This spectacular walk is a year round activity, but especially beautiful in the spring and summer months.
Four of us Shane, Marc, Benny and I headed out on the 3rd and 4th January 2008 and to a mix of weather conditions and terrains.
Its a 27km trail that can be done from Otford to Bundeena or vice versa, the most popular route is from the north, walking down to the Bundeena ferry under the railway track bypass from Cronulla Station or parking at Gunamatta Bay and walking around to the ferry. The ferry, departs every half hour runs between 8 am to 6.30pm every day. You could also if in a group drop one car off at the exit point at Bundeena and drive to Werrong beach coast walk entry at Otford hill.
or vice versa.
I’ve done it from both directions and i think it’s much of a muchness which way you do it. The beginning and end is the most spectacular part of the walk to me, or maybe its just the excitement.
We started from Otford this time.
The first part of the walk takes in the cliff edge above the Bulga Settlement and further along the nude beach of werrong (yes sometimes it’s nice to take the ‘forks in the road’) Werrong is an easy walk but steep on the way back, so probably better if you’re not at the end of the walk. You are walking in packed sand and acacias and gums with the view of the ocean taking in your whole right side. It remains this way for the first half hour before winding inland to the big gums and descending into what is, for me, the most beautiful part of the walk. Almost rainforest like in appearance with giant trees growing from boulders and crossing small creeks in shade. Down hand hewn steps til ascending again into the palms area. Ancient palms line the track in clumps of green,brown and matting, there are glimpses and small tracks and lookouts to the coast and ocean, it’s fantastic to look out at the many headlands that you will be crossing into as you wander. None of the track is hard, i’d say it’s difficult to get lost, though we did take 2 ‘alterior courses’ we always ended up back on track.
After about 3 hours the track opens up to heather and you wind around and descend into the first of the 2 settlements, Burning Palms, it’s not just beautiful, it’s great for a swim and rest and lunch beneath the rock formations in the middle of the beach. The history of these 2 settlements (Era next along) is beautiful to, in the 30’s the government said if you can carry it and build it yourself you can set up huts in the area, and a few very motivated souls did just that, so there are some eclectic ramshackle and mind blowingly interesting huts on the beach too. Families have handed them through generations until a few years ago when it was stated that when the original owner dies it becomes the property of National Parks again, so some are falling to ruin now. Still it’s a peace of history.
There is another slight climb to the next headland and Era settlement, which is much more contemporary, probably because of its locality to Garie it has easier access.
You have to cross the beach here and again it’s just lovely.
As you come down from the next headland there are spectacular rock pools and rock formations as you wander at the foot of a cliff beside the ocean to Garie Beach. Garie has road access and is a popular surfing beach, it even has a hostel if you’ve decided this is the life for you and you just want to stay! (or it is your 1st chance to say that “this is it! I’ve had enough!” and get on your mobile for someone to come pick you up!)
It’s a long beach walk this one, the longest sand scrubbing of the walk, leading to, just inland the track (which is in the grasses above the clearing) for the steepest climb of the trip.
Here on in it is heather, though most of it reaches head height so there’s a bit of shade i don’t recommend it in the heat of the day. It winds up and down through several small headlands and beaches, along cliff walks and on wire meshed track to protect plants but the expansive views to your left of the rolling scrub and the right of ocean are lovely. There are many aboriginal rock carvings here too, if you have the time to seek them out. it’s another 2hrs to Wattamolla. Here again is road access, the best jump-rock in Australia, snorkelling, and a great bush camp area off to your right on the cliffs edge past all the BBQ and picnic areas for the day trippers. This is where we stayed, along with 3 girls who were also doing the coast walk.
The night was beautiful, a couple of flash storms that the smart ones stayed dry through(Shane and Marc) and the dumb one (me) got drenched in. But the clouds were moving so fast and by the time the sun had set, as spectacularly as it could, the night cleared for the stars and sounds of the national park to take over.
The birds woke us at 7, and we had packed up and set out by 8am. Across the river just up from the jump rock and into the very low heather which is the rest of the walk.
It’s so much easier this bit, the gradients have eased out, but because all of the plants only reach waist height it’s very exposed, for these last 4 hours of walking the views are intense, and even more exciting for me are the rock formations. Each pocket is so very different, there are pristine white rock cliffs which rival Dover. Red, orange and yellow sandstone formations, sponge rocks and because you are on the edge overlooking the ocean some brilliant vertigo inducing moments.
This is also where the 2 most remote beaches are, little Marley and big Marley, in the wind and storms there were a couple brave fisherman out on the rocks, but this was the first time, in the 6 or so times I’d been here, that there were other people. It’s maybe not so beautiful as the beaches further south, but it’s a special place to me because of the remoteness.
Blisters and sunburn accompanied us this last bit, but it was just too nice to care, and all of a sudden, we were on the old fire trail which led down to Bundeena and the beaches. It’s still a couple of kilometres down to the ferry and we stopped at the cafes for a bite to eat, the sun now shining at our accomplishment before we took the ferry back across. It was choppy and a perfect relaxing finish to cross to Cronulla. Blessed we were, that our trains met up to take us back to Otford (Cronulla and Otford are on different lines) And Shane the angel, saved us the last very steep walk up to the car to bring it to us down at the station.
It was a great 2 days, fantastic company, and after it’s over, you just want to do it again.