It started last year when I made a vow to myself, that every year I would travel to somewhere. It’s a promise that I made to myself and one that I intend to keep to it. Last year, I travelled to Koh Yao Noi which is part of a group of quiet islands located between Phuket and Krabi. Before deciding on that island, I did my fair share of research because I didn’t want to travel to an over-commercialised tourist location. Thanks to my decision, it brought me to one of the most idyllic islands I have ever been; the Koh Khai islands. These were the places which are still pretty much secluded with its beauty still preserved.
Since then, I have decided for my travels, I would make it a point to head to the lesser known locations in search for these hidden beauty of the world, of every place that I will visit. About a month ago, I visited Melbourne and Sydney for a period of 12 days. For this trip, I didn’t do much research or planning because of my work demands, but I managed to stumble upon some interesting places that I should visit. As a result, I published this post on Medium ; In Sydney, the things we should do
. You can see that the first thing in that post is the Wedding Cake
rock, which was such a unique rock formation that I had to visit and I did managed to!
I’m so awed by the the Royal National Park that it’ll be the first thing I gushed to anyone who asked me how my Melbourne Sydney trip was. Because of that, I decided that I would blog and post the pictures up too so that you’ll be able to see and read about my experience. It’s such a pity that I didn’t get to blogging about Koh Yao Noi, maybe I would do it one of these days. So, without further ado I present you The Coast Track at the Royal National Park in Sydney!
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The agenda was to visit the Wedding Cake rock which was located along The Coast Track. The Royal National Park is really huge and there are many different tracks you can go on, I think you can spend weeks exploring everything here. But first, you need to register and pay for the park entrance fee at the Royal National Park Visitor Centre. The fee is $12 per car which equates to approximately RM36. The photo above shows the Royal National Park Visitor Centre, where we saw families having a barbeque and another was fishing by the lake. It was so serene to be there.
It would be best to purchase the Royal National Park’s map ($1) which would help in your adventures later. As I mentioned earlier on, there are many tracks you can go on to. Since we decided to see the Wedding Cake rock, so the easiest way was to drive to the nearest entrance to the track which will bring us there. The entrance is called Bundeena which was about 22km from the visitor centre.
After a short drive and getting lost in the Bundeena town, we managed to find the entrance with the help of a few kind strangers who gave us directions. Unfortunately, there is no clear road signs which points towards the entrance. In fact, the entrance to the Coast Track was nondescript and almost unnoticeable. Luckily we found it anyway and there wasn’t many cars parked at the entrance.
The paths heading to the Coast Track and on the Coast Track itself were a mixture of both muddy paths and rocky ones, you’ll see more in the picture below. I would say, it’s a fairly easy beginning level of walk. You can run on the track too, I have seen some runners on this track. I wished I picked up trail running before this, it would be one my dream to trail run here.
The first glimpse of the ocean, it was one of the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. Such a breath-taking gorgeous view, now I know why it was stated on the official website
that this track must simply be walked once in a lifetime.
The first check point is called The Balconies and it was a perfect location for us to have our picnic here (well, we were actually really hungry already since we had a rather late start to the day but had an early breakfast made by my aunt). She cooked and packed us our lunch food, complete with a picnic mat for us.
This is just a simple sandwich, of turkey ham with rockets. Pair it with a view like that, it’s a priceless experience. It started getting rather windy and then, the temperature dropped slightly I think. That was when I put on my jacket to break the wind and to keep me warm.
After spending about an hour plus at The Balconies, we packed up and made our way to the next checkpoint which was The Wedding Cake Rock. It was located about a few more kilometres away. So there was more walking to be done. As we were walking, we reached a point where I had mistakenly thought was The Wedding Cake Rock because of the similar rock formation. I thought the rock lost its milky smooth surface due to the winter weather so we took a longer stop at one of the cliffs along the way. The view there was just as stunning as the first check point.
There is nothing more exhilarating than to sit on the edge of the cliff and just immerse yourself, with the sounds of the waves crashing and sea breeze flowing through your hair. I could sit down there all day and get lost with this amazing view.
These were my running shoes that I wore for this track, actually it was my only sports shoes that I had at that time. I never did any running or sports related stuffs, hence never saw the need to get any form of shoes till this year. It would be recommended to wear comfortable shoes for this track because you may need to walk quite a distance.
After spending a little more than an hour at these cliffs, I saw a couple and asked them whether they have seen the Wedding Cake Rock. To my surprise, they said they did and it wasn’t the flat rock pictured above. The sun was almost setting at that time and we wanted to be back before the sun went down. According to the couple, it was a little further than 15 minutes away. Since we came all the way to see it, we decided to pick up our pace and headed towards the Wedding Cake Rock.
The walk heading to the Wedding Cake Rock was also a rather scenic one. You’ll find that you need to walk down on some steps to a lower ground and sometimes, the track can be semi-flooded with water. So it’s best to wear proper shoes with reasonable grip and those shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty and muddy.
As scenic the walk was, I was actually growing anxious with every step I took and every second that passed by because the sun was already setting, and there was no sign of the Wedding Cake Rock anywhere. You won’t be able to get any strong network signal here but I was able to switch on my GPS and check Google Maps (managed to access it with the limited network signal) and I was walking with the phone to roughly give me an estimate.
After what felt like forever, but was actually 15 minutes or so, we arrived at the Wedding Cake Rock and it was gorgeous! Just like how I saw it in pictures. The rock was smooth and white-ish in color. You’ll need to take a picture from the side to be able to see the layers in the rock which gave it its Wedding Cake name.
I wished I had more time to take more pictures of myself on this rock but the sun was going down and we needed to leave. We took a couple more pictures of the rock and also the coastline. It’s even more gorgeous here than the earlier stops. You can see the rocks and the many different hues of the blue ocean. It was indeed one of the most breathtaking scenery that I have set my eyes on.
For this track, I decided to bring along the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens which is a wide angle lens, suitable for shooting scenery. I’ve only used this lens once or twice, as you know I don’t shoot scenery all that much. Never been a fan of wide angle. But for this track, and generally on holidays, you’ll want to shoot beautiful landscape images and that was when the 12mm lens comes in handy.
Most of the pictures above were taken with this lens, except for a few which was shot with the Olympus 9mm f/8.0 Fisheye Body Cap Lens. The body cap fisheye lens is even wider than the 12mm and with the fisheye lens, there is a whole new perspective to the pictures! I think it’s handy to have these two lenses for any landscape shooting and boy, am I glad to have brought them along.
One last selfie with the Wedding Cake Rock before we head back to the car. It’s so sad to need to leave the place so soon, we only managed to explore two marked spots of the whole Coast Track! It was there and then that I made up my mind that I would make a trip back here soon. I plan to take up trail running so that I run on this track and perhaps, camp overnight here as well. Can’t wait to be back here again, till that day comes …. I’ll be dreaming of this place.
We made our journey back, and it probably took us about 30 minutes or so to head back. As we walked, the skies around us was changing too. We could see how the sun set and how gorgeous the landscape looked like.
The pictures in this post are actually taken with the in-camera HDR mode which is useful to capture the details in the scenery. Usually in a normal shooting mode, there is a a lot of contrast between the sky and land. With this HDR mode, my camera which is the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL7 would take multiple pictures of different exposure and merges this all in the camera itself. That is pretty much how I managed to capture the landscape photographs without losing out on the details.
Here’s one last selfie I took before the sky went completely dark! This photo was also taken in HDR mode, which explains why the color looked a bit washed out.
Overall, this track have been an amazing experience and I’m thankful to have been able to visit this place. I have spoken to many friends who traveled to Sydney before but most of them never been to the Royal National Park. It’s not really a main tourist attraction in Sydney, but I honestly think it should be.
On the bright side, it’s way less crowded this way and that actually made this whole experience awesome. We practically had the place to ourselves, no need to queue to get pictures and what not. This is pretty much my ideal way of travelling, to the places less traveled!
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For more information, please visit the Royal National Park’s Official Website
. You can read up more on the Coast Track here
. It’s good to visit the website before you plan your trip there as there are updates on the page. In fact, I just found out from the page that the Coast Track is being upgraded from October 2015 till May 2016 and is therefore closed to the public
Anyway, that is all from me on the Royal National Park, Coast Track in Sydney. I hope to be posting up more on my travels soon, so look out for them! Also, you can drop me a message if you have any questions about the track. /:)
Till next time,