There are a few ways to get to Maitland Bay, the “jewel” (I would argue) of the Bouddi National Park. One of these is the Bouddi Coastal Walk, which is one of the best day hikes around Sydney. Today I’m taking a much shorter route, going down via the Bullimah Spur (via the aptly named Bullimah Spur Track) and back up the main Maitland Bay Track. What I call the “Bullimah Spur Loop” is not a well-known walk and many maps won’t show this bushwalk, but it showcases the best of Bouddi National Park.
The Maitland Bay carpark is almost full at 11am on a hot day in December; each year the park seems to get more popular. I’m hoping that taking the Bullimah Spur Track will avoid the crowds. Starting on the well-trodden and well-marked Maitland Bay Track from the carpark, after about 100m there’s a sign for the Bullimah Spur Track off to the right.
So, I’m surprised when we hear a group of eight hikers coming up behind us! We let them pass, and they turn out to be the only other hikers we see on this trail. The track follows the Bullimah Spur which heads away from Maitland Bay, descending very gradually through shaded eucalypt forest.
Less than a kilometre from the start of the walk, there’s the first of a few sandstone outcrops that provide stunning views over Maitland Bay. The Bouddi Coastal Walk can be seen winding its way along the top of the cliffs on the left.
The second lookout, just off to the left of the Bullimah Spur Track, offers even better views – if that’s possible!
To the east is Maitland Bay and the protected waters of the Bouddi Marine Extension.
To the west and on the other side of the Bullimah Spur, the Bouddi Coastal Track snakes along the cliffs to Putty Beach. Lion Island is in the distance, and Killcare is on the other side of the peninsula. While it feels like you’re far from civilisation on most of the Coastal Walk, Killcare and Killcare Heights protrude into the middle of Bouddi National Park. At the far end of the Bouddi peninsula, on the other side of Putty Beach, is Box Head and Tallow Beach where it’s national park again.
A short distance further (1.4km from the carpark) is Bullimah Outlook, a rocky outcrop at the end of the Bullimah Spur.
There’s great views out to the west over Gerrin Point and Putty Beach / Killcare Beach. There’s a plaque on the rock commemorating Charles Darcy Roberts (a bushwalker and former trustee of Bouddi National Park) as well as “other bushwalkers who lost their lives in World War II”.
According to the map, the track stops here… but it doesn’t. Marked by white arrows, a well-marked track descends steeply from the Bullimah Spur, through shaded forest – although on a warm day, I’m glad we’re going down this section, and not up.
About two-thirds of the way down, there’s a “mini-cliff” (it’s only about 5m high), with a rope to help descend (or ascend) this section.
There’s another hundred metres before the track joins the main Bouddi Coastal Track. (If you’re doing the walk in the other direction there’s no signage: look for an unmarked track that goes past a large boulder, about 60m north of Gerrin Point lookout – 33°31’47.0″S / 151°22’59.1″E)
It’s a very short detour to Gerrin Point lookout, with a large sandstone platform directly below the cliffs and views of Maitland Bay and beyond.
From Gerrin Point, it’s a 1.4km walk along the Bouddi Coastal Track (which mostly follows the coastline) to reach the junction with the Maitland Bay Track. There are occasional glimpses of Maitland Bay as we get closer and a few exposed sections of track, but we’re mostly walking through light forest and in shade.
Maitland Bay is never crowded but is fairly busy today, being a warm day in the December holiday period. We could have found a shaded spot near the middle of the beach, but decided to have a quick swim and head back to the car. (There’s also the wreck of the SS Maitland, which sank in 1898, located at the far end of the beach. It’s worth having a look, especially at low tide when the rusted remains are most visible.)
After a refreshing swim, it’s an easy (and shaded) walk straight back up the Maitland Bay track to the car.
It’s taken us just over two hours, including a quick swim – but we (or rather I!) stopped many times to take photos along the Bullimah Spur, and as a result our pace was fairly slow. It’s the first time I’ve walked to Maitland Bay this way, but won’t be the last. While not the quickest route, the views are stunning from the Bullimah ridge, and even on the busiest days you’ll have the track (almost) to yourself!
More information on Bullimah Spur Loop
- National Parks Bouddi Visitor Guide [PDF]