Walking from Cronulla to Kurnell via Kamay Botany Bay National Park
One of the best walks south of Sydney is the route from Cronulla to James Cook’s landing spot in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park at Kurnell.
The 18.2km walk from Cronulla train station to Kurnell took us about four hours to complete — we took our time.
Be Prepared: There are no places to buy food or drinks north of Wanda Beach. You’re best to grab your supplies in Cronulla. Plus, for planning purposes, you’ll need to organise how to get back to Cronulla — we caught the bus from Kurnell back to the train station — bus times here. Or you may want to walk back to Cronulla!
The walk north from Cronulla is along the main footpath that follows the coastline. Once you arrive at North Cronulla you can continue walking north along the beach, or stay on the path.
As we walked along the beach from Greenhills Beach to the Cronulla State Park, we passed plenty of other people who were outside doing their daily fitness.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service allow people to drive their cars onto the beach at Boat Harbour Park. The daily cost for drivers is only $8.
“$8 per vehicle per day applies in the Kurnell area only. The park has coin-operated pay and display machines — please bring correct coins. The park also has credit card accepting payment facilities” — National Parks and Wildlife Service website. The annual park pass for the Kamay Botany Bay National Park is $22.
Walkers don’t pay an entry fee.
Along the northern end of the beach, we would have walked past more than 100 vehicles, mostly 4-wheel drives, parked on the beach — it was a Sunday, the sun was out and the sea was calm. There was an excellent atmosphere here.
Most people were set up for the day with tents and BBQs.
We came across a lot of domesticate dogs that were off-the-leash and roaming the northern end of the beach. The national park website says dogs aren’t allowed in the national park. “Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy.”
The Kamay Botany Bay National Park is open 7am–7.30pm August to May. 7am–5.30pm June to July. “Areas may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.”
Walking north, we joined the walking track at the northern end of the Boat Harbour Aquatic Reserve.
This is where the Sutherland Shire’s sewage is discharged from the Peninsula’s coastline.
“Potter Point has suffered in part by overlapping jurisdictions between National Parks and Wildlife Service and Sydney Water who own the section of Potter Point which is site to the clifftop sewage outlet” — Sutherland Shire Environment Centre website.
Soon after you leave Potter Point, the walk becomes a bit easier with the introduction of dozens of boardwalks which sit above the rock and wetlands.
You’ll pass Cape Baily Lighthouse — it’s an un-manned lighthouse that was constructed in 1950. The light assists north-bound shipping so they can hug the coast and avoid the strong southerly currents further out to sea.
At this stage of the walk, you’re on the home stretch — you’ll come across a lot of tourists at the Cape Solander Lookout. People can drive to this location — we saw plenty of cars being slapped with parking fines here.
“There are unfenced cliffs at this location. Don’t walk close to cliff edges because the overhanging rocks may be very thin. Please stick to the marked walking tracks and supervise children closely” — National Parks and Wildlife Service website.
We walked north along Cape Solander Drive — and then headed inland and walked the Yena Track to the National Parks & Wildlife’s Kurnell Visitor Centre.
Commemoration Flat is located on the north-western lawn of the Kurnell Visitor Centre. It’s an excellent park.
Join Monument Track near the shoreline — You can explore British and aboriginal history along the track. And visit the spot where the Royal Navy’s Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook disembarked from the HMB Endeavour.
A gravestone for one of Cook’s men, Forbus Sutherland, is located along the foreshore. His grave was located by the Royal Australian Historical Society in 1923.
“Forby Sutherland. A seaman on the Endeavour under Captain Cook. The first British subject to die In Australia was buried here. 1st May (Loc Date). 2nd May (Calendar Date). 1770. R. A. H. S.”
On Tuesday the 1st May 1770 (Britain date), James Cook wrote this about Sutherland in his diary: “Last night Forby Sutherland seaman departed this life and in the AM his body was buried a shore at the watering place which occasioned my calling the south point of this Bay after his name. This morning a party of us went ashore to some hutts not far from the watering place where some of the natives are daily seen, here we left several articles such as Cloth, Looking glasses, Combs, Beeds, Nails &ca.”
In 1770 Botanist Joseph Banks was assist by Swede Daniel Carl Solander. A monument and plaque remembering him are located along the Monument Track. His monument was erected in August 1914.
“This is erected in memory of Daniel Carl Solander who together with Capt. James Cook and Sir Joseph Banks landed in Australia in April 1770.”
“Erected by his countrymen in Australia. August 1914.”
Philanthropic Sydney businessman Sir Edward J L Hallstrom donated a large semi-circle seat to remember the work of British botanist Sir Joseph Banks.
“In grateful memory of Joseph Banks. 1743–1820. Famous British Scientist who visited these shores with Captain James Cook RN in 1770. His advocacy of British settlement in New South Wales, his beneficial influence on its early administration, his comprehensive research into its flora, his vigorous personality and breadth of vision merit his recognition as the Patron of Australia.”
“This memorial is the gift of Edward J L Hallstrom Esq. 1946.”
“Unveiled his Excellency the Governor General Mr W J McKell. 6th September 1947.”
A tall monument that was erected in 1870 — one hundred years after the arrival of HMB Endeavour — recognises the landing place of Captain James Cook.
“Captain Cook landed here 28th April, A.D.1770. This monument was erected A.D. 1870, by the Honourable Thomas Holt M.L.C. Victoria Regina. The Earl of Belmore, Governor &c”
The Kurnell Peninsula headland was included in the National Heritage List in 2004.
We thoroughly enjoyed the hike — from walking along the long beach, to cliff tops, boardwalks and the Monument Track. We hope you enjoy it too.