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Discover Cook's Landing Site - Kurnell Peninsula

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by Gary Brown (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics. I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
Published March 5th 2015
Kurnell - The landing place of Captain James Cook

Kurnell is considered to be 'the birthplace of modern Australia', as it is the place where Captain James Cook landed on 29 April 1770, making first contact with the original inhabitants of the area, the Gweagal Aborigines, whilst navigating his way up the East Coast of Australia on Endeavour. Captain Cook along with his crew stayed at Kurnell for a period of eight days. During their visit they collected botanical specimens, mapped the area and tried to make contact (unsuccessfully) with the indigenous population. When Cook reported back to England he said that the land was suitable for agriculture and was lightly wooded.

Sand mining on the peninsula has depleted the area of much of the sand that was originally there. It has been said that 40 metre deep pools now form in the dunes. Pools are clearly visible in view from Google Earth. The remaining sand dune is used as a recreational off-road area for 4 wheel drives. The Cronulla sand dunes formed part of the location for the films Forty Thousand Horsemen, directed by Charles Chauvel in 1940 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The only road to Kurnell Peninsula is also flanked by a sewerage treatment plant.

The small residential area with a population of approximately 2600 is located to the north with a small group of shops in the village of Kurnell. Kurnell is dominated by an industrial area, including the Caltex Oil Refinery, which is now closed and being converted into an import terminal to supply imported fuel for Australian customers. Refined petrol is piped to the other side of Botany Bay in an underwater pipeline.


By Car: Kurnell is about 22 kilometres south of the Sydney CBD and is situated on the Kurnell Peninsula on the southern side of Botany Bay. It would take you approximately fifty minutes from the Sydney CBD, about forty five to fifty minutes from Liverpool and about the same from Wollongong.

Travelling from the Sydney CBD, you will need to get onto Southern Cross drive and go past the Sydney Airport on the Botany Bay side. Drive across the Cooks River Bridge heading south through Brighton-Lee-SANDS, Dolls Point and Sans Souci. You will need to then cross the Captain Cooks Bridge and turn left into Captain Cook Drive. From here it will take you around ten minutes to go past the Sharkies home ground. From here it will take about five minutes to reach Silver Beach.

Coming up from Wollongong to will either drive up the Mount Ousley Road or Bulli Pass and onto the F1. You will pass through Heathcote, Engadine; pass the Royal National Park and Sutherland. The bypass will take you passed the Dolphin Wall. Once you reach President Avenue you will need to turn right and follow this road right down to Cronulla Beach. Then turn left and follow this road north for about ten minutes until you reach Silver Beach. This will usually take about forty five to fifty minutes.

By Public Transport: Catch a train from Central on the Illawarra line to Cronulla. Then you will need to catch the bus No. 987 to Kurnell terminus. From central this should take around an hour.

There has been some talk of late of running a small ferry service from La Perouse to Kurnell. Much like the one that runs from Cronulla to Bundeena. Keep an eye out for this in the future.


Even though Kurnell is a bit out of the way, there are a number of things that you can do there. You could go for a swim in the netted pool off Silver beach, cast a line off one of the many groynes that run out at ninety degrees from the beach that runs from Silver Beach to Bonna Point for bream, flathead and trevally. When the wind picks up you could take your sail board out and surf from the oil wharf to Towra Point.

There are not a lot of shops or cafes at Kurnell, but what they lack in numbers; they have plenty in quality food on offer from sit down and dine in to take-away. Many a time I have gone to Kurnell to launch my boat to fish in Botany Bay and I couldn't resist getting a bacon and egg roll and a coffee to go.

• Silver Beach Cafe: 152 Prince Charles Parade Kurnell.
Silver Beach Cafe even has a post Office inside.

• Endeavour Cafe &Ice Cream: 3-4 Prince Charles Parade Kurnell.
Endeavour Cafe & Ice Cream has great coffee and of course ice creams.

• Steve & Effies Take Away Food: 45 Captain Cook Drive Kurnell.
When you are next visiting Kurnell you should pop into Steves & Effies for a bite to eat.

• Kurnell Liquor: 1-3 Bridges Street Kurnell.
• MFC Food Store: 10-20 Torrens Street Kurnell.
• Caltex Garage: Cnr of Captain Cook Drive & Solander Road Kurnell.

One of the big attractions on the Kurnell Peninsula is the Kamay Botany Bay National Park and Visitor Centre. The Centre features an art gallery, theatrette, historical exhibition, shop and café. Be sure to pay a visit to the centre on your visit to Kamay Botany Bay National Park. You can enjoy a coffee before discovering more about the significance of the area. Be sure to view the film Kamay Botany Bay before you leave.
The Visitor centre in the Kamay Botany Bay National park is always worth a visit.

Learn about the European arrival through the centre's interactive displays. See how the area's Aboriginal inhabitants lived at the time of Captain Cook's landing in 1770 and find out more about Aboriginal people in the area.
Update your Australian History in the Museum at the Visitor Centre.

Formerly known as The Discovery Centre, the Visitor Centre also houses the Botany Bay Environmental Education Centre which offers excellent educational programs for students and teachers alike. Opening hours: 10am - 3.45pm (Monday - Friday), and 9.30am - 4.30pm (Saturday - Sunday)
A school tour in progress at the museum.

The Kurnell side of the National park has four different walks that you could do, both on foot or in a four wheel drive.
You need to pre book the 4 wheel wheel car through the Visitor Centre.


• Burrawang Walk Loop: This loop begins at the Visitor Centre and winds its way through the park to the shores of Botany Bay, back towards the entrance to the park and then back to the Visitor Centre. You will pass the Welcome Wall, Meeting Place; Cook's landing place, the Ferry Shelter shed and a few other historic sites. The walk will take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Click here for more information.

• Banks-Solander Track: This track also starts at the Visitor Centre where you branch off the Yena Trail and go past eucalypts, banksias and ferns. The track highlights the important botanical value of the National Park. The walk will take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Click here for more information.

• Muru and Yena Loop: There are two tracks that form a loop taking you from the Visitors centre out to the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean where you will have a good chance of seeing migrating whales during the cooler months of the year. The walk will take you about an hour.
Click here for more information.
The Yena Trail is part of the Muru and Yena loop.

• Cape Baily Coast Walk: This is a spectacular walk that starts at the end of Cape Solander Drive and takes you around the dunes, heath lands and hanging swamps. The coastal views are very stunning. It will take you about two and a half hours to complete.
Click here for more information.
The Cape Baily Track.

Stunning views, but care needs to be taken when walking along here.


• Scuba Diving: Kurnell boasts some of Sydney's top SCUBA diving spots. In the waters fringing Kamay Botany Bay National Park shore-based, boat and wreck diving allows divers to see an abundance of marine life and even come nose to nose with a weedy sea dragon. Inscription Point, where a plaque to commemorate Cook's landing is affixed to the rock face, is a favourite for Scuba diving and rock fishing.
Click here for more information.

• Whale watching: Want to go whale watching in Sydney? Cape Solander is undoubtedly one of Sydney's best whale watching spots. June/July is the best time to see humpback whales as they migrate to warmer waters. If you're lucky, you won't even need to look far – whales have been known to swim as close as 200m from the coast.
Look out for those whales during June to July.

Named after botanist Daniel Solander, Cape Solander features a lookout with a viewing platform – the perfect vantage point – along with information on whales seen in Sydney waters. Friendly volunteers are there to provide information throughout the season.
Click here for more information.

• Visit the Home of the Sharks: On Captain Cook Drive Sharks International Leagues Club home of the local Sharks rugby league team, offers a world of more modern entertainment with bars, nightclubs, coffee shops and gaming areas. Go the SHARKIES in 2015.
Click here more information.

• Boat Harbour Park: This is a privately owned parcel of land by the Holy Group and is a great place to go swimming, surfing, have a picnic and fishing. There are two ways to gain access to the beach. One is to drive your 2WD car to the car park at the end of the road and then walk about 100 metres to the beach or drive your 4WD vehicle pass the car park and onto the beach.
Ariel shot of Boat Harbour and part of Kurnell. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Because this is privately owned you will need to pay to get into the park. The fees are as follows:

Open 7 days a week:
April to September, 7am to 5pm.
October to March, Mon to Thurs, 7am to 5.30pm
October to March, Friday to Sunday, Plus Public Holidays, 7am to 7.30pm

Openning and closing times for Boat Harbour.

Day Pass $25
Season Pass $125 – Seasons Jan to June and July to December.
Don't forget to pay.

• Horse Riding: Kurnell Boarding Stables & Riding School has been a shire institution for many years. Situated only minutes from the suburbs, yet a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, 'The Stables' is a haven for horses and their owners. Amongst the casual and relaxed atmosphere of KBS you'll find a hive of activity.

Click here for more information.

• Fishing: From Silver Beach and around to Bonna Point you can cast a line from either the beach or one of the number of groynes for bream, whiting, flathead, silver trevally or tailor. For the angler who prefers to fish from the rock, you have a number of spots that are easily access on the Kurnell Peninsula.
This land-based spot is better fished at high tide.

Andrew Humphries with a couple of nice fish caught just off the ramp at Bonna Point.

Towards Bonna Point you will find a double laned boat ramp that will give you access to the wondering of fishing Botany Bay. Here you can target bream, whiting, flathead, silver trevally, kingfish and tailor.
The author with a couple of nice trevally.


After carrying out a bit of research on what accomodation is available at Kurnell I couldn't find a lot. I have never stayed here as I live fairly close to Kurnell. Here a couple of places that I found:
• Silver Beach Holiday Apartments: 288 Prince Charles Parade Kurnell. Phone. (02) 9523 4099

• Silver Beach Tourist Park: 284 Prince Charles Parade Kurnell. PH. (02) 0418 653 079

You can get a great view while having a bite to eat. Even the crows get in on the act.

There are a couple covered BBQ areas that have tables and seating that you could have a picnic or BBQ. There are as follows:
• Kamay Botany Bay National Park. NOTE: $7 car entry fee.• Bonna Point Park

Well, there you have it Kurnell is a small nutshell. Sure, there are plenty of things that I have missed that you could do while Discovering Kurnell. But I am going to leave that up to you as I am sure that you will also discover what else there is to do at Kurnell.

There are two more articles to come on amazing suburbs of the Sutherland Shire. They are

• Sutherland - Many Roads lead to Sutherland.
• Woronora – A paradise hidden in the valley.

And if you missed the first three you can always click on the following Links.

• Discover Audley in the Sutherland Shire.
• Discover Bundeena – The Jewel in the South.
• Discover Cronulla - Surf, Dine & Walk the Beaches.
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Why? There is a lot of history on the Kurnell Penisular
When: All year round
Where: Kurnell
Cost: There is an entry fee to the
Your Comment
I always forget about Kurnell and your article is a nice way to be reminded, thanks Gary!
by Laura Hesketh (score: 0|4) 2181 days ago
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