Two weeks ago I drove to Bundeena to go solo hiking in the Royal National Park, on the southern fringe of Sydney. I cut inland and up towards the cliffs called The Balconies, along the coast line past the Waterrun to Wedding Cake Rock (which was closed!) and on towards Marley beach, but not making it to my destination before having to turn back to meet some afternoon plans. It was bliss, really. The wildflowers are out in abundance, birds were excitedly darting in and out of shrub, soaring over the cliffs, taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather.
When my friend Jules and I decided to go hiking on Saturday, we were going to head north, but then when she mentioned the Royal National Park, I said I was happy to return, as I wanted to explore more of the coastal area from Bundeena, and how about we catch the ferry from Cronulla? So the plan was made and we met at Pilgrims Vegetarian Cafe in South Cronulla before hightailing it for the ferry down in Gunnamatta Park. The ferry is a mere 16 minute ride, leaves on the half hour every hour and only costs $6.40 each way.
I grew up in ‘the Shire’ (DON’T JUDGE ME!), and while I no longer live there and likely won’t again, there’s no denying the environment is stunning. It’s all waterways and beaches, bush and parks. The ferry trip is a reminder of the wealth of the real estate too. Huge houses clinging to steep coastal land with converted boathouses below. I’ll just take the boat house thanks.
Heading through the suburban back streets, after a few minutes we came to an entryway to Jibbon Beach, start of the Royal Coastal Walk, which stretches all the way to Otford and is traditionally done over 2 days. The periodically signposted path weaves from cliffs to beach to underbrush and back again, hugging the coast. We came upon an explosion of crimson flowers of which I do not name the name, but they were bell-shaped and very beautiful (if you know the name of the pictured flowers, please leave a comment below as I would love to know that they are called!).
At Jibbon Head I caught sight of something rolling around in the waves not far off shore – a seal! S/he was slowly turning in the ebb of the waves, fins jutting up and then under the surface – an ocean ally calmly lapping the day away.
There is a nude beach on the track called Little Jibbon Beach if you are a naturist, like the one man we saw there on the day. It is winter though, so who knows how many get necked there in the warmer months.
The track eventually swerved inland and became a long sandy walkway flanked by shrubs full of native banksia, bottle brush and other various wildflowers. New Holland Honeyeaters were darting in and out of view. Eventually we came to the turn off to The Balconies where I had started my trek two weeks earlier, but we turned back towards Bundeena town to chill out a little and wait for the ferry.
With some time to kill before the ferry, we visited the Passionfruit Cafe where Jules grabbed a juice. While the fish n chips were damn tempting, I wasn’t too hungry so I decided to just snack on my leftover Wallaby Bites (best hiking food ever!) and an apple.
Is this really winter? We sat on the beach and watched some picnickers nearby playing cricket, and it was so nice to dig my feet into the sand for the first time in months. I can’t believe I’d never caught the ferry to Bundeena before. It was such an ultimate little day trip. Anyone can catch the train from the centre of Sydney to Cronulla and do the same. It won’t be long before I do again.