Sunday, August 25, 2013

Royal National Park Coast Walk

As a city girl who took the occasional short trips to the countryside, it was not surprising I was rather hesitant the first time I was invited to join some of my friends on a bushwalk.

Fast forward a few years, I now love going on these walks, perhaps not quite as much as I love exploring bars and restaurants, but I really enjoy being surround by nature, breathing in the fresh air while taking in some gobsmacking views. And just the other day my friend alerted me to the fact that over several separate walks I've actually done the entire Coast Track in the Royal National Park. The 26km track runs from Bundeena to Otford, unless you are super fit it would require an overnight stop at a campground to complete it in one trip.

Otford Lookout
What brought on this realisation was our recent group walk from Otford to Garie Beach, with a detour to the Figure of Eight Pools. It was a beautiful sunny winter day, there was a slight breeze but the sea was calm so we were able to check out the Figure of Eight Pools. Our walk was about 11km long and took around 5hrs at a very leisure pace plus a long lunch stop at the pools.  

It's recommended to walk this track between May and August if you want to do some whale watching, of course it's not guaranteed you'd spot the migrating humpback whales, we didn't. But we did see a dolphin porpoising very close to the shoreline when we stopped for lunch.

Bush bashing through heathland plants
The Coast Track has an overall medium difficulty rating. For the Otford to Garie Beach section, most of it was relatively flat, with some hill climbs. We had to do some bush bashing in areas where the bushes have gotten quite dense and the track has disappeared under all the heathland plants. There are several sign posts along the way to point you in the right direction, but not necessarily at all the forks, so it's always handy to have someone in the group who knows the way.

There was rock scrambling involved but only if you want to get to the Figure of Eight Pools. We went pretty slow over the rocks, taking extra care when placing our foot down, the last thing you'd want is to slip or fall. However, the reward at the end was definitely worth it, just look at the view!

One of the Figure of Eight Pools

Just an hour drive from the Sydney CBD, this heritage-listed and the world's second oldest national park offers a number of walking tracks with different levels of difficulty to suit everyone. I do however recommend having at least two cars when walking one way tracks, especially if it's a reasonably distanced one. You'd want to park one car at the start and the other at the end point, that way you can eliminate a return trip on the same track.

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