A brand new area on Perth’s waterfront, Elizabeth Quay is in the process of becoming a vibrant destination for tourists with activities for people of all ages. Take a ride on the gorgeous traditional, handcrafted Venetian carousel, walk across the Elizabeth Quay bridge to the new maritime inspired playground Island Playground, or cool down with a run through the BHP Billiton Water Park.
Before heading home, grab lunch at a nearby restaurant, try a delicious scoop of Gusto Gelato and pose beneath the 8-story-high “Spanda” sculpture.
The most iconic of Perth’s city beaches, Cottesloe is also one of it’s most popular. Located midway between the Perth central business district and the port of Fremantle in Perth’s western suburbs, it’s only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. Located directly on a train line and equiped with bathrooms, cafes and plenty of shady trees, Cottesloe is the perfect beach to while away the day on.
We loved the beach’s clean white sand and beautiful clear turquoise water, and particularly the grassed areas behind the beach with plenty of tall pine trees for shade. A short walk around the rock line gives a fantastic view of the striking art-deco Indiana Teahouse building that is a Cottesloe landmark featured on many post cards and tourist brochures.
The Picnic at Burwood is a whimsical elevation of the humble outdoor dining experience. The outdoor cafe is located inside a pavillion in a park in Burwood, a few metres from a large, fenced in playground. The location is a big part of the appeal for families and has lead to its popularity among with parents who like great food, but who have small kids who like to swing on things.
Another drawcard is picnic-inspired design, with a white and yellow colour scheme and plenty of greenery through out the gazebo. It feels like al fresco dining in Europe, yet is a stones through from a huge Westfields, in the middle of suburban Sydney.
The Picnic doesn’t take bookings on weekends, so expect to wait around 30 minutes in peak times. Arrive early for a shorter wait time. We turned up at 10am, were told there would be a 15 minutes wait for our party of 3, but our table was ready five minutes later. Don’t be turned off by given a lengthy wait time – you’ll be put on their waitlist and send an SMS when your table is ready, meaning you can head up to the playground and let your kids run their steam off before their meal, which is a win in my book.
If you don’t fancy waiting at all, you can borrow a picnic rug and order food from the kiosk.
The menu is broken up into Breakfast (until 12pm) and Lunch (from 12pm). We are in time for brekkie and order the Pavlova Hotcake ($18.50, soft pancake with house made coconut crumble, berries, meringue, lemon curd, passionfruit cream and mango sorbet), Super Breakfast Bowl ($21.50, dukkah poached egg with quinoa tabouli, kale, avocado, shredded carrot, cucumber, pickled cabbage, edamame beans and sweet potato, served with organic sprouted bread), from the kids’ breakfast menu The Bear ($7, bear-shaped toast with banana and blueberries and your choice of peanut butter, butter, Nutella or Vegemite), Kids’ Size Classic Shake ($5, choice of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or banana).
The husband orders a coffee, which takes the longest because it’s an incredibly busy coffee day, apparently, our server apologises profusely. It’s no matter because our food arrives quickly and the coffee arrives as a dessert for hubby to happily sip as our daughter is entertained by colouring in.
This cafe is an Instagram dream with it’s beautifully presented dishes and bright natural light. Thankfully the meals are not just pretty – they’re delicious. The food vanishes and the plates are clean. It’s thoughtfully designed not just for a pretty photo but to satisfy their diners’ hunger, too.
The Picnic ticks every box for us, and is sure to become one of our favourite cafes in Sydney.
“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, 1880.
The above inscription inside the menu at Burnt Orange could not describe our afternoon any more perfectly. High tea is one of my favourite guilty pleasures that I love to indulge in with friends and family to celebrate basically every occasion possible – in this case, it was a baby shower for a friend.
Burnt Orange is a cafe known for it’s delicious food and stunning views from the wraparound verandah. It’s a popular place for celebrating special occasions, and it’s common to see groups of hens or baby showers on the verandah taking in the view with a delectable high tea offering.
High tea is served from 3:30pm onwards. The cafe closes at 5:30pm on weekends, so the only time slot is actually 3:30-5:30.
Each member of the party was served their own large tea pot that gave around 3 full cups of tea. The tea menu was on the basic side compared to some high tea venues, but it still included all the popular favourites like English Breakfast and Earl Grey, as well as options such as Orange Pekoe (which we all chose), Organic Berry and Russian Caravan.
The food is the focus at Burnt Orange, and we found the high tea to be a perfect size for mid afternoon tea – a great mix of savoury and sweet without being cloyingly sugary.
Pumpkin & goats cheese tart with carrot jam
smoked salmon on brioche with avruga caviar and herb ricotta
Poached chicken & tarragon on Avoca brown bread
Freshly baked scones with homemade jams and cream
Salted caramel and chocolate tart
Moroccan orange & almond cake with sugared almonds
Classic lemon tart with blueberries & cream
As the token vegetarian I was served the same tea with a different sandwich option – a really delicious vegetable medley on its own plate.
The food was of the high quality one expects from a venue such as this. The sandwiches were fresh, the scone a good size and fluffy inside, a delicious jam and thick cream, plus the perfect amount of deserts with a variety of flavours. I really enjoyed how different each was – a tart lemon, a salted caramel combined with dark chocolate and an orange cake. The perfect flavour combination.
The tea is reasonably priced at $40 per person. An additional $10 for a glass of bubbly.
High tea is available by reservation only, and a deposit must be paid over the phone equal to 50% of the booking. Deposit is refundable for cancellations made up to 24 hours prior to scheduled booking.
A 10% surcharge applies on weekends and public holidays.
Perth, capital of Western Australia, is a laid back city with plenty for the whole family to enjoy. From the gorgeous weather to the stunning beaches, natural beauty and cosmopolitan city centre, Perth is an easy place to visit, relax and just chill out with the family.
The most iconic of Perth’s city beaches, Cottesloe is also one of it’s most popular. Located midway between the Perth central business district and the port of Fremantle in Perth’s western suburbs, it’s only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. Located directly on a train line and equipped with bathrooms, cafes and plenty of shady trees, Cottesloe is the perfect beach to while away the day on.
We loved the beach’s clean white sand and beautiful clear turquoise water, and particularly the grassed areas behind the beach with plenty of tall pine trees for shade. A short walk around the rock line gives a fantastic view of the striking art-deco Indiana Teahouse building that is a Cottesloe land mark featured on many post cards and tourist brochures.
An absolute must when visiting Perth, Rottnest is an island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres west of Fremantle. Take a day trip to “Rotto”, where you’ll come face-to-face with the world’s happiest animal, the quokka, swim on some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches and even spot a New Zealand fur seal or two. One day at Rottnest is never enough!
Brand new area on Perth’s waterfront, Elizabeth Quay is in the process of becoming a vibrant destination for tourists with activities for people of all ages. Take a ride on the gorgeous traditional, handcrafted Venetian carousel, walk across the Elizabeth Quay bridge to the new maritime inspired playground Island Playground, or cool down with a run through the BHP Billiton Water Park.
Before heading home, try a delicious scoop of Gusto Gelato and pose beneath the 8-story-high “Spanda” sculpture.
Fremantle A port city that’s traditionally known for its maritime history, gorgeous Victorian architecture and remnants of the past, “Freo” is also the arts hub of Perth.
Visit Fremantle Prison, WA’s only UNESCO world heritage-listed building, grab a coffee from one of the many cafes on the Cappuccino strip or take a stroll through Fremantle Markets for fresh produce, food to go and baked goods, local arts and crafts and live music.
If you have a little one who believes in magic, be sure to visit The Pickled Fairy shop.
Kings Park & Botanic Garden
Let your wild thing roam free at Kings Park, a 4.06-square-kilometre park on the western edge of Perth’s CBD. If you’re driving through the park, pull over at the car park near the entrance to enjoy stunning views of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline and the Darling Ranges. It’s easy to spend a full day in Kings Park enjoying bush walking, the Botanic Gardens and the many children’s discovery play areas.
The highlight of Kings Park for us was Synergy Parkland, a recreation area featuring dinosaur-era themed play equipment, water play, and multiple climbing structures. There is a cafe and bathroom facilities in the park plus plenty of shade.
Take future engineers and scientists to visit Scitech, an interactive science museum located in West Perth. Scitech’s programs are aimed at kids aged up to 12, with a goal “To increase awareness, interest, capability and participation by all Western Australians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Part of the Perth Cultural Centre, the Art Gallery of Western Australia has been educating and engaging the public since opening in 1895. The gallery runs monthly kids programming as well as school holiday activities and has a permanent interactive drawing space for families.
On our recent trip to Melbourne we were so happy to find several museums and galleries that catered particularly well to children. Scienceworks, in the suburb of Spotswood, was one of them. This museum is basically a kid-focussed science space, filled with interactive exhibits designed to get kids thinking about their bodies, the cities they live in, and how they can effect the future.
Scienceworks is a bit of a trek from the CBD. While it’s possible to catch a train or ferry there, it was quickest to catch a taxi. Melbourne has introduced “Miki” cards for public transport that require an initial fee to buy, plus placing more money for fares onto the card. There are no “day ticket” equivalents for visitors, meaning if you want to get public transport it’s going to cost you! Ferries are also pricey, so we decided to take the 15-minute taxi ride.
The museum is broken up over two floors, with elevators and stairs joining them. The whole museum is completely accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. There were so many empty strollers parked around both floors that it was hard to move without tripping over one, that I actually wish they had a stroller parking bay to leave a bit more space for people to walk!
The lower level has more traditional exhibits: Sportsworks, where you can test your body against famous Australian athletes (can you run as fast as Cathy Freeman?) and try your flexibility, strength and reflexes, Think Ahead, where kids can design a world of tomorrow, including what our future cars will look like, and a temporary exhibit. When we visited, the temporary exhibit was Alice’s Wonderland, a fun, completely hands-on play space filled with illusions, puzzles and imaginative play.
Upstairs is the Nitty Gritty Super City, where kids can be the architect, captain and builder of their own cities. It’s a space popular with toddlers and preschoolers as it’s full of imaginative play elements that small kids can easily manipulate.
Scienceworks is home to the Melbourne Planetarium, which sadly was broken on the day we visited. It’s a shame as it looks amazing! The Planetarium has a 16-metre high domed ceiling and a 7.1 surround sound system. Visitors can choose between seeing more educational content about stars and constellations, or something a little more tiny-kid-friendly, such as their current cartoon about a dog who wants to go into space.
If you have a child aged 6 or over, you’ll be able to visit the Lightening Room and watch a live light show that simulates the awesome power of mother nature, including lightening.
Outside the museum is a little cafe that serves basic lunch foods, including a kids’ lunch box: $8.80 for a sandwich, juice and corn chips. Kids will spot the two large playgrounds out of the window. Between these two playgrounds and the amazing exhibits inside, your kids won’t ever want to leave!
Words fail me when I try to describe why Rottnest Island is so special. “Majestic”, “breathtaking” and “spectacular” all sound like hyberbole, but they’re the best words words to describe this unique island that is an absolute must-see when visiting Western Australia. Whether you stay for one day or five, Rottnest will enchant, inspire and recharge the souls of your entire family – and leave you planning your next visit the moment the ferry departs.
The History of Rottnest
Rottnest is a small island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres west of Fremantle. It is believed that Rottnest Island was separated from the mainland 7,000 years ago. There have been numerous artefacts found all over Rottnest that indicate it was home to Aboriginal people prior to the separation of the Island from the mainland.
The Aboriginal name for the island is Wadjemup, and it is a place of significance to Aboriginal communities. There are 17 sites on Rottnest Island listed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972-1980.
Europeans discovered Rottnest Island in the 17th Century. Samuel Volkerson and his crew of the Dutch ship Waeckende Boey are believed to be the first Europeans who actually landed on the island in 1658, but it was William de Vlamingh, in 1696, who gave the Island its name after the abundance of quokkas he saw, mistaking them for rats. He named the Island ‘Rotte nest’ (meaning ‘rat’s nest’) and the name of the Island was eventually adapted to ‘Rottnest’.
From 1838 Rottnest was used as a penal establishment for Aboriginal people, with the prison officially closing in 1904, but with prisoners used to build roads and other works on the island until 1931. Ferries started bringing tourists to Rottnest in 1902, with the first public jetty being built in 1906 and further development for visitors following soon after.
Today, Rottnest is well known for its 63 beaches with sparkling white sand, superb snorkelling, happy quokkas and plenty of roads and history to explore.
Meet the quokkas
Taking a selfie with a quokka is often number one on the Rottnest Island bucket list for many visitors (including us!). The Aboriginal people living in the Augusta and King George Sound areas of the south-west of Western Australia gave the small marsupial it’s unique name. They are generally nocturnal, however they can be seen during the day hoping to steal food from tourists or resting in the shade under bushes.
While quokkas are incredibly cute, it’s important to remember that all plants and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law. Wildlife should not be disturbed, rather observed from a reasonable distance. Please remember Rottnest Island is an A-Class Reserve and these beautiful creatures are wild and should not be touched, fed human food or provided an artificial water supply. More information available here.
That said, the quokkas are incredibly used to tourists and are very curious little critters. You will find them come up close to take a better look at what you’ve got in your bag (keep it zipped shut and any food sealed).
Swim at the beach Rottnest is home to 63 glistening beaches and 20 secluded bays, each one more spectacular than the next. If you’re spending just one day on the island, I suggest picking one beach to swim and snorkel at rather than rushing to see them all. The most popular beaches for families are Ricey Beach, The Basin, Little Parakeet Bay, Little Salmon Bay and Geordie Bay.
We chose The Basin to swim because of its shallow clear waters. It’s also well regarded for snorkelling – if you don’t have your own snorkels and masks, you can hire them on the island at Pedal & Flipper.
A short walk along the coastline takes you to Pinky Beach, one of the prettiest beaches on the island, with the distinctive Bathurst Lighthouse in the background. If you keep walking up the beach and to the lighthouse, you’ll be rewarded by a gorgeous view, and a short walk back to the main settlement and ferry departure point.
Spot a New Zealand Fur Seal
From the new viewing platform at Cathedral Rocks, the resident New Zealand Fur Seals colony can be seen flipping and playing in the bay and basking on the rocks. Cathedral Rocks can be accessed by bike or by jumping off the Island Explorer bus.
Tour a lighthouse
Of the two lighthouses on the island, only the Wadjemup Hill lighthouses is open to the public. Tours are conducted daily for a cash-only fee.
Take a segway tour, snorkel, play a round of golf or check out a movie at the cinema. There’s plenty to see and do.
Eating and Drinking
Bring large water bottles filled with ice cold water. While you can refill the bottles in the main settlement, the rest of the island is mostly free of drinkable water. If you are arriving for a day trip, bring plenty of snacks or picnic foods as the only areas to buy food are the main settlement and Geordie Bay. If you’re planning on biking around the island or doing the Island Express hop-on-and-off bus as soon as you arrive, both of these take hours and will leave you famished, so taking food is a must.
There are plenty of dining options on the island, from the General Store which has groceries and picnic supplies, to the bakery (our choice – they have fantastic pies, pasties and sausage rolls including vegetarian options) and more upmarket cafes and restaurants. You can’t leave without a scoop of Simmos Icecream.
Getting Around Rottnest Island
Rottnest is a small island, but it’s a long way if you’re planning to walk or bike it. With children on a day trip, I would advise catching the air conditioned Island Explorer Service bus, which is what we decided upon. The bus makes continuous circuits of the entire island, so you can jump off at each point if you like to take a quick look. The buses run every 30 minutes and cost $50 for a family of two adults and one child. Tickets can be booked online, from the Visitor Centre or Main Bus Stop vending machines.
If you’re staying on the island, you can make use of the free Accomodation Shuttle Bus that runs between the main accomodation areas on the island.
Exploring Rottnest by bike is also very popular, particularly when you’re staying a bit longer than just one day. If you have your own bike, you can bring it on the ferry across to Rottnest. If you need to hire one, you can do so from either of the ferry services before boarding or from Rottnest Island Pedal & Flipper.
By Foot The main settlement is very walkable and even has two playground areas for kids. We walked from the main settlement to The Basin back again via Pinky Beach and the lighthouse.
If you’re after a more challenging walk, try the Wadjemup Walk Trail, which is made up of five sections (50km in total).
Where to stay
While we took a day trip to Rottnest Island, there are lots of accomodation choices should you wish to stay longer.
There easiest way to get to Rottnest Island is the ferry. The ferries book up fast in popular seasons so be sure to book well in advance.
Rottnest Island ferry companies provide transfers to the island from Perth City, North Fremantle (Rous Head), Fremantle (Victoria Quay) and Hillarys Boat Harbour in Perth’s north. Rottnest ferries take approximately 25 minutes from Fremantle, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour, or 90 minutes from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.
Join the maddest tea party in town this summer, with the Sydney Opera House’s brand new tea party with a twist – The Funatorium.
Directed by former Circus Oz Artistic Director, Mike Finch, the Funatorium is a wild show for kids full of top talents from the worlds of circus and cabaret.
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic story, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, the Funatorium is a completely immersive, engaging and absolutely crazy cabaret that is designed to enthral the littlest guests and leave them wondering if what they’ve seen on stage is magic or trickery, or just absolute mayhem.
Kids who love the story will adore seeing some of their favourite characters brought to life, such as the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Red Queen. Those who aren’t familiar with the story will still enjoy the show immensely however, as, just as the tea party in Alice in Wonderland is a manic array of nonsense, so to is this one. It’s funny, silly and breathtaking as a stand alone show.
The feverish blend of acrobatics, juggling, singing, hula-hooping, balancing, aerial acts, singing and comedic acts is the perfect mix of charm, delirium and total chaos. So, basically, the most perfect tea party a kid (or their parent!) could imagine.
Tips For Attending The Funatorium
Most searing is General Admission. Queues begin to form about 45 minutes before the show starts, so I would advise lining up early to get good seats.
Kids hungry? The snack bar has a Mad Hatter’s Kids’ Tea available for $15 that includes a juice box, small cupcake, popcorn, fruit and Smarties.
If you’re coming in on a week day, the cheapest option is bus and train to Circular Quay. On weekends, use Book-A-Bay to get a cheaper parking spot under the Sydney Opera House.
Give the kids plenty of time before and after the show to enjoy the free Summer Playground, which is run both inside and outside the Playhouse until January 29, 2017 and includes plenty of large games and a large sandpit.
The Funatorium January 7 – 22nd, 2017
Recommended for ages 5 and up
The Studio, Sydney Opera House Buy Tickets
Thank you so much to the Sydney Opera House for hosting us. All opinions are our own.
This summer in Sydney, you can visit a beach where you won’t get a sunburn or sand in your cossies. For the first time in Australia, The Beach, an interactive art exhibition, is available for Sydney-siders to play in an ocean made up of 1.1 million recyclable polyethylene balls, gently lapping against a 60-metre wide shoreline free of sand.
The Beach is the creation of Snarkitecture, a New York-based art and architecture collaborative practice, whose name is drawn from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark, a poem describing the “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.” In its search for the unknown, Snarkitecture creates architectural-scale projects, installations, and objects.
By transforming the familiar into the extraordinary, Snarkitecture makes architecture perform the unexpected – which is exactly what we experienced at The Beach.
To take a dip in The Beach, you can either do what we did, which is visit between 10am and 5pm and get free access, or skip the queues with one of their paid ticketed sessions. Every morning there is an all-ages ticket session from 9am-10am as well as an 18+ only session on Friday and Saturday nights.
We decided to arrive at 9:20am on a Sunday and thought we might be the first people there – how wrong we were. The line already had a lot of people in it, but we took turns waiting in the line and taking Cheese rock climbing around the Cutaway so time went fast.
At 10am on the dot we were ushered in and made a beeline for the area next to the shallow end. We had hoped to grab a giant floatie but sadly were too late. You are permitted to bring your own, but who can fit a huge flamingo on the train? People tended to latch on to the equipment and not let it go even when they’d stopped using it, so I had no problem asking someone who had finished playing with the one they’d held on to for a long time if we could have a turn, and similarly was happy to pass ours on to other people when we’d had one for a good amount of time.
At first leap in, the ball pit was somewhat scary for Cheese. At its deepest the ball pit is one metre deep, which is pretty much as high as she is. Initially it was a frightening experience for her to sunk under the balls and not be able to get back up again, but after she realised she wasn’t going to get hurt if she was swallowed by them, she started to really have fun and didn’t want to leave.
The ball pit was a lot more work than I had expected it to be! Once your feet are swept out from underneath you, it takes a massive amount of effort to stand back up and haul yourself out. I would say that’s my gym work out done and dusted for the entire week.
We had the most fun jumping into the pit both front ways and also backwards, and playing catch with the giant blow up balls. Cheese tried surfing on a huge ice cream cone floatie and found a bucket to fill and move balls around, including dumping them over her head, our heads, anyone’s heads.
There is a great little shallow end at one side of the beach that is perfect for wheelchairs and little kids. It’s nice for small ones to be able to sit and play with the balls without sinking to their heads, which is what happens in the main area.
Tips for visiting The Beach
If you lose something in the ball pit you will have to wait until they drain it at the end of Jan to retrieve it, so leave all valuables like phone, keys, loose jewellery in the buckets provided.
It’s pretty hot in the ball pit, and sweaty work getting in and out. Take lots of water and leave it with your bag on the beach.
If you arrive early for the first session you will wait the least amount of time during the day as once you are in you can stay as long as you want. Most people stay around 45 minutes, but we stayed for an hour and a quarter.
There is no pass to leave and return, so go to the bathroom beforehand.
There are baby changing facilities available in the restrooms outside, opposite the elevator.
You can take your phone/camera into the ball pit but be very careful not to drop it. I would suggest taking a camera with a neck strap.
There is a coffee cart and food vans outside for before/after snack attacks.
Strollers must be left in the designated parking area outside The Beach.
Final important Q&A thanks to the Barangaroo website
ARE BALL PITS UNHYGIENIC?
GermBLOCKTM antimicrobial balls have been used to create The Beach. This safe, powerful agent provides antimicrobial protection for everyone against 50 different germs and bacteria for the life of the ball. It cannot be rubbed, scrubbed, or wiped off. Each ball is moulded from 100% recyclable nontoxic materials.
CAN THE BALLS BE RECYCLED?
Yes, in fact The Beach balls have already been recycled once thanks to the generous assistance of the Vinik Family Foundation and The Beach Tampa. The Sydney Festival is working with local plastic recycling services to make sure every single ball is recycled after the event. They are composed of a nontoxic Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) which makes them a “Type 4” Plastic for recycling purposes.
The Beach provides wheelchair access by way of an accessible ramp that can accommodate guests using a push or electric wheelchairs. Guests will have full access to all areas of the shore, out onto the piers and onto a shallow ball area along one of the mirrored walls. This area is clearly marked with white and grey flags. Between these flags, the balls have a maximum depth of 250mm. This will allow guests to remain in their wheelchairs and move around the balls. Check out this great blog post on Have Wheelchair Will Travel for more info.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
There are entrances to Barangaroo Reserve from Towns Place, Hickson Road, Munn Street Reserve and Merriman Street. The entrance to the Cutaway is near Hickson Road and Nawi Cove.
Public transport: Catch the train to Wynyard and Circular Quay and walk (approximately 1.1km). The closest bus stops are on Hickson Road at the Nawi Cove entrance, and are serviced by routes 324 and 325, which depart from Town Hall; and route 311, which runs between Central Station and Argyle Street.
By car: An underground carpark is located off Towns Place. You can also park on Hickson Road.
The Beach at the Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve
Dates: 7–29 January, 2017
7–8, 10–15, 17–22, 24–29 January from 10am–5pm
Tue–Sun, closed Mondays
Last admission for free entry at 3:30pm
All Ages Ticketed Sessions 7–8, 10–15, 17–22, 24–29 January at 9am-10am Tue–Sun, closed Mondays Tickets only valid for stated session times Cost: $15 pp
The Cutaway at Barangaroo Reserve Hickson Road Entrance Barangaroo 2000
One of the absolute best things about living in Australia is the stunning natural environment we live in. A hour and 15 minutes south of Sydney is a gorgeous spot called Wattamolla, located in the Royal National Park.
While it’s well-known as a spot to swim, snorkel, picnic and generally laze about, it’s also an historic area, with “Wattamolla” being the name the local Aboriginal people gave it many years before Europeans arrived.
“Wattamolla” means “place near running water” – a highly appropriate name for an area that is a cove, lagoon and beach. In 1796 Matthew Flinders, George bass and William Martin came across the cove while exploring, and recorded its name as “Watta-Mowlee”, but is today spelt Wattamolla.
Today, Wattamolla is a popular spot for families, as well as groups of all ages, due to it’s wide variety of activities to do there. The beach has sparkling clear water, edged by rocks that are fun for climbing.
Then there’s the lagoon deeper into the cove, which is perfect for little kids to swim in. It’s shallow and calm, so kids of all ages can paddle, swim and play at its shore safely. Adults love to bring giant floats and canoes to the lagoon and wile away the day floating around.
A pretty waterfall flows over the rocks at the back of the lagoon, and is a popular spot for daredevils to jump from into the water below, despite a large fence being erected and big warning signs cautioning people not to dive or jump from the rocks.
Tips For Visiting Wattamolla
Arrive early! Wattamolla is extremely popular and there is limited parking near the beach. We arrived at 10:30 and the parking lot was almost completely full. I would suggest arriving no later than 9:30 to enjoy the beach with few people there.
It’s a 250m walk from the car park to the beach along a narrow rocky path with lots of stairs.
There is no stroller access or paved path on the beach.
The lagoon is edged with plenty of trees to set up a blanket and picnic spot, but many visitors choose to bring their own tents with them.
There is no food available at Wattamolla, so bring a picnic with you down to the beach, or use the free barbeque areas near the parking lot to make your own lunch.
There is also no water available, so bring plenty with you.
While there are bathrooms at Wattamolla, they are located next to the parking lot so go before you walk down.
The beach is free to visit but entry to the Royal National Park costs $12 per vehicle per day and payment is cash only.
There is little to no mobile reception at Wattamolla.
The Royal National National Park is open 7am to 8.30pm but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
Beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents.