walking into the unknown

bushwalking and parenting

We occasionally take the kids bushwalking. You might be thinking we embark on multi-day expeditions with tents and large backpacks, but what I mean by bushwalking is simply a day out walking through natural environments. We drive somewhere that is no more than 3 hours away and hike/trek through green places – all for the sake of hanging out together as a family, making memories.

As with any family outing and day trip, we do have to do a little prep. We check weather conditions are optimal. We bring sun protection, plenty of drinking water and never forget the handy First Aid kit. We always pack our camera, have the mobiles fully-charged, spare battery packs for just-in-case, snacks for breaks along the way, and put on good comfortable walking shoes.

Even though we are hiking a predetermined path, there is always an element of walking into the unknown. We may be met with a surprise, possibly come across a challenge or two, or even see a creature in its natural habitat; but, most certainly, we become immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of whatever the outdoors have in stall for us that day.

Bushwalking is a little like parenting; even with all the planning, there is a whole lot of unpredictability involved. We try to be as safe as possible, choose the path that not too impossible for the youngest child, and of course, be ready to deal with hazards along the way. Yes, there was that one time we encountered a snake, another when my youngest daughter found a leech sucking on her foot, and moments when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and we need to find the quickest way out back to the car!

On this particular adventure, I feel like I am staring at a track I haven’t been on before, looking at the furthest visible point and just not knowing what to expect beyond it. My eldest is growing up now. Standing with Lana at the beginning of puberty and looking into the tween and teen years to come, I am a little excited she is growing up, but I have no idea what to expect.

You see, we have been on many bushwalks together before. But now she is old enough to wander off a little in front, sometimes she wants to lead us down the next part of the walk, and sometimes we just come to a fork in the road and don’t agree with which way we should go. To me, we are moving toward unfamiliar territory, routes that many have taken before us, but we just haven’t been down before. The map says the amazing lookout is that way, so here we go, excited to find out what we might encounter along the way.

Our top 3 family bushwalks not too far from Sydney:

BERRY ISLAND RESERVE PLAYGROUND AND BUSH WALK

This one is in Sydney, located in Wollstonecraft, has a nice enclosed playground and a beautiful short bushwalk. Gaydan Track is a 20 minute-or-so walk, though it might take longer if you have younger children. Mid-walk you get a fantastic view of Sydney CBD.

MINNAMURRA RAINFOREST

One of our favourite walks located on NSW South Coast, less than two hours drive from Sydney.

There are elevated boardwalks, suspension bridges, breathtaking waterfalls, natural greenery and wildlife. You can choose between Loop Walk (1.6km return) or Falls Walk (2.6km return), which means whether you are a family with a pram, carrier, or school-aged children, you can pick the one that suits you best, either way, the views are so worth making a day of it.

BOBBIN HEAD IN KU-RING-GAI CHASE NATIONAL PARK

My parents used to take my sisters and me here for day trips, a place of lovely memories. This place has it all: picnic areas, bushwalks, paddle boats, and playgrounds. There are also great places to eat if picnicking isn’t your thing with Bobbin Head Inn Cafe, and the Gallery Foods Restaurant and Kiosk to choose from. There is also the Kalkari Discovery Centre to peruse, with the Birrawanna walking track being the place we encountered the snake! The kids had a great laugh at me running back towards to the exit.