If you’ve been looking for a reason to make a trip to Sydney, winter is your time. The city has plenty on offer during the colder months, including plenty of daytrips to experience the full beauty of the New South Wales coast, mountains and bushland. Here are five of our top picks for outdoor getaways ideal for winter, ranging from whale watching and rock-hopping to historic baths and waterfalls. And they’re all conveniently located within daytrip range of Sydney’s CBD.
Royal National Park
Less than an hour’s drive south of Sydney, the Royal National Park is a popular destination for connecting with the rugged coastal landscape. The park provides beaches, ocean lookouts and even whale watching, while inland are waterfalls and the extensive Karloo walking track. Winter might make it a bit chilly for a dip in the natural swimming holes, but cycling and hiking makes for satisfying exercise all year round. You don’t need to be a veteran bushwalker either: there are plenty of trails of varying length and difficulty levels. The proximity to Sydney makes the park ideal for a quick daytrip, with some 16,000 hectares of protected land to explore all up.
Just because it’s an iconic summer spot doesn’t mean it’s any less beautiful in other seasons. Whale spotting at Bondi Beach is actually best between May and November, especially from scenic coastal walks like the one from Bondi to Coogee. Plus, there are year-round surf lessons, historic baths, swimming clubs and of course the famous lifeguards. Grab some paddock-fresh shopping at the weekly farmers market on Saturdays, or browse for fashion and more at Bondi Markets on Sundays. A trip to Bondi is also a great excuse to graze across the surrounding eateries, cafes and bars, combining the area’s walkability with crisp ocean air.
Manly Scenic Walkway
Showcasing Sydney’s assorted middle and north Harbours, this 10-kilometre coastal path begins at Mosman’s Spit Bridge and runs right down to famous Manly Beach. Along the way are beaches and inlets of all stripes – including Grotto Point and Reef Beach – following the natural dips and curves of the coastline. The walk itself should take about four hours, but leave plenty of extra time to make some side jaunts down to the different beaches. Manly itself has lots to do too, from the famous ferry to and from Circular Quay to waterside bars and restaurants. Consider it a well-earnt finish line after the trek.
Glenbrook Gorge track
It’s not like anyone needs a reason to pop over to the Blue Mountains, but this bumpy track on the national park’s eastern side combines a fairly short distance (three kilometres) with a moderate difficulty level, making for a good reason to pay a visit. The changing landscape and creek-side rock-hopping creates an added challenge, while a 1910s-era railway tunnel and the wide-open Jellybean Pool provide gorgeous distractions along the way. You should allow for up to three hours, and you definitely won’t want to rush it. Between the gorge views and the bird watching, this is an outdoor reset that’s well worth putting in your calendar. And the cooler winter temperatures only make it more appealing.
Manly Dam Walks
Just a half-hour drive north of the city, Manly-Warringah War Memorial Park is home to not just Manly Dam but a 7.3-kilometre walking circuit that makes for a very doable day trip. The walk is estimated to take three hours, and it’s easily combined with a picnic or water activities like fishing or swimming, thanks to Sydney’s largest freshwater lake and nearby waterfalls and rockpools. Mountain biking is on the cards too, as are themed walks related to wildflowers and Aboriginal culture. Just keep in mind that dogs aren’t allowed in the water or the picnic areas.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW.