocktail called ‘Hiking Trail’
New South Wales has over 2,000 km of coastline and a ton of rivers. This means an absolute fortune of hiking trails, coastal paths and walkways. Here is a rundown of 6 of our top choices – from a leisurely stroll to a step into the unknown.
“The Great Pretender” – Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
Distance: 6km Time: 2-3 Hours (Return) Gradiant: Easy peasy lemon squeezy 🙂
It’s called the Bondi – Coogee Walk but really you are better doing what we do and start in Coogee. Why? As you round the last headland on the trip north you see Bondi in all it’s glory – plus there are more restaurants, bars, and better transport modes home at the end of the journey when, as Ed Sheeran would say, “your legs don’t work like they used to before!”.
You start at the Coogee Pavillion -> This was the old Coogee Aquarium and Swimming Baths which opened in 1887. It once featured a famous Tiger Shark (see Shark Arm Murder Case (1935)), as well as other attractions such as ice skating. For its centenary it was completely refurbished into restaurants and bars and is a now a Merivale franchise.
Then you walk up a hilly park before descending down into the next bay, Gordon’s Bay and it’s collection of boats.
As you come around to Tom Caddy Point the path starts to run parallel to large rock formations as you are well and truly on the cliffs. Your next port of call is the Clovelly Surf Club which was founded in 1906 and is one of the oldest in the world. This is a great spot for a swim.
Continuing on through Clovelly is a great place to stop for a drink (and/or game of bowls). The Clovelly Bowling Club is probably one of the best locations for playing some bowls that we have ever encountered. As you line up your shot at the jack you can’t help but be inspired by the vast Tasman Sea within your line of sight.
After downing your last schooner or throwing your last bowl your next stop is unique to this list of walks – a Cemetery. With a commanding presence on the Bronte cliffs – Waverley Cemetery lies in splendour. It has a large number of Victorian and Edwardian monuments and contains the graves of a number of prominent Australians including the poet Henry Lawson. (remember to not take photos as you pass through 🙂 )
A pair of beaches cover the penultimate stretch of this walk – Bronte and Tamarama before you climb to Mackenzies point to get your first glimpse of Bondi beach beyond. Its only a matter of negotiating the last twists and turns around the rocks before you finish at Icebergs and then the beach itself.
One of the best weekend’s to do the walk is during the Annual Sculptures by the Sea – where part of the path is turned into an outdoor art museum. This will be our fourth year attending. Read about Year 1 and Year 2 here.
“South of the Border” – Kiama to Gerringong Coastal Walk
Distance: 9-10km Time: 4-5 Hours (One Way) Gradiant: Hard as Nails 🙂
The Full write up of this walk can be found here. Below are a selection of photos from the walk. It’s amazing and one of the best walks we have done but it was tough.
“North by Northwest” – Lane Cove National Park Riverside Walk
Distance: Time: 3-4 Hours Gradiant: Challenging
Your first 2km of this route is actually a pre-amble as you make your way from Macquarie Park Train Station up Lane Cove Road and over the M2 Motorway (walk on your left btw 😉 ) before you reach the entrance and its driveway. The Forest awaits.
After the car park at the end of that driveway there is a stone stairway that descends to the canopy floor. It is very Pan Labyrinth in motif and it is here that the real route begins as you wind your way along the west bank of the Lane Cove River.
The route is mostly forest trail dirt tracks and in among the shrub. Without too much effort you could imagine a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers marching along, the cunning Ewok lying in ambush. The first checkpoint is the bridge that runs over Potters Creek.
After that there is more trekking before you reach a series of picnic benches and little glens such as Cottonwood Glen. It is around here that you might spot a Kookaburra or two in the trees.
The final section is the more touristy part of the park as you near the Chatswood side entrance and come across the boating shed – where you can rent paddle boats and canoes by the hour. Something we must do on our next visit.
At the end of the route is a weir and fish ladder that allows sea bass access to the middle part of the river and the upstream freshwater breeding.
The riverside walk is part of a wider network of trails called the Great North Walk (in case you need a longer stroll)
“Cutty Sark” – Cremorne Point Walk
Distance: 3km Time: 1 Hour Gradiant: “Nae botha son!”
Whilst Bondi-Coogee walk is heaving with modern day Irish and Scots, Cremorne Point has a few nods to celts of days gone past.
Crìoch Mhùrn is the Gaelic version of Cremorne and roughly translates as the Bounds of the Mourne (Mughdorna clan) and is the name given to the majority of the peninsula that sites just below Cremorne. The tip of the peninsula is called Robertson’s point and is named after James Robertson who was given land there in 1820. His son, Sir John Robertson, would go on to become State Premier for the first time in 1868 (he served 5 separate terms).
Cremorne Point offers a rarity on coastal walks with it having a public waterfront park running around the edges thanks to the courts.
You enter the walk through a wooden arch off Bogota Avenue and the first stretch is the east side of Mosman Bay – a picturesque collection of shoreline homes and dotted with sailing boats. After those first few minutes the panorama opens up to encompass the whole of Port Jackson and you take in the south shore – including the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
The first checkpoint is the Macullum Seawater Pool. A great place for a swim on a hot summer’s day – but watch out for the wakes of passing ships.
The half way point is the Cremorne Reserve with a number of notable features (including toilets J) – a stone cairn for the Clan Donnachaidh (Robertson Clan of the Highlands) that was installed in 1988 during an international gathering of clan members and the lighthouse at the point.
The second half is not as spectacular as the first as you make your way up the west side. The only point of interest is the great big house located half way up. Designed in a similar style to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh ‘Hill House of 1903’ (Helenburgh) – it is now a collection of 6 apartments called ‘The Laurels’ but was once owned by the family.
At the top of the peninsula you have a multitude of choices, go left (to make it back to Bogota Avenue), Go Right to Mosman pier (and a ferry home) or go up to Cremorne / Mosman itself.
“Old Reliable” – Spit Bridge to Manly Coastal Walk
Distance: 10km Time: 3 Hours Gradiant: Not too bad.
We love this walk. Nestled in the north west corner of Port Jackson, this walk begins life at a bridge and ends up on the Manly corso, taking in Clontarf and Sydney Harbour National Park along the way. Our favourite stretch begins just after Castle Rock as we enter the National Park. This is where nature takes over the trail and provides stunning views across the harbour and where the hiking gets good.
If it’s animals and birds you are keen on then this walk is also one for you with a wide variety to stumble upon.
The finishing point of Manly is a welcome reward for a long walk and there are multiple options home – ferry,bus and uber. But before you head it’s worth checking out the 4 Pines Brewery.
“Animal House” – Taronga Zoo – Balmoral Beach Coastal Walk
Distance: 6km Time: 2.5-3 Hours Gradiant: Bell-Curve
This one works both ways with Balmoral Beach and a day in the sun on one end and Taronga Zoo and a day of fun on the other. In the middle is a motley crew of bays and heads and cannon emplacements.
The Route (Zoo to Beach)
You arrive by ferry (or bus) and begin your trip skirting the southern perimeter of the Zoo. It’s mostly urban brush pathways to start you off as you make your way down one side of Bradley’s Head. This part of Sydney’s northern shore is teeming with military works and worships from the earlier British Settlement times right up to World War 2.
Defence Ditches from the 19th Century and convict built gun batteries were built after 4 American warships arrived in Sydney undetected in 1839. They now command views of the harbour entrance and led to Sydney-siders feeling safer. There is also a monument to the World War 1 ship HMAS Sydney in the form of the ship’s mast. The light cruiser has a notable history having first saw service as an escort vessel for the first ANZAC convoy before sinking the SS Emden at the Battle of the Cocos in November 1914.
Take a moment to sit on the Amphitheatre and you get great views across the city beyond (similar to Cremorne Point Walk) as well as an array of sail boats cutting through the water and gliding past Fort Denison and Shark Island in the Harbour. Fort Denison has the distinction of having the only martello tower to be built in Australia and also the last one built in the British Empire.
Picking up the pace again you walk around Taylor’s Bay before reaching Clifton Gardens. One of the early settlers – Captain H E Cliffe purchased the 56-acre estate and it is believed that the present day name is derived from his.
You skirt the gardens as you round the final headland to Chowder Bay. It’s a popular fishing spot with a wide variety of fish, including Samon, yellowtail kingfish and trevally being caught there from the piers and off the beach.
Chowder Bay has a number of cafes for a light lunch or the restaurant Ripples if you fancy something more refined. If you really want to spoil yourself then just walk past the beach and all the way up Chowder Bay Road until you reach Burnt Orange. Set in the old clubhouse of the Mosman Golf Club this is the ultimate breakfast location (Try get a table out on the verandah so you soak in the views with your lattes!)
After your breakfast/brunch/lunch you can continue down the other side of Middle Head to Balmoral Beach for a swim.
Since arriving in Sydney we have taken part in two of the Annual Bloody Long Walks to support the great work of AMDF (Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation). 35 kilometres walk in around 7 hours is gruelling but amazing scenery, good friends and a jumbo bag of treats can get you round it.
“Stairways to Heaven” Palm Beach to Manly
Distance: 35km Time: 7-8 Hours (One Way) Gradiant: Tough, sandy beaches, up and down like yoyos
“Southern Comfort” Malabar to Opera House (via Watson’s Bay)
Distance: 35km Time: 6.5-7 Hours (One Way) Gradiant: Bit hilly at North Bondi but flattens out past Rose Bay.
Next time we will have to add in some of the other states we have walked through – namely Queensland and the Northern Territory.