You know that incredible grounding feeling when you hang out in nature? Well there’s actually a type of therapy based on that feeling called ‘forest bathing’ or ‘Shinrin yoku’.
It’s a practice originating from Japan, scientifically proven to be beneficial for physical and mental health (lowering blood pressure, stress relief etc.)
Connection to nature is also a significant part of Aboriginal culture. Read more here.
For Aboriginal people culture, nature and land are all linked. The Aboriginal peoples of NSW maintain a diversity of living cultures and have a strong and continuing attachment to the land and the waters, to their Country.
Office of Environment & Heritage NSW website, 2018
From my understanding, eco-therapy doesn’t have to be extensive. It can literally involve going for a walk amongst trees or going somewhere calm to surf (preferably not Bondi).
Luckily in Australia there are multiple green spaces, even living in a city. As you can imagine, it was pretty tough to put this list together considering the natural beauty of the country.
Here are some tried & tested suggestions for places to visit for a spot of eco-therapy and connection to land in NSW.
Meroo National Park
This is one of my favourite spots in Australia, with a small campsite 150m from the beach. Camping in the forest under the stars, surrounded by animals and the sound of the ocean is the best type of eco-therapy. It’s also a great spot to go swimming, snorkelling, surfing and rock pool exploring.
Bundanoon “place of deep gullies”
This ‘plastic water-bottle free’ village of the Southern Highlands is a great weekend or daybreak from Sydney. I actually first heard of the concept of forest-bathing here, whilst walking through Morton National Park. There are bushwalking trails, waterfalls and glow-worm caves in the area. There’s also a cute Scottish pub, just in case eco-therapy gets to be too much!
Murramarang National Park
This sensational spot is past Jervis Bay on the South Coast, with enough nature to last a full week break. I have previously rented an AirBnB on Depot Beach in the national park and it was the perfect nature get-away. The area is surrounded by dense forest, quiet beaches and grazing kangaroos. Depot Beach Rainforest walk might be your perfect forest bathing spot or, meditation on North Durras beach.
The Basin Ku-ring-gai National Park
If you have kids (or act like a kid) this is the perfect place to go. I don’t have children but I’ve been here countless times to swim and do the Aboriginal Heritage Walk. Get away from the city and see rock art engravings from the Guringai people of West Head here.
Dharawal National Park
This absolute gem is the perfect place for a day trip to get amongst nature. The park is of significant importance to Aboriginal people, with previous restricted public access for seventy years. It’s about a 1-hour drive from Sydney and has a variety of trails for bike, walking and swimming.
Olivia is an eco-writer, producer, science graduate & ocean enthusiast. After moving from London to Sydney, she found her love for the outdoors and recycled textiles, which led her to start writing about science and sustainable fashion. Olivia is really passionate about brands using fashion for good and innovation in the industry. She now splits her time between several not-for-profit organisations in communication roles. Olivia is also a Centre for Sustainability Leadership alumni and sits on the Fashion Revolution committee for Australia & New Zealand.