Clamber along coastal cliffs and take a dip in quiet, turquoise bays along the 34km Cronulla to Kurnell loop track. Smash out the whole loop in one day, or choose one of the peninsulas to explore in depth.
- Trekking 34km on an epic coastal walk in Sydney
- Massive sand dunes right by Cronulla
- Whale watching from Cape Solander
- Swimming in less-visited beaches
Cronulla to Kurnell and Back Again
There are many walking trail variations to take in the unsung Kurnell Peninsula (Kamay Botany Bay National Park), Bate Bay and Cronulla Peninsula. It’s possible to take in all of the historical and natural attractions of these stunning areas in a single adventure. If you’re keen on one heck of a long coastal trail, then speed hiking 34km will afford you this opportunity.
But if 34km sounds a wee bit intense, then don’t worry! There are shorter trail variations that still take in the stunning landmarks, beaches and bays of Kurnell and Cronulla.
Did you know that Cronulla is derived from the word Kurranulla? The word comes from the Gweagal people, a clan of the Dharawal group, and it means the place of pink seashells.
At the time of European arrival to Kurnell in 1770, the Gweagal and Goorawahl people were living in this area. Important Aboriginal sites such as middens and engravings have been found here.
Cronulla and Wanda Sand Dunes
Along this hike you’ll also cross the NSW Heritage listed Cronulla Sand Dunes and Wanda Beach coastal landscape, known by locals as the Cronulla and Wanda sand dunes.
If you’re completing the whopping 34km Cronulla to Kurnell loop, this is where your adventure begins. By following the paved path on Bates Bay Road, you’ll reach the impressively large scale dunes.
Don’t be surprised to see the odd weekend warrior finessing their rigs trying to run up these steep sandhills.
With your shoes full of sand, continue north to the end of Bates Bay Road.
Loop Track or Out and Back?
From here, you have two options. If you’re keen to complete the full walking loop of Kurnell, take a left onto Captain Cook Drive, which is what separates Cronulla and Kurnell from the coast. Admittedly, it’s a pretty uninspiring road walk for 3-4km before reaching Botany Bay in Kurnell.
Alternatively, for a strictly coastal route, head right at the end of Bate Bay Road. This will turn your route into a Cronulla to Kurnell out and back coastal trail. It’ll be more picturesque than the road walk, but you’ll have to double back.
Cronulla to Kurnell Peninsula
After conquering the boring roadside slog, you’ll finally see the vast clear waters of Botany Bay.
Once you pass by the quaint Silver Beach, you’ll enter Kamay Botany Bay National Park via the Burrawang Walk.
The first landmark you’ll see is Captain Cook’s Landing Place monument. Being nature lovers, we quickly hiked on over to Inscription Point to enjoy the epic coastal rock face and formations.
Afterwards, follow the Yena and Whale Tracks to connect with Cape Solander; a popular place for whale watching. It gets windy as hell on this stretch of coast, so pack a wind jacket.
After spotting a Humpback or two, continue your hike south along the magnificent sandstone cliffs of the Kurnell Peninsula. Technically this is now the Cape Bailey Track, which heads towards the Cape Bailey Lighthouse. To get to the lighthouse, follow the very short offshoot dirt trail, it’s worth checking out.
Up until now, you’ve negotiated a combination of boardwalk and flat rock platforms along the rugged coast. However, there’s no defined trail after the lighthouse, so you’ll traverse rock forms and some unofficial adjacent dirt trails leading to the beautiful Boat Harbour Reserve.
It’s a quiet, calm and charming stretch of clear turquoise water. Only the 4WDs disturb the peace.
The Boat Harbour Reserve is located in Kurnell, but soon enough, the beach becomes Greenhills Beach, meaning you’re back in Cronulla territory!
Once you’ve conquered the home stretch sand walk (we recommend doing this via the Wanda Heritage Walk), you’ll arrive back at the northern end of the Cronulla Esplanade.
This paved path, situated adjacent to the Cronulla Beaches is very popular with locals. So expect it to be busy.
This part of the long coastal trail isn’t the most adventurous, so we were frothing to scope out the lesser known and much quieter Cronulla Peninsula. After sourcing some lunch along the main strip of Cronulla of course!
With our hungry bellies steering us towards the Cronulla shops and away from the coast, we ended up close to Cronulla train station.
After many years of walking to Gunnamatta Bay from the station as a young whippersnapper, the familiarity forced us in this direction, taking us around the peninsula in an anti-clockwise direction. Without the detour, the path from Cronulla Esplanade naturally leads to the peninsula in a clockwise direction.
For us, first up was Gunnamatta Bay. You’ll often find the area flooded with kids, playing acoustic guitar and jumping off the old wooden jetty.
Next up is Darook Park, a real hidden gem for locals. A quiet shaded park, filled with kookaburras and sensational views of the surrounding bay, it’s a great suburban escape.
Around the corner, is the better known Salmon Haul Bay, a decent spot for snorkelling. Forgot your snorkel? Better come back again some time!
From Salmon Haul, a paved path takes you by Bass and Flinders Point; a nice vantage point that looks over to Bundeena in the Royal National Park.
Next along the coast is a collection of smaller beaches and ocean rock pools. These beaches are far less frequented than the popular Cronulla Beaches along the esplanade, so we recommend either Oak Park or Shelley Beach for a swim. Let’s hope you haven’t forgotten your cossies!
Following your blissful beach experience, continue on the paved path to rejoin the Cronulla Esplanade.
This return walk to get back to the car can be a little tedious given your tired and achy legs. But the sense of achievement of walking this 34km hike will help you forget all about that!
- Decent footwear
- Day backpack
- Water – 3L
- Waterproof/windproof jacket
How To Get There
This will depend on the walking route you choose! If you have your own set of wheels, we recommend parking at the end of Mitchell Road in Cronulla. The large car park is located between Don Luca Reserve and Greenhills Beach.
By Public Transport
Otherwise, reaching Cronulla is easy enough using public transport. Take the Eastern Suburbs line to Cronulla station, and you can start the walk from here! It’s a great launching pad for the Cronulla Peninsula walk (with or without adding the Cronulla Esplanade and Kurnell loop).
Additionally, there are buses running from Cronulla to Kurnell and vice versa. If you’re taking public transport, plan your day with the Transport NSW Trip Planner.
- Coastal walking
- Whale watching
The walking routes are fairly straightforward. But to complete the entire 34km hike requires decent stamina and endurance, particularly during the warmer months.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
34km / 41m / 6.5-8 hours
1. Cronulla to Kurnell loop
21km / 41m / 4.5-5.5 hours
2. Kurnell to Cronulla (including Cronulla Esplanade) one way
13km / 41m / 3-5 hours
3. Cronulla Esplanade return & Cronulla Peninsula loop
11.5km / 28m / 2-3.5 hours
4. Cronulla Peninsula loop
6km / 28m / 1.5-3 hours
5. Cronulla Esplanade return
5.5km / 13m / 1.5-2 hours
Follow more of Dan and Beck over at Travel Made Me Do It