How I Overcame Anxiety And Depression By Hiking In Sydney

Meet Jen who is a Sydney woman born and bred. Having found a new formed confidence through hiking Sydney’s best walks, she’s here to inspire you to do the same. If there is one thing which is amazing about living in Sydney, it’s having access to plenty of world class National Parks to keep the adventurous types excited for more.

In this guide, you’ll learn how Jenn overcame anxiety and depression by forming a love for the great outdoors. Make sure you follow her awesome Instagram page @shamsiphotos to follow her beautiful photos and adventures around Sydney and NSW.

How I got into hiking in Sydney


In August 2019 I decided to take a little trip to the Blue Mountains, starting off with the Iconic Wentworth Falls (I didn’t go to the bottom as I was still reasonably unfit and a beginner). I didn’t have much of a fitness background but that didn’t stop me from getting out there and enjoying nature.

From the first hike in the Blue Mountains, my love for hiking grew, as did finding new hiking gear, and photography.

I suffered from depression and anxiety for a while, but I started hiking (even if it was 2km), it has helped me clear my mind, and has been good motivation.

I don’t have many people to go out hiking with, but it hasn’t stopped me from convincing friends and family to join me on an adventure. I have also used an incredible amount of petrol on driving all over Sydney to find the best spots, always looking for my next escape!

Being a plus sized woman, I have found it somewhat hard finding clothes that fit me and look good too! Constantly being let down by incorrect sizing, clothes not fitting nicely and just a lack of options. I’d often leave the store feeling hopeless and unmotivated. I want to change that for men and women in Sydney (And the rest of the world).

Building my self-esteem through hiking


Over the last year and a half, hiking has done wonders for my self esteem and my overall fitness. I will admit starting off was a little difficult, due to being overweight, having low self esteem and nothing to wear. It was hard seeing people in hiking forums and Facebook groups mentioning easy hikes being 10km long, let me tell you a 10km hike is still not easy for myself, but I’m constantly pushing myself to do more.

I recently did the walk to Hanging Rock in the Blue Mountains which was 10km, so we all started somewhere and it doesn’t matter how long it takes you as long as you enjoy the moment.

Overtime I found my confidence, cared less about what other people thought, and started to enjoy my time alone in the great outdoors. As mentioned above, hiking sparked an interest in photography for myself too.

I originally bought my camera for a trip to Europe, but decided to put it to good use and take it out on the tracks. Believe it or not, but photography has held me accountable, having a dedicated Instagram page to hiking and photography makes me get out there and try something new, find the best lookouts and most beautiful spots in Sydney.

One of my favourite hikes in Sydney

It can be really daunting when you first start hiking because you’re absolutely bombarded with options, and it’s so hard to decide on which one to do. Trust me, we’ve all been there scrolling for what feels like a lifetime trying to decide.

Let me clarify, the difficulty gradings used on apps and websites can sometimes be wrong as it’s quite broad and not specific, always look at reviews to see what it’s actually like.

A personal favourite hike would be Burramoko Ridge (Hanging Rock) in the Blue Mountains, I did 11km in total and it took me nearly 3 hours (I’m a slow walker, and like to take my time). We got there at 9am, the car park was empty, once we got back to the car it was quite busy with no spots left.

The car park is approximately 1.5km away from the start of the trail so you need to take that into consideration. The trail itself is quite easy with some hills, nothing extreme, although it’s not very scenic and it’s just a fire trail. The last kilometre of the hike is when it gets a little difficult, with some steep hills but you start to see the spectacular scenery.

I was worried the trail would be difficult, but it’s suitable for all fitness levels, you just have to get through the repetitive fire trail. You can also ride your bike on this trail, which is what many people did.

Make sure to take plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and have sturdy, comfortable shoes on. The path down to Hanging Rock is quite steep and the gap to jump is bigger than you think. So please use caution because it’s a 20m drop, and if you have any children with you, please keep them away from the cliff edges as it’s unfenced and incredibly high. The view is something you need to experience for yourself as it’s quite surreal, and makes you feel so small. Grab some friends, take heaps of photos, unpack your snacks and enjoy the surrounding views.

How to find the right hiking gear in Sydney


Finding the right hiking gear is really hard, you’re walking for quite long distances so you want to be comfortable. I enjoy going to Anaconda, they always have sales on and have such a wide range of items. Some of their brands even go up to a size 24 for women, which is really accommodating.

Mountain Designs

I found some really stretchy long pants by Mountain Designs which helped me stay warm on my trip to Iceland, took me a while to find them but I’m so glad I did. I also have a pair of hiking shorts from Anaconda made by Mountain Designs which are perfect for the warmer months.

Exotica Athletica

Please remember a lot of the larger chains go up to size 18 but are made really small, so don’t feel bad if it’s not true to size. Another brand I completely support is Exotica Athletica, run by women for women and they’re based right here in Australia. While they are on the expensive side they have sales quite often, and go up to a XXL which is a size 22-26. Their tights are really stretchy and very flattering, with some beautiful prints and solid colours if that’s what you’re after.

If you need a swim suit for that beautiful waterfall, they have them too. They’re only online for now, but I can say they are true to size, and are quite quick with shipping too.


Find yourself a really supportive sports bra! Berlei has some fantastic options and a few of their sports bras accommodate large cup sizes. You won’t find what you’re after straight away, but don’t let that stop you.

Remember a lot of brands only cater to smaller sizes, and some of them are starting to branch out to plus sized options, be patient with yourself and invest in good quality clothing that will last you a while. Having clothing that fits you well and looks good will help you get out there and enjoy nature.

Hiking tips you need to know

Lastly, I’d suggest downloading the AllTrails app, it’s free to use with an added premium feature which you do not need, it’s still a fantastic app to use for free. It allows you to set filters depending on how far you want to hike, elevation gain and area.

Also, please take some sort of safety equipment when out on a hike, this includes items like a first aid kit, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), and make sure to have the Emergency Plus app on your phone.

If you’re going alone please let someone know where you’re going and how long it should take you. You never know when things could go wrong so it’s good to be prepared. Always have water, a little snack, have fun and most importantly stay safe.

Feeling inspired to start hiking in Sydney?

Check out our Sydney hikes page to discover some of the best walks in Sydney! Let’s get you started with some shorter hikes we know you’ll love!

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Outside of Sydney

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18 Best Hikes in Sydney

How I Overcame Anxiety And Depression By Hiking In Sydney



A big thank you to Jenn for opening sharing her inspiring story! If you would like to share your adventures, favourite places or anything Australia related, simply fill out our Write For Us form just like Jenn did!