The first of three missing links in the Great Southern Walk has been completed, with a new 1 km track featuring more than 400 sandstone steps linking the bush to the beach.
The new section from Bald Hill to Stanwell Park connects the Royal National Park to the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area.
The Great Southern Walk will eventually be a 67 km coastal track from Kurnell in Sydney’s south to the Southern Gateway Centre at Bulli Tops.
Construction of the new section, a steep descent off the escarpment, required more than 150 tonnes of sandstone steps and other materials flown onto the site by helicopter.
About 64 km of the $17 million Great Southern Walk has now been completed.
Minister for the Illawarra and South Coast and Keira MP Ryan Park said the Great Southern Walk would drive local tourism, boost local business and “put the South Coast on everyone’s bucket list”.
“The new walking track provides local residents with safe pedestrian access to Bald Hill lookout and delivers much-needed pedestrian access from Stanwell Park train station to this popular tourist destination,” he said.
The walk will incorporate existing walking tracks through the Kurnell Peninsula, the iconic Royal Coast Track and tracks through the Illawarra Escarpment, with some new connecting tracks in both Royal National Park and the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area and upgraded tracks in Kamay Botany Bay National Park.
The Sydney section of the walk will start at Kamay Botany Bay National Park at Kurnell, cross the peninsula to Cronulla, through Royal National Park from Bundeena to Bald Hill and then through the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area.
The Illawarra section of the Great Southern Walk will link from Bald Hill and Stanwell Park, adjacent to the southern entrance to Royal National Park, and through the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area to the Southern Gateway Centre at Bulli Tops.
Existing and new camping areas will be available along the route for overnight stops. Bonnie Vale campground, which has welcomed campers for decades, offers powered and unpowered sites and upgraded amenities.
Two new campgrounds are proposed for Royal National Park at Wattamolla and Garie, including camping platforms, basic hiker huts, amenities and camp kitchen.
A walk-in campground and basic hut accommodation are proposed for the Maddens Plains area of the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area.
The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) is working on the design and environmental assessment of the proposed campsites.
The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said the final track would offer a world-class bushwalking experience on Sydney’s doorstep.
“Completing this ‘missing link’ between Bald Hill and Stanwell Park is a major step towards finalising the Great Southern Walk,” she said.
For more information on the walk, and track closures for upgrade work, visit the NSW Environment website.