School’s out for summer. And, as the silly season warms up, Carla Grossetti presents six cool activities to enjoy with the kids in tow.
Catch the ferry to Bundeena
If you surf and find the ocean isn’t co-operating, consider getting a fresh perspective on the Shire travelling from coast to coast across the water from Cronulla to Bundeena on the Heritage-listed Tom Thumb II ferry. Alternatively, you can plough through the upper reaches of the Hacking River on a tour that comes with full commentary: learn about everything from indigenous sites of significance to the district’s early explorers and first deer farm. Choose between a cruise, swim and dine option, a Champagne breakfast tour or a stunning sunset jaunt that hugs the rugged shoreline of the Royal National Park.
Bombies off the wharf
Take one large body of water. Add a wharf. And with that comes the human obsession of plunging feet-first into deep water. In the Shire ‘bombies’ off the wharves at Gunnamatta Bay is a thing. Before you bomb into the bay, work up a sweat walking around the perimeter of Gunnamatta Park, which is a gorgeous shaded five-hectare grove of gums. The wharves are family and fisherman-friendly. Parents sit in the sand with toddlers making castles, while older kids compete to make the biggest splash while belly flopping into the blue. Check the water is deep enough for a very careful jump from the pier and endeavor to swim a few laps in the estuary pool.
Kayak up the Woronora River
The Woronora River, which is an Aboriginal place name said to mean ‘black rock’, cuts through the Dharawal State Conservation Area and snakes along for 36 kilometres before reaching the Georges River. Stay in synch with the current on a self-guided escapade down the river from the historic Woronora Boat Shed, which is a great jumping-off point from which to explore the river. While in Woronora, arrive early to enjoy a BLT and ‘shedshake’ at the historic boatshed café before setting off on your watery adventure. Immerse yourselves in the experience by timing your visit with the high tide, when the abundant wildlife is at its rowdiest on the riverbanks.
Book a camping trip at Bonnie Vale
Impress your kids with your knowledge of the ebb and flow of the tide as this is the information you will need to ride the rapids at Bonnie Vale, which is just a short walk from the camping ground toward Maianbar. Catch the Cronulla ferry to Bundeena and walk to the body of water that is upstream of the bridge called Cabbage Tree Basin. There is a narrow opening under the bridge and, as the tide comes in and out, the water runs quite fast. BYO boogie board to the popular riverside campground, which is also known for its large sand spit, which makes it a great swimming spot for families with young children.
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How to get to Winifred Falls
Although it feels remote, Winifred Falls in the Royal National Park is just a pebble’s throw from Audley. Those interested in chasing waterfalls will be rewarded for making the 4km trek down a path that starts out in Audley, where the Royal National Park Visitor Centre is located. The 7m-high waterfall tumbles down a series of sandstone steps before rushing into the water. Find a pocket of sunshine on a rock big enough to sunbathe or just float on your back in the deep-green pool while counting the cirrus clouds in the sky. There’s no poolside bar so pack a picnic. The Wattamolla picnic area is also a popular family spot in the park.
See the WildWalks walking track map
Visit the Figure 8 Pools
The Figure 8 pools are considered the jewel in the cluster of rock pools that necklace the coast in Sydney’s Royal National Park. The National Parks & Wildlife Service warns that at low tide you have to be aware of rogue waves that wash across the rocks and that access to the pools is only possible when it’s safe, at low tide. You also need to be a bit daring to take a dip as the variety of sea life will make you feel like you are dunking in an aquarium. To get to the pools, follow the rocky track that hugs the cliffs of the coastal escarpment from Garrawarra Farm car park. Note: it’s a steep climb back up to the car park.
Click here to plan your trip to the Royal National Park.
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