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Published October 23rd 2018
The Best Things in Life are Royal and Natural and in a Park
The Bundeena to Wattamolla Walk is the best 4-hour introduction to one of the world's first national parks (behind America's Yellowstone in western USA and the tiny Mackinac Island State Park in Michigan state.
Our Royal National Park is over 15,000 hectares of heathland, rainforest, valleys, cliffs, mangroves, beaches, rock pools and coastline.
Over 3.2 million people visit "The Royal" every year across over 100km of walking and cycling trails.
Visit in the cooler months, from May and August, to spot migrating whales during the annual migration season.
Escape the city on a quaint ferry ride with Cronulla Ferries. After driving or catching the train to Cronulla station, hop on the ferry to sail across the Port Hacking River to Bundeena. You can also drive through the park to reach this spot of suburban paradise on the fringe of the park.
Ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena (by Maxim75 at Wikipedia)
Walk south along Brighton St, stocking up on supplies at the local IGA (trail mix, water and a bit of chocolate – you'll have earnt it). Take the first left onto Scarborough St, then the second right onto Beachcomber Ave. Continue past Eric St on your left and White Rock at number 69. As the road begins curving right, continue straight into the park.
Once inside, you'll face your first fork in the road. Take the centre pathway, walking south-east until you near the coastline. You should hear the crashing waves but you're not close enough to get your feet wet...yet.
Take a right turn to continue south-west, following the coast. At the next fork, you can take the left or centre pathways as both snake into each other. After the merge, you'll reach the beach and coastline. Cross blue ocean water at the inlet rejoin the trail.
Up close, take a moment to drink in the view of the Pacific Ocean surging in from the horizon.
Note how nature has reclaimed the landscape, becoming more dense with lush vegetation the deeper you venture into the park. Spot blooming boronia and hakea flowers, and our state's floral emblem, the crimson-coloured waratah. Touch the towering scribbly gum and angophora trees.
Don't let the angry squawking cockatoos, some white, some black with yellow tails, scare you from the trail. They share the treetops with friendlier rainbow lorikeets and crimson rosellas. When dusk settles, bats and sugar gliders dot the darkening sky.
Keep one eye on the trail, you're sharing it with lizards, possums and wallabies. With luck, you might even spot a turtle. But if you're unlucky, a snake can slither across the sand.
Rainbow lorikeet (by Tatiana Gerus at Wikipedia)
Have a snack beside Wedding Cake Rock. You don't need exchange vows to fall in love with this beauty spot. But like most wedding cakes, it rock looks better than it tastes. The sheer white pops amongst rich sandstone formations blended against lush greens of the park's plant life.
Be careful, stick to the trail, read the warning signs, and keep back from the edge. Battered for centuries, the rocks have been crumbling back into the foaming blue and white Pacific Ocean. This photo shows the spectacular lookout before it was protected with a safety barrier.
Wedding Cake Rock (by Philip Terry Graham at Wikipedia)
After walking the same distance again, the path spills onto white sand at Marley Beach. You'll have no trouble finding a quiet spot to unfurl your beach towel, free from the crowds at suburban beaches.
At this halfway point, it's the perfect place for lunch. Just ahead, a smaller beach is an open invitation for swimmers. Take care in the water as the beach isn't patrolled and ocean currents and rips have spooked the odd tourist.
Marley Beach Panorama (by NeilsPhotography at Flickr)
Enter the Marley Track, then take a left at the final crossroad. You'll pass an inlet where the track veers south toward the finish line at Wattamolla Beach.
From here, you can either camp overnight, return home by retracing your steps, or continue onto other trails. If a friend is waiting in the car park, you can also drive home through the park's exit at Loftus.
Wattamolla (by Photographic Collection from Australia at Wikipedia)
To reach Wattamolla by car, drive south on Pacific Highway, turning left into the Farnell Ave entry road.
Wind past the Audley Weir (when it's not flooded) and onto Sir Bertram Stevens Dr.
Turn left onto Wattamolla Rd. The carpark at the end of the road is a short walk to Wattamolla Beach.
What's your favourite spot on the Walk? We'd love to hear your comments.