The township of Bundeena drips in quaint, parochial charm and it's hard not to wonder if you're on the set of Sea Change or Dawson's Creek. Yet the reality is you haven't actually left Sydney. Surrounded by the glories of the Royal National Park, Bundeena is about an hour from central Sydney and perfect for a day trip or overnight stay.
Bundeena and its immediate areas boast 4 beaches, each with a different character to suit every beach goer: there's petit and rocky Gunyah, perfect for picnics; discover nearby Aboriginal rock carvings at Jibbon;
Camp at Bonnie Vale, or check out Maianbar at low tide for a kid's sandcastle-heaven. Most of the local shops sell bait and tackle, so why not drop a hook in the water and try to catch a bite to eat while you're there?
After a more active way to enjoy the natural surroundings? You can hire kayaks for $20/hr during the warmer months from Bundeena Kayaks. They also offer guided kayak tours of the surrounds. Alternatively, there are a variety of walking routes that cater for all different interest groups.
The national park offers plenty of nature trails, although the 26km coastal walk, which spans the entire east coast of the Royal National Park and weaves through 7 different beaches, would be the stand out. Designed to be an overnight camping hike, the route can be achieved in one day by experienced hikers. Expect to pay around $3 - $10 for a camping permit. For something a little less ambitious follow the Heritage Walk sign-posts around Bundeena and learn about the town's history, or check out the art trail around the local galleries, held on the first Sunday of every month.
There are two ways to get to Bundeena, and both have their perks. The easiest is by car, and includes a pleasant drive through the world's second oldest national park. Vehicle entry fees to the park cost $11 per day, but make sure you're out before 8:30pm, when the park gates are locked. A more novel way, however, is public transport. Catch the Illawarra line train to Cronulla, and from there you can take a connecting ferry across the bay. It's a cute little yellow and green vessel that will delight young and old. The ferry costs $5.70 for adults, $2.85 for children and departs hourly, with the last ferry back leaving Bundeena at 7pm.
There are no fees to visit Bundeena - the $11 is if you are parking in the Royal National Park. Bundeena is not part of the RNP. Also the main road to Bundeena is open 24 hours a day (only certain parts of the Park are closed after 8.30)