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Werrong Beach and Bulgo Beach Tracks in Royal National Park

Home > Sydney > Beaches | Escape the City | Free | National Parks | Walks
by Margarita Steinhardt (subscribe)
A wildlife photographer and blogger, I spend my free time finding and photographing wildlife in different parts of the world. Check out my blog at www.thewildlifediaries.com
Published August 18th 2016
From the summit to the sea
Werrong beach track
Only an hour south of Sydney, Werrong beach trail in Royal National Park is a challenging track that starts with stunning coastal views and ends at a beautiful secluded beach. It is a mini adventure out of the city and a perfect alternative to a weekend gym session.

When to go: Any time
Distance: 4 kilometers return
Walking time: 1hr 30 min -2hr 30 min
Level of difficulty: Hard

Illawara coastline
Illawara coastline

It lies along Palm Jungle Loop track and can be done as a side track before continuing to Palm Jungle or for a shorter adventure, you could take the Werrong beach track by itself and spend some quality time on the beach.

The trail starts at the beginning of Cliff Track at Otford Lookout and immediately ducks into tall eucalypt forest. It meanders along the cliff tops over relatively flat ground and soon comes to the sign-posted turn-off to the beach.

Straight after the turn off the trail starts a steep descent through lush coastal rainforest, dominated by cabbage tree palms and giant ferns. The forest here is quite dense with mighty trunks of fallen trees spanning across deep crevices that cut through the side of the escarpment. It brings to mind images of primaeval forests of Conan Doyle's Lost World.

Werrong beach track
Perfect reflection

After about 30 minutes of climbing down the winding trail you come to an opening in the forest. Here the rain water has collected into a natural pond. The still water of the pond creates such a perfect reflection that for a moment it is difficult to tell which way is up and which way is down.

Werrong beach
First glimpse of the beach

Shortly after leaving the pond, you begin to catch the sound of breaking surf and after a particularly steep and muddy twist in the trail the beach is suddenly revealed.

Werrong beach
Driftwood and pebbles

Werrong beach is unexpectedly beautiful. Tucked in at the bottom of a towering escarpment and framed by two forest-covered cliffs, it has a distinctly wild feel to it. Weathered driftwood is scattered among the massive boulders that mark the line between the grassy slope and the sandy strip of the beach. The sand is peppered with multi-colored pebbles polished by the elements. Eroded sandstone mounds rise out of the shallows here and there.

Werrong beach
Patterns in the sand

Looking back at the escarpment, the beach is even more spectacular. A small creek meanders along the v-shaped fold in the slope, its beginning lost in the thick carpet of rainforest somewhere half way up the slant of the escarpment. It is hard to believe that you are only an hour away from the busy city centre. The beach feels like it is a world away from any civilisation.

Werrong beach
Escarpment meets the sea

As you relax on the beach, keep in mind that it is a designated nudist beach, so expect to see people behaving 'naturally'. Though in the colder months when the water is not warm enough for swimming, you might find the beach completely empty.

Werrong beach
The creek

The climb back to the top of the escarpment is quite steep and will take between 30 minutes and one hour, depending on how often you stop. There are plenty of photogenic distractions along the trail that provide a good excuse to stop and catch your breath.

Bulgo beach track
If you feel like an extra challenge after returning to Otford lookout, you could take another track all the way down to sea level. From the look out you can see a smattering of rickety shacks on the beach below. This is the fishing community of Bulgo – one of the few shack villages remaining in Royal National Park.

To get there follow the Lady Wakehurst drive south towards Otford train station until you come to another lookout opposite the Otford Pantry café. From here an unsignposted track leads down from the escarpment. The track is not as steep as the one leading to Werrong beach, though it is not as dramatic either.

Bulgo beach
Bulgo beach

You emerge from the track right in the middle of the fishing village. One look at the shacks is enough to realise how old this village is. Most of these shacks date back to 1920s when some of the coal miners from the nearby pits decided to settle here.

To the south of the village, there is a tidal rock pool. It is not visible during the hide tide, but if you find yourself on the beach when the tide is low, you'll have another opportunity to dip your toes or to go for a swim during the warmer months.

Bulgo beach
Beach shacks

Once you are back at the lookout head over to the Otford Pantry cafe for a snack or a milkshake. It is open only on weekends and public holidays between 8am and 4.30pm.

Werrong beach
Map of the tracks

If you are walking back to the train station, do not be tempted to take Domville Road from the cafe – it will be a very long walk. Instead, walk a few meters up Lady Wakehurst Drive to Beaumont Road and follow it to the train station. This is likely the road you took from the station when you arrived.
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Why? Because its fun and a good exercise
When: Any time
Phone: (02) 9542 0648
Where: Royal National Park
Cost: Free
Your Comment
This would be too challenging a walk for me but it is lovely and whay a reward for the effort. Lovely photos.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6149) 729 days ago
What a stunningly beautiful spot, Margarita - love your photos too!
by Elaine (score: 3|5322) 730 days ago
Looks like a very scenic walk going by your great photos. Have put this walk on my to do list. Thanks for the inspiration, cheers Marie
by Marie - MPG Narratives (score: 2|706) 724 days ago
Cannot wait to conquer this! Great pics too :)
by Gypsy Rose (score: 2|364) 723 days ago
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