26/2/16. We woke on Friday morning to the sound of the wind blowing strongly. Of course it was coming from the south – the direction in which we were heading – but that was why it was forecast to be much cooler! So we braced ourselves for a tough battle into the headwind and with some hills in the second half of the day.
The campsite was just off a cycle route that went right along Botany Bay and which was flat and shared with pedestrians rather than cars, so we had a very happy Christine! It would have been absolutely glorious if it was not for the wind. Instead, we had to make do with merely wonderful! Botany Bay is very sheltered from the waves from Pacific, at least compared to Bondi and Manly beaches which we had visited during our time in Sydney. The surf was pretty spectacular at both of those – so much so that, at Manly, it was announced over the “tannoy” that the beach was closed to swimmers due to the ferocious currents and big waves.
As we made our way along the cycle track, we kept on passing and then being passed by a group of about gentlemen “of a certain age” on mountain bikes obviously out for a group ride. After about 3 times we stopped for a chat about what we were doing. When we told them we were heading for the campsite at Coledale there were some impressed looks – and some worried ones! They told us that it was quite a long (60+ km) way and the section through the national park was quite hilly. Had we thought about the campsite at Bonnie Vale in Bundeena, just over the ferry from Cronulla? We hadn’t – because we didn’t know it existed and we had been expecting to make it to Coledale.
Their advice was very sound as it turned out – but more of that in a minute!
The path led us all the way round the bay to Captain Cook Bridge over the George’s River. This was our biggest climb if the day (as it turned out) and the headwind made it doubly difficult. Over the bridge, the cycle path fizzled out and we were on relatively quiet roads through a residential area and then an uninspiring commercial area for a while following mostly good signage to Cronulla.
The cyclepath resumed and passed through woodland right by the coast which provided some welcome shelter from the wind. Soon we were in Cronulla where we bought supplies for lunch and dinner as, once over the ferry, we were about to enter the Royal National Park. Making our way to the wharf we discovered that we had just missed the hourly ferry by 10 minutes and also hit the ferrymen’s lunch hour so we had an hour and 50 minutes to wait! This was the catalyst for following our fellow cyclists’ advice and staying at the campsite just over the water.
The ferry ride from Cronulla to Bundeena took the best part of 30 minutes (for $6.10 + $3.05 for a bike – very reasonable we thought) and had lovely views of the Port Hacking harbour/estuary which was very sheltered and calm apart from a couple of minutes exposure to the channel through to the Pacific.
The campsite was in a beautiful location on the estuary with a lovely sandy beach (see the photo of where we had dinner when posted). The only drawback was the cost – $36 for a site with no kitchen facilities or “lounge”. After 3 months of being very impressed by NZ campsites this seemed to be a reversion to the European model! We were grateful that we had bought some gas for the stove in Sydney (having had to leave the NZ canister before boarding the plane).