Now that it is possible to freely cross state borders I really wanted to go to Queensland and finally see my friends on the Gold Coast again, maybe take my bike there to Noosa or to Mount Tamborine but, instead, I opted to visit something closer to home near Sydney: the Royal National Park.
It is said to be one of the world’s oldest parks and I’m not sure if it’s because it was founded in 1879 or because in the park you can find some aboriginal engravings which date back to who knows when.
I started my trip by reaching the town of Engadine by car which is about thirty minutes from the city center of Sydney. This town is located right on the western edge of the Royal National Park and it is from here that I set off to tackle one of the classic mountain bike routes in the park: the Lady Carrington path. To reach the entrance of the park, however, from Engadine, it is necessary to ride or walk your bike on the Princess Highway northwards for a few kilometers (there is a large emergency lane here) until you reach the park entrance sign.
It is enough to follow the signs to the Visitor Center and you can reach it rather quickly going down towards the sea. Treat yourself to a stop at the visitor center, where they can also give you directions and a useful map/pamphlet for your excursion. Australian parks are definitely wild and therefore wonderful to visit: I personally rode the route on a week day and I haven't met a soul out there on the trail! From the visitor center it is also possible to start the Loftus loop trail on foot or on your bike. The guy at the visitor center told me it is short but, as I have been told, very fun and beautiful.
As I said, I took the Lady Carrington path, and I crossed the Hacking River on a bridge. A little further on the road I decided to take a small detour from the main path and I walked a bit into the wild coastal vegetation typical of this area. Finally, I took a dirt road and as soon as I turned onto it a wallaby disturbed by my passage jumped away quickly, getting lost into a thick bush. The road I took follows the flow of the river from the valley to the mountain and is a continuous ups and downs to pass numerous small tributaries, almost all dry in the summer.
From the pamphlet they gave me at the visitor center I saw that it isn’t rare to see wallabies here as well as echidnas, iguanas, bats, possums and occasionally some sugar gliders, which are some marsupials that can glide from tree to tree but I never had the pleasure to see them in nature unfortunately.
You cross part of the rainforest so it is not difficult to see echidnas and iguanas and obviously colorful birds of all kinds.
The itinerary is not too demanding but one must bring plenty of water if you ride it between November and March like I did because the heat and humidity are exhausting! After a few kilometers of absolute isolation in the thick of vegetation you will reach the center of a waterfall from which you can take the Princess Highway again towards the north and return to the town of Engadine where most people park their cars or where some take the train back to Sydney.