Editor’s Note: Be sure to check any alerts and closures on the NSW National Parks website, as well as any weather warnings via the Bureau of Meteorology.
Young or old, the thing about us Aussies is that we love a good bushwalk, and we Sydneysiders are incredibly fortunate to have walking trails and tracks right on our doorstep.
Whether you’re looking to take the whole family out of Sydney for the weekend, or are planning on a doable half-day walk with the little ones, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best bushwalks near and in Sydney to tackle with kids.
Lane Cove Riverside Walk
Situated right in the heart of Sydney is the Lane Cove Riverside Walk: the ultimate spot for families looking to tackle a manageable half-day walk (and maybe sneak in a picnic moment, too). Situated in Lane Cove National Park, the track meanders through natural bushland running alongside the Lane Cove River. There are also plenty of shady spots and cooling breezes to have a rest and juice break.
Don’t be surprised if you catch sightings of the ducks, wallabies and bush turkeys that are known to wander about. Avid bird watchers will also be in paradise. If you don’t feel like carrying a picnic basket with you on the journey, the trail also has a cafe ideal for quick lunch stops.
Distance: 10.5km loop
Walking Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy and super kid-friendly, with a few challenging sections.
Bondi To Manly Walking Track
This lengthy coastal walk is the ideal track for families wanting to tackle a seaside hike whilst spotting some of Sydney’s most famous historic sites. Depending on where you start, the 80-kilometre trail takes you by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Macquarie Lighthouse, Murray Rose Pool, Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head, Clifton Gardens, Middle Head, Clontarf and North Head.
The track is also divided into eight sections (with many trails sitting between eight and nine kilometres), so you won’t have to commit the kids to a mammoth journey. There are also plenty of pit stops along the way that are perfect for rests, picnics, swims and ice cream breaks. Check out all the access points to the Bondi To Manly walk here.
Walking Time: The Bondi To Manly Walk organisation has various timings here.
Difficulty: Relatively easy and super kid-friendly. The trail contains sealed pathways, boardwalks and some bush trails.
Platypus And Burraga Loop
Situated in Castle Hill, the Platypus and Burraga Loop is a popular choice for families looking to tackle a hike that’s relatively easy with a few challenges sprinkled in. The trail is flanked by eucalyptus forests budding with an array of flora and fauna for the entire family to take in. Lucky hikers also occasionally snag a rare sighting of echidnas, eastern water dragons, swamp wallabies and even koalas on the way out to Darling Mills Creek Falls.
The track is mostly easy, but there are some sections where you'll have to climb up rocks and manoeuvre across streams. Provided they’re leashed, dogs are also welcome to join in on the family action.
Walking Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Relatively easy and kid- and dog-friendly. Some challenging sections, and occasional rocks and exposed roots.
Kiama Coast Walk
Aside from visiting the blowhole at this charming small town, Kiama also boasts an epic Coast Walk situated on Wodi Wodi Country. Loaded with ocean breezes, astounding rock formations and unspoilt beaches, it’s an ideal NSW weekend hike that the whole family can tick off the adventure list. Those not wanting to complete the entire walk can break it up and choose one of the three sections to make it more manageable. The hike near Sydney stocks everything from sealed paths, grassy tracks, sandy trails, and passes through the Minnamurra River, Kiama Blowhole, Loves Bay, Bombo Headland and Gerringong.
Walking Time: 7 hours (if completing the entire walk)
Difficulty: Moderate trail that’s kid- and dog-friendly.
Manly Dam Loop
An awesome inner-city walk that also doubles as a sightseeing visit is the Manly Dam Loop. Not only can the whole family lap up spectacular views of Sydney’s largest freshwater lake, but the track takes you on a diverse adventure across boardwalks, waterfalls and forests. There’s BBQ facilities, various picnic spots and even the option of swimming in the dam. A smorgasbord of native flora and fauna can also be spotted from the uphill canyon.
Note that the track is multi-use, meaning cyclists are also welcome to take advantage of the circuit, so families going on foot are encouraged to tackle it anti-clockwise in order to avoid any collisions. Other than that, the trail is super doable and ideal for those wanting a half-day stroll that isn’t too challenging.
Walking Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Relatively easy and kid-friendly walk. The trail contains sections of boardwalks but isn’t well marked.
Glow Worm Tunnel Walking Track
Wollemi National Park
Take a short trip to the Blue Mountains with the family and make sure to not miss the iconic Glow Worm Tunnel Walking Track. The trail leads you to an old mine tunnel home to thousands of glow worms clinging to the damp walls. Be sure to switch off your torch and keep quiet while you wait for the tunnel to be lit up with pinpricks of light. It’s sure to amaze both you and the kids.
Just note, the tunnel itself is pretty dark and slippery. Make sure to do your best to keep the noise levels low (no matter how excited the family is), because the li'l residents are pretty sensitive to sound.
Walking Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Relatively easy and kid-friendly. The trail has varying terrain and good signage.
Cape Baily Track
Located within the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, the Cape Baily Track is perfect for families wanting to take a hike sans the hustle and bustle from every other Sydneysider come summertime. The track is situated on the Kurnell Peninsula—where you’ll start at the Cape Solander Lookout and finish at the heritage-listed Cape Baily Lighthouse. It’s also known to be an ideal spot for whale watching if you visit in the right season.
Be warned, the trail is pretty exposed and can get windy and sunny, so hats and sunscreen are a must. Continue on past the Cape Baily Lighthouse and you’ll also be treated to the famous Kurnell sand dunes and sightings of the landing spot of Captain Cook at Botany Bay.
Walking Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Relatively easy and kid-friendly. The track is partially paved and partially off-trail, with decent sun exposure.
Heathcote Station To Karloo Pools At Royal National Park
Royal National Park
The seemingly endless number of trails at the Royal National Park can be slightly overwhelming, but the Heathcote Station to Karloo Pools track is perfect for families looking to give the little ones a healthy challenge. Expect an easy start along the Bottle Brush trail followed by a rocky descent down to the Karloo walking track. However, your efforts won’t be spared—at the bottom of the track you’ll cool off and picnic in the spectacular holes of the Karloo rock pools. What’s better is that the trail starts from outside the national park, so you’ll save on entry fees.
Just note that the way up and back to Heathcote Station can be a bit tricky, and contains some uneven and rocky sections. Make sure the whole family has appropriate footwear strapped on to save tears.
Walking Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Family-friendly with some challenges. The trail contains some uneven and rocky sections.
Want more ways to spend time with the whole family? Check out our huge list of things to do with kids in Sydney here.
Image credit: Urban List, Destination NSW