I’m wary when people try to recommend books to read. Pretty much I need a whole compatibility checklist in place first: do you like the same things as me? Would we even be standing near each other in a book shop?

To trust that the hiking books on our personal bookshelf might interest you, here’s what you need to know about Ian and I:

* we like walking, and we like Sydney (and the coast, now you mention it)

* we love travelling and choose to spend longer in less places to get beneath the surface

* we believe walking is the best way to breathe a new place in

* we know that understanding the stories of the land gives every walk more meaning

If that rings true for you too, then let me share our personal bookshelf of hiking books with you. Some focus on the walking tracks, some are top-level inspiration, and some help us learn those stories that make a hike a more immersive experience. Have a browse below.

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Sydney’s Best Harbour and Coastal Walks

By Katrina O’Brien

This is currently the best book on walking Sydney’s coast (until our own planned guidebook…!). It includes 37 walks so while you’ll find lots of walking options, and adequate information to get from A-B, it doesn’t go in-depth. The selected routes are worthwhile and the book is laid-out attractively. Light enough to carry in your daypack, Sydney’s Best Harbour and Coastal Walks includes small maps, snippets of historical or flora information, and lovely photos.

Wild Swimming: Sydney

By Sally Tertini and Steve Pollard

What I love about the writers is that they’re completely one-eyed about swimming in natural places. Their obsessive task – in the name of research – was to swim 250 of the best rock pools, beaches, rivers and waterholes of Sydney, the Illawarra, Greater Blue Mountains and the Central Coast. And you know how you have to get to most of these places? Yep, walking. With so many places covered, Wild Swimming: Sydney will get you to the start of the track but does not include detailed track notes. This book has upped our “To Do Walk” list.

Wild Swimming book Sydney

Blue Mountains Best Bushwalks

By Veechi Stuart

Another in the reliable walking guidebook series by Woodslane, Blue Mountains Best Bushwalks has 60 different day walks to fuel weeks (years?) of day trips. This book will get you exploring all over the beautiful World Heritage area.

1001 Walks You Must Experience Before You Die

Edited by Barry Stone

Flicking through these 1001 Walks You Must Experience Before You Die is inspiration overload. It has become our number one reference book to answer that burning question – which walk to do next? And we’re keeping track of which walks we’ve done so far.

A History of the World in 500 Walks

By Sarah Baxter

For people who are passionate about both hiking and understanding the world we live in (like us), this book is amazing. Equally good as an armchair read or as actionable inspiration, walks are organised by historic period from Prehistory through to the 20th Century. I recommend buying A History of the World in 500 Walks as a gift for someone only if you can read it too.

Great Walks

Monthly magazine

Australia’s only dedicated walking magazine with travel features on hiking destinations, gear guides, tips, and easy-to-use maps. Monthly issues, plus the Great Walks Annual.

Wild

Bi-monthly magazine

Australia’s longest running outdoor adventure magazine, with hiking plus more activities. Wild transports you to local and international drool-worthy outdoorsy destinations. Plus gear info and tips.

Outdoor

Bi-monthly magazine

Billing itself as all about “human-powered experiences” (hiking and more), Outdoor has great practical tips on where to, how to and what with. You probably already know the why.

Cloud Collectors Handbook

The Cloud Collector’s Handbook

By Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Pop me into the “aspiring cloud gazer” category but even if you already know the difference between your standard Altostratus and the ol’ Undulatus, The Cloud Collector’s Handbook is a favourite. Lovely incentive to look up, up and away from your feet while walking. Pay special attention to learning how to identify Cumulonimbus because that one means you may need to get out your rain coat.

The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide

By Andrew Skurka

While most of our backpacking skills were hard-won from experience or learnt from fellow hikers, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide was like finishing school. It contains easy-to-follow information even if you’re just starting out but renowned ultra-light hiker Andrew Skurka takes packing to the next level. PS Here’s our hiking checklist for day or overnight walks.

The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds

By Peter Slater, Pat Slater, Raoul Slater

This is The Book for bird watching in Australia. Fascinating stuff, but as a non-twitcher The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds is nearly information overload. For example, Honeyeaters are prolific along Sydney’s coastline, but with twenty pages dedicated to them in this field guide, you nearly need to know what you’re looking for in order to find it. With 300 species of birds in Royal National Park, the steep learning curve will ultimately enhance your walk.

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