The Coast Track

This was the first backpacking trip that I wanted to do (ie not dragged on one by my parents). Instead, I dragged them on it! Mum and Dad drove to Sydney to join me on the Coast Track, a 26km walk from Bundeena to Otford. Located in Royal National Park in Sydney’s South. After leaving my car at Otford we took Mum and Dad’s car to Bundeena to start Day 1 which was 18km to North Era Campground.

The weather started a little iffy but we got lucky and had no rain. Along with the weather, the coastline started very dramatically. We were rewarded with beautiful sandstone cliffs straight out of the gate. The first formation being ‘The Balconies’ which were tiered sandstone stepping down to cliffs over the ocean. In a short walk, we got to the Water run, which is where a river cuts into the sandstone headland, creating a small waterfall that cascades into the ocean. One of the highlights of this part of the walk was wedding cake rock (which is now fenced off for its protection), it’s a big ‘slice’ of white sandstone perched on the end of the cliff. Apparently, since we did this walk they’ve assessed the cliffs around the wedding cake and have determined it’s likely to fall into the ocean in the next few years. It was one of the busiest sites when we were there. Several people had just hiked in to see it for the day. They’ve put up a big fence to stop people sitting on it.

We left all the other people a Wedding Cake rock and kept hiking to Marley and little Marley beach. If only the weather was a little nicer these beaches would have been the perfect place for a swim. From Little Marley beach, we did the section of the Coast track I’d previously done as a day hike which followed beautiful sandstones cliffs to Wattamolla Dam and Wattamolla Beach. We stopped for lunch at Wattamolla Dam before continuing our hike South. Wattamolla Beach was a popular spot, it’s a weird feeling to be on an overnight hike and continually passing through day-accessible picnic areas.

Continuing along the coast south we got more views of sandstone cliffs and arrived at what was probably my favourite landmark for the day, Eagle Rock! Eagle Rock is a rock that juts out over the ocean and looks exactly like an eagle’s head, to top it off it’s right next to Curracurrong creek which dramatically ends as a cascading fall into the ocean. We finally got some sunshine to take some great photos! The rest of the day was spent hiking to Garie Beach, which was another day-use area. I was surprised to see many private shacks at Little Garie Beach. This being a national park I didn’t realize people could own property there. Turns out there are several of these private shacks along the coast going south from Garie. There was one final climb from Little Garie beach, to get over the headland and to our campground for the night. The trail was under maintenance and was pretty steep heading down to the North Era Campground. The campground wasn’t very busy, other than us only a few other tents. To stay here you need a permit. There were nice grassy spots to camp for the night and a composting toilet!

On day 2 we were roused from our tents by the sound of a landing helicopter. The park service was dropping supplies and workers to work on the steep trail into North Era. This was the hint we needed to pack up our gear and continue with the rest of the track. The final day was only 8km but involved a climb out of the beach to Otford lookout. Before starting the climb we checked out Figure 8 pools. To get there we had to detour from the track at Burning Palms Beach. This was the start of Figure 8s Insta fame and we ran into a couple doing a photoshoot with the pools. It’s definitely important to visit these at the right tide because they are a rock platform that gets completely covered by big surf at high tides. Back at Burning Palms beach, we took our first swim for the trip making use of the sunny weather. Lucky we cooled off because the rest of the day was climbing away from the ocean through palm forests to Werrong Lookout and on to Otford.

This was a great hike for someone getting into backpacking. It’s interesting to reflect on this trip now, years later, how much I’ve done since. Also how I did this hike with all-cotton clothing! and even packed a new shirt of the second day (something I’d never do now haha). I’m glad I got the chance to do this before I moved from Syndey and it’s always special to share these experiences with Mum and Dad.

  • Jan Gatenby

    When Dad and I redid this walk earlier this year it brought back memories of the 2015 trip with you. You’ve come a long way since then!

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