Gunai woman Kirli Saunders is an awardwinning writer, artist, consultant and the author of books, including Bindi and Our Dreaming. This year, her visual poetry collection, Returning, will hit the shelves.

Saunders’ work will feature in Linger, Dash, Talk, an exhibition of queer and First Nations artists at Paddington’s Cement Fondu gallery, from 17 February, in partnership with WorldPride.

Kirli Saunders

An avid yogi, surfer and bushwalker, her “first thought for friends and family visiting Sydney is how can I connect them to land, sea and sky? Better still, how can I connect them to places I know and love?”

Here are her suggestions.

Discover Wattamolla

“Head south. In the east of the Royal National Park, 50 kilometres from Sydney, is Wattamolla – a luscious lagoon and secluded beach where waterfall meets sea on Dharawal land. Lounge, lilo or snorkel in calm estuarine waters or take a bush trail to the southern end of the beach and go fishing with headlands in front and falls behind you, as our people have done for tens of thousands of years.”

Unearth Dharawal history

“Hike the 26-kilometre Royal National Park Coast Track from Bundeena to Otford train station, through coastal rainforest, heath, rock pools and beaches. It’s a two-day trek that offers outstanding views along a whale migration path (late May to early November). Dharawal Country is rich in First Nations history, with middens and engravings on the trail, so tread lightly.”

Hike the Illawarra Escarpment

“Go further south to Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area and marvel at the views from Stanwell Tops, where sea eagles and hang-gliders soar. A one-way 14-kilometre hike combines the Forest Walk, Wodi Wodi Track and Sublime Point trail, past towering gums, cabbage tree palms, across creek beds and Gymea lily-lined escarpment. Top it off with a picnic at Sublime Point Lookout.”

Have a dip in Mahon Pool

“If a day by the sea [about] 10 kilometres south of the CBD is more your vibe, I can recommend Mahon Pool, Maroubra. This sculpted ocean pool, north of the main beach, was shaped in 1935 and has been loved by bathers and sea life since. With sandstone platforms, there’s space to soak up the sun and facilities to wash away the day afterwards. Walk to cafés or the Maroubra Caves on the headland.”

Find Aboriginal culture in the Blue Mountains

“Just 90 minutes west of the city is the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area – a million hectares that span Darkinjung, Dharawal, Dharug, Gundungurra, Wonnarua and Wiradjuri Country. The mountains are a haven of Aboriginal culture with the Three Sisters, Jenolan Caves, rock engravings and cave paintings. There are canyons to explore but if you’d rather relax, book a high tea and sample exquisite local produce.”

Take home a meaningful item from Trading Blak

“Gadigal lands have always been a trading hub for our people – especially down by the water – so it’s no surprise that Trading Blak has established a store at Barangaroo in the CBD. This collective empowers the First Nations owners to achieve success on their own terms. Find them at the store or browse the range of artists, makers and products online.”

SEE ALSO: Chef Christine Manfield’s Expert Guide to Sydney

Sydney Harbour

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Image credit: Kristoffer Paulsen

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