Get your nature fix and save money at the same time! Ditching the gym and finding free local outdoor activities is an absolute no-brainer for your mind (and your wallet). Smash the kind of workouts your colleagues will actually want to hear about, you’ll even get to see some picturesque Aussie landscapes while you break a sweat!
Take a Hike
Hiking’s a rewarding meditative experience with some decent cardiovascular benefits, but it doesn’t have to take all day. Head straight from work to one of Sydney’s national parks for an afternoon stroll. You won’t regret it.
In the north, drop into Lane Cove National Park, check out Wallumatta Nature Reserve near Ryde or try The Salvation loop trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The walk features delicate mosses and swamp banksias – way more exciting than a treadmill.
In the south, check out Kamay Botany Bay National Park. The La Perouse headland just down the road from Maroubra is the perfect place to breathe in the refreshing salty air and get those legs pumping. On the Henry Head walking track expect views over Botany Bay and the Pacific Ocean, historic World War II battlements and a heap of friendly lizards.
Ranger’s Tip: Don’t get locked in. Gate closing times vary by park and season, check before you go!
Go for a Paddle
Did you know that large parts of Sydney Harbour are a national park? What better way to skip the gym than a sunrise swim, kayak or stand up paddle board session? You’ll be working out your upper body and core, it’s the perfect complement to that hour hike you’ve been doing in the afternoons.
Did you know: Ecotreasures hires out kayaks and paddleboards to start your morning exploratory workouts, as there are many providers around the harbour to choose from.
Wild swimming > Pool Swimming
Seriously, what’s the deal with chlorine? Sometimes I think it would be nicer to just swim with the bugs that it’s holding off. OK that’s naive, but chlorine is super gross, I’d much rather have salt water stinging my eyes or freshwater brushing my lips.
Salty goodness can be found on the Basin and Mackerel Tracks (Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park) where the protected coves of Pittwater leave the water clear enough to see underwater (kinda). Go for an early one! This park is open from 6AM. You can even delay the hike back up by catching the ferry across to Palm Beach for a coffee. Up in the Blue Mountains, Jellybean Pools (Blue Mountains National Park) are perfect for a cooling dip, but they’re not quite deep enough for laps. Don’t fret though, the 1km hike back to the car is a certified quad-burner.
Ranger’s Tip: Wild swimming spots like these aren’t patrolled. Don’t enter the water if you don’t know how to swim, never jump or dive in and keep an eye on your mates. Stay informed read up on water safety
Sweating on a borrowed yoga mat whilst an instructor struts through the aisles isn’t really my idea of carpe diem. Seize the day right with a clifftop stretch at South Head (Sydney Harbour National Park). Stretch deeply as you look back to the city you’re going to conquer, or wistfully gaze out over the ocean.
If you’d prefer the sand between your toes, stroll down to Lady Bay Beach, you could even float out for some bootleg water aerobics.
Did you know? Keep an eye out for whales between May and November. Find out more here
Nothing helps you work harder than a cheeky dose of old mate adrenalin. Sydney’s full of trails that’ll test your reflexes and endurance atop of a 2-wheeled steed. The Gahnia and Serrata mountain bike trails (Garigal National Park) offer experienced riders the chance to test their skills and get the heart pumping. Go easy on those steep sections!
For the endurance fiends, Murphys Trail (Blue Mountains National Park) offers kilometres of wild heathland that tears any exercise bike to shreds. The cool mountain air is a blessing in the morning but come prepared with sunscreen, water, a PLB (personal location beacon) and a spare tyre – the track gets fairly remote.
Public Transport Friendly: Murphys Trail runs from Wentworth Falls to Woodford, so you can easily catch the train up to Wentworth Falls and enjoy the benefits of a downhill run.
- Check the NPWS site ahead of your planned visit, or call the Park visitor centre: in the cooler months, there may be planned controlled burning to reduce fire hazard over summer. In the warmer months, total fire bans can close tracks and parks. Best to check before you go.
- To get the most out of your trip download the NPWS App, this app gives you access to park maps, guides and important info when you’re in a national park and may not have internet access or mobile reception.