This South Coast NSW microadventure provides an absolute smorgasbord of iconic New South Wales locations; Royal National Park, Wattamolla to Garie Beach Track, Figure of Eight Pools, Sea Cliff Bridge as well as the abandoned tunnels of Helensburgh. Phhwwoooaarrrr…


  • New South Wales at its unique and dramatic best
  • Multiple stunning locations all in close proximity
  • Year round opportunity for hiking, photography, camping
  • Camping and surfing at Burning Palms Beach

Early Start

A 3:45am alarm night not be everyone’s idea of an ideal start to the weekend but for the opportunity to see some classic, raw, rural NSW highlights it was so much more than worth it to get the best from this microadventure.

Meeting in Sutherland two hours before sunrise, which at this time of year means 5:00am and a three car convoy drive to the carpark in the Royal National Park at Wattamolla.

Wattamolla – Garie Beach Track

An hour’s trek through the mud, bush and creeks of the park, along the Wattamolla – Garie Beach Track — crossing the river a couple of times as it winds it’s way through the bush en route to the sea — leads you to the cliff-edge opening where you can view the 50m waterfall crash down into the Tasman. There is also a couple of other small secluded falls on the way back — both great for photography and swimming.

Figure Of Eight Pools

The Figure of Eight Pools are a short drive away, parking at Garrawarra Farm and accessible via the coastal track through the cabin community at Burning Palms. An incredible, predictably figure of 8, geological rock formation – only accessible at low tide and with minimal surf conditions. The pools are a steep trek through bush and across the rocks. An awesome campsite sits just behind the beach, making a great base about 1km from the pools.

Ed Dallimore south coast nsw figure of eight 8 pools

Burning Palms is a relatively popular surfing beach. The wide bars, rips and persistent waves can combine to produce good beach breaks.

The Best Vantage Point Of Sea Cliff Bridge

Day 2 sees a relatively late alarm call of 5:00am to head for the Scarborough Hotel — parking in the car park over the road from the hotel at the playground, just down from the train line.

The Sea Cliff Bridge at Scarborough is every bit as stunning as the much more widely publicised Great Ocean Road in Victoria. It is an oft seen image but few know exactly how to get to the best view point.

As the road crosses the train-line, we climbed down onto the path running parallel to the track — and followed it north until the track heads west into the hillside. The footpath naturally bends off towards the sea at this point — this can be slippery and is very close to the cliff edge, so proceed with great care.

Through the overgrown path for a short distance leads you to the small plateau of a look out, perfect for shooting sunrise beyond the bridge — a bridge possibly less talked about than others in NSW, but as stunning as any, anywhere.

Ed Dallimore Seacliff Bridge south coast nsw sun rise

Photo tip: Twilight is the best light, so you’ll have about 40 mins to shoot the sky and car trails ahead of sunrise and about 2 minutes to shoot the cresting sun. Make sure you’re there and all set up in plenty of time to avoid rushing the track.

Abandoned Tunnels Of Helensburgh

In close proximity to the bridge and always great for dropping in are the abandoned tunnels of Helensburgh. Rumour has it these are haunted — built in the 1880’s but abandoned less than 30 years later. You can take a very slow walk entirely through the darkness, which is about 3km long. We were super lucky to encounter some fire light painters whilst there, another great photographic setting and a fine finish to an awesome, adventure filled weekend.

Essential Gear

  • Tent
  • Head torch
  • GPS
  • Tide-timetable
  • A well thought out plan
  • Camera (plus tripod and neutral density filter)


  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Swimming
  • Surfing
  • Photography

Skill Level


Distance Covered

20km across weekend, elevation c.300m


Check out these other bangers in New South Wales…

In the Land of Monoliths // Warrumbungle National Park (NSW)

Watsons Crags // Kosciuszko Mini-Mountain Experience (NSW)

America Bay Microadventure // Ku-ring-gai National Park (NSW)

14 Fantastic Dog Friendly Walks Near Sydney

Multi-Day Canoeing Trip in Lake Yarrunga // Kangaroo Valley (NSW)