From Seeing Sydney by Bicycle by Julia Thon. Published Kangaroo Press. Written Thirty Years Ago
One of the few places in Sydney where you can ride near a beach without the traffic breathing down your neck is along the shore at Botany Bay. There is a series of landscaped reserves along the coast and through them a dual use path, for pedestrians and bikes, winds its way. On a sunny day it is a great ride, and worth stopping often to take in the views of Botany Bay, or to rest at the sandy beaches.
The return route follows the Georges River, which is also very scenic, and features several riverfront parks. Almost all this route is flat. Apart from sunbaking the beaches are popular for fishing and swimming, although there are sharks in the bay waters so you have to keep to the netted areas. Plenty of joggers use the beachfront path. Everyone knows that Botany Bay is the site of Captain Cook’s landing in 1770, and that 18 years later Captain Philip rejected it as a site for settlement because there was no ready supply of fresh water. The land was swampy and early industries were salt panning and the manufacture of lime from discarded shells. Market gardens came next (by the 1820s) and a fishing industry developed.
Bathing and other leisure pursuits first became popular at Brighton le Sands in 1885, when a steam tram started operating from Rockdale to the beach. There was a long pier into the bay and boat cruises used to take people to La Perouse, Kurnell and the Clareville Pleasure.
Gardens at Sans Souci. Bathing, in segregated enclosures for men and women, commenced in 1886.
Location and distance The ride starts and finishes at Kogarah station, which is on the Sutherland and Wollongong line. The centre of Kogarah, around Railway Parade, gets fairly busy so you have to take care at the start of the ride and when returning to the station. The return distance is 16 km.
Level of difficulty An easy ride with no hills and only one relatively busy road.
Supplies: There are shops around Kogarah station, and a kiosk at Ramsgate beach which is not always open during the week. Along Grand Parade there are a few general stores.
The route From Kogarah station head up Regent Street and turn right into Premier Street, then left into Kensington Street which leads to the Princes Highway. Walk across the highway and go to the right, taking the next left which is President Avenue. This road carries quite At the junction with West Botany Street you have Rockdale Bicentennial Park to your left and you might like to ride into the park and do a a lap around it before continuing on. The park has landscaped flower beds, a children’s playground, grassy areas and picnic tables with barbecues. There is a pond at one end. Go on down President Avenue until you come to Crawford Road where you turn left, then turn right into Teralba Road which leads to the Grand Parade at Brighton. This road follows the full length f the beaches, from the north end of Brighton through Monterey and of Ramsgate to Sans Souci, and it is usually busy. Brighton and Ramsgate are named after English seaside resorts, while Monterey is more exotic, of Mexican being of origin, that used to be there. and Sans Souci is named after a mansion is Cross the road and go onto the paved bike path. At this point there s a short pier jutting into the bay and you have a good view of the City. The entrance to Botany Bay, marked by Cape Solander to the south and Cape Banks to the north, is clearly visible. Banks was the chief botanist on Cook’s voyage, and Solander was a Swedish botanist who came too. If you are lucky you might see a large vessel coming into the bay. You can watch aeroplanes taking off over the bay, and see the industrial areas around Kurnell to the south. The long beach or series of beaches known collectively as Lady Robinsons Beach, is straight and sandy, backed by low dunes. There isn’t any surf, just gently lapping waves. The bike path starts by passing through the reserves behind the beach. which have neatly planted native trees and picnic tables You hardly notice the noise of the traffic. A few car parks with beach access interrupt the path. In the distance to the south you can see the dunes around the Cronulla beaches. From the car park near the first shark net that you come to, the path goes directly along the water’ s edge on a concrete platform. This is most pleasant, although sand sometimes gets onto the path, adding an element of excitement as you ride through it. The path turns in for a short while, then from the Ramsgate kiosk it follows along the beachside all the way. At Cook Park there are picnic facilities and more excellent views of the bay.
When you come to the Georges River Sailing Club building you have to leave the shoreline to continue on the path, which goes through Depena Reserve, at the mouth of the Georges River, where boats are moored off-shore.
Just before the Sans Souci Hotel you have to revert to riding on roads. Turn left onto Vanston Parade, then right into Lena Street, passing the hotel. The Sans Souci Hotel is on the site of a former hotel which operated from 1868 to 1962, near the Clareville Pleasure Gardens, which were popular from the 1880s. A steam tram used to run between Kogarah and the Pleasure Gardens.
Turn left onto Clareville Avenue which runs into Riverside Drive, beside the Georges River, where you get a good view of the Captain Cook Bridge. At the end of the road is St George Sailing Club and there are many boats moored in the river. Turn right into Brantwood Road; half way along it is closed to traffic but there is a little path so you can get through to the end. From here go left on Fontainbleau Street, which, after you cross Rocky Point Road, becomes Wellington Street.
Around the next bend you come into Vista Street: most of the vistas are owned by the homes on the left but you can get glimpses of Kogarah Bay, an inlet off the river, between the houses. At the corner where Vista Street begins is Anderson Park and St Kilda marina. The park is grassy with a view of the road and rail bridges across the river. Further north you see several jetties poking into the bay.
At the end of Vista Road there is a kink in the road around Len Reynolds Riverside Reserve, with more views of boats. There are two little hills along this stretch of road. You are now into The Promenade which goes along the bay shore.
Cross Ramsgate Road and continue straight on into Targo Road and then Burgess Street (left), which both skirt Beverly Park Golf Course. Turn left into Jubilee Avenue, pass Kogarah Park and go right into Park Street. This street is in two sections with a dogleg (right then left) in the middle. Turn left into Bowns Road, right into Queens Avenue and left into Gray Street to bring you to Railway Parade. Turn right and in a few hundred metres you are back at Kogarah station.
OK Here it is now in pictures
Here is the old relaxed way as suggested on the 1990 map. I wouldn’t go that way now.
Things were OK back then and no one really bothered about roads and paths much. Thanks Julia Thon for writing a book on cycling in Sydney back then.
Read about the Ramsgate – Botany Bay Cycling area in 2021. Its one of the best casual places to cycle in Australia except when everyone heads to the beach when early is your friend.