The Coast Track
- Distance and time: 26km one-way, can be done in about eight hours, but most hikers do it over the course of two days and camp overnight along the way.
- Level: Grade 5. This is a trail with steep and difficult sections and is for experienced bushwalkers only. Not suitable for wheelchair users or prams.
- Camping: Book ahead for North Era campground (no treated water is available on the walk), which is the only legal place for camping along the route
- Top attractions: Spectacular ocean and coastline views, beautiful beaches, Wedding Cake Rock, Wattamolla Falls, scenic lookouts, native wildlife, rainforest and whale watching
- You will need enough water to last through day one and enough food for two days as well as warm clothing.
- Dogs and domestic animals are prohibited in Royal National Park.
The Coast track in the Royal National Park is regarded as one of Australia's best walks. The challenging 26km trail, which stretches between Bundeena in Sydney's south and Otford – near the popular hang-gliding spot at Stanwell Park – is marked by its rugged beauty.
The exhilarating trail take the route of a rollercoaster: scramble up and down heather-strewn headlands, along wide sweeps of white sand, past secluded coves and rocky outcrops, across the bony spines of jagged sea cliffs, down to emerald rock pools and through carpets of colourful wildflowers.
Although the route is easy to follow as it hugs the coast, you can undertake a tour of Royal National Park with Life’s an Adventure or compete in the annual Coastal Classic fun run. Those going it alone should also read up about what to expect on Sydney Coast Walks' website and brush up on bushwalking safety tips.
The Coast track can be walked in either direction. If you begin from Bundeena you’ll end up in Otford, where you can take a train back to Sydney. To get to Bundeena, take a train from Central Station in the city centre to seaside Cronulla for a ferry across pretty Port Hacking to the charming village by the sea.
The first leg of the track is 18km from Beachcomber Avenue in Bundeena to North Era campground. The thrill of crossing the stunning sandstone cliffs at Wedding Cake Rock is matched by a refreshing dip at Little Marley Beach and a break for a picnic at pretty Wattamolla Beach, which has free barbecue facilities.
Continue hiking south to enjoy unfurling views of the ocean from lookouts at Curracurrang Cove, Eagle Rock and Garie Beach, which has a kiosk and toilets. Lifesavers patrol Garie Beach from late September to late April. Keep an eye out for the heritage-listed beach shacks nestled in the bush, which date back to the 1930s.
It's an 8km walk to Otford from North Era with a final steep ascent through a rich tangle of sub-tropical rainforest to Otford lookout. Soak up the beauty from this vantage point where you are likely to spot humpback whales migrating along the coast between May and November. The walk from the lookout to the train station is about 30 minutes.