03.06.19 - our first visit to royal national park

As we started making preparations to move to Australia, it dawned on me that we would be here for our second wedding anniversary. Early on we discussed going away for a weekend somewhere romantic. However, Tyler’s been working almost every day lately, we’re trying to be better about our spending, and truth be told we’ve never really been the type to splurge on “relaxing” trips together anyways.

So that’s how we found ourselves rubbing sleep from our eyes at 6 o’clock in the morning on the third of June, jumping into our clothes and hauling our butts down to the train station. One quicker than expected train ride later we landed in Cronulla, and after a few minutes waiting at the wharf we boarded a tiny green and yellow ferry headed to Bundeena. I had read online that it would take about thirty minutes, but we hit land again not even fifteen minutes later.

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Tyler and I stopped to check out a map, as I had done my trail research but wasn’t quite sure where we were headed. I pulled out both of my cell phones in an attempt to connect to the Internet and find the trail I thought we’d be taking. A construction worker decked out in high-vis and eating his breakfast appeared out of nowhere and asked if we were headed to the Coast Track. Tyler and I had discussed trying to fit the normally two day hike into one, but thinking about how we wanted to make it home in time to splurge on a dinner out together, and the fact that the sun now sets at 5 o’clock, we decided against it. We had looked at the Jibbon Beach circuit, but the man before us said his recommendation as someone who lived in Bundeena would be to jump on the track and walk as far as we could, and then turn around whenever we felt comfortable/hit our time limit. Construction man, if you’re out there reading this, THANK YOU!

It was excellent advice. I had really hoped we’d find a circuit (I love new views the entire way) but the scenery at Royal National is SO FREAKIN’ BEAUTIFUL that I was honestly overjoyed to turn around and get a second chance with some of the areas we had already passed.

We saw more birds than I could even begin to name, a pod of dolphins, our first snake (that we are now fairly certain was poisonous) and hardly any other humans. We were hoping to spot some whales, as it is migration season, but the only view we got was of a single spouting offshore.

The trail was not overly rigorous or steep, and it is well maintained with a raised walkway laid for much of it. We hiked out to just before Marley Beach and back, about 8 miles total (not counting the mile or so from the ferry to the trailhead). We definitely got our steps in this day.

There were so many points on the trail that we stopped and just stared off into the distance or down at the crashing waves below. Tyler commented that each picture we took could not do justice to what we were witnessing, the entire experience of being in that place. It was perfectly warm out, the sun was shining down on us and the only sounds were that of the birds and the ocean crashing over and over again. I could not have asked for a more perfect day.

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Tyler eating cake at Wedding Cake Rock, so named because it looks like a wedding cake. It is now fenced off because it’s unstable + dangerous, but has been a popular photo op and daring hikers were still risking it for the gram.

Tyler eating cake at Wedding Cake Rock, so named because it looks like a wedding cake. It is now fenced off because it’s unstable + dangerous, but has been a popular photo op and daring hikers were still risking it for the gram.

On route back to the trailhead we stopped once more at The Balconies to rest and have a snack. I looked around and tried to soak it all in (so much so that I even teared up a little). I know we’ll be back to Royal National soon, but this first trip felt truly magical. I looked down and noticed our well-loved boots, and it sparked my memory of this photo we took on our honeymoon, the eighth of June 2017. Just as we were in that moment, Tyler and I were sitting side by side, but on top of Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park after the hardest hike we had ever done.

As we settled into our seats on the train back to Redfern, I flipped between our new photo and the old, thinking about all the time that has passed between and what we’ve been able to see and do together so far. I can’t wait to see what view next year brings.