Sydney through the eyes of winter walking

By Jay Chabon

As the days go stout and the temperature falls in Sydney, heading out for a walk is a great way to discover the transformative impact the cold months have on the city’s character.

Whether you want a new perspective of Sydney (and beyond) through rainforest trails, coastal walks or urban terrain, winter is a unique time to get it.

Here are some walks with a special winter quality.

Hermitage Foreshore Track

This low-key 1.8km walk is short but eventful, offering up views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Shark Island and the grounds of historic mansion Strickland House.

A lot of people start the Hermitage Foreshore Walk at Nielsen Park, which is a popular place to warm up with a coffee and hot lunch from Nielsen Park Cafe. It’s also the gateway to explore a serene and minty beach setting this time of year.

The foreshore track, which is fringed by spells of bushy green, takes about 30-60 minutes, depending on your constitution for steps and mild inclines.

At just over 20km outside the CBD, this is an easy day trip that can be blended with trips to nearby towns such as Parramatta and Watsons Bay.

The Royal Botanic Garden

Join an expert volunteer guide to learn about the heritage and plant diversity of the Royal Botanic Garden this season.

Winter at the Garden sparks striking hues and scents; some of the season’s must-see plants include Ribbonwood, Spitting Trees and the towering Moreton Bay Chestnut Tree.

One of the many highlights of the Garden’s winter calendar is ‘Garden Night Life For Families’ ($37 per person on July 19 & August 16), a torch-light adventure into the Garden to discover biodiversity including Golden Orb Spiders, Flying Foxes and Tawny Frogmouths.

Winter is full of various special events you can enjoy to spice up your walking tour of the Garden, including a ghost story-telling walk, Aboriginal heritage walks and a behind the scenes sensory tour.

Image: Bob Lindsdell

The Rocks Self Guided Walk

The gnarly topography of The Rocks makes winter an appropriate time to walk the destination in earnest.

On a self-guided tour, prepare yourself to peel off a few layers as you structure your winter adventure to include the stunning architectural textures of Cadman’s Cottage, the Rocks Discovery Museum and Campbell’s stores. Check out the well-hidden spots like the peculiar Foundation Park and the formerly nefarious Suez Lane, which showcases its history on the plaques badged along it. And let’s not forget all the sites and sounds you can absorb as you bound along the bustling George Street.

The Rocks looks pretty in summer but it’s moody ambience in winter is a different kind of striking.

Mt Kembla Ring Track

When winter comes around, Mt Kembla Ring Track’s floor goes a little emerald from the thick wool of moss, and the canopy locks in a scenic dim. Embarking on this 5km walk, which embeds in Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area (about 90 minutes out of Sydney), is enchanting amongst the crisp cool of the rainforest.

The track, a loop with major historical significance for the Wodi Wodi people (as evidenced in visible creation stories), is a great vantage point for views once you hit the Mount Kembla lookout. Sponge up the picturesque NSW coast and make the most of plenty of lively winter birdwatching activity.

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