Here’s a long post with all the info you need to plan a family day trip to Kamay Botany Bay National Park, taking in Captain Cook’s Landing Place and a bit of whale watching at Cape Solander (if the season is right.)
This day trip is best done when it is cooler, as there’s walking and not much shade. If you do go on a hot day, take plenty water, hats and sun screen and then cool down afterwards at Silver Beach.
We had the perfect combination. Miss 8 year old could learn more about this chapter of Australian history, and Miss 6 and 4 year old would be delighted if they could spot some whales.
If you are interested in history and nature, and if you want to share it with your kids, this is the sort of day trip that ticks all the boxes.
- You don’t need to drive too far.
- You don’t need to wake up early, as it can be done in few hours.
- You don’t need a big budget because you can have a picnic and the car park fee is much cheaper than any other places in Sydney (i.e. Northern Beaches).
- There are lots of extra walks, Kamay Botany Bay National Park provides a variety of walking tracks to explore and the majority of them are short and easy.
I put together some practical information in this article, as usual. Enjoy!
By Mireia Garriga Seguranyes
Kamay National Park Address + Map
Cooks Landing place: access from Silver Beach at the end of Prince Charles Parade
Visitor Centre at Kurnell, inside Kamay Botany Bay National Park
21 Cape Solander Drive, Kurnell NSW 2231
Open 10:00 am – 3:30 pm Mon-Fri and 9:30 am – 4:00 pm Sat and Sun. Closed Christmas Day
Phone: 02 9668 2010
When you arrive at Kurnell Peninsula, from the road, it really looks very industrial due to the oil refinery. It doesn’t look scenic at all. But, it might be a good opportunity to start a conversation with your kids about oil and energy resources in general.
Otherwise, ignore the oil refinery and keep in mind that the scenery changes very quickly. So, don’t feel disappointed if you expected to see something different.
Firstly, we chose to visit the heritage-listed Captain Cook’s Landing Place then, we visited the Visitor Centre and surrounds.
Kurnell Visitor Centre, besides providing information, displays pictures and objects from the arrival of Captain Cook. It also offers information about the Aboriginal people of the Kurnell area.
After the walk, we were quite hungry, so we had a second breakfast / brunch in one of the cafes of Prince Charles Parade by Silver Beach.
Early in the afternoon, we went to Cape Solander to try to spot whales.
The reason why we chose to go first to Captain Cook’s Landing Place is because kids in general are less tired and so more receptive in the morning.
Also, according to the web site “Wild about Whales,” the best time of the day to spot whales is early in the morning or in the afternoon.
What to take for this day trip
- Scooters or bikes and helmets
- Food and utensils for a picnic or barbecue
- Beanie and/or scarf in winter
- Hat the rest of the year
Important note: always check the web site of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, as there could be current alerts in this area. Sometimes, it is due weather conditions or maintenance.
Captain Cook’s Landing Place
Located near Silver Beach on the Kurnell Peninsula headland, we walked through the area where James Cook landed in 1770. The site is not only a commemorative monument, but also a place that interprets the story of the meeting of European and Aboriginal cultures.
The easiest way to access to the monument is to park at Prince Charles Parade. From there, if you pack the scooters with you (or your kids are good walkers), you can easily follow the signs that lead you to the landing place.
After the monument, the walk becomes the Burrawang Walk that takes in several historical sites, including the welcome wall, the freshwater stream, the meeting place, Bank’s Memorial and the Ferry Shelter Shed.
The walk is only 1.2km loop and it is mostly flat.
Along the walk, you will find different signs about nature and the history of Kamay Botany Bay National Park.
The track also has a soundscape, which features “Aboriginal language, children laughing and clap sticks will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time and give you a sense of the strong Aboriginal connection to Country”. Source: NSW National Parks website.
Important things to know about Burrawang Walk (not to be confused by Burrawang walking track in Murramarang National Park):
- You can start the walk from the Visitor’s Centre at Kurnell or from Princes Charles Parade.
- Toilets are at Visitor’s Centre at Kurnell or picnic area between the visitor centre and the commemoration flag
- Coffee: in theory the Visitor’s Centre has a kiosk, but we couldn’t see much in there except some ice cream. For coffee, Princes Charles Parade has several cafes like Endavour Coffee and Ice Cream, Silver Beach Cafe or Cook @ Kurnell.
- Commemoration Flat picnic area has plenty of shade, barbecue facilities and plenty of parking.
- The shade is limited along the track, so wear hats or/and put some sunscreen on.
- Stay always on track.
- Pack your swimmers and/buckets or spades. The stretch of Silver Beach is quite long. Note: the beach is unpatrolled.
Cape Solander Whale Watching With Kids
Cape Solander is one of Sydney’s best whale watching vantage points. The lookout is a safe place and thereis a spacious viewing platform.
Because Captain Cook’s Landing Place is so close to Cape Solander, you can really visit both things at the same day.
The views of Cape Solander are unbeatable in a clear day. Look at the photos! Plus, you might be lucky and see some whales.
June/July is the best time to see humpback whales in this area as they migrate to warmer waters. For a safe bet, wait until the end of June. We learnt this at the Visitor Centre at Kurnell.
You can also explore the rest of the cape. But, be mindful if you go with little kids, as there are no safety rails. We walked a little bit along the cape, showed the kids some amazing rock formations.
We breathed that fresh air that comes from the sea and makes you feel free. It can be done, but explore it at your own risk.
Keep a close and constand eye on your kids, if you decide to go further.
The website of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has a very clear safety message “be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of those in your care”.
Important tips for whale watching:
- Don’t go too early in the season or too late, as numbers tend to be low, so less chances that you can spot a whale
- Early in the morning and early afternoon are the best times.
- Check the weather forecast. If the sea is too rough, you will not be able to see whales
- Download the free app Wild About Whales: it has very handy information (When to go, What to take, How to spot a whale)
- Don’t forget the binoculars, if you have a pair
- Dress warm clothes
- Prepare your children. This means, tell them that they might not see any whales to avoid disappointment.
- Finally, always check the web site of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, as there could be current alerts in this area. Sometimes, it is due weather conditions or maintenance.
If you are looking for doing something different that will provide some knowledge to your kids without having to be indoors at museums and exhibitions, go to Kurnell Peninsula.
Cook’s landing place and Cape Solander work well together. The only drawback is that there isn’t any playground around, except the one of Marton Park. But, children might surprise you; sometimes, the best Sunday is the one that you planned not going to the playground.
Extra Things To Do
Fishing: the pier at Sutherland Point is quite popular
Netted tidal pool at Silver Beach in summer and beach: although there are no lifeguards, the waters are usually flat and calm.
Note: Silver Beach is a dog-friendly beach. But, remember that dogs are not allowed in NSW National Parks!
Inscription Point aka “The Steps” is a popular diving and spot for snorkelling. Access is from Solander Drive.
Little ones also will be entertained watching the planes taking off, as Kurnell is across Botany Bay from Sydney Airport.
Getting To Kamay Botany Bay National Park
The easiest way to reach Kurnell Peninsula is by car.
There is lots of parking along Prince Charles Parade.
Park entry fees apply in Kamay Botany Bay National Park ($8 in 2018, Kurnell area). Please, note that gates are open: 7:00 am – 7:30 pm (August – May) and 7:00 am – 5:30 pm (June to July).
TIP: If you love nature, to buy the annual pass will save you the headache of checking fees every time that you go to visit a National Park from NSW.
Nearest station: Cronulla Station. Then you will need to take the bus (number 987). Please, always check the last updates when you travel by public transport.
Nearest ferry: no, Cronulla Ferries only goes to Bundeena.
Bus stop nearby: Route987 goes along Captain Cook Drive and stops on Prince Charles Parade. Please, always check the last updates when you travel by public transport.
We explored Kurnell Peninsula at the beginning of June. After this excursion, we felt that we ticked all the boxes.
Kids usually love learning outside the classroom and this is exactly what we did, although the sea was rough and we didn’t see any whales on this trip.
What’s a great family day out that your family loves?