Kurnell area

Kamay Botany Bay National Park

Overview

Kurnell area is at the southern headland of Kamay Botany Bay National Park, near Cronulla. Go whale watching or explore some of NSW's most significant heritage sites—and see why Kurnell Peninsula headland was included in the National Heritage List in 2004.

Read more about Kurnell area

Kurnell Visitor Centre is a great place to start your exploration of Botany Bay’s southern headland. Learn about local Aboriginal culture and history, including encounters with the crew of HMS Endeavour in 1770. Wander the art gallery, and then grab a coffee on your way out to explore the rest of Kurnell.

It’s just a short drive from the visitor centre to Cape Solander viewing platform – one of Sydney’s best vantage points for whale watching.

If you’re into snorkelling and scuba diving, try diving around Inscription Point or off the more sheltered Sutherland Point. Lace up and walk the self-guided Banks-Solander track, or follow Burrawang Walk past several of the area’s historic sites, including Captain Cook’s Landing Place. Cape Baily track offers the opportunity for a longer walk through beautiful native vegetation — keep your eyes peeled for native birds.

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/kurnell-area/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about the Kurnell area.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    • Kurnell is on Captain Cook Drive, access is via Rocky Point Road, off the Princes Highway.
    • At Kurnell, turn right off Captain Cook Drive into Cape Solander Drive
    • To access Potter Point, turn right off Captain Cook Drive into Sir Joseph Banks Drive.

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Parking

    Parking is available (including designated disabled spots in most car parks) at:

    • Cricket Pitch
    • Kurnell Visitor Centre
    • Commemoration Flat
    • Inscription Point
    • The Leap
    • Yena picnic area
    • Cape Solander
    • Potter Point

    Best times to visit

    With its picturesque views and whale watching vantage points, a visit to Kurnell is unmissable in winter. But its countless historic attractions, birdlife and walking tracks make it a joy any time of year.

    Spring

    Take the Cape Baily walk to birdwatch, see the Cape Baily lighthouse, and if you're lucky, spot humpback whales returning south. Visit in November when daylight saving begins in NSW - It's lighter for longer and the Kurnell area is open until 7.30pm. Pack a picnic and enjoy the cool sea breeze at Commemoration Flat.

    Summer

    Bring your scuba gear and explore the rocky reefs at Botany Bay's entrance, including Sutherland and Inscription Points and maybe even glimpse sea horses and sea dragons. Cool off with a quiet saltwater swim at Silver Beach. Pack a picnic and summer can be a busy time at this park.

    Winter

    Head to Cape Solander lookout to see migrating humpback whales swimming close to the coast. Winter is a very busy time in this park, and parking is not always available at Cape Solander. Set off on the extended Henry Head walking track to photograph the SS Minmi shipwreck, just off Cape Banks (low tide only).

    Facilities

    Maps and downloads

    Fees and passes

    Park entry fees:

    $8 per vehicle per day applies in the Kurnell area only. The park has coin-operated pay and display machines - please bring correct coins. The park also has credit card accepting payment facilities.

    Annual passes and entry fees (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/passes-and-fees)

    Safety messages

    Bushwalking safety

    There are unfenced cliffs at this location. Don't walk close to cliff edges because the overhanging rocks may be very thin. Please stick to the marked walking tracks and supervise children closely.

    Fishing safety

    Fishing from a boat, the beach or by the river is a popular activity for many national park visitors. If you’re planning a day out fishing, check out these fishing safety tips.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Water activities

    Beaches, rivers and lakes in NSW national parks offer lots of opportunities for water activities. Please take care in the water and find out how to help your family and friends stay safe around water.

    Permitted

    • You can mountain bike on management trails only

    Fishing

    You can go fishing in Botany Bay from foreshore areas. A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.

    Prohibited

    Drones

    Flying recreational drones is not permitted in this park because it is located within 5.5km of an airfield or helicopter landing site. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) states that drones should not be flown within 30m of vehicles, boats, buildings or people, or within 5.5km of an airfield. Drones can also impact on public enjoyment and privacy, interfere with park operations, and may pose a threat to wildlife in some areas. Please contact the park office for consent if you wish to fly a drone for commercial filming or photography purposes. For more information, see the Drones in Parks policy.

    • No cycling on walking tracks 
    • Motorcycles and vehicles must be kept on public roads

    Camping

    Horses

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Visitor centre

    • Kurnell Visitor Centre
      21 Cape Solander Drive, Kurnell NSW 2231
    • Monday to Friday, 10am to 3.30pm. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, 9.30am to 4pm. Closed Christmas holiday.
    • 02 9668 2010

    Learn more

    Kurnell area is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    Whale watching

    People undercover using binoculars to spot whales, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Photo: Susan Aston Metham/OEH

    June/July is the best time to see humpback whales in this area as they migrate to warmer waters, and Cape Solander is a terrific lookout to get a glimpse of these majestic ocean giants.

    • Cape Solander Head to one of Sydney's best whale watching spots. Cape Solander, located in the Kurnell section of Kamay Botany Bay National Park is an unbeatable lookout during whale watching season.
    • Kurnell Visitor Centre Kurnell Visitor Centre is a one-stop shop for tourist information in Kamay Botany Bay National Park, near Cronulla in southern Sydney. Visit for maps, history, advice and exhibitions.

    Aboriginal culture to discover

    Cape Baily Coast walk, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Photo: Andy Richards

    At the time of the first encounters with Europeans, Aboriginal people of 2 different nations – the Goorawal People and the Gweagal People – were living in the area which now includes Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Significant Aboriginal sites have been recorded in the park, including middens and engravings.

    • Burrawang walk The easy Burrawang Walk in Kamay Botany Bay National Park in southern Sydney takes in several historic sites. A large section of this walk is wheelchair-accessible, starting at Kurnell Visitor Centre.

    Historic heritage

    Monument track, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Photo: Andy Richards

    Kurnell is Captain Cook's Landing Place and the point of first contact between Aboriginal people and the Endeavour crew. The Kurnell area of Kamay Botany Bay National Park is rich in both Aboriginal and European history and is certainly a cornerstone of the country's colonial history. One of Australia's earliest European explorers, James Cook, landed here in 1770. Cook's botanists, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, first explored Australia's natural world here. After the reports of Cook and Banks, Botany Bay was recommended as a suitable site for settlement but upon inspection by Captain Arthur Phillip it was found unsuitable as it had no secure fresh water or suitable anchorage – so Sydney Cove was set up as the penal colony instead

    • Captain Cook's Landing Place Visit Kamay Botany Bay National Park to see Captain Cook's landing place at Kurnell. The heritage-listed site is an important place in Australia's history.
    • First contacts at Kurnell In 1770, James Cook landed in Botany Bay on board the Endeavour. Directly ashore were the Aboriginal people of the Eora Nation. This Stage 2 (Years 3-4) history excursion will explore the first contact between Aboriginal clans and white settlers.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • White-bellied sea eagle. Photo: John Turbill

      White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

      White-bellied sea eagles can be easily identified by their white tail and dark grey wings. These raptors are often spotted cruising the coastal breezes throughout Australia, and make for some scenic bird watching. Powerful Australian birds of prey, they are known to mate for life, and return each year to the same nest to breed.

    Plants

    • Blueberry ash. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus)

      The blueberry ash is a rainforest shrub which produces blue olive-shaped berries and spectacular bell-shaped flowers, which often appear on the plant together. It is a tall slender shrub or small tree found in rainforest, tall eucalypt forest and coastal bushland in eastern NSW, south-east Queensland and Victoria.

    • Flannel flowers in Wollemi National Park. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

      Flannel flower (Actinotus helianthi)

      The delicate flannel flower is so named because of the soft woolly feel of the plant. Growing in the NSW south coast region, extending to Narrabri in the Central West and up to south-east Queensland, its white or pink flowers bloom all year long, with an extra burst of colour in the spring.

    • Old man banksia, Moreton National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

      Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)

      Hardy Australian native plants, old man banksias can be found along the coast, and in the dry sclerophyll forests and sandstone mountain ranges of NSW. With roughened bark and gnarled limbs, they produce a distinctive cylindrical yellow-green banksia flower which blossoms from summer to early autumn.

    • Smooth-barked apple. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata)

      Smooth-barked apple gums, also known as Sydney red gum or rusty gum trees, are Australian native plants found along the NSW coast, and in the Sydney basin and parts of Queensland. Growing to heights of 15-30m, the russet-coloured angophoras shed their bark in spring to reveal spectacular new salmon-coloured bark.

    Environments in this area

    School excursions (1)

    What we're doing

    Kurnell area has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents. Here is just some of the work we’re doing to conserve these values:


    Planning for the future

    The community is invited to have a say on the future of Kamay Botany Bay National Park by commenting on the Draft Plan of Management and Draft Master Plan before Thursday 2 August 2018.

    Have your say on the future of Kamay Botany Bay National Park

    Preserving biodiversity

    Biodiversity is integral to Kamay Botany Bay National Park, and efforts to preserve this are ongoing. Recovery plans, regeneration, maintenance and species monitoring are regularly carried out to protect, and where necessary rehabilitate, the park’s landscapes, ecosystems, vegetation communities and fauna and faunal habitats.

    Conservation program

    BioNet

    Uniting technology with the vast collection of information on biodiversity in NSW, BioNet is a valuable database open to any user. From individual plant sightings to detailed scientific surveys, it offers a wealth of knowledge about ecology and threatened species in NSW. 

    Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

    Pests and weeds have a significant impact to the ecosystems within Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Pest reduction of species such as bitou bush and boneseed, as well as risk assessment for new and emerging weeds, is an important part of the work NPWS does to protect the biodiversity values of this national park.

    Conservation program

    Bitou bush threat abatement plan

    Bitou bush poses a serious and widespread threat to threatened species populations and ecological communities on the NSW coast. The NPWS bitou bush threat abatement plan helps to reduce the impact of weeds at priority sites using control measures such as ground spraying, aerial spraying, biological control and physical removal.

    Historic heritage in our parks and reserves

    Preserving the abundant historic heritage of Kamay Botany Bay National Park is a priority for NPWS. Regular maintenance of monuments, buildings and other structures is carried out to protect the park’s heritage value and ensure important asset conservation. The park promotes visitor education and efforts to explain its cultural importance through the provision and regular upkeep of interpretive signage are ongoing.

    Conserving our Aboriginal culture

    Kamay Botany Bay National Park is renowned for its significant Aboriginal history, and Aboriginal communities’ links to the land remain strong. Aboriginal heritage within the park is substantial, and ongoing projects are in place to monitor the condition of key sites and assets. NPWS works to engage the wider community in celebrating the importance of this park and its cultural connections.

    Developing visitor facilities and experiences

    Community involvement is integral to Kamay Botany Bay National Park. To reflect this, the park hosts a variety of events, tours and other public and cultural offerings. NPWS regularly attends to the upkeep and installation of interpretive exhibitions throughout the park and updates are ongoing. NPWS engages with Aboriginal communities and other community interest groups where possible.

    Managing fire

    NSW is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world as a result of our climate, weather systems, vegetation and the rugged terrain. NPWS is committed to maintaining natural and cultural heritage values and minimising the likelihood and impact of bushfires via a strategic program of fire research, fire planning, hazard reduction, highly trained rapid response firefighting crews and community alerts.

    Conservation program

    Hazard reduction program

    Managing fire-prone NSW national parks requires a three-pronged approach, including fire planning, community education, and fuel management. When it comes to fuel like dead wood, NPWS conducts planned hazard reduction activities like mowing and controlled burning to assist in the protection of life, property and community.

    Cape Baily lighthouse, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Photo: John Spencer