So, another Saturday night has rolled around and yet again all you’ve achieved is an empty wallet spent on Ubers chauffeuring you around Sydney (and maybe splashed out on a few too many Yum Cha rounds). You feel guilty, understandably, but don’t beat yourself up too much: we’ve got your Sunday plans sorted. Sydney’s beaut localities are all yours for just $2.80 on your Opal Card.
These seven top-notch destinations are easy like Sunday mornin’ to get to and are sure to provide a glorious day of activities: think coastal strolls, refreshing swims, bush adventures and some all-star pics for the Instagram profile. Shout-outs to the Sunday Opal card capped fare rate. For only $2.80 you’ll get unlimited travel on all public transport on Sundays!
Did you know: If you’re unfamiliar with the Opal card, it is a reusable smart card ticket that can be used across all NSW public transport, including trains, buses, ferries and the light rail. You can find more information here.
Nielsen Park - 40 mins east of Sydney
Cruisy Sunday arvo starter-pack: sun-soaked picnic spots, swims in glistening ocean water, harbour-side strolls and good vibes all round. Nielsen Park in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs boasts all of the above, with the calm, perfect waters of Shark Beach. Relax, no actual sharks involved – you’ll be extra safe with the shark net from October through to April. Stroll down the Hermitage Foreshore Track to cop views of Shark Island and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in all their glory.
But what about those hard earned snacks? You’ve come to right place. With plenty of picnic spots to choose from along the way – Bottle and Glass Point are the gold-class options – the world’s your oyster (BYO cheese platter).
Circular Quay to Nielsen Park
- From Circular Quay, jump on the E7 Eastern Suburbs ferry to Rose Bay Wharf (about 15 minutes)
- Hop on the 324 bus down New South Head Road and get off near Hopetoun Avenue (about 10 minutes)
- Take the 15 minute stroll down Wentworth Road to the beach.
Alternatively, you can catch the 325 bus from Town Hall Station to Vaucluse Road near Greycliff Avenue which is a few minutes walk from the park.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park - one hour 45 minutes north of Sydney
Barrenjoey Lighthouse is sure to make you one damn proud Aussie with its epic panoramic ocean views. Get those glutes workin’ on the 30 minute hike to the top, where you’ll be greeted by the historic sandstone lighthouse and unbeatable vistas over Palm Beach and beyond. From 11-3pm (Sundays only), you can enjoy half-hour guided Lighthouse tours at a low five bucks. Sign us up!
Pro tip: there are no drinking facilities and not a lot of shops nearby, so remember to pack enough food and water, or it won’t just be your mate’s dry humour making you thirsty.
Throughout May – November keep your eye out for dolphins and whales jumping up to say ‘whale hello there’. To take your whale watching to the next-level, download this awesome Wild About Whales app, which includes real-time whale watching updates.
Did you know? No car? no worries. Take the L90 bus from Wynyard Station through to Beach Road near Governor Phillip Park Station in Palm Beach (should take about 90 minutes), and from there it’s about a 15 minute stroll to the start of the track.
Heathcote National Park - 60 minutes south of Sydney
They say a Sunday well spent brings a week of content, so day trippers, listen up!
With a huge selection of beautiful bush tracks, NSW’s Heathcote National Park is a winner. Getting there is easy – take the T4 line direct from Central station to Waterfall station and you’ll be there in an hour. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll come across the Bullawarring Walking Track; one for those with a little more experience. Along the 5.5km pathway, you’ll meet plenty of Aussie locals – like the yellow-tailed black cockatoo, eastern blue-tongue lizard and the adorable swamp wallabies – to name a few. Remember these guys have plenty to snack on already – please don’t feed the animals. Also, bring your cossies (read: budgie smugglers) to show off that beach bod, as this spot boasts plenty of rockpools and waterfalls at the Kingfisher Pool picnic area.
Central Station to Waterfall Station
- Take the T4 Eastern Suburbs line from Central Station
- Arrive at Waterfall station, walk a few minutes to the Bullawarang walking track
Blue Mountains National Park - one hour west of Sydney
Blue Mountains National Park is an all-time fave for weekend antics, bursting with next-level views, rare and ancient species, iconic landmarks and heaps more.
Enjoy the historical bearings of the Red Hands Cave walking track, thought to have been used by the Darug people for thousands of years. The 8km loop trail requires some bushwalking experience and begins near the Red Hands Cave walking track carpark. You’ll be charmed by the Red Hands Cave itself; it’s one of the best examples of Aboriginal rock art in the area. Despite being painted between 500 and 1600 years ago, its extensive layers of hand prints in the earthy colours of red, orange and yellow are still vibrant as ever.
Did you know? Nature voyeurs: look out for the 41 threatened animal species that the park protects, like the sooty owl, glossy black cockatoo, yellow-bellied glider and booroolong frog. Some of these beauties are endemic to the Blue Mountains, so you won’t see them anywhere else. Remember to always be respectful and give the critters their space.
Once you’ve worked up a sweat, cool off at the swimming holes along the Blue Pool Walking Track.
If you prefer pro-level panoramic pics, the Echo Point Lookout is where it’s at. Keep on the train to Katoomba, and take a short bus trip to take in the crown jewel of Blue Mountains views: The Three Sisters.
Central Station to Red Hands and Rock Pool
- From Central Station take the direct 1 hour train on the Blue Mountains line to Glenbrook Station
Central Station to Echo Point
Lane Cove National Park - 1 hour north of Sydney
Okay we get it. A sweaty, several-kilometre hike with a CamelBak is not a commitment for every Sunday. Enter Lane Cove National Park. Just 17 km from the city centre, it’s hard to believe this totally magical landscape – with its mix of eucalypt forests, casuarina woodland and saltwater wetlands – is just up the road.
There are plenty of hikes to embark on if you’re feeling spritely (the Riverside walking track circuit is 10kms or the ambitious Great North Walk clocks in at 20kms one way) but there are plenty of chill activities, too. The rowboats, canoes and pedal boats are the real star here – bring the Go-Pro and hire one out from the Lane Cove Boatshed for a bargain and guaranteed laughs.
After all that rowing you’ll need to re-up on energy. Don’t forget to bring the snags and veg and reward yourself with a tasty BBQ. You’ll find heaps of facilities for cooking at the picnic areas peppering the park. Remember, before you embark on any walk, bring a water bottle along as there are no drinking facilities.
Did you know? Keep your eye out for echidnas in Lane Cove National Park. While they’re nocturnal, they’ve been known to catch some sun rays in the warmer months.
Central Station to Lane Cove National Park
- Take the T1 North Shore line to North Ryde, and from there it’s a about a 2km walk to the entrance.
- Alternatively you can take the 610, 292, or 288 buses from Wynyard Station to Lane Cove.
Kamay Botany Bay National Park - 45 minutes south of Sydney
Now here’s one you didn’t think of – and it’s easy as pie – Kurnell Area in Kamay Botany Bay National Park. This place has a stack happening, including ridiculously good whale watching (best between May and November) at Cape Solander. While you’re there, stretch those limbs and wander the beautiful Burrawang Walk, a short 1km walk full of historical goodness, including Captain Cook’s landing place. Look out for the pro surfers at “Ours” in Cape Solander – Sydney’s infamous big wave surfing spot. If the wave does make an appearance, you’ll be in for a treat as it’s considered one of the strongest, heaviest in the world. And, save the budgies for another time – this is not a spot for swimming.
Did you know: Since 2014, “Ours” is now home to the much anticipated annual surfing competition, Red Bull’s Cape Fear event. Onlookers watch in suspense as pro-surfers from all around the world attempt to tackle one of the world’s most dangerous waves. The wave is notorious for pounding a heavy slab of water onto a shallow, water lined reef, where those who walk away unscathed are considered lucky.
Garigal National Park - 1 hour north of Sydney
Biking, bushwalking and picnicking among a forest of Red Gums makes for an enviably unique Sunday experience. Garigal National Park’s Cascades trail, takes you past waterfalls so fresh you’ll have never felt more alive.
The trail is named for its waterfalls, rock platforms and rock pools at the junction of Middle Harbour and French’s Creek. Getting #Hangry? Pause here to throw out a fishing line, and if you’re lucky enough to catch one, fry up that flathead at Davidson’s Park Picnic area (Remember you need a recreational fishing licence in NSW – apply online). Can’t get any fresher than that. (But make sure you bring some back-up tucker just in case as there are zero cafes.)
Wynyard Station to Berowra
- From Wynyard Station, get yourself on the North Shore train line to Berowra, followed by a 10 minute bus ride (582), then a 15 minute stroll.
It’s basically impossible to get anything for less than $2.80 on a Sunday; coffee, ice cream, an avocado. The list goes on. But what you can do is have a cracking day out exploring some Sydney’s best national parks, all while leaving the car at home. What are you actually waiting for?