What are you doing these holidays? How about climbing up an old lighthouse, or exploring wild rainforest, or spying endangered wildlife? NSW is full of National Parks and Nature Reserves that have a wide range of walks and hiking trails, with some of the best located along the North Coast.
Planning child friendly activities in the great outdoors can be daunting. If the walk is a kilometre too long or slightly too steep, the echoes of “I’m tired. Are we there yet?” may ring in your ears for several days. Check out this holiday guide for some of the most exciting walks that are perfect for kids. As always, remember to take plenty of water, a tasty picnic and a camera!
1.Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
The Cape Byron Walking Track is a mere 3 km from the family friendly destination of Bryon Bay. Starting from Main Beach, it extends through The Pass and Watego’s Beach to reach Cape Byron Lighthouse. The full track is 5 km long, but there are multiple entry points to choose from, or you can even drive directly to the Lighthouse, located on Australia’s most easterly point. There is plenty to delight the kids as the track meanders across cliff tops and through rainforest. It is possible to see dolphins, whales, turtles and stingrays along the way, which can make for an entertaining game of Eye-spy. And if anyone is in need of an energy boost, visiting “In the Pink” Ice Cream Shop or the Lighthouse Café of is a great reward.
2.Lennox Head Boardwalk
This scenic coastal walk is perfect for those with strollers and is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Take in the spectacular views from both Lennox Point and the Pat Morton Lookout. If you don’t mind tackling some steps, you can continue on to Boulder Beach. This is a gentle walk, with plenty of well-marked access points, a picnic table and a playground along the way. It is also another prime location to see dolphins playing in the waves and for whale-watching between June and November.
3.North Head, Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve
Get back in touch with nature on this short walk through pristine, coastal rainforest. Birdwatching is one of the highlights, with the chance to see the vibrant rainbow bee-eater, as well as eagles and kites. If you are lucky, rare loggerhead turtles and green turtles can occasionally be seen in the Brunswick River, which is sure to create lasting memories. Allow 15 to 30 minutes for the 0.7 km return journey, or slightly longer if you take a picnic to enjoy at the Brunswick River picnic area. For the more adventurous, canoeing, paddle boarding or cycling is also a popular past-time.
4.Minyon Falls, Nightcap National Park
Nightcap National Park is located near Lismore, inland from Lennox Head. This World Heritage listed rainforest is renowned for its rich diversity of flora and fauna. It is a sanctuary for many threatened species, including the endangered spotted-tailed quoll, the critically endangered red goshawk, frogs and bats. The popular 7.5 km Minyon Falls Walking Track meanders through serene forest and pristine creeks to reach a spectacular 100-metre tall waterfall and one of those all-important picnic spots. For younger children, the Big Scrub Walking Track offers an easy 1.5 km alternative.
5.Bongil Bongil National Park
The scenic coastal city of Coffs Harbour provides a central base to kick off many kid-friendly excursions. Bongil Bongil National Park is one of the favourites, popular with fishers, beach-goers and hikers. There are two main walks to choose from. The 2 km Bluff Loop Walking Track is an easy, hour-long stroll through coastal eucalypt forest. If the kids have plenty of energy, the 6 km Bunagaree Rainforest Walk takes between 1.5 and 3 hours and stretches between the iconic landmarks of Tuckers Rock and Bundagen Headland. Koala spotting is one of the highlights that is sure to be a hit, and yes, there are the Bluff Loop and Bongil picnic areas if you are in need of a cuppa.
6.Myall Lakes National Park
The child-friendly culture of Seal Rocks makes it a great summer holiday break for families or for simply enjoying the weekend. It is the perfect base to explore around the extensive coastal lake system of Myall Lakes National Park. Again, there are several walking tracks to choose from. Wander along the short 1 km Submarine Beach Walking Track and take in the stunning coastal scenery and quiet sand beach. Alternatively, opt for the 2 km Treachery Headland Walking Track, which offers scenic views of Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse and the picturesque coastline.
Sofia Lockett is a freelance writer from New Zealand, who is also a passionate traveller and photographer. Sofia often focuses her pieces on tourism and art, having written for contemporary art sites such as Ocula. You can also find her writing on her website here.