Sydney Beaches

The feature that impressed us most about Australia is the pristine vast stretches of white sand beaches. The entire East Coast of Australia consists of breathtaking, often isolated beaches where the surf pounds the shoreline. There were several beaches in close proximity to Sydney, although they were understandably very crowded during the Summer/Christmas holidays.


We went to Bondi Beach several times to soak up the rays with thousands of other sun worshippers. There was a great walk that followed the coast from Bondi to Coogee passing Gordon Bay and several other protected beaches, leading through a huge old cemetery, the Waverly Cemetary,  that encompassed some prime real estate right on the edge of the sea.  Apparently the graves include those of many famous Australians.

The seaside resort of Cogee Beach is less audacious than its Bondi cousin with hilly streets of California style houses. We took the bus back to Sydney from there.


Manly Beach

The fireworks in Sydney were worth putting up with the rolly anchorage but we all tired of the hustle and bustle of the crowds, lack of parking, expensive tolls, and high prices for meals.

January 1

On New Years Day we headed to Manly Beach where we anchored near Little Manly Harbour in Four Baskets Bay. . Temps reached 45 deg C so it was smoking hot. It was a long dinghy ride to the harbour beach where we locked the dinghy to the shark fence enclosing the swimming area.

Manly is a lively touristy town with lots of shops and even facilities for getting my laundry done. We were able to rent a surf board and took a short walk down the Corso shopping and cafe strip to the ocean side surf beach.

That evening a gale warning was issued so we tied up (illegally) to an emergency police buoy in prep for winds that could reach 80 km/hr! It hit about 9 pm and we listened to all the distress calls on the radio and rescue operations as boats drug anchor throughout the bay. We heard that our friends boat Drala Magic was dragging unattended across Sydney Harbour from Farm Cove and felt so helpless. We however, we safe on the police buoy drinking beer and eating cheesecake! The wind did not actually exceed 35 knots where we were.

The following day was grey and dreary but we went ashore anyway. We rented snorkel equipment, although the snorkeling was very disappointing (murky with a lot of current and not many fish). We got our exercise on the walkabout to Shelly Beach and then into the adjacent Sydney Harbour National Park through native bushland. 

January 3

We took Ascension to Cammeray Marina, which meant timing the opening of the Spit Bridge so that we could sail into Long Bay from Middle Harbour. We had reserved a mooring so that we could rent a car for a week and see some of the surrounding area. The area around Cammeray was very peaceful and quiet, totally protected from any wind direction or weather systems. We were able to take the dinghy to the dock where there were toilet and showers as well as a washing machine and dryer. However, no phone or internet or grocery nearby.

The biggest disadvantage of Cammeray Marina is a steep set of 100 steps that you must ascend to get to the main street in a residential area. Then it is uphill to anywhere including the bus, which is a 30 minute ride to get into the city center. The area worked well for our purposes though, as we were able to park our rental car on the street, which is somewhat of an impossibility in Sydney center.

Northern Beaches

January 4

Beyond Manly the Northern beaches continue for 30 km up to Barrenjoey Heads and Palm Beach. We passed countless stunning surf beaches including Dee Why Beach,  Mona Vale, Newport and Bigola to the mushroom shaped Barrenjoey Peninsula, with the calm Pittwater on its western side and ocean beaches running up its eastern side until it spears into Broken Bay.

We continued to follow Whale Beach Road to Palm Beach, hangout for the rich and famous. Not much in the way of facilities here as we found out when trying to get a bite to eat. The beach was crowded despite the "Blue Bottle" (box jellyfish) warnings.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse

By climbing an eternal number of sandstone steps, the summit of Barrenjoey Headland offered panoramic views of Palm Beach (right), Pittwater and the Hawkesbury River. The lighthouse there was built from local sandstone in 1881 and recently renovated.

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.

January 5

North of Sydney the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater join in a system of flooded valleys that form the jagged jaws of Broken Bay. Surrounding these inlets is the bushland of the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.

We drove through the entire area checking out potential anchorages in both the Pittwater and Hawkesbury regions. We found the entire area to be very busy with boats jammed packed on mooring balls.

In the park and off the beaten track, the area was crisscrossed with walking tracks. After stopping for lunch at a picnic area, we got our exercise on several trails and boardwalks, one passing some Aboriginal Rock Paintings, which really looked more a preschooler's chalk scribble on the flat rocks! However, these areas are very protected, fenced historical sites.

We were on a quest to see some wildlife and our hopes were encouraged by the road signs we passed along the way. A very long steep downhill track (even steeper on the climb back up!!) took us to a campground only accessible by boat. Being a holiday weekend, it was crowded with tents lined side by side in the clearing. But oblivious to the commotion, was a little Swamp Wallaby seemingly ignored by the locals. I was able to walk right up to him before he bounced off into the bush. We encountered another baby wallaby on the road on our climb back to the car.


South Western New South Wales

Royal National Park

Jan 8

It was a rainy, overcast day when we set our for an overnight tour South of Sydney, following the coastline south along Princes Highway through the Royal National Park.



The bushland was typical Australian with dense Eucalyptus trees. We were hoping for a Koala Bear sighting but our necks got sore constantly looking up in the tops of the trees.

The road emerged from the Park where rugged steep cliffs were broken by little coves with sandy beaches. There were some brilliant (Australia word) lookouts that we were sure to deviate to.

Further south a break in the cliffs gave way to heavy surf territory. The suburban areas were busy with surfers but between the towns, the long spans of beaches were deserted. Although it was no longer raining, it was still quite cool and breezy, so we did not linger to sunbathe or swim.

We passed through many small towns but it was Kiama that we were really impressed with. Kiama is a pretty little town flanked by good beaches and a moody ocean setting. There was a good lookout from Saddleback Mountain.

Jervis Bay

The road eventually headed inland to Nowra, a centre for the area's dairy farms. We finally reached the waters of the Tasman Sea again at Callala Beach, situated in Jervis Bay. However, other than a long expanse of beach, there is not much in Callala and despite the close proximity of Callala Bay to the major center of Huskisson, there is no way of crossing the creek running into the bay - we had to retrace our route and take a substantial detour.

Despite extensive housing development, Jervis Bay retains its clean white beaches and Huskisson still has the feel of an small fishing port.  We checked into our motel, had some supper, then decided to take a drive through Booderee National Park in search of kangaroo, since they like to come out of hiding at dusk.

Kangaroo Sightings

Booderee National Park occupies Jarvis Bay's southeastern spit. There is numerous walking trails through tropical rainforests to secluded beaches. We were not far into the park when we spotted a large kangaroo standing upright on the side of the road. He was as tall as I am and patiently let us slowly drive close to him for a better view. However, when I got out of the car to take a photo, he immediately bolted.

We continued driving, with another kangaroo sighting further along before the road ended at a parking lot. There we got out of the car and headed for a trail that led to the surf beach and almost missed the quiet little wallaby cautiously watching us walk right by. We saw a couple of other wallabies right in the parking lot and another in the bush as we drove out.

On the way back, we detoured to another isolated surf beach where several surfers were still riding the waves into the sunset.

Interior NSW

January 9

Instead of returning to the Park, we opted for a drive back to Sydney through the central part of New South Wales with its verdant rolling hills. The road climbed the rugged misty Budawang Range through Kangaroo Valley . There was a great lookout where we stopped for ice cream to admire the views (right).

At Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park we took a stroll to view the 81 meter waterfall. The view from the platform of the valley was awesome.

We continued along our route on Highway 1 back to the suburbs of Sydney, then stopped to load up on some groceries before heading back to the boat.