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Off the Beaten Track in Sydney
Sydney has more to offer travellers than the Opera House and Bondi Beach. Just one hour south of the city is the Royal National Park. One of the oldest National Parks in the world and home to dramatic cliffs, peaceful rivers and acres of bush waiting to be explored. Black cockatoos fly overhead, white cockatoos gather in the tree tops, rose cockatoos (we call them Galahs in Australia), congregate below. A birdwatchers paradise, all kinds of lorikeets watch out for free offers of food and lyrebirds haunt the more isolated regions of the park. You probably won't find a koala, but the lucky individual might get to see a fox, wombat or echidna, and more than likely will see the tell-tale sign of deer.

Kurnell, southern end of Botany Bay and north of the Royal, is the birthplace of modern Australia: the landing place of Lieutenant James Cook. James Cook is one of the world's most famous and certainly most well-travelled early explorers. Cook and his crews made three great voyages into the unknown discovering and mapping the east coast of Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, any other Pacific Island they came across on the way and the North West passage.

The Botany Bay and Royal National Parks, provide excellent viewing points for whale and ship watching with access to cliffs and beaches seemingly far from the crowds. Whales migrate north every June & July for breeding in the warmer waters and it is relatively easy to get close enough [but still land-based] for some good photographs and great experiences. Just seeing these wonderful beasts glide through the water, rising to breathe and sink soundlessly to the depths again is an awe-inspiring moment!

Cronulla with its golden sands and pounding surf also offers protected inlets and entry into Port Hacking; safe haven for boats and other watercraft, and a natural area for experiencing our wonderful native birds and sea creatures. A simple trip out into its waters can catch you a fish or the experience of a lifetime as a whale breeches or dolphins come in to follow the local ferry service from Cronulla to Bundeena. Fairy Penguins used to be common in the bays and though now sadly missing from our shores can still be seen if you're very lucky and are extremely observant. Port Hacking also provides access to the river system that reaches into the Royal National Park via the Hacking River - even more places to swim, picnic and fish, and an old Aboriginal walled fishing site. The Botany Bay and Port Hacking region is part of the Dharawal nation of Aborigines with the Hacking area being home to the Gweagal people. Evidence of their once flourishing lifestyle is still available in the form of rock carvings and middens. The most well-known carvings, thousands of years old, are at the end of Jibbon Beach on the southern point of Port Hacking.

The area also has a thriving community arts, restaurant, pub and nightclub scene, so there's always something to do.

All this is easily within reach of the city via train or car. If you're coming to Sydney or planning a trip to Australia, don't forget to look a little further afield than the usual tourist jaunts. I promise you, a great adventure awaits!
About the Author
Trish Anderson is a freelance writer with desktop publishing, promotional material, content sourcing, location and information research, fiction critique and web group management skills tucked firmly into her workbelt. To find out about rates and other services, or to read more of her articles, visit Trish at beginningsmiddlesends.blogspot.com.
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