One thing that Sydney does well (apart from avocado on toast and overpriced housing) is coastal walks. And while Bondi to Coogee gets a lot of air time, it’s north of the Bridge where Sydney also shines. So we tracked down a northern beaches local, Shannon Young – the in-house nutritionist for healthy food legends, THR1VE – to share her tops walks.
“At THR1VE we have group workouts scheduled weekly and the option to book in a ‘walking meeting’ whenever possible,” says Shannon. “No matter how busy we are we are never stuck behind the computer for too long. But by the time the weekend rolls around I am craving the outdoors and love nothing more than getting outside and taking advantage of living in such a beautiful area. So, if the weather is nice you’ll find me out and about enjoying the day on one of these Northern Beaches walks!”
1) Mackerel Beach, West Head Loop
“This one is my absolute favourite. Along this walk you will get to experience some of Sydney’s most beautiful secluded beaches. The whole track takes 3-5 hours depending on the pace you take and is around 6km. While it is a pretty easy hike there are several steps and rocks to be conquered. This can extend to a full-day outing if you allow time to relax and have a dip at one of the many beaches along the way. There are two starting points on this walk; you could start at Resolute Picnic Ground, near the end of West Head Rd or the walk could also be done in reverse by catching a ferry from Palm Beach to Mackerel Beach.
2) Barrenjoey Lighthouse
The lighthouse walk is situated at Sydney’s most northern point and takes around 30 minutes each way, however I would recommend allowing at least 20 minutes extra to enjoy the view from the top. It’s quite a steep climb and requires moderate fitness. Once at the top you’ll get the most amazing view of the northern beaches, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the Central Coast. If you’re lucky you might even spot dolphins, whales or a few celebrities (if you’re a fan of Home and Away).
3) Narrabeen Lagoon Bush Trail Walk
The Narrabeen lagoon trail is a super easy and accessible walk and is perfect for the whole family. It is around 8.6km and take approx. 1.5-2 hours to do the complete loop. The walk takes you around the perimeter of Narrabeen lagoon with plenty of quiet spots to stop and enjoy being outdoors. This track is used by just about anyone walkers, runners, cyclists and is dog friendly.
4) Freshwater Beach – Curl Curl Beach
If you are looking for a short commitment that takes a little under an hour this walk is perfect. Equipped with a boardwalk right on the water that connects North Curl Curl and Freshwater Beach, the walk keeps you on the waters edge the whole way, with the option to turn it into a soft sand walk at Curl Curl if you wish. There are no obstacles to worry about and this walk is super easy, perfect for the whole family, including the dog with sections being leash free.
5) Manly to Spit Bridge
This is a 10km walk (one way) that takes between 3-4 hours depending on your fitness levels. However, if you are short on time you have multiple options that will take you through different sections. A good level of fitness is required as some sections of this walk can be quite hard going. The best thing about this walk is you get a little bit of everything including views of the harbour, beaches (pack your swimmers) and sections of bushland – it’s also really common to see a whale or two if you choose the right time of year.