Walking is one of the best ways to experience Australia’s stunning natural beauty.
And as we move into the cooler months, walking is guaranteed to keep the chill at bay as you explore the famous New South Wales coast.
We’ve picked five coastal walks from the fantastic new book by Ken Eastwood, Top Walks in New South Wales, that will get your blood pumping as you traverse what is arguably the most stunning coastal landscape in the world.
Let us know your favourite coastal walk in the comments.
The Coast Track, Royal National Park
With a name like that, you’d expect the Coast Track to deliver on coastal views – and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s our favourite way to experience the dramatic cliffs, escarpments and spectacular ocean views of Royal National Park.
The track runs the length of the park from north to south, and at 26 kilometres, it’s no stroll in the park (pardon the pun). But you shouldn’t let the length deter you from undertaking the walk.
While experienced hikers might power through in one day, it’s more enjoyable if divided over two days, with a stay at North Era camping area in the middle. You’ll need to be self sufficient to stay at this bush camping site. There aren’t any showers, but you have the whole stretch of the Tasman Sea before you in which to wash off the dirt of a day’s walking (although you’ll get a bit of a cold shock if you go for a swim in winter).
A lot of people have discovered this spectacular walk, and it’s often used for Duke of Edinburgh hikes and scout groups, so go during the week in school term if possible.
Light to Light walk, Ben Boyd National Park
Have you always fancied getting off the beaten track? While you will be walking on established tracks on the Light to Light walk, at 32 kilometres this splendid trek is rarely walked end-to-end. This is probably because there’s limited transport available to and from the walk meaning you really do need to have a car at both ends of the walk (unless you fancy walking 64 kilometres). It’s also recommended that you drop off some bottles of water in advance at whichever campsite you’d like to spend the night. Hikers generally stay at Saltwater Creek, which is the halfway point of the walk.
The Light to Light walk is in Ben Boyd National Park, which is situated on the appropriately named Sapphire Coast. As the walk mainly hugs the coast, you’ll have plenty of time to see the region live up to its name, as the water will sparkle into a million different shades of blue, from azure to navy and every blue in between.
The terrain is relatively flat ground, although you will have to clamber over some rocks and up some stairs. The most challenging thing about this walk is its length.
Make sure you say ‘hi’ to the locals on the trek – the area is heavily populated with native animals, including kangaroos and wallabies.
Angourie Coastal Walk, Yuraygir National Park
Angourie Coastal Walk is in the rarely talked-about Yuraygir National Park.
We don’t know whether the park’s low-key profile is due to its distance from Sydney or the fact that it’s relatively undeveloped, but whatever the reason, it’s good news for hikers. A walk this spectacular would normally be crawling with walks, but as it stands, you don’t have to worry about being overtaken by hordes every time you stop to take in the views.
At three hours the walk is quite short, although some hikers might find the up-and-down nature of the walk challenging. You can also turn this walk into the longer Yuraygir Coastal Walk, which spans the length of the park and is estimated to take four days.
There are plenty of camping areas throughout Yuraygir National Park if you’d like to make a night of it, although most of the campgrounds in the park have limited facilities. Check out the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service for information on other walks you can take in the park if you decide to stay for a few days.
Spit to Manly, Sydney
This famous walk hardly needs an introduction. The entire 10-kilometre walk starts at the Spit Bridge and continues all the way around the coast of the inner harbour to Manly. The full walk is definitely worth completing, but if you don’t want to commit, this 8-kilometre-return section of the walk is a delightful introductory version.
This shortened walk will primarily take you through Sydney Harbour National Park, which encompasses one of the few remaining areas of (almost) undisturbed bush left in the city. There will be parts of the walk where you will feel like you are alone – a rare experience in a city of over four million people.
Starting at Clontarf Reserve, follow the walk until you reach the lookout near Dobroyd Head. This is roughly the 4-kilometre point, although you can choose to continue on the walk for a bit longer and turn around at Reef Beach or Forty Baskets Beach, but that will involve adding more uphill sections on the return trip.
We think some of the best views of Sydney are to be had on this walk. You’ll catch glimpses of both North and South heads, as well as a stunning overview of the developed areas of the inner harbour. It’s hard not to fall in love with Sydney after completing this walk.
Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island
You might see the inclusion of this walk as cheating – after all, climbing a mountain doesn’t really count as a coastal walk. Unless that walk is on Lord Howe Island, where it’s hard to avoid the coast.
You’ll walk along the coast for a few sections of the 10-kilometre walk to the top of the mountain, and if you’re lucky and the summit isn’t cloudy, you’ll even see the spectacular Balls Pyramid, which is 23 kilometres out to sea. Make sure to take your camera along for this trek. You’re going to need it.
To climb Mount Gower, you’ll need to take a local guide. The return trip is around eight to nine hours, and there are ropes lining the path so you can steady yourself on your way up to the 875-metre-high summit. It’s a marvellous trek that displays the World Heritage–listed island’s stunning natural beauty.
For more top walks in New South Wales, check out Ken Eastwood’s Top Walks in New South Wales.