This has to be one of my favourite hikes and it’s so easy to get to. Surrounded by stunning views this two-day, one-night hike gives you an opportunity to escape from Sydney, Australia, without having to go too far away. The Bundeena to Otford walking track gives you ample opportunity to swim on stunning and deserted beaches or relax amongst the palm trees or bask in clifftop views. Keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, wallabies, and deer, if you don’t see them, I am sure you will see evidence of them. You can do it in either direction and at both ends, there is a public transport option. You can catch a train to Cronulla and then the ferry to Bundeena, or drive to Cronulla and park your car overnight. Catch the train back from Otford the next day to Cronulla or home. I personally prefer doing it from Bundeena (Cronulla) to Otford as it means you knock out the largest amount of Ks in the first day.
Things to note if you are doing the Bundeena to Otford walking track
- Take plenty of water. We had thought we could get water at our campground, but it turned out that the creek there was too dry for us to refill. There had been some water at Wattamolla Beach, but as it was a hot day we had drunk all of that by the time we reached camp. We had enough for dinner and some in the morning, but by the time we got to the train station, we were all very parched.
- Check to see if there is any track work on the train lines when you are coming back. This can add considerable time to your journey home, which is very frustrating when you are completely exhausted and in need of a nice cold beer.
- You definitely have to book the campground, don’t forget.
- There isn’t very much shade on the walk, as most of it is going over cliff tops. So pack lots of sunscreen and a hat. Also plan your breaks for places where there are shady spots, like Wattamolla Dam.
- There are a lot of hills, you go up and over one cliff and down the other side, only to do the same on the next one. The toughest hill is on the final day which is basically all uphill as you go up from the figure of eight pools.
- The Bundeena to Otford walking track isn’t hugely popular but some of the day walks which follow the same path are, so you will see some people out there.
Details of the Bundeena to Otford Walking Track
- Distance: 27.4 km one way
- Location: Royal National park
- Getting there: Catch a train to Cronulla then ferry to Bundeena and then catch the train home from Otford
- Cost: Small cost for the campground
- Camp Ground: North Era campground (booking page)
- Water: You definitely need to carry your own water that will last you two days. It is a hot walk with very little shade, so I recommend carrying more water than you would normally use.
- Maps and Details: I used the details found on WildWalks
Camping during the Bundeena to Otford walking track
The best place to camp is the North Era campground. When you reach this point you have done most of the track and so the next day will be shorter (I always like a big first day and a smaller second day). What’s more, the campsite is right beside the beach so you are lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean. There is a drop toilet on-site but bring your own toilet paper. There is a creek but it was more of a swamp when I was there in December so I wouldn’t necessarily rely on it for water. Make sure you lock up your food at night as there are quite a few wild animals in the area. From possums and lizards to kangaroos and deer. I woke up early to go to the bathroom and startled a whole herd of deer who were grazing nearby (to be honest I don’t know who was more scared, them or me).
Sights to see on the Bundeena to Otford walking track
Honestly, the whole walk is spectacular in my opinion, from the ocean views to stunning beaches, to palm trees, cliffs full of long grass, and bushland that is packed full of wildlife. Here are a few highlights.
The ferry ride from Cronulla to Bundeena
The boat its self is a tourist attraction all on its own, it’s a beautiful old vessel that gives you 360-degree views of the harbour as you cross over to Bundeena. What’s more, it is very cheap to purchase a ticket so even if you don’t want to do the full hike you can still go for a nice boat ride one day if you like boats.
It is the first taste of the amazing and rugged scenery to come. The open flat rocks that are juxtaposed against the sky and the expansive horizon really do create a sense of insignificance that I personally find very beautiful. From here you can glimpse the hills to come, but don’t be disheartened the path doesn’t always take the straightest route so not all hills are a massive climb (but I would be lying if I didn’t say that several are)
Little Marley Beach
Before you hit Little Marley Beach you walk along its bigger brother, Big Marley Beach, which is also a very nice. But when you go over the headland and down into the cove that hosts little Marley Beach it’s a very different feeling. You could be stranded on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere making a movie about survival with Leonardo Di Caprio and be totally happy. That is how it feels. It is also the reason that I have put it on my #NSWTravelChallenge to go back to. I didn’t get a chance to go for a swim as we wanted to get to camp quickly, but I have thought about it a lot since then.
Is a cool place to relax and have a bite to eat after walking so far. There is a great amount of shade and the water is refreshing for dunking your head in and cooling down. The streams that feed into the dam on the path both before and afterwards are also little moments of beauty so take your time in this area and pause to catch your breath.
Eagle Rock Lookout
You have to catch this stunning rock formation at just the right angle to see the eagle, but keep following the path around and you will see it. If you are there in the late afternoon sun, then the shadows and the golden light give off a truly spectacular show. However, I wouldn’t linger, as there is no shade.
Is a long beautiful beach surrounded by rolling hills and kangaroos. The only problem is that you know that your campsite is just over the next set of hills, so stopping feels counterproductive. If you get there early though, I definitely recommend going for a swim before you climb over those last hills to North Era campsite.
Figure Eight Pools
These natural pools have become Instagram famous in recent years. With crowds flocking to see them every day. They are really beautiful but they are also a long walk off the main track as they are on the rocks at sea level whereas the track is up on the cliff above. If you get there before the crowds and the tide is out, it is definitely worth stopping and having a quick swim before you climb up the cliffs again
The final part of the walk is straight climbing, and boy is it tough. However, once you get to the top, make sure you stop to absorb the views because they really are breathtaking. Not to mention you feel a strong sense of achievement when you see how high you have come.
Bundeena to Otford walking track is full of natural beauty and breathtaking views. You won’t regret spending your weekend exploring this part of Australia’s coastline. With all hikes, please make sure you leave no trace. Take your rubbish with you, and don’t take any shells or parts of the bush with you. This helps keep our beaches and bushland beautiful for your next visit.