Transform your weekends into microadventures
You don’t have to be a grizzled trailblazer to fit adventure into your life – urbanites and nine-to-fivers are embracing the new buzzword ‘microadventure’ to make the most of what they’ve got.
WITH MILLIONS OF Australians spending the majority of their days in an office, finding the time to get outdoors and explore your surrounds can be difficult – that’s where ‘microadventures’ come in.
The idea is based on using what time you have – weekends, mostly – and maximising its potential by stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something adventurous to escape the humdrum of a nine-to-five lifestyle.
With many of our capital cities a relatively short drive from pristine national parks and wilderness areas, there are plenty of adventures to be had right on our doorsteps.
Henry Brydon, founder and editor of microadventure blog We Are Explorers, has spent many of his weekends exploring Sydney’s best-kept secrets.
“We're more connected to the world than ever before, meaning it’s now even harder – but more important – to break free from the shackles of wi-fi signals and skim flat whites,” Henry says.
“It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of city life – as fun as it is – but there is literally a world to explore out there and it's surprising how easy it is to find an epic little adventure within it.”
Whether it is surfing Byron Bay, canyoning in the Blue Mountains, canoeing in Kangaroo Valley, or just packing the car and driving to a patch of wilderness, Henry – along with his adventure-seeking friends – has got microadventures down to a tee.
It's getting harder to "break free from the shackles of wi-fi signals and skim flat whites" says Henry Brydon, pictured here on a snowboarding 'microadventure' in Kosciuszko National Park, NSW. (Image courtesy We Are Explorers)
Mentally transformative experience
“Experience is everything. Aside from the physical health benefits, mentally it can be utterly transformative – you'll feel inspired, you'll reflect, you'll dream,” says Henry.
“You'll also have an ear-to-ear grin to bring to the office on Monday and a story to impress your colleagues with,” he adds.
Designed to be achievable and not limited to only experienced adventurers, tailor your trip to your individual sense of adventure – whether hiking to picturesque waterfalls, skiing the Snowy Mountains or simply setting up camp in a place you have not yet discovered.
If you feel like giving a microadventure a go this weekend, here are a couple of options for each state and territory capital, no more than a few hours’ drive from the city.
The We Are Explorers crew exploring Sydney's Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park with inflatable rafts in tow. (Image courtesy Henry Brydon/We Are Explorers)
Inflatable pack-rafting in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
A huge network of rivers and waterways lies hidden in this park, and what better way to explore them than on the water. Buy a cheap inflatable boat, drive to where the road ends, walk to the river, pump up and paddle.
Sleep in a cave
Pack your swag and head to Curracurrang or Karloo Caves in the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south, or venture a bit further to Pindar Cave in Brisbane Waters National Park near Gosford on the NSW Central Coast. A unique and unusual weekend adventure you won’t forget.
Bike riding on the Munda Biddi Trail, WA. (Image: Bill Hatcher)
Bike ride the Munda Biddi Trail
Just a 45-minute drive from the city to Mundaring, hop on your bike and explore the northern-most stretch of this 1000km trail, taking in the sights and sounds of Perth’s jarrah forest. Complete the full 103km journey to Jarrahdale, or opt for one of the shorter rides and pack a picnic.
READ MORE: Bike riding on the Munda Biddi Trail
Experience Honeymoon Pool
Two hours south from the CBD, Honeymoon Pool on the Collie River offers a tranquil escape in the serene Wellington forest. Trails offer walking and cycling opportunities, while the river is ideal for kayaking or taking a dip.
Phillip Island, Victoria. (Image: Jenni Kate Wallace/Flickr)
Escape to Phillip Island
Just under two hours’ from the Victorian capital, feel a world away on the shores of this coastal treasure. See the beauty of the island from a sea kayak, rent a boat for a spot of fishing or tackle the many walk and cycle trails.
Explore the Great Ocean Road
Drive south-west about 100km to Torquay and jump on the scenic Great Ocean Road, with plenty of spots to camp along the way. There are countless adventures to be had – walk through the temperate rainforest at Mait’s Rest, stop at one of the stunning waterfalls dotting the route, or surf at Lorne.
To up the adventure ante – and if your vehicle is up for it – head off the tarmac and into the Great Otway National Park for a variety of easy to challenging four-wheel driving, surrounded by stunning bush scenery.
Sunset over Lake Wivenhoe, Queensland. (Image: Somersetpedia.paul/Wikimedia)
Paddle Lake Wivenhoe
Just over an hour from the CBD awaits this boating, camping and fishing paradise. For nature lovers, there is an abundance of wildlife and outstanding scenery.
Snorkel the Moreton Bay Marine Park reefs
Less than two hours from the city, escape to Peel Island – also known as Teerk Roo Ra National Park. Pitch a tent, explore the sandy white beaches, snorkel the shipwrecks and be amazed by the aquatic life.
The imposing cliffs of Kangaroo Island, South Australia. (Image: Melinda Berge)
A bit of a trek at four hours from the CBD, this island is a peaceful wilderness filled with adventure opportunities. Explore the caves at Kelly Hill Conservation Park, dive in the Western Kangaroo Island Marine Park and, for more experienced hikers, try the Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek.
Camp along the Murray River
A bit closer to home, the iconic Murray River can be accessed from Murray Bridge, an hour’s drive from Adelaide. Hiking trails and 4WD tracks criss-cross this beautiful region, offering plenty of opportunities to explore. Bring your tent, camp alongside the river and spend the weekend fishing, boating, bushwalking or kayaking through the scenic surrounds.
Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory. The chain of waterfalls and rock holes is a popular camping and swimming spot, located just 80m from the car park. (Image: Bidgee/Wikimedia)
Paddle the gorges of Nitmiluk National Park
Three and a half hours from Darwin, this park offers an unforgettable escape. Bring your own or hire a canoe, paddle down the gorges, camp overnight and enjoy the abundance of wildlife including turtles and water monitors.
Litchfield National Park
About 90 minutes from the capital, this park delivers stunning scenery, places to take a dip and plenty of bush tracks. Pack up the 4WD, swag, map and supplies and give the 39 km Tabletop Track bushwalk a go – taking in waterfalls and creek lines along the way.
During the dry season, experienced four-wheel-drivers can test their skills on the 8-10km track to the Park’s ‘Lost City’, a series of large sandstone outcrops formed by thousands of years of wind and rain erosion, with walls, passages and domes that give the strange impression of being man-made.
READ MORE: Top tips for remote 4WD trips
Maria Island, Tasmania. (Image: Amy Russell)
Discover Wellington Park
There is a huge range of adventures to be had in this park, only about 30 minutes from Hobart. Follow the Cathedral Rock Track along the river, before a steep climb to take in the stunning views. Alternatively, for experienced rock climbers, the park provides ample climbing and abseiling opportunities. During the summer months there are also a few adventurous 4WD tracks through spectacular alpine scenery.
Snorkel in Maria Island National Park
The perfect spot for a wildlife adventure. Take a ferry to this scenic island, set up camp and snorkel the marine reserve on the island’s north-west coast or see how many of the islands bird species you can spot on one of the many bushwalks.
Bushwalking at Namadgi National Park
Head to Namadgi National Park, around 45 minutes out of the city centre by car, for bushwalks to accommodate all skill levels. Camp overnight, or pay a day visit, and plan your bushwalk at the information centre.
Caving at Wee Jasper Caves
Located between a stunning river and the foothills of the Brindabella Ranges, about an hour out of Canberra and just over the border in NSW, this is a beautiful site offering exemplary underground exploration opportunities. Renowned Carey’s Cave provides a gateway into what looks like a mystical crystal palace. Abseil, horse-ride or take a walking fossil tour.
READ MORE: 10 outdoor activities around Canberra
This story was created by Australian Geographic with support from our sponsor Toyota. Find out how the Toyota Fortuner is bred for adventure so it’s ready for your “microadventure” when you are.