As much as we love an urban adventure, no city trip would be quite complete without some exploration of the surroundings, or the hinterland. In the case of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a well-established nature escape for residents and visitors alike, and clearly something not to be missed. Equally impressive however are the many Sydney coast walks.
Perhaps a less known destination is the Royal National Park, wilderness quite literally at the doorstep of Sydney’s Southern suburbs. Only an hour or so by commuter train from Sydney Central, the picturesque Opera House and Harbour Bridge, the beach town of Cronulla functions as the gateway to the Royal National Park.
“Brothers, sisters, friends – we see you”
A shelter by the ferry wharf is where we met our fellow adventurers for the Marley walking tour, a day trip offered by Sydney Coast Walks, a small tour operator specialized in environmentally responsible, sustainable travel and tourism in and around Sydney.
The morning was cloudy, the fresh breeze and occasional drizzle marking the ferry crossing over to the suburb of Bundeena, our gateway to the Royal National Park. Before heading off into the royal wilderness, Jonnie, our tour guide, offered an Aboriginal greeting to acknowledge the indigenous custodians of the land: “Brothers, sisters, friends, I see you.”
Thus prepared and blessed by the Aboriginal spirits believed to linger about, yet only a few kilometers out of booming Sydney (its contours still visible in the distance), we are treated spectacular coastal views, taste traditional Dharawal Aboriginal plant food, and marvel over millennium-old rock engravings and sandstone formations.
The only distraction being the occasional airplane roaring over our heads, in and out of Sydney’s busy airport. Lunch time nears and the super healthy and rich deli lunch sandwich is a very welcome treat. When we finally get back to the ferry around 5pm, seven hours of walking up and down through Sydney’s Royal National Park clearly have left their traces.
All in all, less than an hour from Sydney, the Marly walking tour through the Royal National Park is a great way to escape the city and to explore some of Australia’s unique flora (fauna if lucky), and to learn about the country’s rich natural and cultural heritage from experienced and enthusiastic tour guides.
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