As the founder of We Are Explorers, Henry has done heaps of exploring. Here’s his round-up of the 5 best overnight hikes near Sydney, plain and simple, so you can get out there ASAP.

It’s funny isn’t it? The first move we make as we progress from crawling baby to child is to get up and walk. Yet it’s from this simple evolutionary step that we continue to derive one of life’s greatest, most rudimentary pleasures.

The only the difference age brings is more options — they extend to far wider frontiers than the confines of our playpen (and we no longer need a nappy… unless the camp cook up was dodgy).

If you’re keen for an overnight hike near Sydney, you’re in for a more eye-opening treat than Augustus had in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I’ve strolled these hikes, all within a 3-hour radius of the city (and all accessible by public transport with a bit of extra walking), and they are my stand-out favourites thanks to their raw beauty, convenience and seclusion.

Read: Packing List For An Overnight Hike

# 1 Bundeena to Otford – The Coast Track (27.4km)

Royal National Park 

Duration: 1 or 2 days

With magnificent white-cliff coastlines to hike along in the north and rugged, gym-free beaches to surf in the south (Garie Beach and North/South Era), the Royal National Park is something to behold.

Accessible by public transport (train to Cronulla, ferry to Bundeena, train back to Sydney via Otford), this gem of an overnight hike has sprawling rainforests, hidden waterfalls, rockpools and a beachside campsite for those looking to spread the 26km trek over 2 days. Although it’s becoming increasingly popular with Sydney escape artists, this is a definite addition to your bucket list this year.

Do This Hike: The Coast Track // Royal National Park (NSW)

# 2 Blackheath To Acacia Flat (21.7km)

Blue Mountains National Park

Duration: 2 days

Escape From The Urban // Blackheath To Acacia Flat (NSW), Matt n Kat Pearce, Blue Gum forest, tree trunks, shadows, conservation, Blue Mountains

Photo by @pearce_m

Leaving the quaint town of Blackheath, this walk descends down the famous Grand Canyon (one of the best day walks near Sydney) before turning away from the crowds and heading deeper into the valley. The quiet campground at Acacia Flat has some drop toilets but that’s about it. It’ll just be you, the towering cliffs and the native Aussie bush, be ready for an early (golden) sunset!

The next day walks out through the Blue Gum Forest, an extraordinary protected area that was nearly cleared for a walnut farm, and finally a tough hike out beneath the whispy wonder of Govetts Leap waterfall. This hike is an absolute classic slice of the Blue Mountains. Put it on your list.

Do This Hike: Hiking Blackheath To Acacia Flat (NSW)

# 3 Bouddi Coastal Walk (17km return)

Bouddi Bouddi National Park

Duration: 1 or 2 Days

Matt Horspool, Bouddi Coastal Walk, Bouddi National Park, sunset, hiking track, hero, boardwalk

Photo by Matt Horspool | @etchd

This is an undulating 8km beachcombing trek which is so nice, you should do it twice (you’ll have to return to your car anyway!). Two campsites are nestled on golden beaches along it: Little Beach and Putty Beach, both of which will have your friends furiously tapping the hearts on your Instagram feed. Shipwrecks, wildflowers, whale-watching, deserted beaches… sounds like paradise to me.

Read: The 10 Best Coastal Hikes In NSW

# 4 Federal Pass To Mount Solitary Via Ruined Castle (30km return)

Blue Mountains National Park

Duration: 2 days

Jon Harris Photography Australian forests Blue Mountains - Golden stairs to Mt Solitary via Ruined Castle

Photo by Jon Harris

Ever wanted to camp on top of a mountain? Mount Solitary’s your guy. Standing proud in the Jamison Valley, this massive, flat-topped mountain is within site of Katoomba, but you’ll feel worlds away as you’re engulfed by birdsongs, wind in the gums and your thumping pulse as you climb the Korowal Knife Edge ridgeline.

Don’t underestimate this Blue Mountains overnight hike. With over 1000m of climbing, no guaranteed water at the top and a full 30km of hiking if you walk from Katoomba Station, you’re in for an epic few days. Luckily the views from the massive sandstone cliffs are worth every step.

Do This Hike: Federal Pass To Mount Solitary Via Ruined Castle // Blue Mountains (NSW)

#5 Wondabyne To Patonga Via Pindar Cave (12.3/23km)

Brisbane Water National Park

Duration: 2 days

Overnight Hike To Pindar Cave // Brisbane Water National Park (NSW), photo by Andy Lewis, NSW, fire, cave

Photo by Andy Lewis

First step, jump on a train north to Wondabyne, Australia’s only train station without road access. Have a swim at the end of the jetty to cool down, then hike up to the ridgeline, through wildflowers and scrubby heath, towards Pindar Cave. You’ll cop views all the way to the ocean and down to Pittwater, but it’s fairly exposed so make sure you’ve got a good supply of H2O.

You can sleep out in the epic Pindar Cave overhang (tent free if you’re not stressed about bugs) before hiking back to Wondabyne, or continue on to Patonga where you can get the ferry across to Palm Beach and the bus back to town. Pro tip: have a beer while you wait for the ferry. You’ve earned it.

Kariong Brook Falls is a great place to cool off on the route to Patonga and you can camp out near Mt Wondabyne instead of the cave.

Do This Hike: Overnight Hike To Pindar Cave // Brisbane Water National Park (NSW)

A Few Hiking Tips

  • Pack plenty of water
  • Bring a map (here’s why)
  • First aid kit is essential (and know how to use it!)
  • Personal Locator Beacons are lifesavers where there isn’t reception, you can often rent them
  • High energy snack bars are your best buddy
  • Leave No Trace (don’t be a tosser, take all rubbish with you)
  • Let friends know where you’re going, just in case the proverbial hits the fan

Feature photo by Rachel Dimond

Get survival savvy…

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