Sarah Wilson’s new Audible Original podcast series, Make Anxiety Your Superpower, aims to reframe the narrative around anxiety and how to live with it. Wilson – a former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, and perhaps best known as the founder of the I Quit Sugar empire – speaks to 10 people about their individual experiences with anxiety and how they challenge the negative stigma around it. One of Wilson’s top tricks for soothing her anxiety and calming a raging mind? Walks in nature. So, Broadsheet asked her to share her top five walks in and around Sydney when you need time out.
“First of all, I like to turn all of my walks into an adventure trip, so they always incorporate some kind of public transport and, of course, some seriously delicious food,” she says. “Hot tip: on a Sunday it’s only $2.80 to go anywhere in Sydney – from the top of the Blue Mountains to Royal National Park, all for the same price – so I highly recommend doing your walk on Sunday.”
Wondabyne to Woy Woy – 15.4 kilometres
“To start off, I catch the train from Central to Wondabyne Station. It’s very cute as you have to request the train driver to drop you off because it’s in the middle of nowhere, on the side of a beautiful river. It feels like you’re back in the 1950s! I do a walk that goes through Brisbane Water National Park, up and around to Woy Woy. Warning: it’s quite steep but you go past Aboriginal sites and waterfalls and, as a treat, you can finish off your hike with a drink or lunch at a gorgeous restaurant, bar and cafe called The Lucky Bee.”
The Coast Track at Cronulla – 27.4 kilometres
“Catch the train down to Cronulla from Central, then it’s just a five-minute walk to this little wooden ferry, which will take you around the corner to Bundeena. This beautiful 20-minute ferry ride will take you to the tiny little fishing village on the other side of the water where you can stop off and have a coffee before embarking on your hike. Once caffeinated, you can do the Coast Track, which extends the whole length of the Royal National Park. I like to camp overnight there and then come out at Otford railway station and catch the train back to Sydney. I like to go to Pilgrims, a vegetarian cafe set in a beautiful old, ramshackle Federation building, where, if you sit upstairs, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the ocean.”
Red Hands Cave circuit – 8.4 kilometres
“Another [station] I really love is getting off at is Glenbrook, and going up to the Red Hands Cave circuit, which is a really nice, simple in-and-out sort of hike. It’s an Aboriginal site, so as you walk you’ll be able to see the layers of hand prints and stencils which are thought to have been painted between 500 and 1600 years ago. Before I even start the hike, I also like to go to this really cute little cafe called The Church, which is literally set in an old church. The hike isn’t too long, so great for families. You can also go by Jellybean Pool for a swim, which is wonderful in the warmer months.”
Taronga Zoo to Balmoral – 6.8 kilometres
“Also among my favourite Sydney journeys is to catch the ferry from Circular Quay across to Taronga Zoo. I’ll walk all the way around to Balmoral, which is a great inner-city hike where you can explore a beautiful section of the Sydney Harbour, as well as bushland and bays along the way. When I arrive at Balmoral, I love to have lunch at The Boathouse as a reward. It’s a lovely cafe, right on the water, so I usually plan to have a big breakfast on the deck as an incentive for completing the hike. After that, I catch the ferry back home.”
Bouddi Coastal Walk – 8.5 kilometres
“I start off by taking the double-decker bus from Palm Beach, then catch this super cute little ferry which goes up through the incredible Berowra Waters area. Getting off at Wagstaffe, you can then hike around the headlands and join the Bouddi National Park coastal walk. It’s quite an ambitious hike for one day [if you do it return], but there are a few camping spots if you decide to have an overnight trip. The next day, you can walk back through Killcare, which has some lovely little cafes with great food, so you can have something wonderful to eat before you get back on the ferry.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety, call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.
Sarah Wilson’s new Audible Original podcast series, Make Anxiety Your Superpower, is out now on Audible.