9 microadventures to tackle this weekend

Can’t take time off? The newest trend is a weekend microadventure, where you cram a serious holiday into a couple of days. Toni Krasicki reports.

Need a change of scenery, but you’re too short on time and heavy on commitments? Then take off on a microadventure, a trend among those who want more from a weekend than a lazy bushwalk. Whether it’s just for a day, a few hours or a quick overnighter, switching off from everyday life and doing something that’s fun and different from your routine can have an amazing effect on your wellbeing. Get a taste of some of these microadventures or discover one of your own.

From Sydney

Canyoning in the Blue Mountains

Photography by David Hill

You’ve hiked the trails, seen the Three Sisters and dropped in at the Hydro Majestic — what next? It’s time to step off the tourist trails, get the adrenaline pumping and absorb the incredible natural beauty of the wilderness. Canyoning — abseiling down waterfalls, jumping into and wading through creeks, sliding and scrambling along rocky shelves and canyons and swimming in mountain pools embedded in steep cliffs — is a true escape from the everyday.

Canyoning is not for the faint-hearted. But if you’re keen to spend a thrilling day (or two) in remote areas that few visitors get to see, and want to have a lot of fun doing it, it’s
a great alternative and adventurous way to do the Blue Mountains. Several outfits based in Katoomba run half and full day multi-level trips for all abilities.

Where to: Lesser-known areas of The Blue Mountains National Park.
Why: Adrenaline, thrills and spills.

Snorkel, swim and dive at Bass Point Aquatic Reserve

Photography by Tourism Shellharbour

Pack your mask, snorkel and fins and point the compass to Bushrangers Bay for an underwater adventure. Sheltered from the elements, the bay is a haven for snorkellers and divers — and for an abundance of marine life, including the elusive weedy sea dragon. For divers, Bushrangers Bay is only the beginning — a plethora of outstanding dive sites litter the aquatic reserve.

Back on dry land, wander the seaside rainforest, which is on the state’s heritage list for the Aboriginal archaeological history found here. Make a weekend of it and camp at Killalea State Park a few minutes away in Shell Cove. Legendary beaches The Farm and Mystics are a surfer’s paradise with swimming, fishing and general beach shenanigans making this a cool hangout.

Where to: Shellharbour, less than two hours south of the city.
Why: Marine life and crystal clear waters.

Kayak the Nepean River

Photography by Penrith City Council

The beauty of the Nepean River is that there’s no need to leave the city limits. Marking the western border of Sydney, the Nepean winds its way down from the Southern Highlands to the Hawkesbury River. Paddle upstream from Tench Reserve near the M4 Motorway to Junction Reserve, where the Warragamba Dam is just visible.

The Nepean is on the edge of the Blue Mountains National Park and it feels like a true wilderness area with caves, birdlife and the stunning Nepean Gorge, where sandstone walls rise up to 150m.

Camping is available at Euroka Campground, or set up camp on any flat area along the river. While in the area check out the white water rafting at Penrith Whitewater Stadium — it’s the perfect introduction if you’ve never rafted on a river.

Where to: Penrith, about an hour from the Sydney CBD.
Why: Nature, bushland and wild scenery.

From Brisbane

Sea kayak Moreton bay islands

Brisbane is bookended by magical beaches on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, so often the islands of Moreton Bay — right on Brisbane’s doorstep — are overlooked. The line-up includes old favourites North and South Stradbroke, Moreton and
Bribie Islands, where favourite kayaking haunts include Brown Lake, the Tangalooma Wrecks and Pumicestone Passage.

Lesser-known islands such as the historic St Helena and Coochiemudlo are located close to the coast and can easily be kayaked to from the mainland. Experienced kayakers should paddle to Peel Island where open water sections pose a challenge.

Where to: Anywhere that a ferry leaves from or where there are kayaks for hire.
Why: Close to home, a variety of routes to suit all levels of fitness and experience.

Hike, scramble, rock climb and abseil the Glass House Mountains

Photography by Tourism & Events Queensland

The craggy Glass House Mountains are so impressive it’s hard to ignore their sheer beauty and grandeur. Several easy walking tracks meander around the base of the mountains, but to really get a feel of the area, summiting one of the mounts is the go.

Try to get an early start and hike the 30 minute trail to the top of Mt Ngungun to watch the sunrise light up the 12 other volcanic peaks. Work your way up to the more challenging hikes which include scrambling, crab crawling and bum sliding your way up and down from the summits.

Climbers and abseiling fans flock to scale and descend the Tibrogargan, Ngungun and Beerwah mountains. From short, hard sport climbs to long easy routes, beginners to extreme rock climbers can find a crag to suit.

Where to: An hour north of Brisbane and inland from the Sunshine Coast.
Why: Fitness and amazing scenery.

From Melbourne

Explore the Great Ocean Road

With the Great Ocean Road, it’s all about how much time you want to spend exploring. This blissful string of unspoilt beaches, quaint coastal towns and hidden hinterland is a firm favourite.

Feel Bass Strait’s wind in your hair along the 44km Surf Coast Walk that hugs the coast from Torquay to Aireys Inlet. Further west, the Great Ocean Walk meanders for 104km from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles and can be done in small chunks. Alternatively, forget the oceanside and head inland to the eucalyptus forests of the Great Otway National Park. Hike through forests to hidden waterfalls, zipline at the treetop walk in the Otway Ranges or hit the mountain bike park in Anglesea.

Where to: Torquay and Warrnambool.
Why: Pristine air, beaches, waterfalls and forests.

Cycle the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail

This 38km (one way) cycle, walking and horse riding trail follows the route of the Warbuton railway line, which carted farm produce from the Yarra Valley to Melbourne from 1901 to 1965. The grade of the trail is suitable for all.

With the Yarra Ranges National Park as a backdrop, the trail winds its way through the picturesque Yarra River Valley and past original station platforms. The trail is never far from a cafe, restaurant or winery, which makes it easy to combine the ride with a food and wine tour, and maybe an overnight stay in a quaint B&B.

Where to: Lilydale in the Yarra Valley.
Why: Fitness, food and fun.

By foot or by bike on French Island

Photography by Parks Victoria

Only 70km from the city, French Island is often bypassed on the way to the more easily accessible Phillip Island. Two-thirds National Park, the island protects wetlands and a healthy population of koalas. Actually, if you see a koala on the mainland, it’s more than likely to have come from French Island.

Take walking shoes and a bike along to explore the natural bushland and empty beaches on a network of trails. For the adventurous, camp at the free Fairhaven Campsite. Long drop toilets and BYO water though.

Where to: A 10-minute passenger ferry ride from Stony Point.
Why: For peace and serenity.

From Canberra

Bike, hike, and climb in the Namadgi National Park

Outdoorsy Canberrans are spoilt for choice. From hiking or biking the 145km Centenary Trail that circumnavigates Canberra to tearing down Mt Stromlo’s forest park on a mountain bike, there is no need to stray too far from the city limits to indulge in a little adventure.

Occupying 48% of the ACT, mighty Namadgi National Park attracts hikers, bikers and climbers of all skill levels. The park has a plethora of hiking trails, with many offering rewarding views over the Brindabella Ranges and Canberra City.

Specially designated fire trails abound for horse riding and mountain biking, while the granite rock face of Booroomba provides slabs and fissures for climbers. Check out the Aboriginal rock art at Yankee Hat Shelter.

Where to: 45 minutes from the city gets you to the edge of Namadgi National Park.
Why: Nature, solitude and fitness.