5 national parks walks you need to do this autumn

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Autumn’s officially arrived and what better way to enjoy the cooler climate than by getting closer to nature.

Keep your carbon footprint low by taking a train to one of these great National Parks walks, all within two hours of Central. Grab your pack, take a deep breath and declare “how’s the serenity?”

1. Blue Mountains National Park

With 24 new express services between Sydney and the Blue Mountains on weekends, escape the urban jungle and enjoy this World Heritage Listed wonder in our own backyard. After a two-hour scenic journey, you’ll be spoilt for choice with bushwalks that range from easy and relaxed, right through to challenging routes for even the most experienced hiker.

One popular route is the Wentworth Falls track which rewards bushwalkers with grand valley views from Fletchers Lookout. It’s a short but steep walk and well worth the effort. There’s a level path past two lookouts before a steep descent around 200 steps to the cliff-edge of Fletchers Lookout. Marvel at the waterfall that gives Wentworth Falls its name, as it plunges 100 metres to the valley floor.

From here, it’s a few more minutes down steps to the very top of the Falls, where Jamison Creek cascades into a shallow pool to one side and the magnificent Jamison Valley opens out on the other.

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This walk is suitable for most ages and fitness levels but do be prepared for lots of steps. The walk is a grade 3 which is for those who have some bushwalking experience already.

  • Getting there: Take a Blue Mountains express from Central to Wentworth Falls Station. The walk starts from the Wentworth Falls picnic area which is around two kilometres along Falls Road or you can catch a bus to the corner of Fletchers Road and Falls Road.
  • Travel time: 1 hour 51 minutes
  • Distance: 1.4km return
  • Time suggested for walk: 45 minutes – 1 hour
  • More info: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/wentworth-falls-track

2. Lane Cove National Park

Since last November, we’ve doubled the number of direct services from Central to Hornsby via Macquarie University on weekends, making Lane Cove National Park more accessible than ever. Home to the Lane Cove River and surrounded by native wildlife, you’d never guess that you were so close to the city. There are short day walks or ones that can take several days so take your pick.

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If you’re super fit and have 16 days up your sleeve, the Great North walk is a mammoth 250km multi-day hike which offers stunning scenery across Sydney, the Hunter Valley and Newcastle. For the rest of us, it’s best to just tackle part of the track for an easy day walk which passes through the Lane Cove National Park from East Ryde to Thornleigh.

  • Getting there: Take a T1 Northern Line train to Macquarie Park Station before catching the 506 bus to Sager Place Centre. Then it’s a short ten-minute walk to the Sugarloaf carpark where the walk starts. Alternatively, if you’d like to start the walk from the northern end, take a T1 Northern train to Thornleigh Station and walk about five minutes to that start of the track at Short Street.
  • Travel time: About an hour
  • Distance: 20km one-way
  • Time suggested for walk: 6 to 8 hours
  • More info: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/lane-cove-national-park

3. Royal National Park

Not for the faint-hearted, the Coast track in the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south is a challenging two-day 26km trek between Otford and Bundeena.

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To start, hop on a South Coast Line service to Otford Station and in just over 60 minutes, you’ll be at the beginning of the track. Seasoned hikers will be able to complete the track in one day, which is exactly what one of our fit colleagues here at Transport for NSW did this summer, though she did say that it was “the toughest thing I’ve ever done”.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed day and you have the time, pack your camping gear and stay overnight so you can tackle the track over two days. Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy incredible coastal lookouts, swimming spots, seasonal wildflowers and if you plan on going during whale watching season between May and October, you may just spot migrating humpback whales.

If you start from Otford at the southern end, you can make the 8km trek to North Era campground in about three hours. You’ll pass several heritage shacks at South Era and hike through coastal rainforest. Then, the northern section from North Era to Bundeena is about 18km so allow for at least 7 hrs to enjoy the rugged beauty of Royal National Park’s sandstone escarpments, sandy beaches, coastal heath and forest.

It’s a grade 5 walk with very steep and difficult tracks so come prepared with the right gear and plenty of water and food. You can also do a shorter loop walk, starting from the Bundeena end if you just want to clock up a few thousand steps on your Fitbit, rather than a few tens of thousands.

From Bundeena, reward yourself with a ferry ride over to Cronulla, a well-earned ice cream and connecting trains services on the T4 Cronulla Line back to Central. Phew!

  • Getting there: Take a South Coast Line train to Otford Station and it’s a short walk to the start of the Royal National Park where the Coast Track begins. From Bundeena, you can get a ferry to Cronulla and join T4 Cronulla Line services back to Central
  • Travel time: About an hour via the South Coast Line
  • Distance: 26km one-way
  • Time suggested for walk: 5 hours to 2 days
  • More info: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/the-coast-track

4. Bouddi National Park

Be it a weekday or the weekend, head up to the Central Coast on one of the express services from Central via Strathfield or via the North Shore and you’ll be spoilt for choice with scenic coastal walks.

Our pick is the Bouddi coast walk, well known for its beaches, boardwalk and birdlife, and located just near Woy Woy train station.

The 8km walk runs from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach and is loved by locals and tourists year-round. It’s a grade three walk so relatively easy with sweeping views, shady rainforest and inviting picnic spots, according to the good folk over at the National Parks and Wildlife Service. They recommend checking out the wildflowers along the walk or you might even spot migrating whales from the Gerrin Point Lookout.

If you’d prefer a shorter walk, you can do a 1.7km stroll from Little Beach to MacMasters Beach or a 3km walk from Putty Beach to Maitland Bay.

  • Getting there: Take a Central Coast and Newcastle Line express service to Woy Woy Station, then the 59 bus to Nukara Avenue and it’s a five minute walk to the starting point.
  • Travel time: About 90 minutes
  • Distance: 8.5 km one-way
  • Time suggested for walk: 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours
  • More info: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/bouddi-coastal-walk

5. Berowra Valley National Park

Take advantage of more direct services between Central and Hornsby via Macquarie University on weekends by heading up north to the Berowra Valley National Park for a great overnight hike or a day walk along the Benowie walking track.

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This beautiful bushland walk follows Berowra Creek makes up one-tenth of the iconic Great North Walk between Sydney and Newcastle, which is an epic 250km journey.

This 27km section of the Great North Walk takes you from Pennant Hills to Berowra Waters and there are several campsites along the way but you can also break up the trail into more manageable sections, particularly if you’re taking the kids out. Join the walk from Pennant Hills, Westleigh, Hornsby, Galston Gorge picnic area or Berowra Waters and head out into the bush for an adventure, according to the National Parks and Wildlife Services website.

It’s a grade five walk so there are parts of the track that are very steep and difficult and if you are planning to camp during autumn, make sure you pack plenty of weather-appropriate gear, sunscreen and let someone know where you are going.

  • Getting there: Take a T1 Northern Line train to either Hornsby or Pennant Hills and walk about 1km to where the track begins.
  • Travel time: 30 mins to 1 hour
  • Distance: 27 km one-way
  • Time suggested for walk: 2 to 3 days
  • More info: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/berowra-valley

Now that you’ve got our top tips, put down your phone and get out there.

But before you do, make sure to check out the National Parks and Wildlife Services tips on bushwalking safety and check for any alerts that may apply to your proposed route.

Here’s a few tips to get you started:

  • Plan your walk by researching the route
  • Go at the pace of the slowest person
  • Walk in groups of three or more
  • Check weather forecasts
  • Tell somebody where you are going and when you expect to be back
  • Personal Locator Beacons are available to loan for free in certain areas.
  • Bring plenty of water, snack and a first aid kit

Plan your next trip

There are several ways to help you plan your next trip using public transport. These handy travel apps are available for both iPhone and Android smartphones. Each uses real-time data to give you up to the minute travel information at your fingertips.

Or you can always use our Trip Planner tool below to see the different routes and services available to you.


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