Cruising to Cottage Point 

Waking up to another steamy, summer morning in Sydney and the need for caffeine is high.  With 40+ temps the last couple of days and hot, hot nights, I feel hungover from lack of sleep.  Caffeine and a salty swim are crucial, which means the local playground and coffee shop just won’t cut it today.  Instead, on a whim the three of us pile into the car and cruise to Cottage Point – a tiny hamlet of waterfront homes in Ku-ring-gai National Park, 40 minutes from Sydney’s CBD.

The sky is that brilliant, Sydney-summer blue and after months of high temps and drenching rains, the bush is a vivid green buzzing with wildlife, birds and insects of all shapes and sizes.  We meander along McCarrs Creek Rd, dodging the lycra-clad hordes as they slog it out uphill, whilst admiring those who’ve already made the climb and are now thrilling in the downhill, riding at speeds that seem to defy logic on a road as windy as this one.

Before too long, we spot some houses peeking through the bush and sparkling water beyond. Cottage Point is Sydney’s smallest suburb, hosting a mere 52 homes, a kiosk/cafe, yacht club, a rural fire service outpost and the rather fancy Cottage Point Inn (a restaurant with accommodation attached).  This seemingly isolated spot forms part of the Hawkesbury / Broken Bay river system and seems to take its name from a timber cottage built here in the early 1880s.

Holiday makers (and, according to local historians, smugglers) have been coming here regularly since the 1890s, arriving exclusively by boat until the first unsealed track from Akuna Bay was carved out of the bush in 1934.  The smugglers have apparently gone elsewhere but the holiday makers remain, either pitching up at the Inn or one of the other rather luxurious accommodation options on the point, or staying overnight aboard their yachts, houseboats and cruisers.

On the morning we visit there are a surprising number of yachts and motorboats moored in the bay and surrounding waters, their occupants contentedly reading books and drinking takeaway coffees in the shade cast by masts and canopies above.  Others have, like us, made the journey by road through the national park, following the signs to Cottage Point. Everyone is here to escape the city heat, cool off and enjoy coffee and brekkie at the Cottage Point Kiosk.

Cottage Point Kiosk and Boat Hire has been around for almost a hundred years.  Constructed in around 1918, this little timber establishment serves up good coffee, fresh OJ and a simple yet delicious brekkie menu.  It’s also home to a general store and boat hire business, catering to those who wish to take to the water for the day.

A number of serious boating types descend in rowboats and dinghys to snag a coffee and bacon egg roll, which most take back with them to devour aboard their sparkling white vessels.  We landlubbers opt for refreshments on the outdoor, waterfront terrace, shaded by market umbrellas and with the sound of cicadas in the trees above.  There are surely worse places for a Sunday morning coffee!

Two flat whites and a babycino later (with marshmallow, of course), Coco heads confidently to the water’s edge to begin hurling crumbs from John’s B&E roll to the hungry fish below.  A frenzy ensues, with literally hundreds of fish churning up the water in their desperation to snatch a meal.  Their thrashing is so intense Coco is soon soaked but demands that we source “more bwead!” from the general store to feed to her new friends.

It doesn’t take long before Coco has ventured out onto the small jetty, stripped off her clothes and joined John for a quick dunk in the water.  The two of them swim among the fish, throwing bread and trying to entice the bigger fish to the surface.  It’s hard to imagine that only an hour earlier we were at home going through the usual morning routine, a world away from this place.

A dream destination for kayakers, boaty types and bushwalkers, Cottage Point is a must-do if you live in or are visiting Sydney.  After the incredibly simple yet immensely enjoyable morning we’ve had, we will no doubt be back again soon, next time to hire a dinghy and join those lucky others drinking takeaway coffees and OJ on board a (slightly smaller, yes, but who cares?!) boat of our own.

Getting there

From the city take Mona Vale Rd, turn left at the lights towards Terrey Hills, then right at the roundabout onto McCarrs Creek Road, then veer left at the signposted turn off to Cottage Point.
If  coming from Bayview and Church Point, take McCarrs Creek Rd and follow the signs to Cottage Point – however if you aren’t going bushwalking and only plan on visiting the Kiosk and/or hiring a boat for the day, you can ignore the first turn off into the national park (and thereby avoid the park entrance fee) and take the entry at the top of McCarrs Creek Rd (the same entry as if coming from Mona Vale Rd).  No need to pay the park entry fee when entering via Terrey Hills.

Other important info

  • There is no beach at Cottage Point so be prepared to dive off the jetty if you want to cool off. Be warned you’ll have to dodge hungry fish and folks in boats pulling in for their morning caffeine hit.
  • McCarrs Creek Rd has to be one of Sydney’s most enjoyable drives – provided you’re willing to sit behind packs of cyclists until they wave you past. It’s a beautiful road so my suggestion is to ease off the accelerator and enjoy the view.
  • Take or buy bottled water from the  Kiosk general store – these folks aren’t on town water out here.
  • Mobile coverage can be patchy in these parts, so put your phones down (except for photos!)
  • The bush walking in Kuring-gai National Park is some of Sydney’s best.  Plenty of the walks end up at bays and beaches, such as Flint and Steel beach or The Basin.  If you’ve got the time, it’s worth making the effort and plenty of the tracks are kid friendly! You can read about our bushwalking adventures here.
  • If you and the kids aren’t up for a full blown bushwalk, you can take the kiddies to The Duck Holes – a series of natural swimming holes near the West Head entrance to the national park.  There is a small picnic area and beyond lies a billabong with sandy trails you can follow to gentle rapids and series of further swimming holes.  You’re also likely to see some tadpoles, water dragons and lots of birds.  The track here is easy as – Coco (almost 2 years) walked it with us a couple of months back.  To get there, turn off McCarrs Creek Rd onto West Head Rd and snag a park on the right, before you hit the rangers’ hut.  There’s no park entry fee payable at this spot.  See this post from Wild Swimming Australia for more info.