If you’ve ever flown into Sydney on a clear day, you may have noticed out the left-hand side of the plane, adjacent to the urban sprawl, a pristine green peninsula with picture-perfect, scalloped sandy beaches. Welcome to Bundeena! Home to the ancient Dharawal people, four stunning beaches, the world’s oldest national park and a community of local artists discreetly tucked away on the cusp of Botany Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Bundeena, appropriately, means “noise like thunder,” as the sound of crashing waves continuously rumbles through the salty clean air. Only a 45-minute drive from the CBD, or a 20-minute ferry ride from Cronulla, Bundeena and its surroundings offers an abundance of R&R activities at an affordable price and within “cooee” distance of Sydney.
The Royal National Park is the traditional country of the Dharawal people who lived in the area up to 5000 years ago and covers 16,300 hectares of rainforest, creeks, gullies, headlands, ridges, sandstone plateau’s, rugged beaches. Glorious coastal walking tracks with stunning views are filled with over 700 species of flowering plants including eucalypts, angophoras, casuarinas, grevilleas and banksias, attracting a cacophony of wildlife. Not to be missed are the ancient aboriginal rock carvings of sea and wildlife hidden in the bushes just beyond Jibbon Beach (one of four beautiful local beaches including Bonnie Vale, Horderns and Gunyah).
Australian landscape photographer, Peter Solness‘ brilliant use of light created a memorable collection of photographs of the primitive rock art displayed in the 2006 ‘Art and About’ Exhibit in Sydney’s Hyde Park. His work is currently on display at Customs House in Circular Quay in an exhibition called ‘Nocturnal‘ that features many unique twilight shots of Bundeena and the Royal National Park. Fine-art prints of his extraordinary body of work, including the Bundeena rock engravings, are available to purchase through the Meyer Gallery in Sydney. Bundeena has one of the highest concentrations of artists in NSW and it’s easy to see why they are drawn here. Once a month, a collective of local artists throw open their doors to offer visitors a glimpse into the working life and creative journey of the artist through The Art Trail experience. A must for art-lovers! There is also great diving, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking all along the shoreline, as well as a self-guided Heritage Walk with signs highlighting interesting points about the area’s history, indigenous culture, flora and fauna.
Whether you go for the day, the weekend or a week, Bundeena has something to offer everyone and is one of Sydney’s best-kept local secrets. Don’t expect fancy hotels and service though, most accommodation is self-catering, but that is half the fun when you get off the beaten track and go local. So grab some shrimps, snags, and stubbies, and fire up the barbie in your own backyard, Aussie-style.
Here are three of our favorite spots:
Le Soleil is a comfortable and stylish beach house located just above Gunyah beach, ideal for small groups or couples. The three bedroom, two-storey contemporary villa has an open kitchen and living space with a small garden, as well as spectacular northern sunny views over Port Hacking to Cronulla, Kurnell and the city skyline, all to be appreciated from a large bath with fireplace in a romantic bedroom that you may never wish to leave. BYO champers!
Rates: $250-300 p/night. For all bookings and enquiries, contact Karen on + 61 415 757 873 or email: email@example.com or visit stayz.com.
House on the Rock is a luxuriously-appointed, three-bedroom bungalow with 270-degree water views from Gunyah to Jibbon beach, perched on a rock in the middle of the two beaches. Its large decks and wide-open living space make it breezy and comfortable for larger groups who are looking for all mod cons. This house is all about position, position, position!
Rates: AU$900 p/weekend, $1100 p/night M-F, $2000 p/week. For all bookings and enquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone + 61 2 9706 3389
The Beach Shack is a tiny fisherman’s cottage front row and center on a secluded part of Gunyah beach, perfect for couples looking for a quiet romantic hideaway or singles looking for some quality me time away from the hoi polloi. The waves literally lap up onto your doorstep and rock you to sleep. Dinner can be caught from the terrace; just drop a line over the edge. The shack has one double bedroom, a cozy living area, kitchen, open verandah for dining and relaxing, as well as outdoor BBQ and dining area, and a vine covered private pergola complete with fairy lights. Just magical!
Rates: AU$500-600 p/weekend and $1500-1800 p/week, depending on season. Ask about mid-week specials. Email: email@example.com or phone + 61 2 9544 3690
To learn more about Bundeena, visitbundeena.com.