Hiking: Coast Track in The Royal National Park

Saturday early in the morning my aunt and I took the bus at 5 o’clock to the city, and eventually catch the train south to Cronulla. From there we wanted to take the first ferry sailing to Bundeena, and thought that would be at 7:30 o’clock. But somehow, the information on the internet wasn’t correct, as the first ferry at weekends starts at 8:30 o’clock. Hence, we needed to wait an hour at the wharf. The advantage was, that we could shelter from the rain, which the southerly change brought in during the night. When we started our hike of the Coast Track, the rain stopped, but we still had a strong wind. After we got out of Bundeena, we directly entered the Royal National Park, which is known to be the second oldest national park in the world (after Yosemite NP), founded in the late 19th century, and hence the oldest NP in Australia, the British Empire and the southern hemisphere. Well, nowadays that doesn’t matter at all, at it’s under constant threat of bushfires. As the name of the track suggests, it follows the coast line from North to South, until it reaches Otford. In between there’s a large variety of rock formations, headlands, beaches, vegetation and sands. We walked on white sand in the beginning, yellow sand in between, and finally dirty grey sand. In the beginning the vegetation was mainly low bush, without shade, which changed to some meadows in between, where we asked ourselves who’s cutting the grass, and transformed to high (palm) trees with a lot of shade in the final section of the track. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the track, most sections were transformed to a wide boardwalk, only the few steps in between avoids the usage of wheel chairs. Only some minor sections are under construction at the moment, and when this is finished, will transform the character of the whole hiking track afterwards. The original track was, as you can see, prone to erosion of the soft sandstone. So some kind of track maintenance was required anyway. Shortly before we finished the track an Asian bloke with a bicycle helmet came towards us, and asked if that’s the right way to the Figure Eight pools. I told him, that there’s now high tide and the pools are not accessible at the moment…He told me: But today is low tide…🤨 Well, yeah, today in a distance of about 12 hours there’s twice low tide, as it is each day…I was thinking…But your question was, if it’s the right way to the Figure Eight Pools: Yes, it’s the right way. (It’s about 6km one way, as you’ve to descent 250m altitude until you reach Burning Palms Beach, and then backtrack along slippery rocks. And now it’s 18 o’clock, sunset is in two hours, and you’ve no plan B. Even, if you would be fast, but obviously that isn’t the case here, you wouldn’t be hardly back during daylight. But ok, that wasn’t your question, you’re old enough, so good luck.) A few minutes later, after 9:15 hours we finished the track, and discovered his locked bicycle at the entrance of the track, without any lights. So no idea, what happened to him. The advantage of the boardwalk was, that we’re much faster than expectected. But unfortunately, the only bar in Otford was closed at this time, and therefore, we needed to wait another hour at the railway station for our train back to Sydney. The track wasn’t too bad, nothing was exposed or of great technical difficulty due to the recently installed board walk. It was just a long walk for one day, but Heidelies was happy to finished that project after 20 years 😆.

The sandstone was shaped by wind and water for a long time
For obvious reasons the Wedding Cake Rock is closed for selfies
Marley Beach is definitely meant for swimming, and on Little Marley Beach a small boat was washed up
The Pacific Ocean constantly eroding the mainland of Australia
Nowadays the coast track is a tourist highway with dodge places
Eagle Rock was already a prominent point of Aboriginal people
Due to the constant up and down at the headlands, we gained about 1,000 m altitude during the hike
What a warming welcome at Burning Palms Beach…you can only hope, that there’s mobile reception
The famous Figure Eight Pools are down that cliff
View to the south in the direction to Wollogong…the centre of the NSW coal industry
Our track along the coast

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