22 Very Short, Toddler-Friendly Walks In Sydney

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toddler friendly walks in Sydney: Ku-ring Gai Chase

I’m setting the bar high for myself, because in this article I want to share toddler-friendly Sydney walks with you. Not simply family-friendly ones, but very short, very easy walks that I actually tested with a toddler, my 3-year-old son, after we moved to Sydney.

I’m a passionate hiker, anyway, so I became a hiking mum after Tomi was born. I can shamelessly report that I found some truly amazing coastal walks and bushwalks for toddlers in Sydney. This long post is the result of my quest, and I hope it helps more mums to enjoy unique and beautiful Australian nature with their toddlers.

What makes a walk toddler-friendly?

Clovelly Beach to Bronte Beach Walk, Eastern Suburbs, Sydney

You might want to hear that there’s absolutely no danger on these walks, but if you’re a parent of a toddler, you know that they can find danger anywhere. The day you reassure your husband that “no, he can’t reach the counter yet” will be the day when it happens for the first time.

But back to the toddler-friendly walks. They’re short, about 1-4 km, so that a toddler can truly walk them on their own. And they feature water in some form, because playing with water makes every toddler super excited.

They’re not flat (we’re in Sydney, after all), but not too steep either. Some include a varied number of stairs, but that shouldn’t scare you away, because toddlers like stairs (except when they don’t like anything, but you know how to handle that – or you have to figure it out). Some are on even surfaces, mostly boardwalks or on a paved pathway, others are bushwalks. Again, I was surprised to realize that my son finds rugged, uneven terrain with roots and rocks more exciting than a paved walkway. (But thinking of it, I feel the same.)

And yes, I walked each of these trails with my son in his third year, just the two of us.

Is it worth taking walking trips with your toddler?

Preparing for any kind of outing with a toddler can be hard work. But dear Aussie mums, you’re so lucky that Sydney has a pleasant climate all year, so not too many layers are required to go out even in the colder months. (I usually take layers off when we go outside on a sunny day. Sydney winters are the coldest at home.)

Garigal National Park, Sydney, NSW

And the effort is so much worth it! Toddlers need to spend several hours outside each day. Free play in nature is one of the most important things for their healthy physical and emotional development. They collect sticks, observe insects and throw pebbles into the pond. They jump into the muddy puddles. They climb onto the large tree roots. They ask the weirdest questions. Nature is their playground, and if you’re able to slow down, it would be a wonderful experience for you, too, to marvel at the small things and how your child explores the world. It was for me.

Leaving the toddler age behind, I’m already a bit nostalgic (not for the meltdowns though). But I love hiking and spending time with my son outdoors. He has become a true hiker by the age of 4, capable and willing to walk about 10 kilometers a day, and that is thanks to the early start, the lots of short hikes we’ve done together. And I must admit I was never too eager about playgrounds, anyway. I’d rather go walking, and I’d like to encourage you to walk with your toddler, as well. You might be surprised how much both of you like it.

How much can toddlers walk?

South Bilgola Headland, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia

Once I heard that small kids walk their age in kilometers, so you can expect a one year old to walk a kilometer, a 2-year-old to walk 2 kilometers, and so on. While I believe this might be the average, it heavily depends on your toddler and their mood on the day in question. If you’re starting out, pick a trail which offers something exciting after a few hundred meters so that you’d reach a nice “destination” even if you end up turning back after that first few hundred meters. Once you get some practice, you can start planning a few kilometers. (Of course, if you’re willing to carry your toddler, you might plan more. I wasn’t able to carry my son after he turned 2.)

My 2-year-old walked 3 kilometers on his own when he wanted, which was a nice surprise for me, but he was sooo tired after ten steps when he didn’t feel like walking. After he turned 3 (and we hiked a lot with him), I started planning 4-6 kilometers long hikes.

Flint and Steel track, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Australia

But when you go hiking with a toddler, the question is not only the distance, but also the time. Toddlers are curious and they can be incredibly slow! You need patience, and you need to plan enough time to comfortably finish the hike.

Overall, my experience is that toddlers are capable of much more than what we usually think. I very rarely carried him, rather we stopped for a snack break if he said he was tired. Playing games could also help motivate him (but it can be mentally tiring for me, haha). And sometimes he stopped to collect sticks, observe mushrooms or watch the waves roll out to shore, and I let him hang out in one place for a while. Surely, we didn’t complete these trails quickly. But it was time that we enjoyed – together, in nature.

The ultimate list of toddler-friendly walks in Sydney

Now let’s see those short and easy Sydney walks. I marked all of them on this map for you, click to see it in full screen:

Toddler-friendly walks in the Eastern Suburbs

Clovelly Beach to Bronte Beach, Eastern Suburbs

One can’t be more traditional than this, choosing a short section of the famous Coggee to Bondi Beach Walk. Yet, this walk never gets boring. We did it quite a few times, and we took anyone who visited us in Sydney to do it. If you’re looking for a day trip that combines a wonderful coastal walk with beaches, parks and playgrounds, it’s a natural choice.

Clovelly Beach to Bronte Beach Walk, Eastern Suburbs, Sydney

How to make it short enough for a toddler though? Walk the section between Clovelly Beach and Bronte Beach. Why this one? Because Clovelly Beach is one of the most sheltered, most family-friendly beaches in the Eastern Suburbs. Bronte Beach has the Bogey Hole rock pool and a miniature railway for young kids to ride on weekends. Both beaches have parkland and a playground behind the beach.

They’re connected with a 2 km long pathway, partly concrete and partly wooden boardwalk. It’s an easy and very picturesque walk, but has quite a few series of steps (definitely not pram-friendly).

Clovelly Beach to Bronte Beach Walk, Eastern Suburbs, Sydney

Parking is easiest near Clovelly Beach where you find plenty of free street parking in the area. If you plan to stay for more than 4 hours, don’t use the official beach parking lot (with a 4 hours time limit). It adds to the walk, but we usually find street parking on the nearby streets, even on summer weekends.

Toddler-friendly walks in Sydney Harbour

Bradleys Head & Athol Beach, Sydney Harbour National Park

It’s one of the most beautiful headland walks in Sydney, and one which can be combined with a visit to Taronga Zoo. I love the views of Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and the CBD skyline, I enjoy quick swims at secluded, barely known Athol Beach, and we usually see countless water dragons basking in the sun during the summer months.

Bradleys Head, Sydney

Bradleys Head, Sydney

If you arrive by ferry, you can start at the Taronga Zoo Wharf, but if you drive, parking is the most convenient at the end of Burrawong Avenue – it’s free street parking, and it’s far enough from the zoo so that it won’t ever get too busy.

The pathway runs around Bradleys Head, and it has relatively little elevation change. Still, don’t take a pram. I made that mistake for the first time, and even though the pathway is fine for sport prams for the most part, there are too many steps along the way. You can make it a loop by taking the stairs up the hill towards Bradleys Head Road, and then back down to the other side.

Athol Beach, Sydney

Athol Beach requires a short, steep detour, but it’s so worth it – I mean when it exists. Because this small patch of sand almost fully disappears at high tide. But it’s a sheltered, calm beach at low tide, and you’ll get picture perfect views of the Sydney skyline from the beach. Toddlers can play in the gentle waves or in the sand.

Hermitage Foreshore Walk, Sydney Harbour National Park

Queens Beach, Sydney

Another easy (but not pram-friendly) walk of the Sydney Harbour is the Hermitage Foreshore Walk between Rose Bay and Watsons Bay. It runs on the shore, passes lovely, sheltered beaches (Milk Beach, Hermit Beach and Queens Beach) and offers spectacular distant views of the Sydney CBD.

It’s easily accessible from the CBD by the Rose Bay and Watsons Bay ferries, and even though parking is challenging in Vaucluse, you might find parking near Vaucluse House or Rose Bay. You can start the Hermitage Foreshore Walk at the end of Bayview Hill Road in Rose Bay or at Nielsen Park.

Note for 2024: The concrete seawall at Nielsen Park is under construction, hence Shark Beach is closed. The work is expected to be completed by June 2024.

Lavender Bay to Milsons Point, Lavender Bay

A very short and very scenic harbourside walk is the one from Lavender Bay to Milsons Point. It takes you along the serene bay and the noisy Luna Park on the Peter Kingston Walkway, and the paved pathway is even and pram-friendly, too. You get close views of the Harbour Bridge, and Milsons Point has one of the best views of the Sydney skyline.

Lavender Bay, Sydney, NSW, Australia

But my favorite part is the place to start this walk: in Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, right behind Lavender Bay. This lush green garden lies on different levels, it offers some nice harbour views, and you find lovely benches and chairs in its quiet corners. It’s fun to explore with a toddler. However, it’s not pram-friendly, there are narrow (and quite picturesque) stairways connecting the different levels.

Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, Lavender Bay, Sydney, Australia

Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, Lavender Bay, Sydney, Australia

You can take the ferry to (or from) Milsons Point to Circular Quay or Pyrmont Bay, which are among the prettiest ferry routes in Sydney Harbour, with close views of the Sydney CBD and Darling Harbour. And taking the ferry at the end is a motivating reward for my son on any day.

Cremorne Point loop, Sydney Harbour National Park

The reason that Milsons Point is not an obvious winner when it comes to Sydney skyline views is that there’s also Cremorne Point. And with it comes a peninsula which is a mixture of parks and residential streets, and a nice walkway circles it perfectly. You find benches and playgrounds on the way.

Cremorne Point, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Since it’s a loop, you can start it anywhere. My usual choice is either the Old Cremorne Point Wharf or the Cremorne Point Wharf, because we arrive by ferry. If you drive, parking might be the easiest on Murdoch Street (and definitely don’t drive to the tip of the peninsula, because parking only gets more challenging there).

The walkway runs directly by the water for the most part, though you’re above the bay, because the coastline is steep – and yes, it also means quite a number of steps and some elevation change. It’s not a flat walk (and not pram-friendly either).

Cremorne Point, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Cremorne Point playground, Sydney, Australia

I like walking all the way out to Robertson Point Lighthouse, and we often stop at the cute Cremorne Point playground on the way. My son likes the exciting climbing structures and the small boat (or just chasing the brush turkeys, but that applies to this entire loop).

The Sirius Street playground is the second one you find along this walk, though it’s not directly on the way. It requires a detour, mainly climbing a steep stairway up towards Milson Road. But the playground is quite nice, with lots of different water themed play structures on two levels. I wouldn’t expect a hidden residential playground to be so unique as this one.

Cremorne Point, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Sirius Street playground, Cremorne Point, Sydney, Australia

If you walk in summer, make sure not to miss Maccallum Seawater Pool. It’s a free public pool, the only rock pool (that I know of) with breathtaking Sydney skyline views. It’s along the western side of the peninsula.

Taronga Zoo Wharf to Sirius Cove, Sydney Harbour National Park

You can easily connect this short harbourside walk to Bradleys Head, or do it on its own while spending time on the beaches. It’s a narrow, dirt path, with occasional stairs and boardwalks.

We usually start it from Taronga Zoo Wharf where we arrive by ferry. If you arrive by car, start it from the other end, because it’s easier to find parking at Sirius Cove Reserve.

Taronga Zoo Wharf has pretty views of the Sydney CBD in the distance, and you’ll get some more views all along the walk. The path is partly shaded, but you can usually peek through between the trees.

Whiting Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The first beach on the way is Whiting Beach. You’ll look down upon it from the trail, and if you take the steep stairway down (it’s a short detour), you can access this calm, serene beach. Swimming is nice here, and the waves are gentle.

Then the path goes into the bush, with a few more water views from time to time, and finally, you arrive at Sirius Cove Reserve. Here you find Sirius Cove Beach, which is a sandy beach with shallow water, even a bit too muddy for my taste at low tide, but surely fun for toddlers to splash around. (Beware, dogs are also allowed on the beach.)

Sirius Cove playground, Sydney, NSW, Australia

There’s also a large grassy area, benches, toilets and a fenced playground, with cute climbing structures (like a spider net, a climbing structure with a slide), a picnic table, a few swings and spring riders. What’s more, it’s partly shaded, so you can combine spending time on the beach and on the shady playground on a hot summer day.

Fairlight Walk, Manly

The Fairlight Walk is the loveliest coastal walk in Manly, and it delivers everything you could ask for: the lively wharf with restaurants and cafés, Manly Cove, an easy, paved, scenic coastal pathway and some more beautiful coves along the route.

Fairlight Walk, Manly, Sydney, Australia

I like it no matter the season. We pack swimsuits in the summer, but you can play in the sand and take your time on the coastal walkway and on the coastal cliffs in the colder season. Actually, the colors are the most delightful in winter, because summer sun is too harsh and makes the countless shades of blue and turquoise of the coves fade.

Delwood Beach and Fairlight Beach are both cute and serene beaches along the way, with gentle waves and soft sand. Fairlight Beach also has a protected rock pool, with a shallow area for kids, and it has all the facilities (toilets, shower, drinking water, benches), while Delwood Beach has nothing but the perfect sand and the turquoise hues.

Fairlight Beach rock pool, Manly, Sydney, Australia

Parking is challenging (we’re talking about Manly), but you can find spots on some of the residential streets in Fairlight if you’re patient enough in your search. Or take the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, and make it a day trip. I don’t know how much time I need to spend in Sydney to get bored of the ferries, but a ferry trip is still an exciting adventure for me, not to mention my son.

McKell Park to Rushcutters Bay Park, Double Bay

This is a lovely harbourside walk in Double Bay, mostly known by locals. We usually start it at Darling Point Wharf, because we get there by ferry from Circular Quay. If you drive, Rushcutters Bay Park is a better choice for parking.

McKell Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The walk is partly in parks and partly on the streets, so most of it is paved, and it’s pram-friendly. It connects McKell Park, Yarranabbe Park and Rushcutters Bay Park.

McKell Park is very small, and it’s on the tip of a peninsula, with nice views of Sydney downtown and the Harbour Bridge. Yarranabbe Park is a long, grassy park with a paved harbourfront promenade and with views of Keltie Bay. There’s a small, fenced playground, too.

Yarranabbe Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Rushcutters Bay Park is at the end of the bay, with easy walking paths on the waterfront and among the trees. There’s a larger, fenced playground and toilet blocks, and you can marvel at the bobbing boats and yachts.

Clifton Gardens Beach to Georges Head

Clifton Gardens Beach is one of our favorite beach parks. It has a very protected, netted beach, a large grassy park, a huge playground with several play areas and a convenient toilet block. It’s easy to spend a day in this park alone. But if you’d like to do a short hike to a nice viewpoint, aim for Georges Head.

Clifton Gardens Reserve, Sydney

It starts at the eastern end of Clifton Garden Beach (where you see the small café), and you’ll climb lots of stairs to get up to Georges Head and enjoy a very special view of Sydney Harbour and the downtown skyline in the distance.

Georges Head walk, Sydney

Georges Head walk, Sydney

Harold Reid Foreshore Walking Track loop, Middle Harbour

Harold Reid Foreshore Walking Track, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The Harold Reid Foreshore Walking Track is a ~3 km circuit that takes you through the pretty waterfront bushland of Middle Harbour, with serene water views on the way and mangroves on the shoreline. There are actually two circuits embedded into each other: one runs lower and directly along the coast, and the other one is located higher up and runs mostly in the bush, with one viewing area. They’re connected via steep pathways.

The lower circuit is a dirt path, with the occasional roots and rocks, but the upper circuit is paved, with the exception of the viewpoint. The paved road is accessible for cars, too, so caution is needed (but don’t worry, it’s not a busy road).

Harold Reid Foreshore Walking Track, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Harold Reid Foreshore Walking Track, Sydney, NSW, Australia

You can choose to do the lower and upper section separately if you want to make it shorter. Or you can include other sections of the Sugarloaf Walking Track to make it longer.

What makes it exciting for toddlers? Easy water access along the lower loop, astonishing sandstone rock formations, water dragons basking in the sun, cormorants, herons and egrets hunting for fish at low tide, or the occasional shy wallaby.

Harold Reid Foreshore Walking Track, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The trail starts at the end of North Arm Road, which is a dead-end road, and you can find plenty of parking on the road shoulder.

Cabarita Park to Wangal Reserve

If you take the ferry from Circular Quay to Parramatta, this walk is on your way and starts from Cabarita Wharf. It’s a peaceful and scenic, paved waterfront pathway.

Cabarita Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Cabarita Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Cabarita Park is a good destination by itself. It has a protected, sandy beach, Cabarita Beach, and a large playground further up in the park. The playground is brand new, with a rubber surface, different kinds of climbing structures, swing and spinners.

Cabarita Park walk, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Then you continue on the waterfront walkway towards Breakfast Point. There’s mangrove trees and newly built residential parks along the way. Breakfast Point offers a distant view of the Sydney skyline, and there’s plenty of blooming shrubs there during spring.

Wangal Reserve, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The paved walkway continues towards the Mortlake ferry. There the waterfront path ends, and you walk on the quiet residential streets to the tip of the peninsula: Wangal Reserve. This small reserve also has a calm, sandy beach and quite an awesome playground, with water features, a large tunnel slide with climbing structures and a hanging bridge, wooden balancing structures, a spinner, swings and a wooden ship. The zipline and a climbing giant shell are further from the main playground, at the northern end of Wangal Reserve. You also find free barbecues, picnic tables, drinking fountains and a toilet in the park.

River Walk in Sydney Olympic Park

River Walk, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia

There’s a ~2 km walk from the Sydney Olympic Park Wharf to Blaxland Riverside Park, and it’s completely flat, paved and offers lovely river views. But I admit that the highlight is the playground in Blaxland Riverside Park. This is the coolest adventure playground in Sydney, with 12 different play areas for children!

Blaxland Riverside Park, Sydney, Australia

Blaxland Riverside Park, Sydney, Australia

Even I was impressed by the Blaxland Riverside Park playground, and that’s really something, because I spent the last 4 years on playgrounds. But this is such a well-designed, colorful and creative space: with a tunnel system, several embankment slides, tunnel slides and climbing ladders built in the hillside, a mega-swing, a double zipline, climbing walls, a huge spinning disc, a huge water play area with fountains and a multi-level tree house with a tunnel.

Blaxland Riverside Park, Sydney, Australia

Blaxland Riverside Park, Sydney, Australia

Granted, a younger toddler doesn’t need all this, but it’s still a stimulating space, and older toddlers and kids will be obsessed! My boy was 3.5 years old when we first visited, and he couldn’t get enough.

Mort Bay Park to Ballast Point Park

Ballast Point Park, Sydney, Australia

This short harbourfront walk starts at the Balmain Wharf, and we included it in a Sydney Harbour ferry trip. A paved walkway connects Mort Bay Park with Ballast Point Park, once Sydney’s major oil distribution site turned into a recreation area with paved walkways, green spaces and barbecues.

Mort Bay Park has a fenced, shaded playground, as well.

Toddler-friendly walks in the Northern Beaches

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, Northern Beaches

Barrenjoey Head offers the most spectacular panorama on the Northern Beaches. Though only ~2 km long, this loop trail is quite steep and includes lots of stairs. I wouldn’t choose it as a first hike with a toddler, but I trust most of them can handle it if they’re in the mood. And yes, I have to admit that my son has always loved stairs, so I only need time and patience to take them slowly.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, Sydney, Australia

Barrenjoey Head is at the northernmost tip of the Northern Beaches. You can start the walk anywhere on Palm Beach, but to keep it short I recommend parking at Station Beach. Then it starts as a bushwalk and goes straight up the side of the headland. It’s a sweaty walk on a warm day, and there’s little breeze in the bush, so I prefer doing it in the winter months (with the added bonus of seeing whales from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse).

Surprisingly, the best views on the walk are not from the lighthouse or from the top of the headland, but from the way there and back. There are two routes to the top: the wide and more gentle Access Trail and the shorter, steeper Smugglers Track. Both provide great views, and you can combine them to make it a ~2 km loop.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia

For those breathtaking views of Palm Beach to the left, Broken Bay to the right and the tiny, green peninsula in between, look for the rock platforms just off to the side along both tracks. Viewpoints past the lighthouse on Barrenjoey Head are quite similar (but not as good as) the viewpoints from Access Trail or Smugglers Track. (I didn’t include them in the 2 km loop walk, and you can skip them to keep it short and sweet.)

Station Beach is very sheltered, though you’ll often be ankle-deep in seagrass and kelp, so I wouldn’t say it’s the best beach for water play on just any day. But the sand dunes at the northern end of Palm Beach are much fun (and surely, your kid will have sand everywhere!).

Dee Why Headland, Northern Beaches

This is the first section of the Dee Why Beach to Manly Walk which combines some of the best beach hikes in Sydney, with sweeping ocean views from the headlands. The first one is Dee Why Headland, a 1.5 km hike with views of Dee Why Beach and Curl Curl Beach.

Dee Why Headland, Northern Beaches, Sydney

The walk starts from the Dee Why Rockpool at the southern end of Dee Why Beach. You find all the facilities you’d need (toilets, showers, cafés, even some shade at the rockpool), and there’s a lovely playground behind the beach.

The trail through the headland ascends steeply, and you need proper shoes, because it’s a hike, not a walk. But the views are spectacular! We usually turn back at the viewpoint looking over Curl Curl Beach, but you can descend to Curl Curl Beach and continue the walk to make it longer.

Long Reef Headland, Northern Beaches

Long Reef Headland, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia

This 3 km loop is mostly paved, with a slight ascent and descent as it takes you around Long Reef Headland. Most of it is pram-friendly, except the detour down the stars from Long Reef Point Lookout (not included in the 3 km loop that I marked, but it’s a nice addition at low tide). 

It’s a pretty headland walk that passes nice beaches and offers views of Dee Why Beach and the rest of the bays to the south. Long Reef Point Lookout is a great whale watching spot in winter. Though I was impressed by the whales we’ve seen here, my toddler didn’t share the enthusiasm. I guess whales are too far away to be exciting, he was more into pebbles and broken shells he found on the rock platform below the Long Reef Point Lookout. This rock plateau gets exposed mostly at low tide.

Long Reef Headland, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia

The headland is home to a golf course, and the walking path circles it. You’ll start at Fishermans Beach, then cross the road and look for signs for the Bicentennial Coastal Walk. The wide, paved path takes you up to the Long Reef Point Lookout, then it continues gently downhill towards Long Reef Beach. This is the most scenic section, with coastal views from the top of the cliffs.

The Bicentennial Coastal Walk leaves the coast at Long Reef Beach, and loops you back to Griffith Park. This section leads you into the bush, and finally, you’ll finish at an open grassy area: Griffith Park. There’s a small, fenced playground in the park, mainly for toddler and younger kids.

Bangalley Head, Northern Beaches

Looking for a real hike, not just a walk? Bangalley Head is one the shortest and a very scenic hike in the Northern Beaches. It’s only a bit more than 1 km one-way, but we usually only do the first 650 meters, because the rest is the descent back to the streets, and we turn back from the last lookout instead.

Bangalley Head, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia

But it’s a real hiking trail, by which I mean that there’s a fair amount of steps and rocky, uneven, steeper surfaces. It’s not difficult, but you need proper footwear (definitely not flip-flops) so that you don’t twist your ankle. Also, bring plenty of water, because there’s no water tap here, and you’ll surely be thirsty as you ascend.

You start the trail from Marine Parade in North Avalon, just follow the path among the houses to Bangalley Park. Bangalley Park itself is worth visiting even if you don’t hike further, because the benches on the grassy area and the cliff tops provide wonderful views of the coastal cliffs and the powerful waves below you.

Bangalley Head walk, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia

Then continue on the narrow path at the end of Bangalley Park. There are several open cliffs along the way, and they offer astonishing views of the coastline and all the way to Sydney. I hear you, and yes, they can be dangerous for toddlers, but hiking can be dangerous, so just hold their hand and teach them to be careful around cliff edges – this is a good place for that. Then sit down together and have a snack on one of the large, smooth cliffs.

I recommend taking all the short detours to the cliff tops and viewpoints, because they’re the highlights of this trail. The last viewpoint offers a 180-degree view of Palm Beach and the Central Coast behind it, and that’s where you can turn back.

South Bilgola Headland, Northern Beaches

There’s a headland between Newport Beach and Bilgola Beach, and it’s home to yet another lesser-known, short and very scenic headland trail. It might be short, but there’s a significant amount of stairs to climb, so it might take time to do it with your little one. But there are benches and viewpoints along the way, so you can rest and have some snacks from time to time.

Newport Beach from South Bilgola Headland, Northern Beaches

view of Newport Beach

But thanks to the elevation you gain along the path, you’ll enjoy fabulous views over both Newport Beach and Bilgola Beach. It starts from the northern parking lot behind Newport Beach, and first, you can choose to walk in the sand on the South Bilgola Headland Boardwalk behind the beach. Then you reach the beginning of the long stairway that takes you through scenic bushland and to nice coastal views. A similar stairway on the other side of the headland takes you down to Bilgola Beach.

Bilgola Beach from South Bilgola Headland, Northern Beaches

view of Bilgola Beach

Once you reach the viewpoint of Bilgola Beach on the northern side of the headland, you can choose to take the same way back or descend to the beach. Bilgola Beach is a pretty golden sand beach with a rock pool at the southern end, and it’s among the least busy beaches in Sydney (not that I’d call any of them really busy in the Northern Beaches, anyway).

Toddler-friendly walks in the North Shore national parks

Bluff Lookout, Garigal National Park

I think Garigal National Park is among the most underrated ones in the Sydney metropolitan area. It has lovely bushwalks and even some pretty views of the Sydney skyline and Middle Harbour.

Bluff Lookout, Garigal National Park, Sydney, Australia

One of the shortest and easiest viewpoint trails is the one to Bluff Lookout, which is only 500 meters one-way. The trailhead is at the dead-end of Grattan Crescent, and the track is wide and almost flat, though the terrain is uneven. Bluff Lookout is an open rock platform that looks over Middle Harbour, with distant Sydney skyline views.

You can turn back from Bluff Lookout to keep it short. Or you can continue down to Bantry Bay, which is a 4.8 km return, with quite steep descent (and ascent on the way back). My son was 4 when we descended to Bantry Bay, and if you try this route with a younger toddler, be ready to carry them back up.

Natural Bridge, Garigal National Park, Sydney, Australia

A somewhat easier addition to Bluff Lookout is the track to Natural Bridge, which only adds about 475 meters, but it’s also a relatively steep descent. The Natural Bridge is exactly what its name suggests: a natural bridge rock formation over a small creek. You can access the creek after the bridge.

America Bay, Ku-ring Gai Chase NP

America Bay walking track is the easiest hike in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It’s a 1 km bushwalk that ends at an open rock platform looking over America Bay. There’s no access to the bay, but there’s a small creek along the way and at the viewpoint, which is great for some water play. Be careful as the wet rocks can be slippery. After decent rain there might be a tiny, seasonal waterfall behind the rock viewing platform, during dry spells it’s just a tickle of water.

America Bay track, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Sydney, Australia

It’s a gradually descending track, so you need to climb back when you return to the parking lot. It’s mostly unshaded, so bring enough water and cover up.

Toddler-friendly walks in Parramatta

Lake Parramatta Circuit

The Lake Parramatta circuit is a great option if you’re looking for the proximity of water in the Western Sydney area. It’s a man-made reservoir, but it looks like a lovely lake, and is surrounded by dense bushland, with red gum trees and banksias.

Lake Paramatta Circuit, NSW, Australia

There’s a roped swimming area, and you can rent pedal boats or kayaks to explore the lake. You also find free barbecues and a playground by the main parking lot.

The ~4 km circular track goes around Lake Parramatta, meandering on the lakeshore and among the trees. The banks of the reservoir are quite steep, and the uneven path takes you up and down as you loop around it, crossing a creek twice on the way. Some of the elevated natural viewpoints offer amazing views.

Lake Paramatta Circuit, NSW, Australia

Again, it’s a hiking trail, an easy one, but a hiking trail nevertheless. It’s neither flat nor pram-friendly. But the terrain and the length makes it ideal for family hikes, and I completed it with 3.5-year-old Tomi first.

Parramatta River walk

If you live in Parramatta, you know that Parramatta River is an obvious choice for nature walks. This 2 km loop that I marked on the map is my favorite section. It starts at the Queens Wharf Park (though you can join the loop wherever you’d like to), and it runs directly along the river. There are lots of brand new outdoor spaces, walkways and parks along the way. Or Albert Street Bridge, a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, opened in October 2023, which makes it possible to do this walk as a shorter loop. The Parramatta Wharf is also along the way, so you have ferry connection with Sydney Harbour.

It’s part of a 20 km track network along the Parramatta River, so you can make it longer if you wish.

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Bea is a travel writer and the founder of NSW Footsteps, a blog about New South Wales travel, including bushwalking, hiking, canoeing, snorkeling and other outdoor adventures. She’s been traveling for more than 10 years, and she’s passionate about sharing all she has learned along the way. Moving to Australia was one of her big dreams, and now she continues exploring the world – and one of her favorite corners, New South Wales – from her Sydney base.