For a metropolitan like Sydney, it is incredibly blessed to be surrounded by lush national parks with reserved bushland. With so many trails to choose from, we know it would be an amazing sensory and educational adventure for your little one. But where do you start?
We’ve done the legwork and picked out Sydney’s best and easiest real bushwalking trails which you could do with your toddler or preschooler. (Yes, we mean real bush trails that are full of bush fauna and no concrete paths).
Fairyland Pleasure Gardens, Lane Cove National Park
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/NWcMN
Walk Length and Duration: 1km track, approx. 30 mins
Did you know that within a mere 20 mins of the CBD there lies a beautiful little secret garden called “Fairyland”? Also known as the Fairyland Tea Gardens in 1910, it was once a bustling picnic grounds area which local residents would visit by charter boats. There were swings, slides, picnic shelters and even a dance hall.
Today, it’s an unassuming overgrown bush area with mangroves along the river banks and a quiet walking track that is part of the Great North Walk in Lane Cove National Park. But there is plenty of history to discover with historic signage and photographs of what was once a novel pleasure ground. Throw in a little imagination while you explore this walk and it could become a beautiful natural playground for your child.
How to find it: If you’re turning off the M2 or Epping Road, drive along Delhi Road and turn off at River Avenue. Follow River Avenue until it becomes Quebec Road. The walking track begins opposite 101 Quebec Road and leads down towards Lane Cove River.
The Walk: There is a combination of timber boardwalk, cleared pathways, timber and concrete steps throughout the walk. You might be able to do the walk with a three-wheeled jogging buggy. Otherwise, best to take your toddler in a backpack or carrier.
Banks-Solander Trail, Kamay Botany Bay National Park
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/FpMgi
Walk Length and Duration: 0.9km track, approx. 20 mins
This is an easy peaceful shady walk amid wild ferns and a eucalyptus forest was explored by the botanists from Captain Cook’s crew, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander over 240 years ago. Bushwalking with your children here could transport you back into time, where you could pretend to be one of the early explorers.
How to find it: Drive along Captain Cook Drive in Kurnell until you arrive at a Caltex servo. There’s a turn off into Solander Drive which will lead to the Kamay Botany Bay Visitor Centre car park. While there are numerous walks here, follow at the “Banks-Solander Track” sign for this easy trail.
The Walk: The walk is a combination of part-track, part-boardwalk, gravel and sandy tracks. It would be suitable for an all-terrain buggy, or three-wheeled jogger pram. Otherwise, best for a backpack or carrier.
Bulgandry Aboriginal Engravings walk, Brisbane Waters National Park
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/6FQEi
Walk Length and Duration: 0.8km track, approx. 20 mins
For a bush walk with a bit of ancient history, the walk to the Bulgandry Aboriginal art site is a rich experience into the past traditions and appreciation of the environment. While your little one may not fully understand the concept of the ancient Aboriginal rock art, you can take advantage of making it an educational bush walk. In spring, the native plants and wildflowers along the walking trail are a sight to behold.
At the Bulgandry site itself, you’ll see the 200 year old carvings of wallabies, fish, a dolphin, a canoe and a bird. As this is an Aboriginal cultural heritage site, please remember to tread carefully and with respect. Adhere to the site care signage and keep to the boardwalk.
How to find it: From the Central Coast Highway, take Woy Woy Road exit at Kariong. Travel approximately 3km south towards Woy Woy until you see a “Bulgandry” sign on your right. Turn off into the gravel road car park. The walk begins through a timber chicane on the north east end of the car park.
The Walk: The walk is wheelchair accessible with a combination of dirt track, gravel and boardwalk. It would be suitable for an all-terrain buggy, or three-wheeled jogger pram. Otherwise, best for a backpack or carrier.
Lady Carrington Drive Walk to Gibraltar Rock, Royal National Park
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/0qmUp
Walk Length and Duration: 0.9km track, approx. 20 mins
What’s a best bush walk list without a trail at the Royal National Park? We love this area of the ‘Nasho because of the Audley Boatshed and its surrounding for family-friendly activities. However if you want a bush walk combined with a picnic, this easy walk is suitable for little adventurers with a short cobblestone path and beautiful sandstone hanging rock to explore.
How to find it: From the Princes Highway, turn off into Farnell Avenue which becomes Audley Road as you drive through the Royal National Park. Continue driving until you see the Royal National Park Visitor Centre on your right. Turn right into Lady Carrington Drive and follow the road until the end. The walk begins at the Willow Tree Picnic area on the east bank of the Hacking River, where the trail entrance sign says “Lady Carrington Drive”.
The Walk: This walk is a common family biking trail for visitors at the Royal National Park. So it’s definitely suitable for an all-terrain buggy or three-wheeled jogger pram. While it goes on for about 10km, we would only recommend the less than 1km walk to Gibraltar Rock and back to Willow Tree Picnic area for those with little ones.
Always inform someone of your plans, where you are going and when you expect to be back. If possible, plan your bush walk trip with another adult or make it part of your local mother’s group activity.
Dress appropriately for the weather and conditions of the bush walk. Ensure that your child has a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen, as not all bush walks are sufficiently shaded.
Always check the weather forecast. Some areas with rivers or water catchment areas may be at risk of flooding after rain.
Please check bush fire danger ratings and restrictions before you go by visiting the NSW Rural Fire Service website.
Zona Marie Tan-Sheppard
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