Australia’s natural world
Moving to Australia from the UK can be stressful; moving to Sydney even more so. It’s Australia’s biggest and busiest city so you’ll need some space to breathe and get back in touch with nature after each week at work. Australia prides itself on its access to untouched nature, its red rock outback and eucalyptus forests. Just because you chose to live ’in the city’ doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of Australia’s incredible natural world.
It is scientifically proven that getting outdoors and in touch with nature is good for your mental wellbeing and physical fitness. In this article we are going to look at some of the best outdoor activities in Sydney and surrounds to keep you happy and healthy in your new life Down Under.
Nature in Sydney’s centre
If you haven’t got a lot of time or you don’t want to drive too far, you can access beautiful peaceful spots right under your nose. Sydney has so many amazing parks, ranging from small neighbourhood patches of green for the kids and dog to burn off some energy, to long, winding, river-hugging walks and expansive nature reserves with boating lakes.
The Royal Botanic Gardens are a must for any Sydney-based family. A whopping 23,235 people have ranked this attraction 4.7/5 stars on Google, and when you get there you can clearly see why. The gardens include a stunning array of tropical and native plants. The gardens include an extensive schedule of exhibitions, educational sessions and events aimed at families. If you’ve just moved to Australia, we recommend the Aboriginal Experience they run. On this tour you will learn about foraging bush foods, explore Cardigal country and learn about the park’s native heritage.
Sydney Park is a giant 40 hectares of open green space just south of the centre. Home to a variety of birds and some beautiful gardens, it’s the perfect spot to escape the bustle of the city over the weekend. The park also includes a few unique features. Previously a brickworks site, large brick kilns have sat unused for 60 years in the park’s grounds.
Centennial Park is one of Sydney’s largest green urban spaces and hosts 31 million visitors a year. Being a short hop from the city centre, this park is a favourite among morning and evening runners. Like many of the city’s well serviced green spaces, the park offers a variety of activities such as horse riding, nature walks and world class cycling tracks.
Surfing in Sydney
Sydneysiders love to surf. When it comes to Australian culture and lifestyle, surfing is an archetypal Aussie activity. Sydney has over 70 beaches for surfers of all ability. Bondi beach is arguably the most famous, though other beaches are often preferred by locals as they’re less busy. For beginners who want to learn in the best environment, you will need a flat, wide and uncrowded starter beach with smaller waves. These beaches can help you get your skills up to scratch before you try and tackle the more advanced waves at other bays.
Not to sound too cliché, but you’ll really start feeling like an Aussie when you buy your first board and start learning to ride the waves. Surfing truly is one of the best and most accessible outdoor activities in Sydney.
Hiking in the Blue Mountains
If you’re moving to Australia and love nature, then you will have heard of the Blue Mountains. They sit around two hours northwest of Sydney and are home to endless breathtaking trails. Some of the rainforests here are older than humanity and hold great significance in Dreamtime folklore. They are named as such due to the bluey haze the eucalyptus trees give off when their oil droplets split the sunlight. There are cafes, hotels and shops in the area so you can make a day or a holiday of your time here.
You can go for a day hike, a camping weekend or even explore for a full week of trekking. There is something for everyone.
If you are short on time or don’t want anything too challenging, the best one to start with is the popular Three Sisters walking track. This track is named after the view of the spectacular aboriginal rocky landmark. It has paved walkways, offers amazing waterfall views and panoramic forest lookouts. The hike can be done in under an hour, and there are toilets and a cafe too.
Other easier iconic walks include the Ruined Castle, Jenolan Caves and the Grand Canyon. All offer something very different. The Ruined Castle walk is an 8km ‘out and back’ along cliff edges and through ancient forests. It isn’t the easiest hike so bring your boots! There are also some very challenging trail options in this area if you’re more experienced. The Jenolan Caves are an incredible network of 11 or more limestone caves; a great place for a rainy day! The Grand Canyon trail is an incredible experience, taking you through time-old rainforests and getting you fully absorbed in the amazing canyon. It is about 6.5km long so should take around two hours.
If you want something a bit more challenging then try heading out towards Wentworth Falls. There are a few challenging walks around here and the Valley of the Waters, most offering unforgettable waterfalls and forest views.
The Blue Pool walking track is a great place for a trail hike and a little dip in clear blue waters. The track isn’t difficult to hike but can be difficult to find in places. It can get popular on the weekends and public holidays, so you could explore the Jellybean track as an alternative.
Staying fresh with outdoor activities in Sydney
Though it may be a metropolis, there are an array of awesome outdoor activities in Sydney and beyond that will keep you in touch with nature. Living in Australia really can be the perfect balance between bustling city life and calming natural wonders. So pack up your walking shoes, take a picnic and get on your way!
For more useful info on Sydney, check out our article on its most affordable places to live.