I have done a few walks in the Royal National Park near Sydney and I have really enjoyed each one of them, although they were all quite different! I have done a walk along the beach and a forest circuit, but the most recent one I did was to Palona Cave.
I found out about this walk when I was doing some research online to find new walks near me. I read a blog post of someone else that had done it and their story really piqued my interest. I kept it in the back of my mind and when a few friends and I were looking for a walk that was fairly local and not too intense, it seemed like the perfect option.
The drive to get to the start of the walk was beautiful in itself and it was like a breath of fresh air as we transitioned from suburbia to the smooth winding road amidst the green trees and shrubbery. The start of the walk was located on Lady Carrington Drive and is highlighted by parking areas on both sides of the road (very full when we got there, but we managed to get a park right next to the entrance) and some beautiful brick pillars that form a gate.
The track, at least for the first two thirds of the walk, is quite wide, which meant that the three of us were able to walk next to each other the majority of the time. This made conversation easier and we were able to enjoy a leisurely stroll, although our pace was probably a bit faster than a stroll!
Honestly, I dropped the ball a little bit on the planning before the walk, and I had a rough idea of how to get to the Cave and which turn off to take, but I wasn’t super confident, so we were aware of the possibility that we may end up just having a nice walk before turning around and heading back to the car. But in the end my prior research didn’t fail me, and I was able to spot the sign that indicated where we were meant to turn off the main track and start heading uphill. The blog post I read had said that the sign was facing the opposite direction when you approach so I was grateful that I managed to spot this sign and the track opposite it.
Once we turned off and started the climb, the track narrowed to the point that we were walking one at a time, which doesn’t lend as well to conversation, but it was also nice to enjoy the quiet – and let’s be honest, my heavy breathing also made me appreciate the fact that we weren’t in deep conversation. The uphill climb was not too intense which I was grateful for, although it was steeper than on the flat and required more focus to make sure I wasn’t going to trip and faceplant. When you are this focussed on your footing, you can sometimes miss out on the beauty of the rest of the walk, so we did take a moment to stop and take in the scenery.
It didn’t seem like it was too long before we reached the cave and there were 3 or 4 other groups of people there so we decided to keep going because from my research I knew there was a waterfall beyond the cave. We could hear it and it was about 15 to 20 metres down the track. It was not the biggest waterfall that I have been to, but it was beautiful, and because it was on the smaller side, we were able to climb up to the top of the waterfall and climb around on the rocks above it. This is always a plus for me!
One of the friends that I was with has been on a number of adventures with me and we have said on numerous occasions that we are bad for each other (or good depending on how you look at it) because as soon as one of us mentions swimming, we look at each other and say ‘I will if you will’ and then we inevitably will end up swimming, even if we didn’t bring swimming gear with us.
This happened on this particular walk and although we weren’t swimming as much as sitting in a pool of water, I still didn’t regret it. I climbed around next to the waterfall (being very careful as there were some holes that I was cautious not to fall into) and we managed to convince our other friend to join us.
After we had sat in the water long enough to start shivering, we hopped out and made our way back to the cave. I couldn’t get past a big rock that was there and had to find a way to climb it, which I eventually did, although I was covered in dirt by the end of it as it stuck to my wet clothes.
I really enjoyed this walk and the day was a beautiful mix of spending time with friends, exploring a new place, and swimming and climbing rocks. And then when we got back home, we all very much enjoyed a shower and some warm take away food which hit the spot after our earlier adventure.