The Five Best Overnight Hikes Near Sydney
Spot some incredible wildlife, score some solitude and feel like you're a million miles from civilisation.
November 27, 2015
Put on your walking shoes, pack some sunscreen and your water bottle, because we're going for a wander. Sydney is surrounded by so much incredible bushland and rugged coastline that's just begging to be explored. Though many of these overnight hikes are close to the city, you'll be able to immerse yourself in nature, spot some incredible wildlife, score some solitude and feel like you're a million miles from civilisation. Most of these walks are achievable for anyone with a moderate level of fitness — all you need to bring is camping equipment, a waterproof jacket and an adventurous spirit.
NSW recent severe wet weather has affected some areas of these hikes. Check the NSW National Parks website for the latest updates before heading out.
THE COAST TRACK, ROYAL NATIONAL PARK
This 26-kilometre walk takes in some of the most spectacular cliffs and coastlines you'll see in Australia. Jump on the Bundeena Ferry (about 1.5 hours from Sydney) and head south along the coast to Otford. On the way, you'll spot a huge variety of birds, have the opportunity to swim at several gorgeous beaches and, if you hike between May and October, be able to watch the whale migration. The walk itself can get strenuous at times, with steep gradients, quite a few steps and some bits of rough track.
For your overnight, you'll need to book ahead to stay at the North Era campground. At the end of the walk, it's easy enough to jump on a train at Otford and head back to reality — though we won't blame you if you want to stay on this coastline forever.
GLOW WORM TUNNEL, WOLLEMI NATIONAL PARK
If you want to visit this incredible glow worm tunnel in the Blue Mountains, you could just park nearby and walk in — but that wouldn't be any fun now, would it? We recommend driving to the town of Newnes (about three hours from Sydney) and staying overnight in this well-appointed campsite by the Wolgan River. From here, it's roughly a four-hour round trip to visit the glow worms, which live in a 400-metre stretch of an abandoned railway tunnel. The nine-kilometre walk in and out is pretty easy, with just a short climb at the very beginning. And when the track splits about 200 metres along, you can take the loop counter-clockwise to avoid the steepest bits.
Don't forget your torch, as it gets bloody dark in the tunnel. But if you turn off the torch and wait in silence for a little bit, the worms will start their magic pretty quickly.
PIERCES PASS TO BLUE GUM FOREST, BLUE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
You know what's better than a hike? A hike that involves an optional paddle in a beautiful, tree-lined river. This 16-kilometre return walk starts at the end of Pierces Pass Road (near Bells Line of Road) and descends to truly stunning views down to Pierces Pass. It then moves through the lush forests and skyscraper trees of Grose Valley. Don't forget to pack your swimmers because there will be multiple opportunities to have a paddle in the refreshing Grose River along the way. It's about a six-hour hike each way, so there's plenty of time for a picnic lunch and swim. Expect to spot rock wallabies, lizards and birds along the way, especially around sunset.
The Acacia Flat campground is located along the hike so that you can pitch a tent and extend your adventure through the Grose Valley to a two0day hike. At the campground you'll be immersed in the blue gum forrest for the night with plenty of opportunities for bird watching a campsite relaxation.
MOUNT BUDAWANG TRAIL, BUDAWANG NATIONAL PARK
While it may not span an epic distance, the eight-kilometre return Mount Budawang Trail isn't as easy as it sounds. The eight-hour, challenging trek is for experienced hikers who are looking for an adventurous trip with ever-changing terrain. It'll take you up to the summit of Mount Budawang, passing through grassy woodland, wet gullies, montane forest and wilderness views aplenty.
The scenic lookout boasts panoramic views of The Castle and Didthul (Pigeon House Mountain) to the north, Durras Mountain and the NSW coast to the east, Clyde River valley to the south and Braidwood's Mount Gillamatong to the west. Since Mount Budawang is a 3.5-hour drive south of Sydney, you'll need to stay the night at Long Gully campground — but be sure to book ahead.
Long Gully campground is currently closed due to the recent rain. Head to the NSW National Parks website for up-to-date information on the site.
SIX FOOT TRACK, BLUE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Originally a horse trail connecting Sydney and the Blue Mountains with Jenolan Caves, the Six Foot Track can be done in two days — but might be easier spread out over three days and two nights. While there are a couple of fairly steep sections (mostly at the start, as you descend from Katoomba into the Megalong Valley), this walk is graded as hard because of its length. Spanning 46-kilometres one way, the track is indeed a decent distance, but very achievable if you have good shoes and appropriate camping gear.
For your overnight, there are a few easily accessible campsites along the route, and the reward of the majestic Jenolan Caves at the end of the trip is unbeatable. And there's even an afternoon minibus that will ferry you and your tired feet back to Katoomba from the caves.
Sections of the Six Foot Track are currently closed. Head to the NSW National Parks website for up-to-date information on the site.
Top Image: Coast Track, Royal National Park; Image Credit: Peter Sherratt via Department of Planning, Industry and Environment