Cape Banks is part of Botany Bay National Park at La Perouse, located approximately 17km south east of Sydney CBD. It is tucked away deep inside NSW Golf Club, hidden from the main attractions of La Perouse which includes Bare Island, Custom Tower, La Perouse's Monument and Museum, shops and beaches and bays.
This place is secluded, offering scenic views of exposed sandstone headlands overlooking the Tasman Sea, rock platforms and clear turquoise water of Cruwee Cove. Surrounded by scrub covered sandhills filled with gorgeous native flowers currently in bloom and the perfect manicured lawns of the golf course.
It is also home to the Cape Banks Aquatic Reserve, Shipwreck relic SS Minmi, the building remains of the old fortification used in both world wars and the historic Coast Cemetery.
The area extends along the whole foreshore from the metal bridge to the Endeavour Light at Henry Head and 100 metres seaward. The area was established in the 1940's for marine research purposes due to its unique diversity of intertidal communities (rock platforms, crevices, rock pools, boulders and cobbles).
The SS Minmi was a steamed collier built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1927, weighing 1,455 tonnes and 75 metres long.
In 1937, while returning from Melbourne to Newcastle it struck the outside of Cape Banks, waking up the soldiers from the nearby Cape Banks Artillery Garrison. The ship split into two leaving 20 crew members stranded on either side of the ship, who were all rescued without incident.
Large crowds of up to 100,000 made the trek to La Perouse to see the wreck leaving cars banked up for 4 miles along Anzac Pde. Police was called in to control the traffic and to guard the cliffs.
The main of the hulk of the wreck lies on the rock platform on the inside of Cape Banks, other pieces of the ship is scattered over the eastern side of Cruwee Cove and around the Cape.
In the 1930s, The Australian Defence Forces constructed the Cape Banks Battery which included the counter bombardment fortifications with two gun emplacements, underground plotting room, underground powder and shell magazine, hydraulic pump room and short tunnels linking the different sections.
The nearby Henry Head Battery which was constructed between 1892-1895, operated until 1910 and later was re-utilised during WWII to defend the approaches to Cape Banks.
Sydney was hit by the bubonic plague and the influenza virus in the 1900s. The patients were quarantined at The Prince Henry Hospital (former Coast Hospital). Many died from the infectious diseases and was buried at The Coast Cemetery.
In 2001, services from The Prince Henry Hospital was transferred to The Prince of Wales Hospital and the land was cleared for residential use.
However, there are two remaining landmarks, one being The Coast Cemetery and the Interdenominal War Memorial Chapel overlooking Little Bay. There are plaques outside the chapel dedicated to former staff of the hospital.
By Road - Drive south towards La Perouse on Anzac Parade, turn left at Henry Head Lane (it is a small street) then left again onto Cape Banks Road (located just outside the main entrance to The NSWs Golf Club), you will then pass Jennifer St Boardwalk on your left, a little further up you will pass The Coast Cemetery Walk and then you will see the Westpac Chopper Base building and parking is outside.
Follow the sandy track ahead passing the old vandalised building remains of the old fortification, make a left down the hill (if you continue straight ahead on the grass track along the wire fencing, there are more hidden underground buildings from the old fortifications).
Continue down the sandy/rocky track along the beach scrubs for approximately 400m until you reach the bridge to the island.
Please note there are no toilet facilities available at Cape Banks or Henry Head. Nearest available amenities is at La Perouse, Cann Park.
By Foot - From Cann Park, take the Congwong Beach Track to Henry Head approx. 1.6km (NB: bypass the Little Congwong Beach track on the right, keep straight). Cape Banks is approximately 1.5km from Henry Heads via the Golf Course Track.