By MEGAN HOLBECK
1. BONDI TO MANLY WALK
This walk traces the coastline between two of Sydney’s most famous beaches. It’s 80km long, but don’t let the distance put you off: although it can be done as a hard-core two-day affair, it’s far more fun to take your time, ticking off sections as you like. Highlights are individual: gorgeous beaches, beautiful bush, historical interludes, and iconic sights. Public transport and convenient cafes makes access and planning easy, with ferry rides adding to the fun.
Pittwater is a playground of boats, beaches and bush, 40km north of the city. The drive is worth it for the expansive views from West Head alone, without mentioning the walks to see Indigenous rock art and secluded beaches. Keep going to Palm Beach to surf, plonk or play, or climb the steps to the 140-year-old Barrenjoey Lighthouse for fantastic views over Pittwater and the coast. Ferries run to the famous Basin campsite, as well as to Patonga for visits to the pub and pelicans, or walks onward to Pearl Beach.
3. BLUE MOUNTAINS CANYONING
Waterfalls, golden walls of rock and fairy glens of ferns: the canyons of the Blue Mountains are pure magic. They’re also more accessible than they sound: kids of any age can dip their toes in the famous Grand Canyon, while more capable kids can walk the entire loop. The beautiful, water-sculpted worlds of Empress and Serendipity Canyons can be explored on full-day tours with High and Wild Adventures, where teenagers (and parents!) can abseil down waterfalls and rock jump into crystal pools.
4. ROYAL NATIONAL PARK
Australia’s oldest national park is accessible by train, ferry and car, and less than 40km from the CBD. Stretching along a stunning coastline, there’s something for everyone: from the short but steep Winifred Falls Trail to two-day walks along the famous Coast Track. Or explore the lovely town of Bundeena and its 5km Jibbon Loop Track, taking in the well-preserved Aboriginal engravings, sandy beaches and great views.
5. SYDNEY HARBOUR
It’s not just one of the world’s most beautiful harbours – Sydney Harbour is also the city’s playground. From iconic structures to hidden beaches, historic sights to urban delights, there’s enough to keep your family exploring for months. Start with the grand overview from the Harbour Bridge, with BridgeClimb Sydney offering adrenaline, beauty and history in equal measures for kids aged eight and over. With in situ tents, cafes and campfires, camping on Cockatoo Island is as easy as it gets, with great views over the harbour, as well as giving insights into our convict past. Sydney Harbour Kayaks at Spit Bridge rents boats, allowing watery explorations of the greener side of the harbour for children three and over.