Sydney Bush Walks

15 Apr 2020 3 min read

Sydney Bush Walks

Sydney Bush Walks

A bushwalk in Sydney means truly spectacular scenery, fresh air and the chance to soak in the great outdoors. There is an abundance of worthwhile bush walks but we have compiled our favourites including some valuable tips along the way.

What is a short walk?

While on the surface the answer seems to be simple, it is important to remember that there are several factors that determine the ‘length’ of a walk. Time, weather, fitness and geography all play a part in determining how short or long a walk is, so it’s important to do your research. Depending on who you talk to, a short walk could be classified as anything between an hour to a day, though a general classification would put it within the 1-3 hour range. In terms of distance, a short walk could be seen as anything under 10km, though a 5km walk in steep, unmarked terrain may well take longer than an easy 10km over flat, well prepared trails. Weather also plays a part, with a walk in 40c summer heat likely to take a lot longer than a winter one. As a result, most official bushwalks are signposted taking terrain and distance into account, and are based on an average level of fitness and health. Please check for further information should you need more information.

What should I bring on a short walk?

Regardless of the time of year, it is important to understand that even in Sydney weather conditions can change rapidly. A southerly storm in summer could see torrential rain and a drop of up to 20c within minutes, while winter temperatures can get close to freezing once the sun goes down. In other words, it’s important to know the forecast, and plan accordingly. Whatever the distance you’re planning on walking or the terrain, it is vital to have sunscreen, a hat (preferably with a full brim), ample water, and sturdy shoes with good grip. If it’s longer than an hour or two, then a small day pack with some food (like muesli bars, sandwiches or fruit) is also advisable.

What should I wear on a short walk?

No matter what the season, a hat, sturdy shoes and sunscreen is essential. Long sleeves and long pants (light in summer, thicker in winter) are also recommended if in the actual bush, as they will provide protection from the sun, insects and branches, as well as warmth in the cooler months. If the bushwalk is longer than 2 hours, a small pack to carry a raincoat, food and water is also suggested. Water should always be carried in summer, no matter how long the walk.

Popular short walks

There are a range of popular short walks around Sydney so you can benefit from exercise but not worry too much about planning a route or being out for the whole day.

Spit Bridge to Manly

Part of the Manly Scenic Walkway, the Spit Bridge to Manly walk is one of Sydney’s finest short walks, and at 10 km one way with a moderate grade, it’s the perfect way to spend 3-4 hours revelling in the natural beauty of the harbour city. Weaving through lush natural bushland and well planned pathways, you’ll find your way across secret beaches, see Indigenous rock carvings and enjoy some of the million dollar views across the harbour. In summer, be sure to take your togs and swim in the crystal-clear waters of secluded Castle Rock beach.  Accessible via either bus or car, we suggest starting your short walk at the Spit Bridge near Clontarf, meaning you will finish your walk at Manly Corso. Time it to arrive at meal time so you can enjoy a lunch or dinner at one of Manly’s famed seafood restaurants, before catching a ferry back to Circular Quay.

Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay

Best started with a ferry ride to Taronga Zoo from Circular Quay, this moderate walk manages to combine beautiful bushland with sensational city skyline views, proving that, on this short walk at least, you can have it all.  A combination of boardwalk and well travelled dirt path, the walk winds around Athol Bay to Bradleys Head. Enjoy one of the best views in the city from the amphitheatre, pause for reflection at the maritime war monument or explore the 19th century military fortifications. Pack your swimmers to enjoy at dip further on at either Taylors Bay or Clifton Gardens Reserve, and follow it up with a coffee at the Chowder Bay kiosk. 4 km long with an estimated walking time of around 2 hours, be sure to take ample sunscreen and water, as there aren’t a lot of bubblers along the route. And don’t forget the camera, because there’s a perfect photo to be taken every step of the way.

Aboriginal Heritage Walk

While unquestionably spectacular and rightly celebrated, not all of Sydney’s best short walks centre solely around the water. One such short walk that promises something different is the Aboriginal Heritage Walk in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on Sydney’s northern edge. As the name would suggest, the walk centres around Aboriginal rock engravings and cave paintings, courtesy of the Garrigal people (of the Guringai Nation) who were the traditional owners of West Head.  While not the easiest of short walks at 4.4 km and 3-3.5 hours in length, the effort is definitely worth it to see some extraordinary sites of international importance. If you’re not feeling up to the entire trip, then a 1 km, 10 minute walk through towering gum trees will bring you to Red Hands Cave. Although undated, the ochre hand-prints immortalise the ancient owners of the land from a time predating European settlement.  It is important to remember that such artwork is extremely fragile with deep cultural significance, so touching or interfering with any Aboriginal artwork is completely forbidden.  Conveniently placed about an hour north of the CBD, access is only by car. Feeling lazy? Then simply head to to experience a virtual tour of this iconic short walk. Conveniently placed about an hour north of the CBD, access is only by car. Feeling lazy? Then simply head to to experience a virtual tour of this iconic short walk.

Did you know you can earn Qantas Points doing all kinds of activities. Simply download the app, keep your phone or wearable device on you - and get moving. You can also earn points with your Qantas Health Insurance.

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