Australia Bushwalking

New South Wales

Bushwalking trails begin within the city limits of Sydney. Several of the headlands abutting Sydney Harbour, including Bradley's Head, are incorporated into the Sydney Harbour National Park. Bradley's Head is perfect for a day outing, with its proximity to the city, harbour views, and many natural and historic attractions. The circuit can be joined at Taronga Park Zoo wharf, a short ferry trip from Circular Quay.

Many more popular bushwalking regions lie within an hour or two of Sydney. On the southern edge of the city, Royal National Park, with public transport access, has a relaxing two-day coastal walk.

About 60 km (37 mi) to the west of Sydney lie the beautiful and dramatic Blue Mountains—in reality a high sandstone plateau dissected by deep, heavily forested valleys, canyons, plunging waterfalls, and sheer cliffs. (The name derives from the blue haze created by the eucalyptus forests.) Despite its popularity, there are many hidden trails for walkers to explore, penetrating some of the most rugged country imaginable. Some of the area's walking tours also include Jenolan Caves, glow worm tunnels, Aboriginal relics and mining wins. The 16 km (10 mi) Blackheath walk, straddling a main east-west ridge is extremely popular. Following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, who visited the area in the 1830's, the walk takes some six hours. Blackheath is accessible by train from Sydney.

Further inland and well to the north of Sydney, the Warrumbungle, a small but spectacular group of volcanic peaks, is a popular bushwalking haunt. Australia's highest mountains, however, are found in Kosciusko National Park, also one of Australia's largest parks, and home to the headwaters of its greatest river system. The main range consists of a series of high rolling plains and mountain summits bounded by deep river valleys. A popular three-day walk takes trekkers above the tree line and along the crest of the main range visiting the highest peaks and lakes. Summer is the best time to tackle the alps, but even then the weather can prove unpredictable.

Countless other walks are available in the Kosciusko area, and up and down the length of the Great Dividing Range, which straddles Australia's east coast. The Alpine Walking Track, stretching 765 km (475 mi) from the small Victorian ghost town of Walhalla, two hours east of Melbourne, to the national capital of Canberra, crosses six major alpine parks and passes or traverses the summits of Australia's highest mountains. To walk the entire track would take up to eight weeks.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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