The Coast Track, Royal National Park, New South Wales

Nestled in the world’s second oldest national park, Royal National Park, this spectacular coastline walk takes you across cliff tops, beaches, and forest. This walk is perfect if you’re keen to try some multi-day hiking over two days- and it will give you time to stop for some whale watching or swim in one of the beaches that are dotted along the route. Alternatively, if you’re keen you can tackle it in a single day!

Start: Bundeena to Otford (or Otford to Bundeena)

Distance: 26km one way

Time: 1-2 days

Grade: Moderate (there are quite a few steps with moderate inclines and declines)

Getting There:

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Being a one-way hike, the beauty is that  it is accessible by public transport.

Bundeena start point: Take a train to Cronulla Station and catch the ferry to Bundeena. From Bundeena Ferry Terminal you can walk about 1.7km through the township streets to the start of the track (at the end of Beachcomber Avenue). Once you pass through the locked gate, follow the signs that say point to ‘Coast Track.’

CAR:

Royal National National Park is open 7am to 8.30pm but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

Park entry fees: $12 per vehicle per day. Seasonal ticket booths at Bonnie Vale, Wattamolla and Garie Beach are cash only, as there is no power or mobile connection. Please bring correct change.

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Day 1:  Bundeena to North Era Campground (approx 18km + 1.7 km extra if you’re walking from the ferry terminal)

The start of the walk brings you to spectacular views of the pacific ocean, with a short walk to Bundeena Lookout.  Here you be atop cliffs and be able to check out the iconic Wedding Cake Rock as well rock engravings carved by the Dharawal people at Jibbon Headland.

Wedding Cake Rock
Wedding Cake Rock

Continue along the walk which will meander through a bush track following some track markers along the way. If the track splits, just choose the track closer to the coast. You will then come to a large gully, which you will descend into via some steep rock stairs. When you reach the bottom there will be a bridge which crosses a small stream, and then you will start to climb back up to the other side of the gully. Continue following the signposts indicating the ‘Coast Walk’ until you descend again into West Marley Beach- a great spot to swim on a warm day.

Coast Track
Beautiful clifftops

You can also choose to head for a swim about 700m away at Little Marley Beach. Just continue along the Coast Track  from the end of West Marley Beach and head up and along the rock-shelf until you reach an intersection which has an unmarked bush track heading right, away from he cliffs. Take the path on the left here and slowly descend onto Little Marley Beach.

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Little Marley Beach (Photo by Susanne Rieder)

After Little Marley Beach will start to climb up and pass through a section of scrub, with some sections of metal footbridge until you reach Wattamolla Dam (also a nice place for a swim) and just a few hundred metres away is the Northern End Wattamolla Picnic Ground, which is a popular place for people to visit (and is accessible by car). There are toilet facilities here, as well as a kiosk which sells snacks and drinks (although opening times may vary).

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Gymea Lillies dot the Coast Track (Photo by Susanne Rider)

 

At the back of the carpoark, you will see a signpost to ‘Garie 5.8km’. Follow this sign. From here you will continue south along the coast and head past a cove (Curracurrang Cove) and then start to climb up and pass two lookouts (Eagle Rock Lookout and Garie Beach Lookout), before descending some steep stairs to Garie Beach.

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Gary Beach Lookout
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Walking towards Garie Beach (Photo by Susanne Rieder)

 

Garie Beach is a popular, patrolled beach and is accessible by cars. There is are toilet facilities here, as well as a kiosk for some snacks and drinks.

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Garie Beach!

From the Garie Beach car park,  follows the sign to ‘North Era’, keeping the ocean on your left. This track continues to the Little Garie cabins and up past the Little Garie Community Hall. You will then walk up wooden steps up to the top of the ridge and the descend back down the hill towards the North Era Bush Campground where you will stay for the evening if you are not continuing until the end.

Day 2: North Era Bush Campground to Otford (approximately 7km + 1.5km to Otford station)

Why not start the day with a swim, then get back to it. Following the trail past the heritage shacks of South Era, you’ll leave the beach for a steep climb through the burning palms and palm jungle.

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Coastal views on your descent towards Otford

At the top, the track flattens out and heads towards the ocean, providing glimpses of the coastline. You soon arrive at an intersection with a management trail. Continue following the signposts pointing towards ‘Otford’ and ‘Carawarra Farm’.  After a while, this begins to gradually descend until reaching an intersection marked with a signpost for ‘Werrong Beach’. Continue straight and follow the steady descend towards wooden stairs which will end at a car park signposted as “Otford Lookout.”

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You’ve made it!

Getting to Otford Station: From the lookout follow the ‘Otford Station’ sign along Lady Wakehurst Drive to quickly meet Fanshawe Rd. Turn right onto Fanshawe Rd, which it follows down the long hill until it comes to the intersection of Station St and turn left. Continue along, passing the intersection with another road heading down to the right and coming to the ‘T’ intersection of the next dirt road. From here, the walk continues down the hill following the ‘Otford Station’ signs down the steep concrete path, and down the steps to the station.

To find out more visit:

www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/The-Coast-track

www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Itineraries/itinerary-the-coast-track

www.wildwalks.com/bushwalking-and-hiking-in-nsw/royal-national-park/the-coast-track.html#tn

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