Sydney is one of the greatest cities in the world to be a lazy adventurer. That’s a fact.
Without stumbling too far from your own doorstep you’ll be presented with an outdoor playground teeming with adventurous possibilities for anyone willing to explore it.
Don’t get us wrong, climbing the bridge and whizzing around the harbour on jet boats are both incredible experiences, but occasionally it pays to scratch a little at the surface to uncover some of the true gems that our city has to offer. For it’s then that you escape the crowds and delve deep into the realms of nature and discovery.
Nearly all of these 10 suggestions are completely free and within the Sydney metropolis, but all are guaranteed to quench your wanderlust and send you back to your desks on a Monday morning with an ear-to-ear grin of satisfaction.
Here are some of the best lesser-known things to do in Sydney.
Trek to Resolute Beach
With hundreds of Sydney beaches to choose from, it can be challenging to find a hidden one to call your own for the day and stick your metaphorical flag into. Resolute Beach is what you’ve been searching for. Drive to the picnic ground on West Head Road and follow the walking trail through ancient caves and lush, unspoilt landscape to your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s isolated, it’s wild, it’s paradise. It’s also less than an hour from the CBD.
Hire your own Motorboat on Sydney Harbour
You’d assume that to self-drive a motorboat around the harbour you’d have to hold a suitable licence. Assumptions are the mother of all screw-ups. Sydney Harbour Escapes are your fun facilitators here, and as their boats travel no faster than 10 knots all you need to bring along with you is a few mates, an esky of BBQ treats and some good old fashioned common sense. This is a great way to experience the nooks and crannies of the harbour in a truly unique way.
Urban Food Foraging
Dotted throughout Sydney are bountiful opportunities for the urban forager. From parklands to creeks, beaches to streets, if you’re feeling adventurous and have a desire to connect with your ancestral roots you should give this alternative hobby a go. You may even bag yourself a free meal in the process! Blackberries, limes, wild fennel, seaweeds, asparagus, rosemary... You’ll be surprised by what you find out there. P.S. Trespassing’s for cheaters.
Sleep in a Cave
Hidden away amongst spectacular scenery, Sydney has numerous cave escapes for anyone looking for an unusual weekend adventure. Whether you’re looking for something remote and intimate, or big enough to throw a cave rave, there’s a home for every kind of cave-dweller. It really is surprising how ‘at home’ one feels sleeping in a cave, so dust down your loin cloth and check out Curracurrang or Karloo Caves in the Royal National Park, or venture a bit further to Pindar Cave in Brisbane Waters National Park.
Surfing the Royal National Park
The congested mayhem of Bondi’s iconic waves can make surfing feel more like a game of dodgems than a fun day out. For those feeling a little more adventurous, pack up the car and drive an hour south to Garie Beach in the Royal National Park. Leave the car there and walk over the southern headland to North Era beach, odds are you’ll find a wave to call your own there.
Inflatable Pack-Rafting in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
For those willing to discover an untouched adventure playground, there lies a seemingly endless network of winding rivers and hidden waterways just north of Sydney at Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. The coolest way to explore them? Buy a cheap inflatable boat from K-Mart or Big W, drive to where the road ends, walk to the river, pump up and paddle!
Row a Boat in Lane Cove National Park
Lane Cove is the nearest national park to the CBD, but once there it’s feels like you’ve travelled a lot further. A great day adventure is to hire a row-boat from the Lane Cove Boatshed, paddling off downstream and enjoying the sweet serenity of the Australian bush.
Explore Abandoned Railway Tunnels
Between 1884 and 1886 a complex series of railway tunnels were built between Waterfall and Otford within the rugged wilderness of the Royal National Park. Now abandoned, it’s possible to explore these eerie remnants of the cities past. They’re a photographer’s dream-world so don’t forget your camera, and a torch!
Snorkelling with Sharks in Manly
Some might say you’d be ‘madder than a bag of frogs’ for even contemplating this adventure, however Shelly Beach is a popular diving and swimming spot with sharks there that would be frightened to give you a tickle. It’s Sydney’s only Aquatic Reserve, so aside from seeing Dust Whaler, Wobbegong and Port Jackson Sharks, you’re likely to bump into a host of beautiful marine life such as stingrays, cuttlefish, and eastern blue gropers.
Go for a Wild Swim
If following lane dividers at your local swimming pool is getting a little tedious, then it’s probably time you tried wild swimming. A wild swim adventure is about finding a remote river, lagoon, waterfall or lake; basically anywhere that’s completely entombed by nature to ensure a seriously chlorine-free experience. Be brave, breath deep and take the plunge—you won’t regret it. Collin’s Beach Waterfall or Winifred Falls are our top recommendations!
Image credit: Henry Brydon at Tanja Lagoon Camp