Hiking and camping the Coastal Track in Royal National Park

For our 6th wedding anniversary, and to check off Jeff’s bucket list, we went camping with some friends along the Coastal Track down at Royal National Park. This is a super popular hiking trail – with camping reservations booked out at least 3 months in advance. This was our third – or was it fourth?! – time trying our luck at hiking it. Previously, the weather had either been too stormy or too hot for us fair-weather folks to attempt it. Heh.

While the weather forecast appeared decent this time around, a recent bush fire had resulted in a 6.5km track closure between Wattamolla and Garie Beach, which meant that we had to car pool to get around the closed section. That turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise for me actually, since I need only lug my heavy pack for a much shorter distance. 🙂 I’ve been so focused on kayaking, I’ve lost any stamina I had in the first place for hiking. Good wake up call to start cross-training!

But Saturday was a beautiful day, with a nice steady breeze, and after we’d puffed our way over Thelma Head into our beautiful valley campsite at North Era, we changed into our swimmers and plunged into the waves to cool down.

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful end to the day really. The clouds gathered and thickened overhead, initially causing me to fret about having lugged my tripod for naught (since I wanted to shoot the stars), but they soaked up all the gorgeous hues of orange and pink and sunset.


And as the moon dipped below the horizon, the clouds did clear for a bit for the stars to come out to play. It was so relaxing and mediative to lie back on the soft grass to star up into the night sky, watching the stars pop out one by one.

I toyed with the idea of actually sleeping outside, under the stars. But when Lisa and I popped down to the beach to listen to the waves and play around with more long exposure photography, we noticed a band of lightning spread across the southern horizon at ever increasing intervals. I retreated back to the tent in the end, which turned out to be a wise decision because it did rain for a half hour right before sunrise (before the skies cleared again for what turned out to be a sweltering fall day).

March 2018 Royal National Park Weekend30.jpg
Lisa and I having some fun playing with long exposure shots on the beach; notice the light pollution in the background from Wollongong

Backcountry Camping along the Uloola Track

A couple of weekends ago, almost on a whim, we packed our bags for an overnight backcountry track down in Royal National Park. Uloola Falls Track. It’s not along the coast, but more inland, where the brush is overgrown, so much so that we pretty much have to walk with our hands in front of our faces, pushing off the leaves and tree branches in our faces. Once or twice, the path narrows so that we think we’ve wandered down the wrong trail. But every once in a while, we emerge from the thick undergrowth to large slabs of rocks into the bright sunshine, for a glimpse of the shimmering ocean beyond and the shrunken Sydney skyline in the north.

It was a short weekend hike, easily accessible by train from the city. Nice and quick little getaway.

All in a day’s walk at Royal National Park

Sunday: we drove down to Hundreds in Royal National Park, and did the head section of the Coastal Walk. We’ve done the walk in sections before, but the sight of those imposing cliffs standing straight against the brilliant blue ocean never fails to take our breath away.

It was a glorious day out, almost hot on the trail, but cool in the breeze on the cliff’s edge where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Over cold cuts and chutney and oranges, we watched a pod of whales mill about in the water. 

Happy times. 


Slow it down

Garie Beach-1

The surfer is in no way sharp; in fact you almost feel like he’s not all quite there. And yet, for some reason, as I try to clean up the snaps of our day down at Royal National Park, my eyes keep drawing back to this photo. I just can’t bring myself to hit the delete key. I love the texture of the waves, and the dreamy, surreal ambience. If only he had been just a tad more in focus, just a tad more.

So, keeping this for now, as a reminder, and inspiration for the possibilities of what may be.