The circuit walk around the La Perouse section of Kamay Botany Bay National Park is a superb coastal walk in Sydney, New South Wales. By combining the Cape Banks Walking Track, Henry Head Walking Track and other trails, you’ll get to enjoy a magnificent circular route, which has become known as the La Perouse Circuit Walk. Starting and finishing near Bare Island, you’ll enjoy stunning natural and historical attractions along the way. This includes beautiful beaches such as Little Congwong Beach and Congwong Beach as well as historical sites such as Henry Head Lighthouse and WWII bunkers.
In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the circular walk involving the Cape Banks Walking Track and Henry Head Walking Track. As well as describing the trail, we’ll talk about how to get there and cover information about La Perouse itself.
Table of Contents
Cape Banks Walking Track
On its own, the NSW National Parks Cape Banks Walking Track is a coastal walk, which involves a 7km return walk. Included in the Cape Banks Walking Track return walk, is the Henry Head Walking Track, which we’ll look at specifically below. Starting in La Perouse, opposite Bare Island, the Cape Banks Walking Track stretches all the way to Cape Banks. For your reference, please find a Cape Banks Walking Track Map here.
The Cape Banks Walking Track return walk is certainly a fantastic coastal walk. By doing the out and back Cape Banks Walking Track, which includes the Henry Head Walking Track, you’ll enjoy the main attractions in the La Perouse section of Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Indeed, you’ll even get to enjoy the main attractions of the La Perouse Circuit Walk discussed in this guide. Nevertheless, the La Perouse Circuit Walk has become a popular option and a walk that we really enjoyed and recommend.
Before we talk more specifically about the La Perouse Circuit Walk, we’ll cover information about the standalone Henry Head Walking Track.
Henry Head Walking Track
Also known as the Henry Head Walk and La Perouse Walking Track, the Henry Head Walking Track is another brilliant coastal walk, which involves a 4km return walk. Similar to the Cape Banks Walking Track return walk, you’ll start in La Perouse, essentially facing opposite Bare Island. But, for this walk, you’ll start a little further north at the northern end of Cann Park. From there, you won’t go to Cape Banks, you’ll just walk to the Henry Head Lighthouse. Here’s a map.
Basically, the section between La Perouse and Henry Head is known as the Henry Head Walking Track. Although, it also does form part of the Cape Banks Walking Track return walk. Strictly speaking, the actual Cape Banks Walking Track stretches between Henry Head Lighthouse and Cape Banks. It’s the Cape Banks Walking Track return walk that involves both the Henry Head and Cape Banks trails.
Yes, a bit confusing. But, anyway, it’s best not to think of these walking tracks in isolation. Overall, by doing a circular walk around the La Perouse section of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, you’ll cover all of the sections of the Cape Banks and Henry Head Walking tracks and more!
The Cape Banks and Henry Head Walking Tracks Circuit (La Perouse Circuit Walk)
So, you’re now clued up on the Cape Banks and Henry Head Walking Tracks, which stretch from La Perouse to Cape Banks via Henry Head Lighthouse. What isn’t covered by these walking tracks is the combination of trails, which creates the loop walk. In a clockwise direction, from La Perouse, these include Cape Banks Road, the optional Jennifer Street Boardwalk, the Cape Banks Fire Trail (Coastal Cemetery Management Trail) and the optional Brown’s Rock Track.
We’ll describe all of these trails and sections of the walk in the trail description below. But first, we’ll provide a GPS-guided map and the trail specs.
Cape Banks + Henry Head Walking Tracks (La Perouse Circuit Walk) Map and Stats
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 8.45km
- Time: 2.5–3.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 150m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: La Perouse (Cann Park)
- Map: AllTrails
Cape Banks + Henry Head Walking Tracks (La Perouse Circuit Walk) Notes
In this trail description, we’ll talk about different components of the walk. You’ll find most people do the La Perouse Circuit Walk in an anti-clockwise direction. But, we recommend doing the walk in a clockwise direction. That way, you’ll save the best parts of the walk for the second half of your adventure! Anyway, your walk starts at Cann Park!
Starting at the northern end of Cann Park, you’ll initially pass the Congwong Beach Walk sign as you follow the Henry Head Walking Track in an easterly direction. Soon enough, you’ll arrive at the Henry Head Lookout.
Henry Head Lookout
The Henry Head Lookout is the first vantage point that you’ll enjoy on this circular walk. From this lookout, you’ll get a good look at Henry Head, where you should just be able to make out the lighthouse there. You’ll also enjoy nice views of Bare Island.
Jennifer Street Boardwalk
After departing the lookout, you’ll continue along Henry Head Walking Track. Soon enough you’ll arrive at a fork in the trail. At this point, you’ll leave the Henry Head Walking Track and join Cape Banks Road. Soon after, you’ll pass an optional side trail, known as the Jennifer Street Boardwalk.
It’s a nice boardwalk; passing some lovely Australian natives. In particular, you’ll walk by Eastern Suburbs Banksia scrub. The boardwalk is approx. 350 metre. So, you’re looking at a brief 700 metre return walk, before continuing on Cape Banks Road towards the Coast Hosptial Cemetery.
Coast Hospital Cemetery
You’ll then arrive at the Coast Hospital Cemetery, also known as the La Perouse Cemetery. The cemetery formed part of an old quarantine hospital that was built in the 1880s. The hospital was built to treat people with infectious diseases. Apparently, there are around 2,000 graves there. But, as a result of natural erosion, only a small amount of graves in the cemetery are still intact and visible. A little further south, you’ll also find a helicopter base and a WWII bunker.
Joining the Cape Banks Walking Track
After passing the cemetery, you’ll join the Cape Banks Fire Trail (AKA the Coastal Cemetery Management Trail). Continuing further south, the Cape Banks Fire Trail soon transitions into the Cape Banks Walking Track after passing Cape Banks Bridge. There, you’ll be on the outskirts of the Cape Banks Aquatic Reserve. This area is particularly rugged and raw. You’ll then discover more epic coastline before reaching Cape Banks. Keep an eye out for an amazing gap in the rock platforms along this part of the walk.
Cape Banks, La Perouse
To your left, stretching some distance will be the magnificent Cape Banks. Similar to Cape Solander across the bay, Cape Banks is a great whale watching spot. Whilst its ruggedness and dramatic surrounding landscape make this headland worth exploring in its own right. At low tide, it’s even possible to see the 1937 Cape Banks shipwreck of the SS Minmi, lying on rocks on the western side of Cape Banks.
Admittedly, it’s quite a shame that the New South Wales Golf Club have set up one of its teeing grounds on the edges of Cape Banks. Golfers attempt to hit over Little Bay, often falling short, and having their ball land in the ocean. We can’t imagine this is great for the environment. Unfortunately, the golf course does diminish the ambience of the walk. Thankfully, as you pass by Cape Banks and continue on the boardwalk toward Cruwee Cove Beach, a sense of serenity and tranquillity returns.
Cruwee Cove Beach
This next stretch of the walk is nice and quiet. Expect to see and hear wildlife on this part of the walk. In particular, you’ll be weaving and dodging the many sunbathing skinks. The dense coastal heath surrounding the boardwalk provides a hospitable environment for many different bird species.
The boardwalk then meanders along the coastline, and in several parts, briefly disappears, making way for rough patches of seaside rock platform. Eventually, you’ll descend onto the rock platforms of Cruwee Cove Beach. As far as hidden beaches go, it’s one of Sydney’s finest. Although, further along, you’ll find Little Congwong Beach, which is an even better hidden gem.
Joining the Henry Head Walking Track
After climbing out of Cruwee Cove Beach, the boardwalk leads you to the Henry Head Walking Track. You’ll pass some gently cascading and damp rock platforms, before reaching Henry Head.
Around this headland, there are many fascinating historical attractions. Slightly off track, you’ll find the Henry Head Lighthouse and the ruins of Henry Head Battery.
Henry Head Lighthouse
Exploring the underground bunker, near Henry Head Lighthouse adds to the adventure of this walk. It’s not just pretty coastal views. You’ll have some historical human-made attractions, such as the Henry Head Lighthouse and Battery, to explore.
To continue, you’ll briefly head inland, hiking away from Henry Head Lighthouse, but adjacent to, Botany Bay. You’ll soon notice the New South Wales golf course in the distance. From there, you’re welcome to continue towards Little Congwong and Congwong Beach, by continuing along the Henry Head Walking Track. But first, we recommend a slight detour to Brown’s Rock.
As mentioned, there is an optional side trail to Brown’s Rock, which is a fairly short walk to reach. It’s a slight detour to the left, departing Henry Head Walking Track, that descends down to the shore of Botany Bay, on a leaf-littered track. What awaits you are brilliant turquoise waters that you’ll likely have to share with some people fishing. There’s a tiny patch of rock platforms that you can explore to give you a closer look at the stunning pocket of water.
From Brown’s Rock, you’ll enjoy a good view of Bare Island. It’s a little bit of a distance away, across the bay, but you should be able to make out Bare Island Fort. After scoping out Brown’s Rock, head back onto the Henry Head Walking Track, to reach the Congwong beaches.
Little Congwong Beach
Once you rejoin the Henry Head Walking Track, you’ll be a short distance to Congwong Beach. Although technically, you’ll pass adjacent to Little Congwong Beach initially. But you can’t access Little Congowng Beach at this stage of the walk. You’ll need to head all the way to Congwong Beach. From there, you have two options.
Congwong Beach Walk
Most people will follow the Congwong Beach Walking Track to get to Little Congwong Beach. This is the most straightforward and obvious option. But, it’s possible to access, or at least get closer to, Little Congwong Beach, via some oceanside rock platforms from Congwong Beach. Please refer to our map below for clarification.
Although more time-consuming and difficult, we preferred the unofficial oceanside trail. That’s because, along the way, you’ll see absolutely spectacular sandstone formations. With the stunning turquoise waters of Little Congwong Beach in the background, you’ll have some of the best views of the entire La Perouse Circuit Walk.
Admittedly, we didn’t go all the way to Little Congwong Beach from there. The views more than satisfied us. But, if you’re keen to explore Little Congwong Beach in more detail, it’s probably possible to go this way to get there. But, it’s safer and much easier following the actual Congwong Beach Walking Track.
Congwong Beach, next to La Perouse, isn’t quite as pretty or charming as Little Congwong Beach. Its ease of access from La Perouse makes it much busier and less peaceful. Personally, we weren’t overly impressed by Congwong Beach. So, we didn’t stay for long. But, Congwong Beach is actually a great spot to relax and soak up views of Botany Bay and Bare Island.
To leave Congwong Beach, you’ll hike up a small sand hill at the northern end. Almost immediately, you’ll feel like you’ve re-joined the busy Sydney suburbs. You’ll join a paved path, alongside Anzac Parade, leading towards La Perouse and Bare Island. Before reaching the footbridge, known as Bare Island Bridge, leading to Bare Island Fort, there are public bathrooms to your left.
Bare Island is a heritage-listed military fortification, which even has built-in tunnels! Unfortunately, the fort itself remains closed except for guided tours on Sundays. We had visited during the week, so we didn’t have the luxury of doing a tour. We think a tour would be ideal for a more in-depth historical understanding and a greater overall experience of Bare Island.
Otherwise, you’re free to walk the footbridge towards the closed gate of the fort. There are some nice rock platforms to explore at both ends of the Bare Island Footbridge. But, it can get crowded on the weekend with plenty of people rock fishing.
The La Perouse Circuit Walk finishes around La Perouse Point where you can enjoy more stunning views of Bare Island and Botany Bay or explore La Perouse Bay.
How to Get There
The quickest and easiest way to get to La Perouse is to drive there yourself. We recommend parking at Cann Park. You’ll find a couple of car parks, either will suffice.
The other option for parking is the Cape Banks Parking Lot, located at the Sydney Pistol Club. But, we recommend parking closer to the hub at La Perouse, as you’ll likely want to explore and hang out there after the walk.
If you don’t have a car, use RentalCars.com to hire one. It’s a fantastic search engine for finding the cheapest car hire. It’s what we use to hire cars in Australia.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, it’s possible to get to La Perouse, for this walk, by using public transport. We recommend using the Transport NSW Trip Planner to plan your journey. Depending on where you’re coming from, it’s likely, that at least for the final part of your journey to La Perouse, you’ll need to catch the 390X bus.
About La Perouse
La Perouse, set on Botany Bay, is a suburb in the southeastern area of Sydney and is part of the City of Randwick local government area. Once you’ve finished exploring the Cape Banks Walking Track, Henry Head Walking Track and other trails making the La Perouse Circuit Walk, it’s certainly worth exploring La Perouse.
Kamay Botany Bay National Park
When you’re doing the La Perouse Circuit Walk, you’ll be exploring the La Perouse section of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. As you’ll discover, this part of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park is absolutely breathtaking. Opposite Botany Bay, you have the Kurnell section of the national park. To find out more about an exceptional walk in the Kurnell area of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, read our Cronulla to Kurnell hiking guide.
FYI – the traditional custodians of Kamay Botany Bay National Park are the Goorawal and Gweagal People.
La Perouse Beaches
You’ll discover some beautiful beaches in and around La Perouse. By doing the La Perouse Circuit Walk, you would have obviously discovered the sensational Little Congwong Beach and slightly less impressive Congwong Beach. If you’re exploring La Perouse after the walk, we recommend heading to Frenchmans Beach. It’s a beauitful long bay, that’s a great place for a refreshing dip.
Where to Eat
There are many shops, cafes and restaurants around La Perouse. Personally, Beck and I headed to Bare Grill after the walk. They make fantastic burgers – some of the best in Sydney!
La Perouse Museum
If you want to learn more about the history of La Perouse, head to the free La Perouse Museum! It’s recognised as one of the best free museums in Sydney.
Getting to Sydney
Flights: of course, you’ll need to fly to Sydney to do this walk from abroad. If you’re travelling to Sydney from overseas, use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search.
Also, if you’re based in the UK or US, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. If you’re interstate, subscribe to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts to and from other states. You can usually find cheap flights with Jetstar or Tiger Airways.
Five Hiking Gear Essentials
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
- Other great trails and trail variations nearby: consider the La Perouse to Little Bay Coastal Walk (AKA the Bare Island to Little Bay Walk) or the Federation Cliff Walk.
- The Cape Banks and Henry Head Walking Tracks are not dog friendly: the Kamay Botany Bay National Park is a pet-free zone. So, you’ll need to leave pooch at home for this adventure.
- Walking the circuit in either direction is fine: personally, we enjoyed the atypical clockwise direction of the walk. But, the circular walk is typically done in an anti-clockwise direction. Either way, you’ll have a good time doing this walk!
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