“I GO TO NATURE TO BE SOOTHED AND HEALED, AND TO HAVE MY SENSES PUT IN ORDER” – JOHN BURROUGHS
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and it’s an adventure you’re after, be sure to check out these five spots just south-west of Sydney!
OLD HELENSBURGH STATION
Across the road from the current Helensburgh Station is the Old Helensburgh Railway Station and Metropolitan Tunnel – you can see the old railway sign from the road. If you’re driving, you can park on the dirt just off the side of the road near the tunnel or in surrounding suburban streets.
After its closure, the tunnel has become quite popular as it follows the length of around 650 meters and is a good spot for spotting glow-worms! Due to falling grade in the land, you won’t be able to walk the full length of the tunnel as it has turned into a ‘lake’ with water reaching all the way up close to the ceiling. I would recommend wearing boots or shoes that you don’t mind getting covered in mud and bringing a torch or headlamp – we found that our phone torches weren’t that good once you get deep into the tunnel.
SUBLIME POINT LOOKOUT
If you’re headed out to the tunnels mentioned above, definitely check out Sublime Point Lookout on the way back. Sublime Point Lookout is a beautiful spot just off the Old Princes Highway and offers not only a breathtaking view, but a few different tracks for trail runners and bush walkers.
There are plenty of spots for parking as well as amenities, picnic areas and a quaint little restaurant, Sublime Point Cafe which offers 180 degree views over the ocean. There are a few trails to choose from including Sublime Point Track (950-meter steep descent down stairs and ladders) and Illwarra Escarpment Track that goes as far as Stanwell Park.
DHARAWAL NATIONAL PARK
A challenging but short walk from the car-park will have you at a beautiful freshwater swimming hole, which is part of O’Hares Creek. There are a few options for other tracks in Dharawal National Park if you find yourself with more time to spare than you anticipated.
Jingga walking track is in the Victoria Road precinct of Dharawal National Park. It can get quite busy on weekends, so you may have to park on the side of the road. There are no fees to access the park, so be sure to take advantage of this beautiful landscape of eucalyptus bush-land and dramatic sandstone formations.
A beautiful swimming hole in the midst of bush-land, a day trip to Mermaid Pools is sure to give you the nature fix you’ve been searching for. Following Remembrance Drive into Tahmoor, turn onto Rockford Road, make a right turn onto Charles Point Road and park directly on your right.
Follow the dirt track for 200 meters or so along the river making sure you walk under the bridge. Once on the other side of the bridge, there is a rock that has an arrow pointing up – this is when you begin. The trail is quite overgrown and you will have to trust your instincts as you wind along through the bush. The walk to Mermaid Pools should only take you between 30-45 minutes.
Above Warragamba Dam, Burragorang lookout and picnic area is a panoramic viewing point for 80 per cent of Sydney’s water supply. It’s a great place to stop for a picnic, particularly if you’re heading out to Mermaid Pools or Jingga Track.
There is a $4 entry fee, but follows a bit of an honesty system as there often isn’t park rangers patrolling the area. If you’re already a NSW park pass holder (like me), you’re all set! Located at the end of Burragorang Road in Nattai, this is a fairly easy spot to access.