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Nine of NSW's Best Short Hikes

December 20, 2017
Nine of NSW's Best Short Hikes

How good is it to just get away from it all and get that weekly dose of mother nature? Those fortunate enough to live in New South Wales (or be just wandering through), have a whole heap of stunning short hikes available to them.

Not only are they a feast for the eyes, but all the walks we have on our list take less than three hours to complete and won’t require you to break much of a sweat. This makes them perfect for that relaxing post-brekkie Sunday stroll we all love.

Although most of these hikes are relatively cruisy, we still reckon it’s worth investing in some proper hiking kit before you set out.

Even a pair of solid hiking boots can mean the difference between walking on clouds or getting some nasty blisters. Hiking boots will also help prevent your ankle from moving too much, which reduces the likelihood of rolling your ankle out on the track – ouch, not our idea of fun.

Once you’ve got the gear, it’s time to check out our list of NSW’s best short hikes!


Here we’ve created a reference map of all our favourite short hikes in NSW.


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Feels like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park.


Crystal Shower Falls Walk

Location: Dorrigo National Park

Grade: 2 (Generally flat with a few gentle hill sections or steps, no experience required)

Distance: 3.5km return

Suggested time: 1 hour if you’re quick, 2 hours if you plan on sightseeing along the way

Closest major city or town: Coffs Harbour

Parking: Available at The Glade Picnic Area

Starting at The Glade Picnic Area, this short walk should be on any waterfall-lovers bucket list. The Crystal Shower Falls Walk takes you through a small section of rainforest to a suspension bridge where you can view the waterfall in all its glory.

Now we don’t want to spoil the whole thing, but the side path connecting to bridge leads to a pretty spectacular view of the waterfall from behind that you have gotta see for yourself.

The path is fully paved and you’ll be treated to a huge selection of birdlife, insects and rainforest flora as you stroll along. If you’re not out of puff yet, you can rejoin the Wonga Walk, a 6.6km loop further through the rainforest, on your way back.

A map of the tracks can also be grabbed at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, where you can also leave a small donation to help with the upkeep of the area.


The Big Hole Walking Track

Location: Deua National Park

Grade: 4 (A few small sections with a mandatory river crossing chucked in)

Distance: 3.5km return

Suggested time: 2 to 3 hours

Closest major city or town: Moruya

Parking: Available at Berlang campground nearby

You may be wondering, ‘what’s so great about some big hole in the ground’? Well this isn’t any old ‘hole in the ground’. The aptly named Big Hole is a 400 million year old limestone chasm which is over 50 metres wide and 100 metres deep at its lowest point. Sounds pretty special right?

Well there is a catch to it. On your journey to see The Big Hole, you’ll be faced with one unmovable adversary, the Shoalhaven River. As long as you don’t mind getting your feet wet or bringing a towel, you’ll have no problem tackling it.

A word of warning though, the river bed can be a little slippery, so best bring a pair of grippy waterproof hiking boots and possibly a walking pole to help you across. Many bushwalkers are scared off by the water crossing, making this hike all the more special when you reach The Big Hole.


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The Three Sisters look even better at sunset.


Three Sisters Walk

Location: Echo Point

Grade: 1 (Majority flat, very small slopes on the track, no experience required)

Distance: 1km return

Suggested time: 30 mins return, but you may stay longer to take in the sights

Closest major city or town: Katoomba

Parking: Available around Echo Point township, however most parking requires payment during the daytime.

Are you after one of most breathtaking views in the Blue Mountains? Well the Three Sisters Walk is exactly what you’re after. Your buddies back home will be super jealous with the snaps you’ll get from here. We’d say they’re probably even laptop-wallpaper-worthy.

You’ll start the Three Sisters Walk at the Echo Point Visitor Centre, where you can grab a map of the area and learn more about its history. From there, head half a kilometre down the path to the first viewing platform, Oreades Lookout. Here you’ll be able to update your Facebook display picture with an epic view for your backdrop.

If you want an even better view, you can continue up a fairly steep set of stairs to the Lady Game Lookout. If that’s still not enough, you can continue up the Giants Stairways (another steep set of stairs) to Honeymoon Bridge, which connects across to the first of the Three Sisters.

But in recent years, The Three Sisters walk and the township of Echo Point has become increasingly touristy. ‘Peak hour’ for the walk is typically between 9am and 5pm, where you’ll find bus loads of tourists crowding the lookouts.

Our suggestion? Head down there around dusk and dawn for a much quieter experience and to avoid the crowds. If you have to be there during the day and hate crowds, the nearby Leura Cascades Loop (starting from the Leura Cascades Picnic Area), offers similar views without the same hordes of people.


Princes Rock Walking Track

Location: Blue Mountains National Park

Grade: 3 (some hilly sections)

Distance: 1.8km return

Suggested time: 1 hour

Closest major city or town: Wentworth Falls

Parking: Available at Wentworth Falls picnic area

Just down the road from The Three Sisters, Princes Rock Walking Track has been navigated by sightseers since the 1890s. It provides uncompromised views over the Wentworth Falls and Kings Tablelands.

If you’re into photography, the lookout is the perfect place to practice your panorama skills. Sunrise and sunset also provide some great opportunities to play with the natural light and shadows across the valley.

This walk is a great way to follow up the Three Sisters Walk , as it’s not too strenuous, and gives you a different perspective of the Blue Mountains.


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If you want a view like this, you’ll have to earn it.


Tomaree Head Summit Walk

Location: Shoal Bay

Grade: 5 (Very steep for the majority of the track, recommended for experienced hikers)

Distance: 2km return

Suggested time: 2 hours return, but you may stay longer to take in the sights or catch your breath

Closest major city or town: Nelson Bay

Parking: Available at either lower or upper Zenith Beach car park.

Tomaree Head Summit Walk isn’t so much a walk, as it is a climb . You’ll hear the words, ‘invigorating’, ‘bloody tiring’ and ‘spectacular’ thrown around when people talk about this track, and with good reason.

Although it’s only a two kilometre round trip, the whole thing is very steep, with a mixture of stairs, steps and tough sloping path. This track is not for the unfit or faint-hearted.

How are you rewarded for your efforts? Amazing views of the Port Stephens area, Nelson Bay and nearby Boondelbah and Shark Islands. The summit also features picnic tables and chairs so you can enjoy a meal with a unforgettable view before you head back down.

We’d also suggest taking a pair of binoculars with you if want to fully enjoy the sites. If you’re doing the climb in winter, be sure to keep your eyes out for humpback whales migrating along the coastline.

If you’re keen on Australia’s military history, you can also take a two hour detour down the Fort Tomaree Walk (which is far easier than the summit walk), to check out some of Australia’s WWII coastal gun emplacements.


Sandstone Caves Walking Track

Location: Pilliga National Park

Grade: 3 (Some steps and gentle hills)

Distance: 1.7km loop

Suggested time: 1.5hours

Closest major city or town: Dubbo

Parking: Available at Sandstone Caves Walking Track

The Sandstone Caves is one of the best places to see Aboriginal rock art and engravings in NSW, created by past generations of the local Gamilaroi people. But there is a couple of special rules you’ll need to abide by when you visit the area.

First of all, the track isn’t marked, as requested by Gamilaroi elders, so you’ll need to swing by the Pilliga Discovery Centre to get the directions to the cave. Here you can also book a guided tour to get a deeper understanding of the place. While on the track you’ll find interpretive signs about the caves too.

When you reach the caves, your’e not allowed to touch the artwork or take flash photography. By playing by the rules, we won’t spoil the rich history here for future generations. It’s also worth calling the discovery centre ahead of time to see what the road conditions are like. If there has been prolonged rainfall, the road to the caves can be very hazardous.


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Don’t forget your towel and bathers when you do this walk.


White Sands Walk and Scribbly Gum Track Loop

Location: Jervis Bay

Grade: 3 (A few small sections that can be fairly steep or strenuous)

Distance: 2.5km return

Suggested time: 30 mins to 2 hours depending on pace, potentially longer if you decide to take a swim or sunbake

Closest major city or town: Nelson Bay

Parking: Available on Elizabeth Drive near Greenfield Beach picnic area

Typically when you do this walk, you start with the White Sands section and end with the Scribbly Gum Track. But, here’s a hot tip for you: do it the other way around, you won’t regret it!

Here’s why. Both tracks run parallel to each other, with the Scribbly Gum side winding through a tall coastal forest and the White Beaches Walk following along the beachfront of Jervis Bay. Both start or end (depending which walk you begin with) at Greenfield Beach Picnic Ground.

Why should you start with Scribbly Gum Track you may be wondering? Well, if you bring your budgie smugglers with you, you’ll be able to take a cool, relaxing swim along the beach before walking back along the sand to the car park. Sound like an afternoon well spent? We think so too.

If you want to stretch the legs a bit more, continue heading south past the Scribbly Gum Track and White Sands Walk intersection over Duck Gully to Chinamans Beach.


The Granites Walking Track

Location: Sturt National Park

Grade: 3 (Some steps and gentle hills)

Distance: 3km loop

Suggested time: 2 to 3 hours

Closest major city or town: Tibooburra

Parking: Available at Dead Horse Gully campground, north of Tibooburra

Located deep in the New South Wales outback, The Granites are remnants of the 450 million year old volcano in the Sturt National Park. Magma hardened in the cracked earth, creating huge granite boulders. The Granites Walking Track is a place few travellers have explored and would certainly make your mates back home very jealous.

The abundant wildlife is also worth the drive to this far-off land. Bearded dragons, a variety of geckos and stumpy tail lizards are commonly seen sunbaking in the area. You may even see a kangaroo or ten grazing around the park.

But, because The Granites are in the outback, it’s best to save this walk for the colder months when the mercury isn’t about to burst. We’d also suggest taking a few extra precautions such as a sat phone or emergency beacon, since you’ll be far beyond the reach of any normal cell tower while there.


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Great views of the Wollomombi Falls from Chandler Track.


Chandler Walking Track

Location: Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

Grade: 5 (Some steep sections)

Distance: 2.5km return

Suggested time: 2 hours

Closest major city or town: Armidale

Parking: Available at Wollomombi Falls picnic ground

What’s red, thirsty and a little bit sweaty? You on the Chandler Walking Track. We’d be lying if we said this one was easy. Obstacles, big sections of steps, it’s almost like you’re climbing up the side of a mountain – which is pretty much what you’re doing.

Is it worth it? A sweaty yet satisfied two thumbs up from us. From the carpark, you’ll only have to walk a short while down the track to find the main Falls lookout, giving you a glimpse of what is to come. If you carry on you’ll reach the second Checks Lookout, where you’ll see the ravine from a fresh perspective. After catching your breath and a bit of a climb, you’ll be rewarded with the Chandler Lookout, which offers the best view over the gorge.

Back in the day you’d be able to continue down the path to the Chandler River, but that path has now been closed due to heavy erosion making it extremely unsafe. We don’t recommend attempting it now .


Final Thoughts

Well that’s it, our favourite short hikes across New South Wales. We’re sure they’re many more that we haven’t mentioned. You may even have some secret ones of your own.

Inspired to get out there and explore the outdoors yet? We certainly are. But before you do, make sure you’re fully equipped to take on the great outdoors!

Whether it’s your first time into the fray, or you’re the king or queen of bushwalking, we’d also suggest taking a look over our day hiking guide for beginners for all the tips and trick you’ll need before you head out there!


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