A daytripper's guide to the Shire

By Rebecca Mason
19 July, 2017

If you’re a nature lover, an art fiend or just love a good cup of coffee, Sutherland Shire has it all for any daytripper looking for 24 hours away from the city life. Gaze at beautiful canvases at artists’ studios in Bundeena, take a bush walk in the Royal National Park or hit the beaches of Cronulla. We have uncovered the best of the Shire so plan a trip today because this area of Southern Sydney has all your heart (and stomach) desires.

1. Royal National Park

There is plenty to do and see in this vast national park. With coastal walks and picturesque lunch stops, the Royal National Park is a slice of peace from busy day to day life. There is no mobile phone coverage once you enter the park, so planning your day is important. We have highlighted the best things to do to ensure you make the most of your time.

ROYAL NATIONAL PARK VISITOR CENTRE  

The second oldest national park in the world, the Royal National Park encompasses an area of more than 150 square kilometres. If you’re planning a visit, your first stop should be the visitor centre, where you can tap into the knowledge and expertise of local staff to make sure your visit nothing less than a roaring success. Here, you’ll find maps, information on walking tracks, personal recommendations on things to do and a fabulous range of gifts, food and supplies for your visit. You can also purchase your NSW national parks annual pass at the centre. 

2 Lady Carrington Dr, Royal National Park, Audley

AUDLEY DANCE HALL

When hunger sweeps in, wind your way through the entrance to the Royal National Park and you’ll stumble upon Audley Dance Hall, a heritage-style building surrounded by native bushland, the Hacking River and a huge lawn out front for the kids to play. Upstairs is a haven for weddings and vibrant functions, while downstairs you’ll find a newly minted café, complete with a wholesome, seasonally focused menu. Try the crispy grilled halloumi and egg roll with house-made cherry tomato relish for breakfast or the orecchiette pasta with slow braised lamb shoulder ragu, tomato, green olives and pecorino for lunch. Fancy a picnic near the water? The helpful staff here can arrange a beautiful hamper for you, so you can explore the trails or go paddle boating to your heart’s content, food in tow.

2 Lady Carrington Dr, Royal National Park, Audley

BEACHES

The Royal National Park is full of hidden beaches scattered around cliff edges, surrounded by lush green bushes. Whether you are looking for a quiet patch of sand to relax on or a natural pool like that at Wattamola, these beaches are treasures for any beach lover. Begin in the pretty village of Bundeena, just a short 20 minute ferry ride from Cronulla across Port Hacking and walk to pretty Jibbon Beach, before embarking on an adventurous walk to a hidden waterfall.

2. Gymea

The cultural village of Gymea is dotted with family residences and an emerging cafe scene that’s putting the area firmly on the foodie map. Whether you’re taking a dip in the picturesque Gymea Bay baths, sipping on a Single origin coffee, paying a visit to a local gallery, or pursuing boutiques full to the brim with locally-designed wares, you’ll be worn over by this area’s village-like charm. 

HAZELHURST REGIONAL GALLERY AND ARTS CENTRE

Set amongst 1.4 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens, this spectacular arts complex boasts public galleries, an arts centre, a modern theatrette, an original Hazelhurst cottage with artists-in-residence and a lively, buzzing cafe. With a regularly changing exhibition program, there is always something new and inspiring to see. The carefully curated gallery shop offers a selection of finely crafted ceramics, jewellery, glassware, textiles and more. A favourite destination for families as well as serious art connoisseurs, this high calibre gallery is well worth a visit.

782 Kingsway, Gymea

BIANCO NERO

This Gymea café is an ode to the coffee bean, with custom blends made in conjunction with famed Single O roasters – but don’t take our word for it: try a cup for yourself to see why they have a cult following. Tea lovers are also well catered for, with a range of Teacraft specialities, including jasmine Suzhou and masala chai, while the hungry will enjoy mod-Aus dishes like spiced avocado and feta on sourdough for breakfast or chicken cordon bleu for lunch. On Friday nights, find a tapas menu with Spanish inspired dishes such as twice cooked pork belly with arancini, prawn and scallop on spicy apple sauce.

Shop 1, 44 Gymea Bay Road, Gymea

THE PORTUGUESE BAKERY

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a Portuguese bakery is creating some of Sydney’s best Portuguese tarts (the lines out the door are testament to that fact). Made to a traditional recipe, this bakery’s custard tarts are heaven to the sweet toothed, and are also available in salted caramel or chocolate flavours. And there’s plenty more on offer here, with macarons in every colour of the rainbow, muffins, and freshly made sandwiches – think double roasted chicken with all the trimmings – served on a freshly baked roll, baked to Nanna’s own recipe.

18 Gymea Bay Road, Gymea

3. Miranda

Named after a character in The Tempest, this South Sydney suburb is a nirvana for shoppers. Home to one of the city’s largest Westfield shopping centres, Miranda is worth a trip for the new marketplace-style food court alone. Find 18 new restaurants and al fresco seating serving up cuisines from all over the world from the likes of Mejico, Din Tai Fung, Chong Co and Gelato Messina, Westfield Miranda is sating the hunger of diners far and wide.

4. Cronulla Beach

Whether you are looking for sand, sea or surf, Sydney’s largest stretch of coastline is the whole package. As the only beach in Sydney with access via a train, there is no excuse for missing the waves and pristine sand that line the coast of Cronulla. You are truly spoiled for choice with fun activities to do at Cronulla Beach. Try your hand at paddle boarding or learn how to ride the tide with a surf lesson. Once you’ve worked up an appetite there are a host of incredible places to eat, from waterfront dining to casual cafes - to find out more, read our Foodies Guide to Cronulla.

5. Hacking River Cruises

If you are up for a sightseeing adventure Cronulla Ferries at Gunnamatta Bay runs a series of multi-award winning cruises. You can choose to experience he Hacking River while enjoying a Champagne Breakfast Cruise, Lunch Cruise or Sunset Dinner Cruise. They also run the Swim ‘n Dine Cruise which lands on a secluded beach where you can swim in the clear clean waters while lunch or dinner is being prepared on board the vessel. To learn more visit Cronulla Ferries.

Order your free Cronulla & Surrounds Guide online here.

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Rebecca Mason

Rebecca Mason

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Metro Hotel Miranda

522 Kingsway (Corner of Jackson Avenue), Miranda

T: 1800 004 321

Cronulla

Gerrale Street, Cronulla

Engadine

Old Princes Highway, Engadine

Cronulla Beach

20-38 Gerrale Street, Cronulla

T: 02 9710 0333

Rydges Cronulla Beachside

20 - 26 The Kingsway, Cronulla

T: 02 9527 3100

Quest Cronulla Beach

1 Kingsway, Cronulla

T: 02 8536 3600

Bundeena Kayaks

Bonnie Vale Picnic Grounds Off Sea Breeze Lane, Bundeena

T: 0419 254 981

EG Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens

104 President Avenue, Caringbah

T: 02 9710 0333

Sydney Tramway Museum

Corner Rawson Avenue (Old Princes Highway) and Pitt Street Adjacent to Loftus Railway Station, Loftus

T: 02 9542 3646

Cronulla and National Park Ferry Cruises

1 Tonkin Street Public Wharf, Cronulla

T: 02 9523 2990