LA PEROUSE SYDNEY: La Perouse Coastal Walk

congwong beach la perouse Sydney

The La Perouse coastal walk in Sydney is a great walk to do if you have discovered Sydney’s other coastal walks. Starting at La Perouse, the coastal walk passes some historic sites and beautiful beaches before making it’s way through Botany Bay National Park and around Henry Head and Cape Banks where you can often spot migrating humpback whales during the winter months. Depending on how much energy you have, you can finish the walk at Little Bay, Malabar or even Maroubra. The walk does cross three golf courses so it definitely helps if you know what to expect before you start the walk – all the information you need is explained below, as well as all the many things to do in La Perouse!

How to get to La Perouse

I had actually put off going to La Perouse for a long time as it always seemed so far away from Sydney CBD that I thought it must be hard to get to. Turns out though that it is surprisingly easy and only 14km south of the CBD!
Bus:
If you are coming by public transport, getting to La Perouse from Sydney CBD is easy as it is just one bus all the way. Take the 394 or 399 bus from Circular Quay (Alfred Street, Stand B). The bus will take around 50 minutes and will drop you off at the Anzac Parade Terminus. (Anzac Parade goes all the way from Paddington down to La Perouse).
Car:
If coming by car it should take you about 30 minutes to get to La Perouse from Sydney CBD. You will find plenty free parking on the streets in La Perouse.

La Perouse

Incase you hadn’t realised La Perouse is French, you’ll certainly realise when you see the French flag by the bus stop. The area was named after the French explorer Jean-Francois de Galaup Com de La Perouse who landed here in 1788. There is a sign by the bus stop explaining more.

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La Perouse is located in Botany Bay and from here you can see across to the white sandy beaches of Brighton Le Sands and Lady Robinsons Beach on the other side of the bay. You can also see across to Kurnell – where Captain Cook landed, which lies on the Cronulla peninsula. You’ll also see the rather un-aesthetically pleasing cranes at Port Botany which kind of ruins the view a little, but just don’t look that way and you’ll be fine!

There is a great atmosphere in La Perouse and there are so many things to do here despite it being quite small! So before you do the Coastal Walk that will take you around Cape Banks and up to Malabar, Maroubra and even further if you wish, let’s not forget to enjoy what La Perouse has to offer. It packs in a lot and you can easily spend a few hours here before heading off on the walk.

WHAT TO DO IN LA PEROUSE

Snake Man

If you are here on a Sunday you can see the legendary La Perouse Snake Man from 1.30pm. The Snake Man tradition has been running every week since the 1800s (there have been several men performing over the years). At the time of writing however, due to COVID restrictions no shows are being performed so I will just have to come back in the future!
The Snake Man does his acts in the Snake Pit – an open enclosure which is in Cann Park just opposite the bus stop on Anzac Parade. Click here to see the location on Google maps. He has about 10 snakes and will introduce them all and show them to the crowd as well as explain a bit about each of the snakes. The types of snake include the Death Adder, Red Belly Black Snake, the Diamond Python and the fierce Brown Snake. Towards the end the Snake Man will pass around his hat – any donations are gratefully received. He will do about 4 shows on the Sunday afternoon, each one starting at half past the hour, before packing away at around 5pm.

La Perouse Museum

The Museum is open though and it has some information about the original ‘Snake Man’ as well as some local Aboriginal history and the expedition French navigator Jean-Francois de Galaup Com de La Perouse took. Admission is free but the museum is only open on Wednesday and Fridays from 10am-2pm, and on the weekends from 10am-4pm.
La Perouse Museum is located in the historic Cable Station building (once Australia’s only link to the rest of the world) on the grassy area just a few metres from Macquarie Watchtower. Macquarie Watchtower, also known as the Barrack Tower is an octagonal sandstone tower that was built in the early 1820’s. It is an important heritage building in the area, being the oldest building in Botany Bay as well as the earliest known surviving sandstone tower building in Australia.
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Bare Island

At the southern end of La Perouse is a little islet known as Bare Island. In 1770 Captain Cook first spotted the island and referred to it as ‘a small bare island’, hence the name. The island can be accessed by a bridge from La Perouse. There is a fort on the island that was built in 1885 to protect Sydney from invasion and on Sundays you can do a 45 minute tour of the island and fort (tour times 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm). Tickets cost $15 and you can buy tickets on the National Parks website.
However even if Bare Island is closed when you are here, you can still walk across the bridge and down to the rock platform below via the stairs at the end of the bridge. This is a popular place for rock fishing and people wandering on the rocks. You will see a big sign here telling you how many people have died in the area – a reminder to always be cautious and stay vigilant. The view of Congwong Beach and Little Congwong Beach from here is really nice.
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Scuba Diving

If you want to make a day of it in La Perouse why not try scuba diving?! Around Bare Island is a very popular spot for diving – in fact La Perouse is the most well known dive spot in Sydney! I probably saw about 30 divers whilst I was here. They said they saw lots of fish and even a shark (not a dangerous one)!

Frenchmans Beach

If you are stood at La Perouse looking out to Bare Island, head round to your right, past The Boat Shed and you’ll come to Frenchmans Beach. It is a lovely sandy beach but the view of the ugly red and yellow cranes at Port Botany does spoil it a little. If you walk along the beach and then turn your back to Port Botany however, you won’t be able to see the cranes and can enjoy the view across to Kurnell.
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Eat lunch!

Before you start the La Perouse coastal walk you’ll definitely want to stop off for some lunch. For the first few kilometres of the walk there aren’t any places to buy any food or drinks, so if you haven’t brought any food or snacks with you for the hike you’ll want to fill up in La Perouse. Head to The Boat Shed for some delicious $10 fish and chips takeaway (or you can dine in too on the beautiful verandah overlooking Frenchmans Beach). The Boat Shed has recently been renovated and there is a lovely vibe here, plus the decor is so nice!

LA PEROUSE COASTAL WALK

Congwong Beach

Now that your belly is taken care of we can start the walk! Near the bus stop and Snake Pit you’ll find the start of the Congwong Trail. There are some toilets and bins just before the steps that lead down to the path, so make sure you use them if you need to!
Head down the steps and onto Congwong Beach – a lovely sandy beach with nice views across to Bare Island and Kurnell. Walk to the end of the beach and then you’ll see the sign for Little Congwong Beach on your right.
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Little Congwong Beach

Little Congwong beach is about 600 metres from Congwong Beach and is actually a nudist beach. Someone has etched it into the path as you are walking so you know before you get there! I went there in the hopes that there wouldn’t be anyone naked on the beach, as from afar the beach looked beautiful. However as I got to the top of the stairs to go down to the beach I saw two old men standing there butt naked with everything hanging out so I chose not to venture down to the beach as it kind of put me off! Head back on the path you came to continue the walk.

Kamay Botany Bay National Park

At the crossroads where you turned off to go to Little Congong Beach, bear right down the path. The walk then continues through Kamay Botany Bay National Park (often just called Botany Bay National Park). Botany Bay National Park is split into two and this is the northern headland of the National Park. The rest of the National Park is on the southern headland at Cape Solander, between Kurnell and Cronulla. Both spots are a really good place for whale watching during the winter months!

From the start of the track Henry Head is about a 1.5km walk and Cape Banks is 3km away. Everything is signposted quite well so the path is easy to follow and fairly flat most of the way. I did this walk a few days after it had rained and so parts of the path were muddy. I was definitely glad I had appropriate footwear with me as flip-flops definitely wouldn’t have sufficed! Parts of the path lead on to boardwalk for a bit but the majority of it is on the dirt path and on the sandy Fire Trail. For this part of the walk you’ll be walking slightly inland in the bush so it will provide you with some much needed shade if it is a sunny day. The inland path means so you won’t have ocean views but there are a couple of openings in the bushes where you can look back onto Congwong Beach and Bare Island. You’ll also see (and hear!) several lizards scurrying around!

Bicycles are prohibited on this path and as it is a National Park dogs are also not allowed.
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Browns Rock

After about a kilometre or so on the track you’ll see a turning that leads down to Brown’s Rock. In my opinion the effort it takes to go down here and back up is not worth it. There are a lot of small steps and it is quite uphill going back to get back on the path! The walk down to Browns Rock is pretty uneventful and you get the same view across to Kurnell as you do from Congwong Beach.

Henry Head

Carry on along the path and you’ll come to Henry Head. Here you’ll see WWII bunkers and the Henry Head Lighthouse. There are lots of rocks to sit on if you wish to relax here for a bit and enjoy the view. Again whilst I was here there was a fair bit of water on the path so do wear trainers or walking shoes if it has rained lately.

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Cape Banks

The walk continues along to Cruwee Cove which is mostly just rocks and not sand like the map made it to look. You’ll then walk through the New South Wales Golf course. There is a walking track here that has only been recently built so you don’t have to walk through the golf course. Then turn right and go across the bridge to Cape Banks to look out to the ocean and try to spot some humpback whales between June and September.

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Continue along the path and you’ll see a WWII artillery placement by the rescue helipad and helicopter. You’ll probably want to use an offline map to help you for the next part of the walk – personally I always use maps.me. There are a few different small turnings you can turn off on your right, or walk along the Cape Banks Road inland and turn right at the Cemetery Firetrail. You should end up walking alongside a second golf course (The Coast Golf Club). There is a faint trodden path – just follow this and the wooden marker posts. Be really careful if people are playing golf and try to get onto the road safely as the walking path here still isn’t official and golfers will get annoyed at you. The road goes past the Golf Club building and you can get some takeaway food here at The Club House if you wish.

Little Bay Beach

Once you’ve managed to safely make it through the golf course head down to Little Bay Beach on your right. This is a cute sandy cove and the water is really lovely here. There are showers and toilets here if you need to freshen up, and Randwick Council provide free wifi here on the beach if you need it!

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When you leave Little Bay Beach to continue the walk you will briefly walk along a Golf Course again (sigh!) – this time the Randwick Golf Club. Do be careful when you turn the corner, especially if you are there on a sunny Saturday afternoon (prime golf time) like I was, as I nearly got hit by a golf ball! You can follow the footpath all the way along the coast to Malabar – just keep near to the coast and look out for golfers. Or you can walk across and into estate (onto Bilga Crescent and follow it round) and walk to Malabar through there if like me you are just sick of being paranoid you’re going to get knocked out by a golf ball. Maybe if you aren’t there on a Saturday like I was it won’t be so bad.

Malabar

Finally after Randwick Golf Course you will make it to Malabar. You’ll first come to Malabar rock pool which is just on your right at the end of Howe Street. Malabar rock pool is really beautiful and is fairly quiet as it is next to the rocks and not the beach – perhaps it is 200 metres or so to the right of the beach.

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You can walk to Malabar Beach on the rocks from the rock pool (most of the way!) but there is a footpath above with nice views that is better to walk on. There is also a sign saying that snakes have been spotted in this area so don’t go walking on the thick grassy parts and stick to the paths!

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At Malabar Beach there is a water station where you can refill your water bottle, there are also toilets, benches, a playground and BBQ stations above the beach for you to enjoy. There is plenty parking here if you will be driving to Malabar instead.

Malabar to Maroubra Walk

Note if you plan to continue the walk along the coast to Maroubra that often on Saturdays the coastal walk is closed. This is because the rifle range which is in close proximity to the coastal walk is often in use on Saturdays. Therefore check before you come to see if the path is closed, or just avoid coming on a Saturday! I had to come back the following day to complete this part of the walk!

If you still want to reach Maroubra though there is a shortcut you can take, so instead of walking to Maroubra on the coastal path you can walk on the streets. Go up Dacre Street and then at the roundabout at Franklin Street turn right. You and can reach Maroubra Beach from there in about 20 minutes and still get a view along the walk. Toilets are here at the roundabout if you need to go. Otherwise walk up to Anzac Parade to get the bus (again 394 or 399) if you are ready to head back home!

Toilets on the La Perouse Coastal Walk

– behind La Perouse Beach (Frenchmans Beach)
– next to the entrance to the track to Congwong Beach on Anzac Parade
– Little Bay Beach
– Malabar Beach

What to bring on the La Perouse Coastal Walk

  • sunhat and suncream
  • trainers
  • water bottle
  • camera
  • jacket incase it gets windy
If you would like inspiration on more Sydney coastal walks click here.

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