We’re not afraid of the winter chill here in the Sutherland Shire. When the sun is out families gather at the beach, friends meet at beaches and parks to soak up the warmth and pods of winter swimmers glide through the glassy ocean. Sunny winter days are perfect for getting outside and exploring the beautiful surroundings. Local explorer Evie Farrell shares seven wonderful winter activities for everyone to enjoy.
Whale watching at Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park
We’re wild about whales in winter, and the best spot in the Shire to watch migrating humpback whales swim north to warmer waters is at Cape Solander in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. You can watch from the lookout or sit on the rocks with a picnic and blankets, spotting pods of whales blowing and breaching as they swim past. There is parking at the lookout and park entry costs $8 per vehicle per day. Take your binoculars!
Download the Wild about Whales app here.
Hike in the Royal National Park
Winter is the perfect time for a hike and the Shire is blessed with surrounding national park and bushland filled with hiking tracks that wind past creeks, waterfalls and gorgeous native trees, plants and flowers. Try the Karloo Track from Heathcote Station to Karloo Pool where you can spot wildflowers and native birds and picnic on the rocks by the crystal clear green water. It’s a moderate hike suitable for families and takes around two hours return depending on the pace of the kids! If you want to keep going past Karloo you can continue onto Uloola Falls and loop back to Waterfall station.
You could also jump aboard the Cronulla Ferry from Tonkin St Public Wharf to Bundeena and hike the Jibbon Loop Walk across Jibbon beach, through bush and along the rocky headland. The route is signposted and you can see Aboriginal carvings here on the rocks from a special viewing platform. The loop takes around two hours return - but factor in additional picnic time!
Star gaze at Green Point Observatory
Visit the Green Point Observatory in Oyster Bay for nights of star gazing with state-of-the-art telescopes. Listen to public talks from renowned astrophysicists, astronomers and professors, sign up for an astronomy course or organise your own group tour. Keep an eye out for open nights where you can spot moon craters, Saturn, star clusters and nebulae through the telescopes.
The Observatory was built in the 1960s after small group of locals formed an astronomical society and is a unique part of the Shire. It’s perfect for an evening family adventure and a chance to learn all about galaxies, space and stars from passionate local experts.
Check out the website here for more info and open nights.
Cheer on our team at Shark Park
Winter is footy season so take the whole family down to Shark Park to support the Shire’s team and 2016 Rugby League Premiers, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. There are two more home games in August, with General Admission tickets still available:
Round 22 - Sharks V Raiders
Saturday August 5, 7.30pm
Purchase tickets here.
Round 25 - Sharks V Roosters
Saturday August 26, 7.30pm
Purchase tickets here.
Join hundreds of the Shire’s families down at the ground; grab a meat pie, a cold drink and enjoy the game. It can get chilly at these night games so rug up as you cheer on the Sharks… Up Up Cronulla!
The Bardens Creek walking trail at Lucas Heights
Wattle, bottlebrush, Old Man Banksia and other bush flowers are out in bloom during winter, and you can see them all plus flowing streams, a waterfall and Aboriginal rock carvings on the Bardens Creek walking track. This is an easy walk for all the family - around 2.6 kilometres - and a great way to learn more about the Shire’s bushland and indigenous and settler history.
Find out more in the excellent walking guide prepared by the Menai Wildflower group, see here. It has great detail about the native plants and animals you can spot along your walk, as well as indigenous history of the Tharawal people who would stop here on their way to coastal hunting and gathering grounds written by local Dharawal elder and anthropologist, Les Bursill OAM.
Learn to dive
Shake off the chill and jump into a winter dive course to discover the amazing marine life in the Shire. Winter visibility is around 25-30 metres and you can expect to see abundant marine life under the water like sea dragons, wobbygongs and Port Jackson sharks, plus hundreds of species of fish.
Pro Dive at Cronulla offers discounts on winter dive courses, starting from $129 on weekdays including four ocean dives. Wetsuits will keep you warm!
Find out more at Pro Dive Cronulla.
Cruise the Woronora River
Paddling along the bush-lined Woronora River with the family is lots of fun, and The Boatshed at Woronora has kayaks and canoes for you to hire for a few hours or a day on the water. There are picnic spots along the riverbanks, a sandy beach for paddling and bushland full of native birds like cockatoos and kingfishers. If you make it all the way downriver you’ll find the Needles swimming hole – a great spot for a picnic before you paddle back.
Share the Shire: The Shire is a great place to be in winter so make sure to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. We’d love to see what you get up to so share your adventures with us by tagging us on Instagram @VisitTheShire and #lovetheshire. Happy exploring!