Situated south of Sydney in the Royal National Park is one of Sydney’s oldest and most famous walking trails – the Coast Track hike. This track is a 27 kilometre, one way, multi-day epic walk that hugs the coast from Bundeena at the northern end through to Otford in the south. The track can be walked north to south, or reverse.
The recommended start for this walk is from Bundeena in the north and finish at Otford in the south. But you can do this walk in reverse, starting at Otford and finishing in Bundeena. We will concentrate on the northern starting point. You can access Bundeena either by road, or a popular way is to catch the train to Cronulla and then the ferry across to Bundeena. If you plan to start from Otford you’ll catch the train to Otford station on the South coast line.
The Coast Track Hike Itself
Starting out from Bundeena in the north, you have a walk of around 6km along the cliff tops to Big and Little Marley beaches. These views along this section are amazing. Then its another 4.5 km to Wattamolla Lagoon (if you are a northbound walker, this would be your camping area).
Its another 6.5 km to Garie and North Era, which is your camping area for the first night. (Permits are required for camping).
Day two is a 9km walk to Otford where your hike will finish. As simple as that sounds, there are some steep climbs on day two but you are rewarded with a wonderful walk through Burning Palms. You finish at Otford station where you can board a train back to Sydney.
Do it Yourself
National Parks and Wildlife rate this walk a “5” meaning experienced bushwalkers should undertake this walk. That said, NPWS also go on to say that this is one of those iconic walks that you should do once in your life. Wildwalks rate this walk a “4 out of 6” with most sections marked “moderate” and they recommend you should have some bushwalking experience.
What to bring
The keyword here is “lighter”, remember everything in this list you have to carry for 2 days so it needs to be lightweight and suitable for hiking. There are a heap of products available on the market for hiking, some better than others. Your tent will be the heaviest component in your pack and should weigh around 1.5kg per person. Remember you can share the different parts of the tent amongst the other hikers in your group. But if you are by yourself you’re going to have to invest in a good quality lightweight hiking tent.
Like your tent, your sleeping bag should be lightweight as well as your sleeping matt. For cooking, a small hiking stove such as the Trangia system or the the Primus Ominfuel will give you an idea of what to use.
20lt hiking pack
Sleeping bag + mat
Hiking stove + fuel
Food for 2 lunches, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast + snacks along the track
At least 2 litres of water per day
Wet weather gear, ie poncho or waterproof jacket
What to wear
What I like about this hike is that it can be undertaken any time of the year, but of course, you’ll need to dress appropriately for the weather. The first and most important item is footwear. A good pair of hiking boots is essential. Not only are they comfortable to walk in, they also provide stability for your feet that runners simply can’t provide. You don’t want to be left lame with a twisted ankle on this hike. Also, wear your boots for a few weeks prior to the hike to walk them in, this will help avoid blisters. Oh, and don’t forget to waterproof your boots before you leave.
A word about cotton. Its tempting to wear cotton t-shirts or pants, and socks but cotton is extremely moisture absorbing. As you sweat your cotton clothing becomes heavier, but worst still, it loses its ability to retain warmth, so it’s definitely not something you should wear during the cooler months. There are plenty of clothing items made specifically for hiking that are better suited. The modern synthetic materials that combine cotton and synthetics are light to wear, dry very quickly and retain heat. A decent hat is advisable.
Now if undertaking this trip by yourself seems a bit daunting then perhaps consider joining a tour. You can join a guided tour throughout the year and its fully catered, the accommodation is in a cabin, not a tent, flushing toilets, and you only have to carry a daypack, allowing you to concentrate on the scenery and not staying upright with a heavy pack. Check out our Coastal Track Guided Hike.
If you are seriously thinking of this hike and you’ve never hiked before then more research on your part is needed. Understanding what is lightweight and what sort of gear to buy is essential, otherwise you could walk out of camping store spending a lot of money on equipment you either don’t need, or is to heavy. This is a useful site: https://www.backpackingnorth.com/ultralight-makeover-overview/
Want to learn how to waterproof your boots…
Our favourite reference for maps and walking guides is https://www.wildwalks.com.au/
NSW National Parks information on the walk can be found here… https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/the-coast-track
Nice article for beginners. Its US based, but the principles are still the same for Australian conditions. https://andrewskurka.com/2017/beginner-first-time-backpackers-advice-info-tips-resources/