Shire locals spend most of our spare time outside – when you’re surrounded by ocean, rivers and national park there’s always something to explore. We reckon our lifestyle is one of the best in the world - our beaches are full of kids doing nippers during summer, locals go ocean swimming, surfing and stand up paddle-boarding all year round, we have jogging and cycling tracks, bushland hikes, mountain biking, skate parks and heritage trails.
If you feel like spending time in nature, enjoying the sunshine and breaking free of the city then come and visit us for a weekend. We guarantee you’ll go home feeling happy and refreshed after spending your days outside.
This weekend itinerary is full of the outdoor adventures we love in the Sutherland Shire - from hiking, mountain biking and kayaking to swimming, surfing and fishing. Choose to do one activity or pack as many in as you can. Have a great weekend!
Hike or mountain bike in the Royal and Heathcote National Parks
Start your weekend in the beautiful bushland of the Royal National Park, where you might spot mimicking lyre birds, cockatoos, kookaburras and goannas. The Park is only 40 minutes from Sydney CBD but feels like it’s far away from city life with its waterfalls and natural swimming holes, walking and cycling tracks and beautiful native flora. The Park Connections bus services connects transport hubs on the outside and edge of the park with the attractions within; giving you the best options for point-to-point walks, visiting the well-known attractions and accessing the more remote areas.
Founded in 1879, the National Park is the second oldest national park in the world, and the first in Australia. It was renamed to the Royal National Park after Queen Elizabeth II passed by in a train on her 1954 tour. There’s 151 square kilometres of park to explore but our favourites are easily reached with Park Connections transfers, the ferry or your own car.
Karloo Walking Track to Karloo Pool and Uloola Falls
This 10km return walking track takes you through bushland to Karloo Pool, a natural rock swimming hole, and onward to the picturesque Uloola Falls, passing by Gymea lillies and wild flowers. Crystal clear water flows down the falls into natural pools, surrounded by pristine bushland. Take a picnic and cool off with a swim, or paddle your feet in the water as you listen to the sounds of birds, the trickle of the water and the breeze in the trees. It’s the perfect way to unwind. The Karloo Walking Track starts a few metres past the Emergency Services building just south of Heathcote Train Station on Wilson Parade. It’s a Grade 3 hike (some bushwalking experience recommended) and takes three to five hours return.
Lady Carrington Drive – cycle or walk it
This historic track near Audley is 10km one way and sure to blow out the cobwebs as it follows the Hacking River upstream from Audley. Crossing over 15 creeks, each identified by its Aboriginal name, you’ll also pass blue gums, turpentines and patches of rainforest.
With three picnic areas along the track, you’ll have plenty of chances to stop and soak up the atmosphere. Organise a car pick up at the other end, take a walk around Forest Path, or turn round and do it all again.
No bike? No worries! You can hire a Mountain Bike from the Historic Audley Boatshed to ride along Lady Carrington Drive. If your legs are feeling the burn, swap the bike for row a boat and paddle a canoe or kayak along Kangaroo Creek or the Hacking River. The views are breathtaking and if you have kids in toe they will love the Aqua Bikes.
Before you start your adventure stop in at the Royal National Park Visitor Centre to get all of the information and maps you will need to stay safe in the Park and pick up beautiful gifts and souvenirs of your day.
While you’re in the Visitor Centre, go next door to the historic Audley Dance Hall Café for breakfast or lunch or grab a takeaway sandwich or sweet treat to take with you.
Sleep in the heart of the Royal National Park, surrounded by bushland and wildlife. There is never a dull moment when in the midst of nature with infamous hikes, kayaking and cycling at your doorstep. There are plenty of options when picking your wilderness escape. Reids Flat Cottage, a renovated heritage building hosts a vast open plan living and outdoor dining area, the perfect getaway for families. Weemalah Cottage, tucked along the Port Hacking river bank is an oasis of tranquility. This wooden cabin can be home to six guests hunting for an idyllic hideaway. For wildlife spotters, the beautifully restored Hilltop Cottage offers heritage accommodation and is the perfect haven, with jaw dropping views overlooking the river and a large deck to relax on.
If you’ve brought your bikes with you, the Shire has enough tracks and trails to fill your weekend with great off-road adventures. Start off with the Loftus Loop Trail, a 10 kilometre ride that begins at the back of Loftus Oval and continues along a moderately challenging single track course.
Follow the Temptation Creek Trail to see Bungoona Lookout with views over the Port Hacking River and Royal National Park.
The Mills Creek Mountain Bike Trails at Lucas Heights are a network of trails suitable for riders of all abilities and The Ridge Off Road Bike Park
is the second biggest BMX pump track in Australia with 954 square metres of curves, dips and transitions for all levels and ages to ride.
If skateboarding is more your style then head up to the Greenhills Skate Park, just three kilometres past Wanda Beach at Cronulla. You can get there by following Wanda Heritage Dunes walking track just past Don Lucas Reserve, drive along Captain Cook Drive towards Kurnell or take the Kurnell bus from Cronulla.
The skate park has a bowl area featuring a large vertical transition, a street zone with stair sets and a snake run. You’ll find kids and teens here on boards and bikes having a great time together.
Today it’s time to enjoy The Shire’s beautiful beaches and waterways. We love our ocean pools at Cronulla and we have five beautiful pools on the beachfront along Bate Bay. You can find them at North and South Cronulla Beaches, Shelly Beach, Oak Park and a smaller pool called the Nuns Pool in the rocks just before Shelly Beach. Before you set off, sit down for breakfast or grab a coffee overlooking Cronulla Beach.
You can walk the Cronulla Beach Walk along the Esplanade from Wanda beach all the way to Salmon Haul (around four kilometres each way), stopping to swim at the beach and the pools. The Nuns Pool Restaurant at Shelly Beach https://thenunspool.com/ is a local favourite for lunch, takeaway wraps and coffee.
If you’re keen to learn something new while you’re here book in for a surfing lesson with Cronulla Surfing Academy or if stand up paddleboarding is more your style, book a lesson on the stunning Gunnamatta Bay with Cronulla SUP and paddle over clear water and past enviable waterfront homes under the sunshine. Lessons are held on Saturdays and Sundays between 10.00am and 11.30am and bookings are recommended.
A ferry trip over to Bundeena is always a must do and if you’re lucky you may get to ride the sweet old Curranulla, the oldest operating community ferry in Australia. Once you’ve arrived, swim at one of Bundeena’s many beaches or hire kayaks and stand up paddleboards from Bundeena Kayaks. If you want to explore off the beaten track take a kayak tour up into the Royal National Park to secluded sandy beaches, pristine inlets and basins only reached by kayak and paddle boards. An expert guide will share their knowledge about the local waterways, wildlife and history with you as you paddle up the Port Hacking. (this is best booked in advance).
The Sutherland Shire has many other beautiful waterways to explore like the Woronora and Georges Rivers. Have lunch at the Boatshed at Woronora and hire canoes and kayaks for a paddle upstream along the river, surrounded by bushland, jutting rocks and small sandy beaches. While you’re in Woronora you can stop at the Burnum Burnum Sanctuary – it has a fabulous childrens’ park and easily accessed bushwalks from the back of the picnic area. These walks will take you up to the ridge and loop through the bush to the back of Bonnet Bay. Keep an eye out for Eagle Rock and enjoy the views out over the Woronora River and the Woronora Bridge.
The Como Pleasure Grounds on the Georges River has a netted riverside tidal pool and a free 25 metre swimming pool (open from October – March, check opening times). You can hire a boat from Como Marina https://comomarina.com.au/
and set off to discover inlets and beaches, or use the marinas maps to find the best fishing spots and drop a line in.
Kurnell, a 10 minute drive north/east of Cronulla, also has a lovely beachfront at Silver Beach on Botany Bay. Swim, watch kite surfers – or try it out yourself: for classes contact Prokite - or hike the many trails in Kamay Botany Bay National Park that take you through the bush and along the rugged Hawkesbury sandstone coastline.
Visit Kamay Botany Bay National Park and explore some of NSW's most significant heritage sites, walks and tracks—and see why Kurnell Peninsula headland was included in the National Heritage List in 2004. Learn about local Aboriginal culture and history, including encounters with the crew of HMS Endeavour in 1770.
Cape Solander, within Kamay Botany Bay National Park, is one of the best spots to watch the annual humpback whale migration, with whales often coming quite close to shore. It’s also where the official whale count takes place, and during the census the public are invited to help. Bring chairs and a picnic and set up for a few hours for some of the best whale watching in Sydney. ** PLEASE NOTE: The road to Cape Solander and the whale watching platform will be closed from Monday 3 May to late July 2021. Learn more about the improvements being made at Cape Solander and check out some other top whale watching locations around Sydney.
Whale season runs between May and November, but the best time to see them in June and July.
Outdoors in the Sutherland Shire is always the best place to be, and your active weekend should leave you should be feeling refreshed and happy from spending so much time in nature. We hope you enjoy your time with us and look forward to seeing you again soon.
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