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A Beginner’s Guide to Bushwalking in Sydney
Part 2: On the Track
If you haven’t already read it, we hope you’ll take a look at Part 1 of this guide. In it, we’ve got you covered with what to wear, what to pack and how to prep for a safe and happy walk.
Before we start, we’d like to say again that although Australia’s vast, unruly and utterly stunning bushlands may appear untouched, Indigenous people have lived here for over 40,000 years. So, please tread lightly and respect your surroundings.
Go to Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains this summer for bushwalks with a refreshing edge. Approximately 100km from the CBD, Wentworth Falls is the perfect day trip for the urban adventurer.
Tracks are signposted. And the signs let you know how steep the track is, whether there are steps and/or ladders and how long it takes to walk them, so you know what you’re in for.
Unlike coastal heathland, which is exposed to summer’s harsh sunlight, the forests in the Blue Mountains allow you to escape the searing heat. The tracks wind down through gullies and gorges, and as the Blue Mountains themselves are at a higher altitude, the walks are significantly cooler than any tracks you’ll find on the coast.
What’s more, there are numerous freshwater swimming holes where you can strip down and cool off. The mountain water is freezing and delightfully refreshing.
When you go to Wentworth Falls (or the Blue Mountains in general), it’s not really about the flowers; it’s more about the majestic views. Everything is vast. You feel like you’re at the mercy of the landscape and the experience is truly humbling.
If you’re lucky, you might see a bowerbird or a satin bowerbird. These creatures make tunnels and build their nests with blue things they’ve collected. They’re quite fitting for the Blue Mountains.
Coastal areas are your go-to in winter because they’re better exposed to the sun and won’t have you shivering in your boots.
West Head, located in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National park is our top pick for beginners. There are great signposted tracks, an information booth and a spectacular picnic area at the end of West Head. There are often lace monitors roaming the area or health monitors, which are smaller with thicker stripes. We must discourage you from approaching them.
Tracks run on the top of a plateau, a vantage point for breathtaking views of Pittwater, the Hawkesbury River and the Pacific Ocean. Here, you’re likely to see Kookaburras. And as with any coastal scrub or heathland, you’ll see a lot of the smaller birds like fairy wrens, superb wrens and finches.
From early spring to middle spring, throughout any coastal heath, the land just pops. There are so many wildflowers; you’ll experience the world blooming all around you.
Step it up a notch.
Four hours north of Sydney, you’ll find one of the highest elevated camping spots in the country, Barrington Tops. It’s vastly different to any other landscape. It is snow gum alpine scrub forest with golden grass tufts, a silhouette of tattered trees, and wild horses.
All images by Gem Jones
Sophie Hardcastle is a twenty-two-year-old author and artist based in Sydney. Sophie has a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts. Her memoir Running like China was released in September 2015, and her debut novel, Breathing Under Water was released in July 2016. Hachette publishes both of Sophie’s books. In addition to her books, Sophie has written for various magazine publications, including ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar and Surfing World and has also written for theatre.