Fresh air, healthy exercise, exposure to nature, screen and distraction-free time together. On paper, bushwalking with kids is an experience brimming with benefits.
As much as I love bushwalking though, I’ll also be the first to admit that with kids in tow, it can be a potentially painful experience. Taking twice as long to cover half the distance you might do on your own can be particularly punishing if you don’t know where to go and get stuck with kids who spend the entire time asking you how much longer the walk will be, or to be carried all the way back.
Avoid these pitfalls by trying out the family-friendly bushwalks in the Sutherland Shire linked below. All of the walks below are less than 10km (though you can obviously cut any walk shorter) and are considered easy to moderate walks. Check the distance and difficulty of each one before heading out, because what’s suitable for one family may not be suitable for yours!
15+ bushwalks in the Sutherland Shire you can do with your kids
Start your walk through the beautiful bush of Bonnet Bay by beginning on the track opposite Grant Place. To view Bonnet Bay in all its glory, take the first big fork on your right which will circle around the back of Van Buren Circuit. This will lead to a boardwalk and picnic seats in the Glen Reserve where you can grab a bite (read: bribe kids with treats to continue walking.)
From here you can head either return the way you came or head back to the road and continue down Van Buren Circuit to Washington Drive, where you’ll find the playground and shops at Koolangarra Reserve. That walk will likely take you around half an hour with little kids. Bigger kids may be happy to continue on along the trail that runs alongside the creek through the Glen Reserve for a while before heading back up Lower Washington Drive. You can use this map of the Bonnet bay bushland to make your own path depending on your kids’ ages and abilities.
Park your car at the end of Coolgardie Place in Jannali and at the first fork you come to head around to your left and follow the Upper Track trail until it circles you back. If your kids are up for a longer walk, or you’re walking a baby in a carrier, then you can take both the Lower and Upper tracks to turn this into a bush walk that will take about 45 minutes. The shortest loop (which is technically half of the Upper Track) only takes about 15 minutes in total, and you can break it up by sitting on the rocks and enjoying a snack and the stunning views of Bonnet Bay from Eagle Rock in between.
This is one of the easiest walks on the list, suitable enough even for kids under 5. It’s just 1km, only 25m elevation gain and right behind a very pretty open park with a playground (albeit it an average and older one.) You can combine this walk with a play and a picnic in the park.
Park on Leawarra St, as indicated on the All Trails app. The Leawarra Trail is a straight out and back trail along a wide path, which is impossible to get lost on. The total distance if you head to the end of the path and back again is 2.3km and should take less than 45 minutes even with young kids. The initial part of the trail is a short steep descent, so just remember that kids will need enough energy left in the tank to get back up that hill. There are some nice views and plenty of pretty flowers to enjoy along the way. You can even bring your dog if you have one for this otherwise very flat walk.
Start your walk at the end of Grays Point Road (beside the public school) and follow the Florence Parade Trail down to Bungoona Lookout. Just be sure to keep left at the big fork to avoid ending up on the Temptation Creek trail (which is also great for old kids who can handle rocks and some steep inclines, but will not get you to the lookout). Your return trip from Grays Point (2.4Km in total) from this direction will take roughly 30-40 minutes. Kids not quite up to this? You can stop at the aforementioned fork and turn back for an easier 1.5Km (15-20 minute) walk.
Coonong Creek Walk
Start this short and pretty walk, suitable enough for little kids, from Valley Way in Gymea Bay. There is a straightforward path that will lead you through the creek and down to Gymea Bay Baths where you can sit to rest your legs (or swim if the weather is nice enough) and spot crabs digging back into their holes before you begin your journey back. Your bush walk down to the baths and back will be less than 2km.
Cassandra Crescent Reserve
This short, lush bushwalk runs directly behind the playground that sits on Cassandra Crescent Reserve so you can combine a play and a walk with kids under five. It’s a great walk for mums looking to introduce their pre-schoolers to bushwalking for the first time.
Oyster Gully walk
At the end of Box Road (where it almost meets the end of Carvers Road) you’ll find a set of stairs that leads down to Oyster Gully. Beside the Gully is an easy, flat and mostly shady walk that you can follow for about 1km before turning back. It’s an easy one to do with little kids, that can be done in 30-40 minutes and which doesn’t require having to drive out to a national park.
Savilles Creek Loop is in the Royal National Park, but very easy to get to. It runs behind South Kirrawee, Sutherland and Loftus. Drive and park where Gore Ave meets Gore Lane. You’ll see a small section of bush with an obvious sign that says “Savilles Creek Bushcare Group” and a clear entry.
The trickiest part of this walk is actually crossing the creek at the entry. Though the creek is only small and usually not difficult to cross, particularly if we’ve recently had rain, you’ll need to take extra care helping little kids across. Once you’re across the creek, for an easy walk with kids simply turn right and walk along the track for about 10 minutes until you reach a picturesque waterfall. This is a great spot to stop and soak in the scenery and then you can turn back.
Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for a longer walk and everyone with you is old enough and happy enough to continue, you can follow the Savilles Creek loop all the way back to where you started from. The area is fairly well signed and you won’t lose phone reception so you needn’t worry about getting lost.
Kamay National Park at Kurnell has multiple great walking trails you can explore with the kids. The easiest, which only runs through a small stretch of bush, is probably Monument Track, which starts at the water’s edge on the corner of Prince Charles Parade and Polo St. Simply follow the path beside the beach past Captain Cook’s Landing Place (Voila! Read-made history lesson) and it will circle you back via “The Meeting Place” where you can look at pictures of, and read about, historic Kurnell. You can be in and out in half an hour.
For walks through Kamay National Park that are longer, but still easy for kids to manage, check out Cape Baily Track, Discovery Centre to Long Nose Point (via Polo Trail) and Kurnell Visitor Centre to Cape Solander via Muru and Yena Tracks. These tracks are between 4-7km but all graded “easy.”
Loftus Creek Fire Trail
There is a fire trail entrance that you can access by parking at the end of Viburnum Road in Loftus. It is rocky and steep in parts but manageable for bigger kids. The out-and-back track is 1.5km and doable in half an hour. Best to go when it has not rained recently as this track gets pretty muddy, but that is true of most tracks.
There are a couple of different ways you can go about getting to the gorgeous Bungoona Lookout.
Let’s start with the easiest, suitable for the youngest of bushwalks, most prams, and for anyone with a carrier: Simply park your car in the parking area just off Farnell Ave, in front of the Royal National Park Office. From there you can take the clear path up to the lookout and enjoy the vast vistas before heading back- all in all this will be about a 15 minute journey and there is some seating where you can stop for a picnic lunch if you wish.
Bungoona Lookout via Rawson Parade Trail
Your other option, one suitable for kids who can walk for about an hour, is to begin your walk from Loftus Oval. To get to the lookout, head straight down the Rawson Parade Trail, beside the train tracks, all the way until it’s end, where you’ll see signage and the path to the Bungoona Lookout. All in all, this walk is about 5km and there are some old train stations the kids can stop and take shade in along the way.
The Forest Path in the Royal National Park is a 4.4km loop, which will take roughly 60-90 minutes with kids. It is mostly flat, incredibly pretty and there is even a picnic area along the way where you can stop for lunch. You’ll need to drive to access this walk with kids and can park in the Forest Path Car Park, Royal National Park fees apply.
Lady Carrington Drive is a beautiful one-way track within the Royal National Park (fees apply) that you can access after parking at the Forest Path Carpark. The full track is 10km but you can shorten it to whatever distance your kids are comfortable with. Turning back when the complaining first starts is probably a good idea! The track is also ideal for cyclists if your kids are confident on their bikes. There are multiple picnic areas along the way, where you can rest when you need to.
Please remember to thoroughly research the walks mentioned before heading out with your kids! We suggest always heading out with water, sunscreen, hats, a first aid kit, snacks, your phone, a portable phone charger and an emergency blanket. And remember to cover yourselves in insect repellant if mozzies are likely to be about too!
What wonderful family-friendly bushwalks have you found in the Sutherland Shire? Let us know on the Mums of the Shire Facebook Group or in the comments below.