The Wedding Cock and Other Natural Wonders

My alarm went off at 6 in the morning. The screen was flashing “Don’t you dare -” till zombie-me set it again for 6.15 and went back to bed. I was having one of the best dreams ever where Brandon asked me if I wanted to join The Killers, but before I could accept, my annoying ringtone brought me back to reality.

“Did you get my message,” I heard Lenka’s voice.

“What message?” I said, annoyed. Brandon, wait for me.

“The one in which I tell you that ‘I’ll be there in 10 minutes.’ I just turned into Bourke st.”

“10 minutes, but it’s only… Oh crap, it’s 6.50! How could this happen?” I checked my phone. I set the alarm to 6.15 on a Sunday and it was Tuesday. “Oh crap! Oh crap!”

“Don’t worry! I’ll just stop for some coffee. Would you like a flat white?”

“More than Kanye West loves himself!”

Then I switched to robot mode, brushed my teeth, threw some clothes on and grabbed the food I was taking to the Royal National Park. I did everything within 5 minutes. Some little girls wanted to be Wonder Woman, I wanted to be Flash. 

I sit on the car and see Lenka happy as a clam, flashing a bright beautiful smile accompanied by a “I-woke-up-like-this” look about her. Meanwhile, I was sniffing my top to make sure it was clean. It happens.

She handed me the flat white she bought for me and I experienced a religious moment. There was an aureola around it shining bright. Lenka told me she bought the coffee from the cake shop we both like and that she had something else for me. She hands me a box and tells me to take one. I open the box and there it was: the best chocolate brownie in the world. There was also an aureola emanating from it. Never sniffing my clothes again, got it!

Once we arrived at the Royal National Park (NSW, Australia), we started our journey to the Figure 8 Pool. Past bushes and sandy beaches, the last part of the journey was a rocky cove. This is the only way to see the Figure 8 pools and you can only access it when there is low tide. Lenka had previously looked up this information online which is why we visited the pools first. You need sneakers or hiking shoes to walk over the rocks, unless you are Australian or Kiwi and are used to walking barefoot like a Hobbit everywhere.


We were lucky it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. Not even a cloud was up there to damp anybody’s spirits. The rays of light streamed down over the pools making the water a clear green and the seafloor bright and visible. I was impressed by the perfect shape of one of the pools. It was a clear 8.


Lenka asked me if I had my bathing suit on. Shoot! I knew I had forgotten something. The image of my swimmers on top of my nightstand table started to flash in front my eyes. Who else would forget her bathing suit while going to the Figure 8 pools? The pools? Pools! Oh well, that didn’t stop me from getting my trousers wet just for the photo. That proved to be a bad idea as the day passed and I kept getting dirt up to my hips.


After getting our photo taken by a couple of German tourists, we headed back before high tide complicated things – considering I’m accident prone and all…


On we went over rocks of all shapes and sizes along the sea cliffs whike Lenka was leading the way for obvious reasons. At some point, she stepped on a wobbly rock and her leg fell through. After some laughs, she came out of it gracefully and without a scratch. Had it been me, I would probably be using crutches now. I followed her lead around a big rock near the water but something stopped me near the edge (it could have been a sixth sense but it was probably an angel because honestly I only have two functioning senses). It was lucky I stopped because right after she went round the rock, a wave crashed against the sandstones and flooded the edge. If I hadn’t stopped, I would have probably slipped, fallen off the edge and been dragged down to sea by the wave. The high tide was making our journey just a tad riskier than it was when we started.

Instead of daunting me, my instincts saving me from that wave gave me a false confidence to continue the journey. In my head, I was Harrison Ford and the soundtrack of Indiana Jones was playing in the background. That is why the next time we had to go around a rock near the edge, I went ahead of Lenka.

The waves had made the soil slippery and my converse shoes have never resisted tile flooring, let alone wet soil. I was on the ground before I could say “yowsa!” Lenka approached me, asking “are you o-?” but before she could finish that sentence, her feet were up in the air. She fell down right next to me and there next to each other we cracked up.

“I let you go first for two seconds” said Lenka “and you almost killed us” which only made us laugh even more. I wanted to immortalise that moment so I took a selfie but I knew it would be better to get a photo from a distance to show what happened. Like heaven-sent, right there and then, we see the same German tourists walking along the foot of the cliff. It was a safe, easy, clear path. How did we miss it? 

From the floor, I greeted them and asked them if they could take our photo. They looked at us, smiled awkwardly, waved and kept walking without stopping. They were probably thinking we were lunatics. But the best of it all was the dismissal they gave us. I’m sure they learnt that from the penguins in Madagascar.

And that made us chuckle even more, still unable to get up from the floor, until a wave crashed against the rocks and we realised that if we didn’t leave, we’d be washed out to sea.

When we started walking again, I noticed that Lenka was missing one lens from her sunglasses. She probably lost it when we fell down.

The laughs kept me from feeling the pain on my arm. While I was falling, I tried to hold on to a big rock and ended up scratching it badly. As I kept bleeding and the heat became more overwhelming, I started to feel something in between nausea and dizziness. I tried to keep it together for as long as I could until I had to take a break since my vision was turning black. Lenka offered to carry me but I mean, come on, that girl trains, then again she is not Samson. 

We went to a nearby beach where there was first aid assistance; unfortunately, there was nobody there. It was shut and the one thing that was outside for the public to use was an automated external defibrillator (AED).

“I can’t believe there’s nobody here!” said Lenka absolutely outraged. “There are people surfing out there. Somebody could easily get injured.”

“At least they left the defibrillator outside within everyone’s reach,” I said sarcastically. 

“That’s for the heart. How could that be uselful if I get attacked by a shark”

“Simple. If you get attacked by a shark, I’d probably have a cardiac arrest.”

Despite Lenka’s distress about my arm getting infected, I assured her that it was just a scratch , so we continued our journey onto the next beach, Wattamolla. That was such a dreamy area. The beach was divided by an arm of sand that separated the sea from a beautiful lake surrounded by trees and rocky cliffs. At the end, there was a waterfall from which some locals jumped into the lake. Sheltered by the shade of trees, we laid on the sand and had lunch while admiring the beauty of it all. I cursed my bloody arm when I felt the water with my feet. It was lukewarm. It was perfect. It was heaven. It was out of reach. I couldn’t possibly bathe with my arm like this. 

We went back to the car and continued our journey to Bundeena which is also in the park. If you want to visit the main places in the Royal National Park in one day, I recommend you rent, borrow or take your car as all the main sites are not within walking distance from each other.

We set out from Bundeena and followed the trail until we reached The Balconies – this is where the cliff top has been eroded into jagged layers of sandstones. The sight of this natural formation and the view from there is nothing short of majestic.

We continued onto the oceanfront cliff track. The path barely changes except for an area where a ravine cuts the headline in half and opens up to a picturesque creek.

Going up and down the stairs added to the heat from the sun and the open wound made me feel queasy yet again. I reached for my water bottle and panicked at the realisation that I didn’t have much water left.

“Oh no, I’m running out of water,” I said.

“It’s okay. You can have mine,” Lenka assured me.

“No way! If I pass out from dehydration, you can still get some help, but if you pass out from dehydration, I’ll probably get lost and we’ll both die.”

Lenka shook her head while laughing at my dramatic statement.

Then I asked: “How long till we reach this Wedding Cock, anyway?” 

Lenka laughed and corrected me: “Wedding Cake Rock, you mean.”

“I was abbreviating, honey, keep up.”

“And you gave it a whole new meaning in the process.”

“I like my name better. More tourists would come to see it if they named it like that. I should probably send my suggestion to the City of Sydney.”

“Please do.”

While we were walking along the coastal heathland, Lenka came to a sudden halt. “I want a picture right there,” she said pointing at a protrudent and spiky rocky edge of the headland. I took a look and thought to myself, “please don’t let it be that one, not that one,” but then our crazy darwdevil was sitting on THAT one and then moved forward towards the abyss barely holding on. I was shaking as I was taking the photos. She came back as she had just taken candy from a baby, took a look at the photos and proceeded to walk up a rock, then turned around and offered me a hand. I tried to follow but I felt like I was going to slip and if I did, I would have surely fallen off the cliff. Rolling down some spiky rocks is not the way I envisioned to spend my Tuesday agternoon or my last day on Earth for that matter, thus I went around the rock. I’m a chicken. Sue me! 

We walked along the coastal track and through the bushes. There we heard different noises which caused me to panic.

“Do you think snakes can smell blood?” I asked.

“No.”

“You answered too quickly.”

“Because they can’t.”

Then we heard the sound of birds I named R2-D2. I think George Lucas has done this track before; he probably recorded the sound of those birds and used it for R2-D2 because they sound exactly the same. I almost called out Luke’s name.

We found an area where the sandstones had names and hearts written on them. There were some rock pebbles that allowed you to draw on the floor. Lenka pulled a Michelangelo and drew something for me. The influence of the Renaissance on the heart that encapsulated the message “Will Miss You Claudia” is palpable. I did some art of my own and wrote “I heart Lenka” on the floor. There we immortalised our love until the next rainy season.

Soon after we encountered the incredible, unique and marvelous Wedding Cake Rock. Given that recent studies have found that this rock is unstable, there is a fence around it to protect visitors.

Squared by erosion with sharp edges and deep cracks, the pure white rock stands out from the harder sandstone of the coastal cliffs as a slice of a silky wedding cake against the backdrop of the bright blue ocean. The unique bright white colour is caused by iron leaching. 


Okay so I climbed over the fence just for Indie Road. Please don’t give me a fine. And kids, don’t do that at home… or at Wedding Cake Rock: “you’d be risking your life for a photo.” They made me say that. 

We made our way back through the coastal heathland, home to spring wildflowers, swamp wallabies and birdlife. Out of all the wildlife we saw, the best by far was a cute and fluffy echidna on the side of the walkway by the wildflowers. I took some photos of it but Lenka’s fascination was such that she was just short of taking a bloody X-Ray of the poor animal.

Photo taken by Lenka

Since I got my trousers wet in Figure 8 pool, they kept accumulating dirt throughout the day; that combined with my wounded arm and the fact that I didn’t apply sunscreen properly, by the end of the day I looked like a soldier fresh out of battle. When I arrived home, my flatmate took a long look at me and asked:

“WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOU?”

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By Claudia @indieroad


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