G’day mate! For most of January, I awoke in various locations throughout the big, wondrous land down under: Australia.
A trip of a lifetime amounted to an ever-growing adventure. Every day was a unique journey, each moment, an exciting exploration. While abroad, I found ways to stay healthy and fit, which can be difficult to prioritize during travel. As I share a few insights from my three-week trip, I’ve decided to break it down into three parts: my favorite hike, workout tips from a local expert, and eating like an aborigine. This is part one.
Royal National Park is an hour drive away from the big city of Sydney, and it holds the naturally formed phenomenon of the Figure 8 Pools on a rocky, coastal shelf. I’d like to clarify, for those ready to Google images, that there is actually only one figure eight formation. The rest are crystal blue, perfectly round holes deep enough to jump in and as such, they have become an Instagram sensation. However, what social media doesn’t share is the extremely arduous trek to get there.
Arriving at the Figure 8 Pools requires, first checking the wave risk forecast, which ranges from Extreme to Very Low, on the NSW National Parks website. If unchecked, it can leave tourists stranded with rising tides and crashing waves. It also demands a good amount of endurance. Upon parking at Garrawarra Farm carpark, it’s a six-kilometer, descending walk through the forest, along the mountain, on a narrow trail just suitable for one person in both directions (and sometimes only one at a time). Once at sea level, you’ll walk across Burning Palms Beach, a remote beach akin to a scene out of “Lord of the Flies” or “The Beach.” After crossing the sands, the final part of the journey concludes with navigating across a dangerous, slippery rock shelf.
If the view of the mountains meeting the ocean doesn’t take your breath away, the energy of the journey surely will. The hiking grade is rated Hard, with a total round-trip time of three hours.
I didn’t travel all the way to Australia to take the easy path, and if you’re physically inclined, you should definitely add this hike to your travel bucket list.