Kamay Botany Bay National Park may be one of Sydney’s lesser-known natural preservation areas, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. In fact, there are plenty of great things to do in Kamay Botany Bay National Park – so many in fact that you’ll likely want to return again and again. A visit to Kamay is a perfect easy day trip from Sydney.
These spectacular stretches of coastline run around to the northern and southern headlands of Botany Bay, so can be explored on both sides – from La Perouse on the northern side and Kurnell on the southern.
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What is Kamay Botany Bay National Park?
Kamay Botany Bay National Park is a large nature preserve located less than 20km from the Sydney CBD. The two sections of the park stretch out on both sides of the headland of Botany Bay.
The park has a rich history as it houses the landing place of Captain Cook when he discovered Australia as well as holding significant historical sites of Australia’s First Nations people.
It is also the site where famous botanist, Joseph Banks, collected plant specimens and even had the Australian native flower, Banksia, named after him.
This area was intended to be the location for the first settlement of Europeans in the country, however when the First Fleet of convicts arrived, they quickly pivoted and moved the site of their settlement to Port Jackson.
Kamay is in fact the Aboriginal name for Botany Bay. The history of the ship Endeavour’s landing in Botany Bay is challenging, with stories reporting that Captain Cook’s men shot an Aboriginal man brandishing a spear on the shore when landing.
That said, there are stories of a more friendly relationship between the First Fleet settlers and the First Nations people of Kamay prior to the settlers moving to Port Jackson.
The part was designated a National Park in 1984 and is on both the New South Wales and Australian National Heritage Registers.
Where to stay to visit Kamay Botany Bay National Park
The best part about Kamay Botany Bay National Park’s location is that it is not far at all from Sydney’s CBD, so it is completely fine to pick a centrally located accommodation option and stay in one of these beautiful Sydney accommodation options. Otherwise, there are some options available around the Botany Bay area that are even closer to the park, such as the Novotel Brighton Beach in my very own suburb, Brighton-le-sands.
Getting to Kamay Botany Bay National Park
Kamay Botany Bay National Park is divided up into two parts, so first of all you need to decide which side you’re going to visit. The northern headland side is La Perouse and the southern side is Kurnell.
To visit the Northern Headland at La Perouse
To drive from Sydney’s CBD, the trip to the northern side of Kamay Botany Bay will take around 30 mins. Simply plug La Perouse Museum into the GPS and you’ll find your way there. There’s parking at Conwong Beach, Dharawal Resting Place and Cape Banks and a little bit of street parking is also available on Anzac Parade.
There are no park entry fees for the La Perouse side of Kamay Botany Bay National Park, either.
From the Sydney CBD, a bus trip will take just over 45 mins and will cost less than $5. Catch the 392, 399 or 394 bus from Elizabeth Street in the city, right near St James Station.
Ride all the way to the Anzac Parade Terminus – the final stop.
To visit the Southern Headland at Kurnell
The drive out to Kurnell is a little further than La Perouse, with a drive taking just under an hour. Enter from either Sir Joseph Banks Drive or Botany Bay National Park. There’s parking in several spots around the park including the Kurnell Visitor Centre, Inscription Point, Yena Picnic Area and Cape Solander among others.
Entry to this side of Kamay Botany Bay National Park costs $8 per car or you can buy an annual pass to enter NSW National Parks if you feel you’ll be exploring a lot!
The trip via public transport is a pretty epic journey. From the CBD, you’ll need to get a T4 line train headed for Cronulla and then change at Cronulla Station for the 987 bus line to the stop on Captain Cook Drive after Polo Street.
From there, you’re a brief walk to the Kurnell Visitor Centre.
Top things to do in Kamay Botany Bay National Park
1. Find the secret cave at Cape Solander
This cave is truly a magical spot that I was only made aware of from an Instagram shot taken in the park. The cave doesn’t seem to be signposted anywhere, so finding it is a massive challenge.
I located it (with some help from some other friendly cave-seekers) after literally two hours of walking around the rocks at the headland on the Kurnell side and finally located it right near the Cape Solander Lookout car park.
It’s absolutely worth exploring if you’re game, though you need to be very careful as you’ll be climbing over rocks at the cliff edge. The tiny cave has a beautiful vista out over the ocean with a window-like round hole above. 100% picture perfect.
2. Have a picnic at Yena Picnic Area
The lush, green grass of Yena Picnic area at the Kurnell Visitor Centre is perfect for a romantic picnic or a family day out. Heck, it’s even great for a solo visitor wanting to throw down a rug and get stuck into a good book in peace.
The picnic area overlooks the rocky coastline of Kurnell and on a clear day you can see across to La Perouse on the other side of the bay.
3. Visit Bare Island
Bare Island is located on the La Perouse side and is absolutely one of the best things to do in Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Connected to the mainland by a wooden pedestrian footbridge, this islet is a rare example of late nineteenth century naval defence.
There’s a near complete fort and tunnels on the island, though to visit these you’ll need to be on a guided tour.
4. Visit the site of Captain Cook’s landing
Captain Cook’s Landing Place is located on the southern headland side of Kamay Botany Bay National Park in Kurnell. Also known as Inscription Point, this site has a small plaque commemorating the landing and is accessed via the Burrawang Walk.
5. Check out the Cape Baily Lighthouse
Along the Cape Baily track is the Cape Baily Lighthouse. A still-operational tower that guides ships out to sea positioned on the coast of the southern headland of Kamay Botany Bay.
The lighthouse is quaint and unassuming and has been a feature of the headlands since 1950. It is currently solar powered.
6. Explore Indigenous Australian & First Fleet History
There’s so much history to be explored in Kamay Botany Bay National Park on both sides. The landing place of Captain Cook and the Meeting Place memorial on the Kurnell side of the park tell the story of the first encounter of Australia’s First Nations people and the white explorers.
On the La Perouse side, The Macquarie Watchtower and La Perouse Museum tell tales of the country’s colonial past and the Dharawal Resting Place holds special significance to our Indigenous people with ancestral remains buried here.
7. Keep an eye out for whales
There are many great spots in Sydney to keep an eye out for migrating humpback whales playing off the coast, but it is hard to imagine a better vantage point that on the rocks cliffs at the north and south headlands to Botany Bay.
In particular, Cape Solander has a great viewing platform to set up camp and watch for the plumes of water shooting up from the ocean that indicate whales are nearby.
8. Spot the Cliff Dweller ruins
Can you believe that people used to live on the cliffs of Kamay Botany Bay National Park?
Named the Tabbigai Cliff Dwellers, these people built homes on the cliffs, leveraging the natural cave-like landscape to make their residences.
These houses existed from around 1920 right up to 1969 until the cliff dwellers were told to leave the crown lands. You can still see their remains as you walk along from Cape Solander to the Tabbigai Gap.
9. Walk the Henry Head Track
There are so many great walks in Sydney and the Henry Head Walking Track is a great option for those wanting to explore the La Perouse side of Kamay Botany Bay by foot. For 4km walking, you’ll be able to take in fantastic views of Congwong Beach and walk all the way out to the Endeavour Lighthouse at Henry Head.
There’s plenty of fantastic bird watching to be taken in on this walk and if you’re keen to keep going, you can continue to hike out to Cape Banks.
10. Admire the unique rock formations
The best part about Kurnell is the amazing rock formations that have been created from years of erosion. The patterns and colours in the sandy stone are totally unique and completely fascinating.
So, if you do nothing else on this side of the bay, know that one of the best things to do in Kamay Botany Bay National Park is to simply enjoy clambering over the rocks and admiring the craggy, patterned scenery around you.
11. Go for a swim at Congwong Beach
There’s a few great beaches around Botany Bay, but the pick of the bunch has to be the pristine waters of Congwong Beach. This beach is perfect for snorkelling and for families to have a day out. Either end of the beach is also well-liked by local fishermen and there’s plenty of marine life to discover.
12. Admire the sculptures at Kurnell
Kurnell has picked up its game in the arts scene with three sculptures being installed along the waterfront. The sculptures feature a Humpback Whale with her calf, traditional Aboriginal canoes and a more abstract installment called The Eyes of the Land and Sea. The latter sculpture is designed to conjure images of the ribs of a whale, but also the shape of the tall ships that arrived in this very area so many years ago.
13. See the breathtaking beauty of Cape Solander
The rugged cliffs of Cape Solander have to be seen to be believed. Starting from the Cape Solander viewing platform, a vista of white, brown and reddish sandstone can be seen as the waves crash onto the rocks below. This is the perfect whale watching spot and also is a great point to kick off the Cape Baily track walking along the headland.
14. Walk the Cape Baily Track
The Cape Baily track is a superb walk that takes hikers from Cape Solander to the Cape Baily Lighthouse. The walk runs along the cliff tops overlooking the ocean and though it is around 2-3 hours long for a return trip, the walk itself is not challenging. It’s also less frequented than some of the walks in the neighbouring Royal National Park, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, this is a great option.
15. Visit the Macquarie Watchtower
The Macquarie Watchtower and surrounds are located on the northern headland side of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Right next to the La Perouse museum, this historic structure is one of the earliest colonial structures in Australia. Built in the 1820s, the tower has had a few uses – it began as a customs house and eventually ended up as a school.
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