The Coast Track between Bundeena and Otford in Royal National Park is one of the most iconic coastal walking tracks in New South Wales.
From scenic lookout points and waterfalls, to swimming spots and isolated beaches, the 26 km Coast Track truly is a once in a lifetime hiking experience.
|The Coast Track|
|Distance:||26 km (one way)|
How to Get to the Coast Track
The Coast Track can be commenced from Bundeena in the north as well as from Otford in the south. Because it’s a long-distance, one-way walking track, the best way to get there is by using public transport. Fortunately, both Bundeena and Otford are easily accessible via public transport.
Bundeena has a ferry wharf with an hourly ferry service running between Bundeena and Cronulla, across the Port Hacking River.
This service is provided by Cronulla & National Park Ferry Cruises, which means you can’t use your Opal card. Check the timetable for more information and cost. The Cronulla ferry wharf is very close to the train station.
Otford has a train station and connects with Sydney Central Station. On weekends, it takes one hour to travel between Central and Otford on the Illawara and South Coast train lines, which is very reasonable. Check the Transpost NSW trip planner website for more information.
If you do wish to travel by car, both Bundeena and Otford have free street parking options available.
The official starting point of the Coast Track is at the end of Beachcomber Ave (1) in Bundeena. The walk can also be started from the western end of Jibbon Beach (2), heading east to Jibbon Head, continuing south along the coast.
The below map has both starting points marked:
One Day or Two Days?
The big question is, should you be doing the Coast Track in one or in two days? The answer to that question depends on a few things.
Contrary to what many people may think, the Coast Track can actually be done in one day. It certainly is a long track, but, apart from a few steep sections, the surface is mostly relatively flat.
In other words, if you’re a fit person and you have comfortable hiking boots, the track can be completed within 8 hours.
For some people, hiking is a way of working out. High pace, fresh air, and get those legs pumping. For others however, hiking is more of a social activity, to be enjoyed with others, while maintaining a moderate pace with a bit of sightseeing thrown into the mix.
If you fall into the first category, one day will be enough. If you’re a social hiker, two days is definitely the better option.
Keep in mind that permits to camp at North Era camping ground in the Royal National Park need to be booked in advance.
The Coast Track
Starting at Bundeena and finishing at Otford, the track is divided into two sections, with North Era campground as the milestone located somewhere in the middle.
If you’re planning on camping, North Era campground is a great option with toilet facilities and lots of space.
In general, signage along the way is good, and despite the fact that there are several intersections with other tracks, it is relatively easy to stay on the right path.
1. Bundeena to North Era Campground (18 Km)
The official starting point of the Coast Track at the end of Beachcomber Ave in Bundeena. This also happens to be the starting point of the track to the famous Wedding Cake rock.
Another option is to start the walk at the western end of Jibbon Beach in Bundeena. From there simply follow the Jibbon Loop Track around Jibbon Head and Port Hacking Point, from where the track continues south along the coast.
One of the highlights of the first section of the Coast Track is the Wattamolla picnic area with beach and waterfall. It’s a popular family weekend destination for swimming, fishing, snorkelling and bushwalking.
From the picnic area, it’s worth doing a short detour to the Providential Point Lookout to enjoy beautiful views of the Tasman Sea.
North Era Campground
The only official camping ground along the Coast Track is located roughly 18 km south of the starting point of the walk. The ground consists of several bush camping sites in scenic, remote surroundings.
Overlooking the beach, the North Era campground is spacious and has toilet facilities, but is otherwise a very basic campsite.
Please note that bookings are essential, with a 1 night maximum stay to allow for other hikers to also enjoy a camping experience in this remote spot.
2. North Era Campground to Otford (8 Km)
One of the perks of staying overnight at the North Era campground is that you can start the day with a refreshing morning swim with the beach literally right in front of you. Weather permitting of course!
The second stretch of the Coast Track is an 8 km hike from the camping ground to Otford. This 3 hour adventure includes the Palm Jungle loop track, a challenging and exciting walk that takes in rainforest, cliff tops and secluded beaches.
The most popular sight along this track is the famous, but perhaps slightly over-hyped, Figure 8 Pools, which can be accessed via a short detour. If visiting the Figure 8 Pools is part of your plan, make sure to check the tides beforehand because the pools are only accessible at low tide.
The last point of interest along the Coast Track is the Otford Lookout, located at the south eastern end of the Royal National Park. Take a moment to enjoy the views and be proud of your achievement!
From the lookout it’s only a short stroll to Otford train station.
Final Thoughts on the Coast Track
The Coast Track is a superb, once-in-a-lifetime type hiking adventure, that requires a bit of stamina and a good level of fitness to complete. Make sure you prepare yourself well, and study the track before you go.
Public transport really is the best option to conquer this walking track in the Royal National Park. Catch a ferry in Cronulla to Bundeena, and then travel back to the city from Otford train station, or vice versa.
The official starting point of the Coast Track is at the end of Beachcomber Ave in Bundeena, but the walk can also be commenced from the western end of Jibbon Beach, following the coastline around Jibbon Point and Port Hacking Point.