Sydney city skyline lit up during Vivid Sydney 2013. Credit: Destination NSW; James Horan
National Parks in Sydney
National parks around Sydney
One of the best ways to make the most of Sydney's beautiful national parks is to explore them on foot. Bushwalking trails crisscross the national parks close to Sydney: Royal National Park to the south, Blue Mountains National Park 90 minutes from Sydney to the west, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Lane Cove National Park to the north, and Sydney Harbour National Park, which encompasses six foreshore areas north and south of the harbour, plus five Harbour Islands.
Visit Sydney's National Parks
Surrounded by national parks, many within easy reach of the CBD, Sydney offers a diverse landscape of rainforests, rugged bush and marine reserves. Set your sights on some of Sydney's popular natural attractions this winter: Royal National Park, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the world heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park, only 90 minutes' drive from the Sydney CBD. There are walks suited to every fitness level, as well as places to hike, cycle, canoe and sleep under the stars at camping grounds.
Get close to Sydney's wildlife at night with the Royal National Park's Bungoona Moonlight Experience, a walk that takes in the sounds of owls, frogs and other creatures of the night.
Head to the Blue Mountains National Park for abundant wildlife, quiet forest retreats and tranquil freshwater lakes and streams, which provide ample opportunities to swim, walk, camp and picnic. Adventure seekers can get their adrenaline going with a rock climb or canyoning experience tailored for beginners to outdoor veterans.
Lane Cove National Park is a mere 20 minutes' drive from the Sydney CBD and provides a great day out for picnicking, bushwalking and canoeing along the peaceful Lane Cove River. The Lane Cove River Tourist Park offers camping in a lovely leafy location. Choose from well-set-up cabins or pitch a tent there are barbecues and camp kitchens to make this an enjoyable experience, giving you time to soak up the atmosphere.
Within the heart of the city, Sydney Harbour National Park encompasses stunning foreshore areas and islands. Explore and immerse yourself in its natural beauty with magnificent beaches, inlets and cliffs, or learn about the area's historical significance, which includes 70 Aboriginal sites and 200 historic buildings.
Guided national park walks
Guided tours will enrich your experience of Sydney's national parks. Sydney Coast Walks in The Royal National Park are available as daytrips or overnight stays. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park's tours range from gentle walks and tours on Aboriginal history. With more than 140 km of walking trails in the Blue Mountains you can take your pick of walks from eco-outings to ghost tours.
National Park and Wildlife Service rangers lead discovery walks and tours, and provide amazing insights into the secrets of the natural world. Learn about nocturnal wildlife, native plants and Aboriginal history. Most activities run during school holidays.
NSW has a wide range of wonderful swimming options from beaches, ocean pools, harbourside pools, lakes, rivers or swimming holes at the bottom of waterfalls. However to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment, swimmers should follow this general advice:
Look for patrolled beaches (this is where lifesavers are on duty you will see red and yellow flags that indicate this). You should always swim between the red and yellow flags as they mark the safest place to swim.
Never swim alone at night, or under the influence of alcohol, or directly after a meal.
Always check water depth before diving in as rocks or trees could be submerged and never run and dive into the water from the beach.
Check for signs regarding advice on water conditions at your chosen swimming spot and at any natural swimming hole. Always proceed with caution as surfaces could be slippery and water conditions may not be immediately apparent; particularly if the areas has recently experienced heavy rainfalls or flooding.