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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Lovely Long Weekend near Sydney - Gymea, Cronulla and Royal National Park


I recently was asked by some friends visiting Australia for a good weekend getaway from Sydney and it brought to mind my trip to Gymea, Cronulla and Royal National park back in October 2017.

September 31 - October 2, 2017

Cronulla is 30 minutes by car (no traffic) or 60 mins by train from downtown Sydney, making it extremely convenient for a weekend away.

My boyfriend and I took the train so we wouldn’t have to deal with weekend traffic and parking.  We used our regular Opal transit card (max $10-$15 ride) to Gymea station. The station is right in the middle of the little town, so we easily walked to grab groceries and stock up on wine.  We were starving on arrival, so we decided to have dinner at Renato's Cafe.  Delicious, affordable pizza and pasta and you can BYO wine – I was shocked at how much cheaper things are outside of Sydney!  It was already feeling like a true vacation away from home.

The best part of the whole weekend was our Airbnb accommodation.  It was in a treehouse.  But not the kind cartoon animals from Winnie the Pooh live in, we are talking an Architectural Digest type of home.  Situated on the side of a cliff overlooking the owner’s house, it featured a studio setup with floor to ceiling windows.  At $91 AUS a night it was a STEAL!  The owner dabbles in homemade skincare so the bathroom had coconut oil, lotions, and everything else for a spa weekend.  They’d even stocked the kitchen with snacks, milk and other essentials.  We felt right at home.

Photos from Airbnb website


We spent the following day in Cronulla.  Turns out not having a car is a bit of a nuisance, because the Tree House was in a residential neighborhood called Gray’s Point (not near anything) and we were spending a fair amount of time and money on Ubers to/from places. At least it only took 15 minutes to get to downtown Cronulla, which isn’t that bad.

We had an amazing brunch at Next Door, right near the beach.  Some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had and the people watching was pretty amusing.  We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the beach, swimming and window-shopping.  Everything is very walkable. 


Photo Credit: theleader.com.au


As it started getting dark, we moved on to Northies, a classic Aussie pub.  Turns out it’s part of three separate venues all run into each other.  If you start at Northies, you wander through a pizzeria-meets-bar (pizza looked amazing BTW) and end at Joe’s, which is a bit clubbier (a DJ came on around 9pm).  Embarrassingly we were so obsessed with our treehouse that we left Cronulla to spend more time dancing to Marvin Gaye and drinking wine in our PJs.

Sunday, we accidentally slept in and then decided to have a leisurely breakfast so we were super late getting to the Cronulla ferry stop.



We were headed to Royal National Park, our main reason for the trip.  We planned to walk to Wedding Cake rock which is quite a hike. For $7/person one-way, the Cronulla Ferry drops you in Bundeena and then you can walk left along the water to the start of the Coastal Trail.  It's a quick trip along some beautiful coastline.



Wedding Cake rock is 3.4km (2 miles) from the start of the coastal walk.  It shouldn’t take that long to walk, but when you stop every two seconds to take pictures of the amazing coastline and have a leisure picnic lunch, the hours dwindle away quite quickly.  

Photo Credit: abc.net.au

We soon realized that we had arrived way too late to the park and weren’t going to make it to Wedding Cake rock and still catch the last ferry back at 6pm.  I wasn’t planning on sleeping in the park without any camping gear. So we hoofed it back to the boat to ride back to Cronulla.  We still had the most amazing day even if we didn’t make it to the famous outlook.  We did luck out on the boat ride back with some dolphins swimming alongside us. 

Back at the tree house, we had another lovely night in watching movies and then headed to bed early for our train trip back in the morning.

It’s been over a year since I went on that weekend away and it remains one of my favorite memories in Australia.  The convenience of location and transportation, the utter beauty of the accommodation and national park land and the tantalizing restaurants and people-watching made for the perfect long weekend.  I’d highly recommend!

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