Sydney Great Coastal Walk

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Sydney Great Coastal Walk

The Sydney Great Coastal Walk is in New South Wales, Australia. It takes you around the coastline from Barrenjoey to the north of the city, to Cronulla.

When you think of hiking trails, Sydney might not be the first place that comes to mind.

Yet, with kilometres of beautiful coastline, white sandy beaches and a thriving community, this city is a great location for a long distance hike.

A mixture of nature and bushland reserves, beaches, quiet suburbs and bustling urban areas, this is a 100 kilometre hiking route with a unique view of Sydney’s coastline.

There are opportunities to learn about the history of this iconic place, as well as enjoying spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Historic coastline, lighthouses and forts
  • Secluded beaches and marine wildlife
  • Many choices of accommodation, food and entertainment
  • Combination of beautiful natural landscapes, places of historic and Aboriginal significance, and city life.
  • Famous landmarks in the city
Walk Map
About the route

At 100 kilometres, the Sydney Great Coastal Walk offers plenty for seasoned hikers as well as those who prefer short walks on easy terrain.

It can be walked in either direction and, because of its proximity to the city, there are excellent public transport links. This makes it easy to just pick sections you like the look of, rather than hiking the whole route if you prefer.

Along the route you will find many iconic beaches and landmarks, and there are plenty of options for side trips.

One of the joys of the Sydney Great Coastal Walk is that you are never too far away from somewhere to sit and have a good meal and relax after the day’s hike.

  • Travel

Sydney is a major city in Australia and has an international airport.

There are many road links from Sydney to other areas along the coast and deeper into the country.

There are also options for travelling to Sydney by ferry or private boat from other parts of Australia as well as from other countries.

Barrenjoey is a suburb near Palm Beach, and is a short drive from the city. The trail begins at Palm Beach Golf Resort.

  • Length

The Sydney Great Coastal Walk is 100 kilometres long and takes 8 days on average to complete the length.

However, with so many things to see and do in the areas around the path, it is a good idea to lengthen your trip.

  • Grade and difficulty of the walk

This hike is graded at 2/5.

The terrain is not too taxing for hikers of average fitness, but there may be steep climbs in places.

Because the trail is well connected to public transport, there are many options for walking the route in stages.

So, if climbing up to Bangalley Head, the highest point on the trail, doesn’t appeal to you, then you can always choose an easier part of the trail.

  • Experience

You do not need any hiking experience to enjoy this trail.

The sections are easy to follow on clearly trodden paths, although they may be a little rough at times.

You are likely to be in the company of many other hikers exploring the area, so you can ask for advice on how far it is to the next point if you need to do so.

No special trekking gear is required other than decent footwear and sun protection.

Make sure you take adequate water supplies for the more remote parts of the trek.

  • Permits

No permit is required to hike the Sydney Great Coastal Walk.

Parking fees may apply for vehicles at national parks across NSW.

  • Guided or Self-Guided

Most hikers choose to walk this path self-guided. With so many options for activities and side trips, making your own itinerary or simply allowing yourself to go with the flow might be preferable to walking with a guide.

Guided hikes are also worthwhile, especially if you want to benefit from local knowledge.

There are tour companies that can arrange guided hikes, or arrange all of your overnight accommodation and transfer your bags on your behalf. Hiking in a group can be fun, informative and an opportunity to make new friends.

best time to walk

The Sydney Great Coastal Walk can be hiked all year round.

During summer, temperatures may reach 30°C but is often cooler thanks to seashore breezes. There are also plenty of places to stop in the shade, cool off in the water or get a refreshing drink.

Spring and autumn are pleasantly warm for hiking, with temperatures 20-25°C on average. Autumn sees the most rainfall in the area, however it is not usually enough to make walking the route unpleasant.

During winter, the temperature may drop to around 17°C. While you might not want to go swimming, it is still a good temperature for hiking.

A typical itinerary would be:

Day 1:
Barrenjoey to Avalon – 13 kilometres

Day 2:
Avalon to Narrabeen Lakes – 13 kilometres

Day 3:
Narrabeen Lakes to Manly – 12.5 kilometres

Day 4:
Manly to North Head – 12.5 kilometres

Day 5:
North Head to Circular Key via ferry. Hike to South Head – 17 kilometres

Day 6:
South Head to Clovelly – 14 kilometres

Day 7:
Clovelly to La Perouse – 17 kilometres

Day 8:
Perouse to Kurnell via taxi. Hike to Cronulla – 13 kilometers


Along the Sydney Great Coastal Walk you will find plenty of accommodation to suit any budget.

From luxury hotels to backpacker hostels and camping, you will find it all nearby the trail.

What to do

Visit Palm Beach where some of the famous TV show Summer Bay is filmed. Pop into the Surf Club and you might even bump into Alf!

Take in the views at Bangalley Head, the highest point on the northern coast of Sydney. The lighthouse there was built in 1881 and you can take a tour.

Enjoy swimming in the sea, ocean pools and lagoons, or even an Olympic sized salt water pool at Dee Why, near Manly.

Explore Sydney Harbour National Park.

The stretch of path from Circular Key to South head is where you will see some of Sydney’s most famous attractions, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Garden.

Looks for whales in the ocean between May and November.

Learn about the history of Aboriginal people in the area, as well as early settlers.

Along the route you will see many indigenous plants and wildlife. Eucalyptus is prominent, as are grasslands. This creates habitat for a diverse amount of bird and mammal species.

You have the best chance of spotting wildlife if you are slow and quiet on the trail.

Published: January 30, 2020 Modified: January 30, 2020

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At a glance
Skills RequiredHiking, Walking
Difficulty 2/5
Starts at Barrenjoey Rd, Palm Beach NSW 2108, Australia
Finishes at Cronulla NSW 2230, Australia
Length of route 100 Km
Average time to complete 7 - 10 Days
Possible to complete sub-sectionsYes
Highest point 116 metres
Permit requiredNo
Equipment neededPoles if preferred, Trekking gear, walking boots
Countries visited Australia