A two day walk - not too strenuous - taking in wild scenery, rivers, pools and ocean swims. Beautiful.
Day 1 - Sydney
Australia is a wild place - and that is easy to forget when you're happily ensconced inside the Sydney city limits. A quick way to break the illusion: head off out to the Royal National Park (the Southern limits of the city) for a few days, though you might just as well visit the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National park, to the North, or the Blue Mountains to the West.
The Royal National Park is the largest in Sydney, and one of the oldest in the world - certainly it is the oldest in Australia. Although you can visit the park for the day, it is far more rewarding to visit overnight. As there is little in the way of accommodation at the park - a YHA at Gaerie Beach, or you can stay in the small township of Bundeena - you are probably best off camping, although this might mean hiring a tent.
There are various ways of getting to the park. One is to catch a train to one of three stations that ring the park; another is to drive, and this is perhaps the most convenient, allowing great flexibility - there is a road through the centre of the park.
Assuming that you do not have a car however, it is perhaps easiest to find your way to Bundeena, a cute little town that is reachable by public ferry only, and has a smattering of B&Bs and cafes.
You can just hang around at the beach here, perhaps heading off for a day walk (there are plenty), but if you are at all adventurous, it might be worth trying your hand at the Coastal Walk - a 30km trek along a spectacular coastline that can be done in 2 or 3 days. Get a good map, look up proper instructions, and remember to prepare properly: always remember - the Australian bush can kill (and does, all the time). In particular, make sure that you have sufficent water.
The walk is not particularly difficult, though novices who are not at least reasonably fit might want to think twice. However, if you have a reasonable level of general fitness you should be fine. Highlights of day one include some spectacular views out over the Pacific Ocean from various lookouts, as well as some nice views out over the forests and beaches of the Royal National Park itself. There are also plenty of opportunities to swim in ocean, stream and lake - whichever takes your fancy!
The best place to camp is the North Era Bush Campground, which has toilets; however, if you wish you can stay at the YHA at Gaerie beach, which you'll pass. There is also a kiosk (with annoyingly varying hours - so do not rely on it!) where you can grab yourself a treat.
At the end of the day, there is nothing so rewarding as relaxing by your tent as a kettle boils you up some tea, and no food tastes as good as that cooked after a long day tramping!
2232 Sydney, Australia
tel: 61 2 9542 0648
fax: 61 2 9542 1420