For a big city it is amazingly easy to escape city life and find beautiful walks or hikes. The Blue Mountains a train or bus ride away, Bondi to Coogee or Spit Bridge to Manly two picturesque coastal walks along the Sydney Waterfront where you can take in hideaway coves and quaint beaches plus a rugged coastline. All three hikes were so different from one another I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite.
I started my hiking with the Spit Bridge to Manly walk. A 7km hike that winds it’s way around the Sydney Harbour and ends at the Manly Ferry. I was meeting Axel one of the guys who had been on my overland trip from Cape Town to Victoria Falls before Christmas and we found ourselves both in Sydney at the same time. Small world – he is from Sweden. I persuaded him that we should do a hike and agreed to meet at Town Hall Station to catch a bus which would drop us at Spit Bridge. After a bit of a confusion of entrances we found each other, hopped on the bus and were on our way. First hiccup was two guys getting on saying that the first portion of the walk was closed and we should get off at the second stop but our bus driver was having none of it and was convinced we should get off so we jumped off the bus and soon found that the lads were correct. So we had to walk along the highway for a bit until we got to the next community where we could dip down to the beach and join the route. This also proved to not be that straightforward but we finally made it and after a 6hrs easy to moderate trek we arrived at Manly. It is a stunning walk with a varying landscape. One minute you are walking along little white sandy beaches with no one around, then you are walking around sandstone cliffs, through brush and a forest with Aboriginal carvings and ending in a busy harbour. Reaching Manly our port of call was the beach where despite the numbing wind Axel was determined to brave the waters. Brave as I am when it comes to chilly water I opted for wrapping up on the bleachers, watching the waves and diving into a healthy portion of steaming beer battered fish and chips. As a tip, if you time the walk right you can take the ferry back for a sunset ferry ride past the Sydney Harbour and get a picturesque view of the Sydney Opera House.
The next walk on my trip was the Bondi to Coogee walk or vice versa if you prefer. I like ending in Coogee as it is a smaller less crowded beach and easy to take a quick dip in after the walk. Five of us set off late morning to catch the train out to Bondi Junction and then take the A bus from there to Bondi Beach. The walk itself is only 6km. It hugs the coastline passing through small communities, several beaches and a large graveyard complete with Victorian style mausoleums. There are great little hideaways you can sit along the route in the cliffs, your feet dangling over the sea below and of course bars or cafés at each of the little beaches if you feel the need for a break. We of course took advantage of this with an ice cream break and a chips and cider in the sun later on. We finished the walk and this time it was my turn to be the one to take a dip while everyone else stayed dry. Fresh but the perfect way to end the walk – my first dip into the Pacific Ocean!
The Blue Mountains National Park I did in a day but if I could do it again I would do it over two or have gotten up an hour earlier instead of 6am to make the earlier train as they only run every hour. I just missed the 7am train and the 8am train is just an hour too late to squeeze in everything. I opted to get off at the last stop, Katoomba and then paid for the hop on hop off tour bus which goes by all the main look offs and hiking trails. In retrospect I am not sure if the bus was necessary for someone who wanted to do a lot of hiking but it did come in handy to get my bearings, find out some information about the area from the knowledgeable driver and catch the train at the end of the day. In my day I fit in a view from the farthest look off, then from the three sisters I took the grand staircase to the base of the valley floor and walked along the gulley, through a rainforest, up and down so many staircases with incredible views overlooking the valley and made my way to Gordon Falls. I then did the Charles Darwin Walk which again had a completely different backdrop walking alongside Jamison Creek and ended at Wentworth Falls and the start of the National Pass which I wish I had made time to do! It was built in 1908 and the little bit that I did was incredible and so pretty! The pathway is carved into the side of a mountain working its way down until you reach the base of the waterfall.
For such a small area, it is amazing how much hiking is available in and around Sydney and the diversity of the landscape. It’s beauty completely won me over and solidified my decision that I wanted to explore so much more of Australia and stay for longer than my original planned 5 month stint. And the occasional random wine and food festival you can hap across doesn’t hurt either.