While it can be great to hit the road and spend some time in nature, it’s not always possible to just pack up and go. Luckily, Australia is filled with leafy spots right in the city – making it easy to get a quick nature fix. Here are some of our favourite inner-city spots to take a stroll.
Melbourne: Yarra Bend Park
One thing Melburnians know well: this is bat country. Look up around dusk and you’ll see a seemingly endless stream of grey-headed flying foxes. Up until 2003, the city’s resident population spent its time in the Royal Botanic Gardens but they’ve since been relocated to the sprawling, 223-hectare Yarra Bend Park. If you want to see them, the quiet trail around the Bellbird Picnic Area in Kew includes a conservation zone with up to 30,000 bats roosting in the trees. Follow the path of the Yarra River with the colony of flying foxes just metres away, before heading out the other side towards Fairfield Boathouse.
Sydney: Botany Bay Coastal Walk
About13 kilometres from the centre of Sydney, the Botany Bay Coastal Walk is a stunning stroll taking in historical lighthouses, towering cliffs and panoramic ocean views. The whole walk is 12 kilometres one way, winding from the beaches of Cronulla through Kamay Botany Bay National Park to Kurnell. Along the trail you’ll find the Cape Baily Lighthouse, sand dunes, hanging swamps and the Cape Solander lookout – one of the best places to spot migrating humpback whales. The entire walk should take you around four hours but smaller sections like the Cape Baily track are approachable if you’re not putting a whole day aside.
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Brisbane: Mt Coot-tha Reserve Summit Track
Some of the best views in Brisbane can be found from Mt Coot-tha Reserve, the ancestral home of the Turrbal people and a 1500-hectare web of walking and bike trails just 15 minutes from the city centre. You can reach the 287-metre-high peak and Mt Coot-tha lookout from the JC Slaughter Falls picnic area and, though pretty steep at times, the 2.6-kilometre summit track is achievable for most walkers and the panoramic view at the top makes the effort worthwhile. Whichever trail you take, the reserve is abundant with native wildlife to look out for, like koalas, tawny frogmouths, goshawks and microbats.
Adelaide: Belair National Park Waterfall Hike
Head 20 minutes southeast of the CBD and you’ll come to Belair National Park, a protected slice of nature complete with wildflowers, koalas and waterfalls. The waterfall hike is a great trail for the chance to see all three (though no guarantees on the koalas, sorry). The three-hour, 6.5-kilometre hike takes you through the echo tunnel (a long, dark tunnel under the train lines known for its acoustics) to both upper and lower waterfalls with some impressive escarpment views. It’s worth noting that the best time to catch the falls is after the rains when the flow is at its peak.
Perth: John Forrest National Park, Eagle View Walk
At 15 kilometres, this circuit around John Forrest National Park is the longest on the list but it’s well worth putting aside the six hours. Just a half hour drive from Perth, the John Forrest National Park is known for its abundance of kangaroos and over 500 native species of wildflowers, while the hilly landscape offers some great views of the Swan Coastal Plain and Perth skyline. Follow the Eagle View walk through shifting terrains including wandoo woodlands, heath and rocky waterfalls before looping back to the start.
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