St George & Sutherland Shire is a district about 25 km south of Sydney City, centred around the Georges River and bounded by Botany Bay and Port Hacking.
Sutherland Shire is primarily a residential area and is known as "the Shire". Its main tourist destinations are the beach suburbs of Cronulla, the bushland of Australia's oldest national park the Royal National Park and the first landing point of Captain Cook at Botany Bay in Kurnell.
It is surrounded by water, with the ocean to the east, Port Hacking to the south, the Georges River and Botany Bay on the north, and the Woronora River on the west, although the Menai area (east of the Woronora) is also considered part of the Shire. It has numerous opportunities for uncrowded swimming, boating, bushwalking, and exploring the parks, gardens and history of the area.
The Sutherland Shire is a destination to consider if you were looking to stay in Sydney, but want to avoid the expense, parking hassles, and crowds of the city centre. It offers cheaper accommodation, less crowds, free parking, access to beaches, parks, and bushland, shopping and other amenities and is an 30-40 minute train trip or drive to the attractions at the city centre.
St George is the area north of the Georges River and south of the M5. Mostly made up of residences, the areas directly north of the river like Oatley and Lugarno are especially quiet and hardly explored by visitors. The population is rapidly changing, epitomised by Beverly Hills and Hurstville, now hotspots for Chinese shops and restaurants.
Trains run on the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra and the South Coast line to the district every 15-30 minutes. The journey takes around 30-45 minutes. The city train stations of Central, Town Hall, Martin Place and Kings Cross offer a direct service. From the other city stations you will need to change at Central to platform 25.
From Sydney Airport catch any train from platform 2, change at Wolli Creek station to platform 4.
From the north there are three bridges over the Georges River that link to the Sutherland Shire. If you follow the Princes Highway south from the Sydney CBD towards Wollongong, you will enter the Sutherland Shire crossing the river at the Tom Ugly's Bridge. The journey will take around 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could travel along Rocky Point Road and cross Captain Cook bridge to enter the shire through Taren Point.
From the south Wollongong just follow the signs to Sydney via the Sydney freeway, and as soon as you seen the "Welcome to Sydney" sign, you have made it. The journey takes around 30 minutes but can be congested at peak times.
The cycleway from Sydney Olympic Park follows the Cooks River to the edge of Botany Bay through Southern Sydney. It enters the Sutherland Shire over the Captain Cook bridge and continues largely off-road or on quiet roads to Cronulla. It then continues on a wide shoulder on a 80km/hr road to Kurnell. The cycle route is signposted, but there are a couple of intersections that are not well marked, and you should do some research on the route and take a map so you don't get lost or end up on a very busy road.
There are bus connections to Miranda direct from Hurstville and from Rockdale. Both are slower and more expensive than the train. Parramatta, and Bankstown are linked to Sutherland by the high frequency M92. As with most public transport in Sydney, Transport NSW will give you all the timetable and routing information you need.
Car is the easiest way to quickly and easily get around the district. It takes around 20 minutes to drive from east to west, and around 15 minutes north to south.
By public transport
- Trains between Sutherland and Cronulla every 15 minutes, and every 30 minutes to other stations.
- Miranda tends to be main bus hub, with services running to Lilli Pilli, Sylvania (as well as Cronulla and Sutherland). Catch a bus to Sutherland for Menai, and points west of the Woronora River.
Transport NSW provides information on all bus and train times to any street address or attraction. It will recommend the quickest method at the time you wish to travel.
The area can be pleasant for cycling, but plan your route to avoid traffic and significant hill climbs. The three cross-routes from West to East, connect Illawong to Sutherland, Sutherland to Taren Point, and Taren Point to Cronulla and Kurnell.
Other sights in the Sutherland Shire include:
Parks and gardens
- 1 Oatley Park, Oatley (2km walk west of Oatley station). One of the finest examples of Australian remnant bushland about 30 minutes drive of the CBD. Features bushwalking, swimming, bike trails as well as play equipment for children. The lookouts over the Georges River are also well worth a look. There is plenty of parking in the park.
- 2 E.G. Waterhouse National Camellia Garden, President Ave, Caringbah (2 minutes drive/20 minutes walk from Caringbah along President Avenue). 9am until 5pm. A large garden area, with many varieties of flowers. Playground, artificial creeks and waterfalls, and a duck pond. Ducks are fat and usually very well fed. Teahouse in the gardens, popular spot. free.
- 3 Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve, Garnet Ave, Kareela (Entrance is hard to find, take Bates Drive from Princes Hwy (signposted to Kareela), left on Alpita to end, Left on Garnet to end, left on Manooka to end). A large collection of native plants, paved walks, barbecues well stocked with wood, and water views. This place is unknown to most, and is never crowded, except when hosting and occasional wedding. Lots of Australian plant species, and well worth grabbing some sausages, some matches, and heading over for a barbecue. free.
- Peace Park/Japanese Garden, Eton St, Sutherland. A small, unassuming garden in Sutherland, celebrating the sister city relationship between the Sutherland Shire and Chuo in Tokyo. Cherry blossoms flowering in the spring. Possibly a nice place to visit for any homesick Japanese tourists in the area. free.
- 4 Como Pleasure Grounds, Cremona Rd, Como (Walk down the hill from Como Station, turn left on Cremona Road, and follow until the end). Historically Como was a popular recreation ground for Sydneysiders on the steam train for a day out by the water. Today, it is still a popular park. There is a swimming pool, swimming enclosure on the Georges River, a cafe on the waters edge, playground, barbecues, picnic tables. Its popular with teenagers on weekends to hang out, eat, swim. There is a marina where you can hire small motor boats to explore the Georges River. There is also a Thai restaurant, with a take away kiosk, serving Thai and Australian food. free.
- 5 Captain Cook's Landing Place, Captain Cook Drive, Kurnell (over Captain Cook Bridge, and along Captain Cook Drive, or train to Cronulla station and a 987 bus to Kurnell). Sunrise to Sunset. You can stand on the rock where Captain Cook first stepped ashore, starting the process of European settlement. The landing place is also now next to a large oil refinery. There is a monument walk here, and an interpretive visitors centre. The area is never crowded with visitors, and many Sydneysiders have never visited. There are usually plenty of available and well maintained electric barbecues and picnic tables by the water. Buses can be a couple of hours apart so check the times. Sutherland Shire used to be named the birthplace of modern Australia, referring to European settlement. Now the aspects of the Aboriginal and European settlement interaction are emphasised, and interpreted in the visitors centre in the park. There is a National Park Admission fee ($11/24hr) to drive into the Park. If you only want to visit the monuments and see the landing place you can easily park just by the beach outside the park and not incur any fee to walk along the monument track from the other end. Foot or bicycle access is always free..
- 6 Sydney Tramway Museum, Rawson Pde, Loftus (Adjacent to Loftus Railway Station, no entry from Metroad 1 heading south). Su,W 10AM-5PM. Additional days school holidays. They have an old Bondi tram, overseas trams, and tramrides, including rides to the Royal National Park. They also have a large display area. Adult $18 Child $10.
- 7 Botany Bay National Park. After visiting the landing place, there are several walks and drives within the park. One of the better ones is the walk to Cape Solander. The cliff aspect is nice, and views right out to see and across Cronulla You also lose the industrial view on this walk as well, which is so noticeable on the monument walk. Whale watching is popular at Cape Solander in season.
- 8 Towra Point Wetland, Captain Cook Drive. The Towra point wetland is an imporant resource for migratory birds, with mangroves and inter-tidal mud-flats. It is a protected area, and mostly not open to visitors. The National Park Visitors Centre at Kurnell does organise tours occasionally. There are three points available to view over the wetland, each off Captain Cook Drive, and worth stopping at if you are on the way to Kurnell. Between November and March you may spot the migratory Eastern Curlew, which spends the other half of the year in Siberia. Take your binoculars.
Arts and Culture
- 9 Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, The Kingsway, Gymea (Exist from the station, and proceed straight ahead). 10am-5pm. Very much a community art gallery, surrounded by pretty gardens. Nice coffee shop in amongst it all. free.
- Dive, Shiprock Point Marine Reserve. Shiprock Point in Dolans Bay has a marine reserve. Some tropical fish can even be seen here in the summer months, when the water is warm in February mainly. You can see many fish varieties snorkelling along the rocks all the way around from Lilli Pilli Point to Shiprock. Watch out for fishermen outside the reserve, and watch out for speedboats in the channel. Shiprock Dive can hire equipment or do training courses.
- Swim in the Port Hacking, Lilli Pilli Point, Gymea Bay, Grays Point. The Port Hacking River lies along the Southern Boundary of the Sutherland Shire, and separates it from the National Park. The Port Hacking is a clean waterway, nice for swimming (except for possibly the day after heavy rain). There are enclosures (nets) for swimming along the waterway, usually uncrowded. You can swim outside the enclosures if want to. The biggest threat is jetskis, sharks are very rarely seen. From Lilli Pilli Point, there is a large sand spit you can swim out to at low tide. There are some little sting rays out there that can sting you if you tread on them. It hurts, but it not otherwise dangerous.
- Boat on the Georges River. The Georges River is navigable all the way from Botany Bay to Liverpool, and there are lots of places to launch your boat in the area. There are beaches, parks, inlets and river more than enough for a day or two on the river. The Woronora River flows into the Georges at Bonnet Bay.
- Como Marina (park at Como Pleasure Grounds, and walk down to the marina, or ten minutes walk down Cremona Road from Como Station). You hire a motor boat by the hour, explore the Georges River and Woronora River waterways or take a picnic and make a day of it. You can hire a pontoon with BBQ for up to 10 people. from $30/hour.
- Bass and Flinders Cruises. Cruise the Georges River every Sunday. The wharf is just adjacent to Captain Cook Bridge in Sans Souci. Plenty of parking.
- Kayak on the Woronora, Woronora (By the old Wororora Bridge, if driving follow the signs to Woronora, or it is about 15 minutes walk steep downhill from Sutherland Station. You can catch the bus back up, but they run infrequently on weekends. Check the timetable ). The Woronora is an easy river for kayaking or canoeing for an hour or the whole day. Boat traffic is slow, and the river is usually protected and calm. In an hour you can kayak from the Boatshed up to the Woronora Bridge or vice-versa. For a longer trip (if you are fit) you can go all the way up to the Needles, which is really the limit of navigation of the river, and a nice swimming spot.
- 1 The Boatshed at Woronora, 131 Prince Edward Park Rd, Woronora (Just over the creek bridge, on the right). 8.30AM-6PM daily. Hires kayaks, dinghies, canoes. There usually is no requirement to book, and you may explore the many inlets around Bonnet Bay. Take sunscreen, covering clothing, and a hat. The Boatshed also has a cafe serving coffee and milkshakes. Kayak: $5 launch fee, $6 per half hour; varies for others.
Cronulla has an open air shopping mall, but also:
- 1 Westfield Miranda Fair, The Kingsway, Miranda (Immediately adjacent to Miranda train station). Mon-Sun 8:30am 5:30pm, Thu open until 9pm. Food Hall open until 7pm nightly. One of Sydney's largest undercover shopping malls.
There are a selection of places to eat at Cronulla.
As with much of Sydney every shopping strip has at least one decent Australian-Thai restaurant, which may not please the gourmet with service nice food at around $15 a main for dinner, with a lunch special usually aronnd $7-$10. There is no shortage of Indian and Chinese options too.
For morning coffee try the strip in Gymea, on Gymea Bay Road near the Kingsway for a selection of several nice cafes, or for a more relaxed pace there is a coffee shop at the Marina near the Como Pleasure Grounds in Cremona St.
- Parrys Milkbar (Parry's Milkbar And Candystore), 347 Kingsway, Caringbah (next to the Caringbah Train Station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Monday - Friday 6AM - 6PM Weekends vary. Milk bar. $.
- Miranda Fair Food Halls, Kingsway, Miranda (adjacent to Miranda Station). open until 7pm, and 9pm Thursdays. Cheap food, including the major chains. Lots of choice, a place to eat, but no ambience.
- Mr India (50m east of Sutherland Station). Open for lunch and dinner. Eat in or take away, Mr India will give you a very tasty Indian meal for well under $10. The Naan is cooked fresh to order, and is best used to soak up the Lamb Korma.
- Pauls Hamburgers, Princes Hwy, Sylvania (Just south of the Tom Uglys Bridge). Wednesday-Sunday. A local institution, was serving hamburgers through a hole in the wall 40 years ago. Any resemblance to the chain hamburgers is entirely coincidental, this is a different animal. Tender and juicy. Order one with the lot, and a Pina Colada milkshake, and walk down to the river and eat it under the bridge.
- Gymea Bay Road (North), Gymea Bay Road (Just north of Gymea train station, turn right out of the station). Lots of great cafe food in Gymea. Modern Australian Cuisine
- Moshka, Box Rd, Jannali (Just east of the train station at Jannali). Moderately priced Indian restaurant with flair, and really tasty food. If you don't feel like Indian, the Thai Tiger, is next door down, and Italy in Jannali is on the corner. You will need to book on Friday/Saturday nights, but other times just walk in.
- The Big Mexican Rancho, the corner of Casaurina Rd and Gymea Bay Rd. Tu-Sa dinner. This restaurant has open at the same place for well over 20 years. Food not really authentic or unique, but decent serves of tasty food, consistently popular locally. mains $20.
- Historic Como Hotel (Como Hilton), Cremona Rd, Como (from Como station walk down the hill to Cremona Road, and turn left. Short walk to the hotel.). The original Como Hotel burnt down in 1996. See the original burnt door still in the Hotel. The new hotel looks even more historic than the old one did, and has a great balcony overlooking the bay and the cricket oval. There is a barbecue on the balcony most weekend lunchtimes.
The choices in the rest of the area are limited.
- Abcot Inn, Princes Hwy, Sylvania Heights (On the left hand side of the Princes Hwy heading south, about 2km after Tom Uglys Bridge).
- Metro Hotel Miranda (Metro Motor Inn), Jackson Pde, Miranda (Opposite the entry to Miranda Fair car park on Jackson Ave), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2-9pm, check-out: 10am. Free Wi-Fi in-room and in public areas
- Sutherland Motel, Aldgate St, Sutherland. Motel style accommodation, easy walking to the pool, and about 1.5km walk through residential areas to the shops and the station at Sutherland
- Boyles Hotel, Boyle St, Sutherland. Pub style accommodation right in the centre of Sutherland.
All Sutherland Shire Libraries provide full Internet access, with free WiFi for up to 4 hours per day and computers for hire. There are libraries at Cronulla, Caringbah, Miranda, Sutherland and elsewhere, that are open Monday to Friday and Saturday Mornings. Only Sutherland is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Gloria Jeans Coffee by the station in Sutherland provides free Wi-Fi for customers, as does the cafe two doors down in the Eton Arcade, and various other cafes around. Usually you will need to get the password from the counter.
There is free Wi-Fi in both the food courts in Miranda Fair shopping mall, courtesy of the McDonald's restaurants there, as well as at the McDonalds in Kirrawee, Sylvania and Cronulla.