Traveling through New South Wales, Australia offers up a lot of fun, outdoorsy activities for those who love nature and sunshine. There is truly more to do than what one might originally assume. Australians head to Royal National Park and the surrounding areas for the peace and tranquility. Tourists, on the other hand, find themselves immersed in the beautiful scenery of NSW, adventuring through the bush like a local and finding true magic in the land down under.
Royal National Park
Did you know that this is one of the oldest national parks in the entire world? Located about an hour from Sydney in Wollongong, Australia, the Royal National Park is a wonderful place to spend time with family and friends. It is easily accessible via car using the Prince’s Highway. If using the train, take the T4 Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line for Loftus Station or use the N11 headed toward Cronulla and take the Bundeena Ferry over to the bayside town.
No matter what you seek to do—swimming, hiking, picnicking or lounging—there’s spots at the park and its multiple beaches for you to enjoy. The campsites are overwhelmingly popular during the holidays, weekends and when the weather is mild. It’s certainly not to be missed if you want to safely see the natural splendors of Australia.
Be sure to bring a couple of bucks if you’re planning on using the parking lot. There’s a 12 AUD lot fee for all vehicles, even motorcycles. You can pay electronically at the visitor center or by cash at the lot’s entrance. It might seem a bit steep, but for all that you can do at Royal National Park, it should go without saying that the expense is worth it. Additionally, if you are worried about getting lost on the trails in Royal National Park, your phone’s GPS does work here. Sometimes. Check it regularly so you don’t wind up spending hours scouring the bush. Unless that’s your intention!
Here are some of the most popular walks in Royal National Park:
• The Coast Walk – Starting from Bundeena, you spend 2 days passing through Big Marley Heads Beach, witnessing the breathtaking views of the cliffs, serene beaches and water so blue its indescribable. Be sure to check out Eagle Rock as you go. It’s the emblem of the park. Because the walk is so long, make sure you bring plenty of water and food, because once you start, you’re on your own.
• Little Marley trail to Deer Pool
• Loftus Loop trail
• Karloo walking track – this takes you towards the Karloo Pool, a well-known picnic spot.
• Uloola walking track – connects to the Karloo walking track and ends at the Waterfall station.
A highly recommend attraction is a quaint rental shop called Audley’s Boatshed. At Audley’s, you can rent a rowboat, canoe or kayaks for a decent price for you and a couple of friends. Float lazily on the calm waters, have a picnic or go exploring along Kangaroo Creek. Recently, Audley’s has also started offering mountain bike rentals so visitors can explore the 20 km long Lady Carrington Drive that takes you along the Hacking River from Audley Weir to Waterfall Weir and back.
You also don’t want to pass up these beaches:
• Little Garie
• Era and South Era
• Burning Palms – perfect for surfing.
• Werrong Beach – this one caters to nudists.
• Jibbon Head – a nice beach that has Aboriginal rock art on display.
Do note that the beach roads close around 8:30 PM.
Wedding Cake Rock
I know what you’re thinking: what’s so special about a white rock? Well, it’s not the destination but the journey, honestly. The landmark is found 1 hour south of Bundeena on the Coast Walk. If you don’t feel like continuing on with the Coast track after viewing Wedding Cake Rock, you can always head back the way you came or see Marley Beach.
Wedding Cake Rock is quite a spectacular sight, because it defies physics. At any moment it looks like the white layers will give way and plummet into the churning seas below. The color was created by “iron leeching.” Because of the rock’s treacherous condition, a fence has been put up and is guarded on the busier days. So many people have gone and crossed the barricade that now if you’re caught you will be fined more than 100 AUD.
For the Foodies
Has this talk of wedding cake and exercise gotten you hungry? Take a pit stop at one of Cronulla’s popular dining spots. Local recommendations include:
• Fratelli Del Mare Italian Restaurant (http://www.fratellidelmare.com.au/)
• Il Gusto Cronulla (http://ilgustorestaurant.com.au/)
• The Nun’s Pool (https://www.zomato.com/sydney/the-nuns-pool-cronulla)
• HAM – Harry & Mario (https://www.zomato.com/sydney/ham-harry-mario-cronulla/info)
• Splash Tapas Bar (https://www.zomato.com/sydney/splash-tapas-bar-cronulla)
Next time you’re in the Sydney area and in the mood for spending a few days exploring the best of bushwalking in Australia, consider making the Royal National Park a priority. Even if you are not the outdoorsy type, the beaches alone make Bundeena and Wedding Cake Rock picturesque locations for memory making. Finish the days of adventure with a meal at one of the acclaimed eateries in Cronulla, so every part of you can be satisfied.