The Coast Track, NSW – My Experience
If you wish to see the natural beauty of the East Australian coast, and you want to do it by foot I cannot speak more highly of The Coastal Track that runs from Bundeena (one hour drive from Sydney) to Otford. At 26 kilometres this is a two day hike, but if you are after a single day trek much like the group I went with, you can cut it in half and still enjoy a hot meal back home before the sun set.
Our starting destination was Garie beach inside the Royal National Park. At around 10 am we were finally ready to take the first steps through the long strip of beach until a hikers sign instructed us to proceed through the local greenery. As soon as our feet left the sand, the trail picked up altitude and we slowly gained height. After about ten minutes of this cuff building exercise, you could look back and see a panoramic view of where we set-off from.
For some time afterwards the track led us through low lying coastally adopted vegetation. The views were lacklustre as even the blue ocean vanished from sight. I was however fascinated to see how many ants inhabit the earth all along the track. At one point we saw a nest of what I later learnt were Red Bull ants with massive mandibles ready to do some serious damage. Perhaps due to their size, one of the biggest species in the world (up to 30mm in length) the ants operate with such a bravado that they can build a nest wherever they feel like, if it happens to be where us humans walk so be it, we have to go around them. One of the guys got bit on the foot as we were crowding around the nest taking photos. I hear it feels like a hot needle being continuously stuck into you eeek.
At some point the track opened up again to reveal the naked coast. We have ascended even higher by this time and were rewarded with gorgeous expanses of the ocean and terrifying cliffs beside us. I much like others were naturally was drawn to the edge to peer down the relentless waves crashing against the jagged rocks. It was not long when a sense of vertigo overtook me and I had to step back to a safer location.
The walk to Bandeena, our final destination, was littered with such breathtaking views as I mentioned above, each one different enough to be memorable in its own right. There were about four beaches that we passed on our hike, offering us a place to rest and for some a chance to cool-off in the water. Wattamolla beach was around the mid-point of our hike. It had a small lagoon and a giant rock that brave teenagers were constantly jumping off from. After reenergizing at this pit-stop we continued onwards.
At one point we took a wrong turn and lost over an hour by taking a boring stone filled fire-trail that led inland. After backtracking and getting back on course we finally reached the end point at 15 to 7, a whopping 9 hours later. The track should only taken about 3.5 hours as per google maps, however taking leisurely breaks, getting lost and being part of a group that consists of a wide spectrum of fitness all add up for a long day.
The Coastal Track was definitely worth my time, and I would recommend it to all that will listen. It was a great experience to see the beauty of the Eastern NSW coast. I only had a phone camera, but I have included my favourite shots of the day.