School excursion

A local ecosystem at Bonnie Vale

Stage 6 (Years 11-12), Biology, Royal National Park

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Senior science students will hone their fieldwork skills in this Stage 6 (Years 11-12) Biology excursion in Royal National Park. Located on the Hacking River estuary, Bonnie Vale is an ideal site for studying wetlands as ‘A Local Ecosystem’.

Read more about A local ecosystem at Bonnie Vale

Bonnie Vale is a popular riverside picnic area. It's well known for its diverse vegetation, clear water and abundant wildlife. 

Here, senior science students will investigate the mangroves of Cabbage Tree Basin to measure environmental conditions. They'll observe specialised adaptation features of plants and animals and examine co-dependencies that enhance their chance for survival. 

This excursion provides a unique opportunity for students to use a variety of fieldwork sampling techniques. Students will gather diverse data and obtain a solid understanding of this fragile and important ecosystem.

For program outline, safety and practical information about this excursion, see info for teachers

Stage Stage 6 (Years 11-12)
Learning area Biology
Student outcomes

BIO11/12-2. Designs and evaluates investigations in order to obtain primary and secondary data and information

BIO11-10. Describes biological diversity by explaining the relationship between a range of organisms in terms of specialisation for selected habitats and evolution of species

Students will:
  • Measure and compare abiotic factors in the wetlands
  • Dip-net to identify animals found in the ecosystem
  • Examine and identify adaptations of plants and animals
  • Use a transect to determine distribution and abundance of species
  • Identify examples of relationships in the Bonnie Vale ecosystem.

Excursion details


Weekdays during school term

Easy. Guided activities along a bush track, next to a fresh water pond, in the mangroves and at the edge of the water.

$28 per student for groups of 25 or more. GST included. For smaller groups conditions apply. 

No wheelchair access
Meeting point
Bonnie Vale picnic area approximately 100m along Sea Breeze Lane.
No. All equipment is provided.
If you would like to organise a NPWS school excursion please get in touch with local staff or use the 'Enquire' link for the online form.
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Info for teachers

All the practical information you need to know about A local ecosystem at Bonnie Vale.

Program outline

  • Welcome, acknowledgement of Country and safety talk 
  • Morning tea and toilet break 
  • Observations at a fresh water pond. Walk the bush track in the direction of the mangroves. 
  • Study the adaptations of a mangrove plant and a wetland animal 
  • Measure abundance and distribution using a transect and quadrats
  • Measure and compare abiotic factors along the transect
  • Dip-net to sample estuary species
  • Identify examples of predation, competition, parasitism, allelopathy, mutualism or commensalism
  • Lunch and toilet break 
  • Recap and farewell

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Bonnie Vale picnic area is in the Bundeena area of Royal National Park.

    To drive there from Audley:

    • Drive across Audley Weir and continue along Sir Bertram Stevens Drive for approximately 10km
    • Turn left onto Bundeena Drive and continue to Bundeena township
    • As you enter the town, turn left onto Sea Breeze Lane and follow the signs.

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Weather restrictions

    • All weather


    Parking is available at Bonnie Vale picnic area. Think about car pooling as visitor numbers in these areas often exceed available parking.


    • Take a train to Cronulla, then walk for 5 minutes to Cronulla ferry wharf.
    • Take the ferry from Cronulla wharf to Bundeena wharf.
    • When you arrive at Bundeena wharf you'll see a map showing you the route to walk to Bonnie Vale picnic area, which takes about 15 minutes.

    What to bring

    Please wear fully enclosed shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, wet weather gear, and lunch which should be low waste with a refillable water bottle. Students should bring gear in a backpack or similar (not plastic bags). Please note: Drinking water is not available. Wear a pair of shoes that can get wet and bring a change of shoes/socks and a small towel. Students should bring a clipboard, worksheets, pens and pencils.

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    Pre activity briefing: participants will be briefed at the start of the activity/day.

    Safety equipment: NPWS staff carry radios and first aid kits, hold current first aid certificates and are aware of emergency procedures.

    Staff accreditation: NPWS staff have current Senior First Aid accreditation. They are experienced in working with groups of students in the natural environment and have excellent knowledge of the specific areas they are visiting including potential hazards. NPWS is committed to a Child Safe and Friendly Environment. Our staff have been screened for child-related employment and have completed a Working with Children Check.

    Emergencies: NPWS staff are trained to deal with emergencies and emergency procedures are in place. Ongoing supervision of a student following first aid treatment will be the responsibility of the visiting school.

    Risk assessment and risk benefits

    Our rangers and guides have the technical skill and experience to assess the risks and the benefits of a variety of activities delivered as part of our learning programs.

    We believe in including opportunities that allow students to learn and experience for themselves through exploration in the natural environment.

    Please make your own risk assessment based on the information provided. Detailed potential risks and controls are provided for the site to assist teachers in risk management planning. Teachers and carers should be aware of, and consider the needs, abilities and medical conditions of students when visiting this site. The supervision of students remains the responsibility of the teacher. The school must ensure an adequate number of adult supervisors are present.


    Disability access level - no wheelchair access

    Wheelchair accessible car park, picnic area and toilets; if you have someone with special needs, please let us know in advance so that we can plan accordingly.