When people recommend books to read, 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 give 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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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.
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.
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.
By Matt McClelland
The Six Foot Track from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves is one of the more recognisable overnight walks near Sydney. Written by experienced bushwalker Matt McClelland,The Six Foot Track is an all new second edition updated in 2018.
Lonely Planet Travel Guide
This trusted travel brand gets walking, with ideas and inspiration for 50 featured walks across 30 countries. Be sure to flick to the Australia section for the very surprising walk chosen for Sydney. Epic Hikes of the World is global inspiration at its best.
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.
Edited by Barry Stone
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.