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Kurnell to Cronulla

Kurnell to Cronulla
Home > Diaries > 2022 > 1026


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LEAVING the pod hostel in the early morning I caught a train going directly to Cronulla on Sydney's southside. From there I caught a bus up to the wharf at Kurnell Beach on the southern side of the entrance to Botany Bay. This would be the location where the ferry once crossing from where I left off yesterday at La Perouse would have arrived.

A few low clouds lingered as I started heading up the beach upon which tiny waves broke from the almost mirror smooth water. Across the vast bay planes were taking off and landing at Sydney Airport. To the right of the airport were several towering cranes loading and unloading freight ships.

Upon reaching the end of the beach, I reached a sealed path passing a small rocky reef to the left with a large sculpture of the framework of a ship to the left, and a large obelisk to the right marking this area where Captain Cook first landed on Australian soil during his voyage of discovery in April 1770. Here he claimed Australia for the British Government (clearly without consulting the local Aboriginal people). Several years later the first fleet arrived here, but upon discovering this area to be unsuitable for settlement, they headed further north into what is now Sydney Harbour to establish their settlement at what is now Circular Cay and The Rocks.

From the obelisk I continued following the path passing a few historical sites from the first landing to the rocky point looking across the entrance of Botany Bay to the other side where I had explored yesterday afternoon. Here a large bronze statue of a full scale humpback whale stood on a flat section of rock looking out into the sea.

From the point I returned along the path a little and headed across a grassy flat area passing an information centre continuing to the Cape Solander Road, which I followed for a couple of kilometres. I diverted along three different paths descending to the water, each with great views across the entrance of the bay and out into the sea, calmer than during earlier days of the trek. After stopping at the third viewpoint, I reached the start of the Yena Trail, which I followed into the scrubby forest for about a kilometre before reaching the Cape Solander Track, which I turned off and followed through the scrub which gradually cleared to heath to reach the Cape Bailey Track.

Here I doubled back along the coast following the track above the high lightly coloured sandstone cliffs to the new Cape Solander viewing point. The building and landscaping appeared brand new, created with large sandstone blocks. This is a popular whale watching spot, but there would be no whales at this time of year.

From the lookout I returned to the Cape Baily track and followed it southward along the coast. The track alternated between plastic boardwalk and flat rock, which the cliffs were mostly made of. The sandstone had brilliant colours to accentuate the bright blue sea and sky, now free of clouds.

The exposed rock eventually ended with the plastic boardwalk going through low heathland scrub above the cliffs. These cliffs were a lot lower than the ones further north, not more than about 25 metres high. The hills at the top of the cliff were very low, but eventually I reached a hill higher than the rest with the white Cape Baily lighthouse on top. I followed a dusty dirt side track up to the square lighthouse where I briefly stopped before returning to the main track.

The track descended to a large area of exposed rock with the cliffs now dropping less than ten metres into the sea. The top of the rocky area descended to more heathland with a small swampy lake in a small depression. Here the planes landing on one of the runways of Sydney airport flew about a kilometre overhead on their final approach to landing. Larger planes flew over the beach several kilometres further to the south. The heathland gave way to another large exposed area of rock with the cliffs where only a couple of metres high.

At the end of the exposed rock, a wide sand track headed over the low hills through scrubby heathland further along the coast. I stopped at a small beach for lunch before following this track for about a kilometre along the coast above the pristine rocky pools of turquoise sea water. Rounding a broad point, Cronulla Beach came into view. By far the longest beach on this trek, I realised there was quite a long way to go today.

The track abruptly ended with a short drop to a small beach sweeping around to a sandy headland where Cronulla Beach starts. I dropped down to this beach and walked past a line of four wheel drives parked on this otherwise pristine beach of cream coloured sand going into the turquoise water lapping against the shore.

Upon rounding the sandy point, I started walking along Cronulla Beach avoiding the sweeping high tide waves breaking on the sand. After about a kilometre I reached the end of the parked four wheel drives where a couple of people blocked off any vehicle access. Once past this barrier the beach was a lot quieter. I could see the town of Cronulla in the distance several kilometres away. I continued following the beach until it started to get busy, then I headed over the dunes to follow a track running parallel to the beach, but hidden from view by the dunes.

The track joined with a footpath when I reached the first houses. The footpath rose to the top of the dunes to reveal the beach was very crowded here. I followed the path above the end of North Cronulla Beach before the track rounded a small rocky headland to South Cronulla Beach where a park swept back to the town centre.

Here I followed a path through the park and across the town centre to a small grassy memorial park with lots of flowers where I rested before heading across the road back to the train station from where I caught a train back into the city.


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