A local’s guide to Sydney’s Best FREE Activities & Adventures

Published Categorized as adventure

NOTE: This is a draft. There are typos and the formatting ain’t perfect. But it’ll help you plan your adventure.

Sydney is waaaay more that just a lousy bridge and an opera house.

It is packed with micro-adventures (and some pretty shiddy tourist traps).

We’ve crafted this post along to help you navigate the region. I can imagine this will be hlepful to two categories of people.

(1) Tourists that want to make the most of their time in the Sydney region and limit the dent in the wallet

AND

(2) The folks who’ve lived in Sydney for a while and are starting to feel like things are getting stale.

To both of you, I got good news to share. Sydney is —> B E A U T F U L.

Most of the options on this list are free and tailored to those that like sports and activities. That said, having access to a car is going to make life much easier for the activities outside of the city.

Enough chit chat. Let’s get into it.

Water Based Activities

Sydney City

I tend to avoid the busy beach areas of Sydney, but they’re good to see at least a couple of times if you’re new to the area.

Best Beaches in Sydney

Parsely Bay

Parsley Bay is a cracker little spot with some nice snorkelling when you swim past the overhanging bridge. Jumping off the bridge is not allowed and is dangerous at low tide. A couple keen souls still try it from the middle during high tide. Not speaking from experience here, but check the depth, obstacles and tuck your body as soon as you hit the water. If you climb access the water from any point other than the main beach, be careful. There are a heap of oysters on the rocks, they will absolutely slash your feet and hands.

I recommend accessing Parsley bay via the coastal walk or car. Public transport has been annoying each time I tried it.

Beach Pools of Sydney City

Beach pools are a unique feature of Sydney’s coastline, take a dip with without worrying about waves or strong currents. These iconic pools are my favourite:

  • Bronte Baths is located at Bronte Beach, this pool is perfect for a relaxing swim with stunning views of the ocean. It’s a great spot for families with children, as the pool is shallow and there are plenty of nearby amenities.
  • **Wylie’s Baths** is one of the most popular beach pools of Sydney. The pool is located at the southern end of Coogee Beach and offers stunning views of the coastline. It often gets hellishly busy though. Probs not worth visiting on those hot summer weekends…
  • **Icebergs Pool (the famous bondi one)** is the iconic pool located at the Southern end of Bondi Beach. Look, it’s gorgeous, but not exactly a well kept secret. If you think an AU$9.00/day entry is worth the stunning views of iconic Bondi go for it! You won’t be disappointed. Personally, I did it once and never again. Plenty of free swimming options without the fee.

Maroubra Beach

Magic Point Snorkel Spot

There is a nice spot to snorkel at the south point of Maroubra Beach. Conditions can be a bit choppy at times, so it’s only worth going when the ocean is calm. Park here and walk to the water’s edge here, just next to where the Magic Point Trial starts.

When visibility is good, you’ll see a bunch of aquatic life down there. There’s a chance you’ll see some nurse sharks too! They breed in that area and are harmless. An interesting research article about how the diving in the area affects the sharks, for those interested.

If you’re snorkeling or freediving, make sure to bring a buddy. No spearfishing allowed in the area. Watch out for the sea urchins, they’re plentiful – and edible. Pretty cool to have lunch if you’re down? Here is more info on how to process sea urchins for food…

The Main Beach

If you just want to go for a dip, you can always head to the main beach. It’s big, got white sand and will never get as busy as Bondi Beach. Not much more to say than “it’s nice”.

The south end of Maroubra beach has an artificial rock pool which will protect you from the swell. Great if you have little ones who can’t yet tackle the surf. There are usually less people in that area as well.

Closest bathrooms are available at either of the two surf life saving clubs.

Mahoon Pool

Mahoon Pool is similar to the rock pools listed above, but usually a little more quiet . This is a concrete pool built into the coast. Not the most iconic beach pool in Sydney, but it’s my favourite because it feels like you’re away from the city. The sandstone rockscapes that surround you dissipate the crashing waves. You can hear and feel the power of the surf on rough days. Somehow it’s very peaceful.

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Bare Island Bridge

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View of the Bare Island Bridge which takes you to the fort from La Peruse.

The fort on this little island is linked up to La Peruse via and old wooden bridge. It makes for a beautiful sunset spot and has some very decent snorkelling.

It’s similar to the other spots above, but with a bit more history. A few dive schools practice in the area, but most of the interesting fauna can bee seen snorkelling. Not many good sandy beaches nearby. This adventure will be “on the rocks” (like your whiskey). Bring shoes if you’re rock hopping and have soft european feet.

Again, calm conditions are your friend. The waves can break on the the rock pools and you’ll get dragged through the oysters. No bueno. I’d recommend visiting at high tide or while the tide is heading out.

Adrenaline Activities

Sydney is a little mecca for adrenaline enthusiasts. There is an insane amount of cool shit to do in the area. This is my favourite section because it’s what I know the most about. I’ve broken it down into activities. Pick your poision.

Surfing

There are HEAPS of surf spots around Sydney. Most are well documented by people who know what they’re doing on a board… I can barely tell the nose from the tail.

As a rookie my favourite surf beaches are:

  1. Avalon Beach (50mins from city centre)
  2. Wanda Beach (near Cronulla – 40mins from city)
  3. Maroubra Beach – (20mins from city)

Camping

Blue Mountains

  • Mount York Camping Site

Slackline/Highline

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As highlining has gained traction some of the highline spots have become pretty popular. A few of them have increasingly gotten shut down by police and rangers. So as a community we try to limit publicity of the spots.

That said, if you know what you’re doing and can prove it please contact me. I’m happy to help, just not publicly. Don’t mean to be a bummer, just being cautious.

There are unofficial guidebooks which detail the region’s highline spots. IMO these are the best:

  • “Ghost Town“
  • “Scarface”
  • Most of the lines at “Corroboree Walls”
  • Hanging Rock (lots of foot traffic during weekend)
  • The 130m at “Rienits Pass

Rock Sports (Climbing / Abseiling)

Endroits à Slackline

  • “Slack Wednesday” every Wednesday it isn’t raining at Victoria Park. The facebook group “Slackline Sydney” is also great to see when you can go to meet other ‘outdoorsy’ types

Hikes

Thee hikes around Sydney are plentiful and beautiful. The outdoor scene is PUMPING in Sydney.

  • Blue Mountains Hikes
  • Spit to Manly
  • Newnes Plateau Hikes
  • Coins de nature dans Sydney

Victoria’s Hikes

Best Views of Sydney

North Head

My favourite view of Sydney is at North Head. It’s a bit of a naughty one though, access to the spot is not exactly allowed. Be sure to go on a quiet day and avoid rangers. You’re going to need to go through some bush so wear proper hiking shoes.

Park up here. Walk back up the road you drove down until you see a sandstone wall. Follow it down the hill keeping it on your right side (you on the left) until you just past half way. You’ll see a break in the wall where you can climb over it. Be careful there is broken glass on the top of the wall in most other sections. Continue following it down until you see the the wall stops. Don’t get too close to the cliffs edge because the sandstone is flakey in some areas.

You can either hang around at the bottom of the wall spot #1 or continue the hike to spot #2 which is higher up and gives a better view of Sydney Harbour.

Sunsets are awesome out this area. Bring a headlight so you don’t get lost on your way back. The path is not always very easy to follow.

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Hermitage Foreshore Reserve

This is a nice escape from the city with beautiful views of the harbour at the various little beaches along the way. The walk starts here and generally head to Shark Beach, but you can choose your own adventure…

It gets busy in the mid mornings. Try head there for early AM for the best sunrise views and empty paths.

Opens at 5am and closes at 10pm. Cafes at the end of the walk. There are public bathrooms at the end of the walk.

City Walk

I quite like this city walk. It’s especially handy for those who don’t have time for a longer walks and want to stay around the city. You’ll get a brief overview of the prettiest (and most famous) spots in the city.

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The route

  1. Head towards Darling Harbour as a starting point.
  2. Follow the path adjacent the water all the way around through Barangaroo Reserve (public toilets).
  3. Keep going to find the jetties at Walsh Bay. These spots are usually very quiet and give an awesome view of the Harbour Bridge.
  4. Keep going th through Dawe’s Point Reserve past Circular Quay, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
  5. If you’re feeling up for it continue along Farm Cove Walkway through the Royal Botanical Garden
  6. End at Woolloomooloo Lookout and head back to the city.

The whole thing will take about 1.5hrs-2hrs.

Hikes

Norther Sydney Hikes (from Victotria)

Berowra Valley National Park

Naa Badu lookout

Crosslands Reserve & Place of Winds

  • Beautiful National Park situated in Northern Sydney
  • The Great North Walk traverses through this National Park towards Newcastle
  • There are a number of sections that can be easily accessed by public transport as it passes by train stations.
  • Sections include Mount Kuringai to Berowra and Berowra to Cowan. The section from Cowan to Brooklyn traverses into Kuringai Chase National Park.
  • Sections can be challenging with lots of rocky uphills and stairs. The track is well marked and relatively easy to follow, and follows the beautiful Berowra Creek for much of its length. The climb up to Naa Badu lookout is well worth the view!
  • There is lots of native flora and fauna to encounter, with frequent spottings of native wildlife such as kookaburras, cockatoos, wallabies, echidnas and lyrebirds. Keep your eyes and ears peeled!
  • If you choose to continue to Brooklyn, a drink at the pub at the end of the track is well deserved before you return back to Sydney via train.

Kuringai Chase National Park

Bobbin Head

  • Accessible by bus from Turramurra station
  • The Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head loop track is a 11km track that winds down towards Bobbin Head Marina and up again via a fire trail. It passes through a variety of bushland including tropical rainforest, riverbeds, eucalyptus and mangrove forests.
  • Kayak hire also available at the Marina area as well as a café for a bite to eat.
  • Another great spot for bird watching and spotting native wildlife.

Spit to Manly

  • 10km well marked and even track from The Spit to Manly.
  • Accessible at both points by public transport.
  • Incredibly scenic coastal walk, passing through many small secluded beaches in Middle Harbour.
  • If you start from The Spit to Manly, you can enjoy a dip at the beach at the end of the walk and catch the ferry back into the city.

Two Creeks track

  • Accessible from Lindfield station
  • The 7.5km return walk wanders through eucalyptus and mangrove forests, and follows along the Gordon Creek into Middle Harbour. There are beautiful views of the creek along the walk.

Best Parks and Green Areas in Sydney City

Sydney Park

Sydney Park is another one of Sydney’s best green areas. There is plenty of gym equipment, sports fields, skate parks, dog areas, bathrooms, runs, wetland areas to visit. Words don’t do it justice. Go see it.

Centennial Park

Centennial Park is a not so little nature pocket in the center of the city. It’s uasually weirdly empty in the mornings… But the early birds can be seen cycling, jogging or horseriding??

The park is gorgeous with beautiful wild gardens and teeming with birldife. There is also a colony of Flying Foxes in the park which is a must see. They’re loud and slighly stinky, buy they’re bloody fun to watch – head there at sunset to see them at their most active.

If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the city, Centennial Park is definitely worth a visit.

Beaches and Best Kept Secrets