Kurnell Whale Sculpture + Ribs + Canoes [Complete Walking Guide]

Just a short 900 metre walk from the Kurnell Foreshore you’ll find the Kurnell Whale Sculptures as well as a variety of other sculptures and monuments.

The path there is flat and paved most of the way making it a nice leisurely walk and it’s great for families with kids.

Installed in 2020 as part of the 250th anniversary of the encounter between Aboriginal Australians and the crew of the HMB Endeavor these sculptures don’t celebrate the “discovery of the land by England” like previous monuments but symbolise a message of all Australians discovering our true history as we move together towards a reconciled nation. (source)

This walk features 3 sculptures, multiple monuments and many plaques talking about the history of this significant place.

Kurnell Whale Sculpture Key Information

Distance: 1.8 km (return)

Elevation: 9m (basically flat)

Difficulty: Easy

Opening Times: All Year

Entrance Fee: Free if parking on Kurnell Foreshore. If parking in the national park then fees apply – see full details

Facilities Nearby:

  • Cafe
  • Public toilets inside national park or at the other end of Kurnell Foreshore (Bonna Point Reserve)

Potential Hazards:

  • Paved most of the way but not all the way

Where Is The Kurnell Whale Sculpture (Map)

The Kurnell Whale Sculpture is located on the northern most point of Kurnell inside the Kamay Botany Bay Nation Park. However, it’s accessible without having to park in the national park and without having to pay the entrance fees.

The easiest way to access to whale sculpture is to park near the corner of Prince Charles Parade and Captain Cook Drive and then walk the 900 metres to the sculptures along the monument track. This is the most scenic route and you will see multiple sculptures and landmarks.

You can also access the whale sculptures by parking inside the national park at Commemoration Flat Picnic Area and walking to the sculpture from there.

Click here to see Kurnell Whale Sculpture location on Google Maps

Click here to see Kurnell Whale Sculpture location on Apple Maps

Summary of Directions

  • Park at the north west end of Kurnell along Prince Charles Parade or Captain Cook Drive
  • Take the monument track
  • At the track curves around to the right leave the track continuing straight along the coast line
  • Walk until you reach the whale sculpture

Alternatively: Park at Commemoration Flat Picnic Area and walk to the whale sculpture from there.

History of The Sculptures

Kurnell, for better or for worse, is the historic landing place of Captain Cook about the HMB Endeavor and marks the day of first contact between Aboriginal Australians and the crew on the 29th April 1770.

The crew landed and spent 8 days here and this moment took on great consequence for Australia.

To commemorate 250 years since the first encounter three bronze sculptures were installed along the foreshore walk. These are:

  • The Eyes of the Land and the Sea (abstraction of the ribs of the HMB Endeavour or a whale)
  • The whales sculpture
  • Numi/Canoes

For more details about this history of these sculptures check out the articles here, here and here.


Parking for the Kurnell Whale Sculpture is easy, though it can be busy on warm weekends and public holidays. Worst case scenario is you’ll have to park a little further away in a side street.

Usually I’ve park on Captain Cook Drive out the front of the 1770 cafe as there is usually easy parking there and it’s nice to go to the cafe to get some coffee or some muffins to enjoy on the walk or after the walk.

Click here for Kurnell Whale Sculpture Parking Location (Google Maps)

Click here for Kurnell Whale Sculpture Parking Location (Apple Maps)

Most Of The Track Is Flat and Paved

The majority of the walk to the whale sculptures is flat and paved. Often I’ll take the kids here and we’ll skateboard or scooter along this path as it’s a beautiful spot and the path is wide, flat and paved most of the way.

The Eyes of the Land and Sea (The Ribs)

Created by Alison Page and Nik Lachacjzak this artwork out on the rocks is made from 7 ribs resembling both the hull of the HMB Endeavour as well as the ribs of a whale.

The ribs sit out on the rocks and at low tide you can access them and climb on them. However, at high tide the water comes in and you can’t get to the sculpture without getting wet.

These are beautiful sculptures and you can get some great photos at sunrise or sunset.

Click here for full details on how the sculptures were made

The Nuwi Canoes

Made by Julie Squires and Theresa Ardler the bronze Nuwi Canoes are located between the ribs and the whales.

The Gweagal Clan traditionally fished from stringy bark canoes such like these. They lit fires in their canoes on a base of white clay. The firelight attracted fish to the canoe, making them easier to catch. During their ‘first contact’ observations, both Cook and Banks recorded this practice. Source

Other Features Along This Walk

  • The Pier
  • Captain Cook Monument
  • Sir Joseph Banks Memorial

The Whale Sculpture

Lastly you’ll come to the whale sculpture which is the highlight of this walk.

Created by Julie Squires and Theresa Ardler this sculpture features a baby and mother whale as well as. abronze fishing net.

Getting There

As you walk along the paved path eventually the path will go up a slight hill and then turn sharply to the right.

At this point you want to leave the path and continue straight following the coastline.

Leave the path and walk down the grassy hill. You can see the whale sculpture in the distance on the right

This will lead you down a hill and there is a small path over a grassy section

The grass here gets very boggy after rain. So stick to the footpath if you don’t want your shoes filled with water.

What The Whale Sculpture Is Like

The Whale Sculpture is really cool and quite large.

It features a baby whale and mother whale as well as a bronze fishing net.

It’s a great spot to take photos and kids absolutely love climbing on the whales.

On weekends there tend to be a lot of tourists at this spot taking photos but on weekdays it’s relatively empty.

Continue On To “The Steps”

If you continue along the rocks from the whale sculpture and follow the coastline you will eventually reach “The Steps” which is a large rock overhang that is pretty impressive.

There are then steps up to the carpark above. So you could also access the whale sculpture in the opposite direction by parking at the steps and starting your walk from there.

Other Interesting Spots Near The Kurnell Whale Sculpture

Kurnell is a fascinating place with some incredible walks and locations.

If you’re in the area for the whale sculpture then there are a bunch of other locations you should consider checking out also and making a day of it.

Commemoration Flat Picnic Area

Inside the national park and just a short drive from Cape Solander is the Commemoration Flat Picnic Area.

This grassy spot has barbeques, lots of picnic tablets, bathrooms, drinking water and even a cold shower.

It’s a great spot to have a picnic after exploring the other areas and it’s also very close to the Whale Sculpture.

Read my Commemoration Flat Picnic Area Guide

The Secret Skylight Cave

Made TikTok and Instagram famous this secret skylight cave is an amazing place to take a photo for your social media or dating profile. The cave has a magnificent skylight in the centre and is right on the cliff. It’s quite small but photos make it look bigger than it is.

I consider this walk very dangerous due to how close the cave is to the cliff. If you do this walk then you do it at your own risk.

The walk down to the cave is not marked and is difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But if you know how to get there it’s just a short 200 metres from the carpark

Read my full guide to finding the Secret Skylight Cave at Cape Solander, Kurnell

Cape Solander Whale Watching Lookout

Right where you parked the car is the Cape Solander Whale Watching Lookout.

This lookout is wheelchair accessible and one of the best places to see the whales as they migrate north to warmer waters.

June and July are the best times to do whale watching but they can also be spotted between May-October. You’ll just have to get lucky.

Sometimes they get as close as just 200 metres from the coast

Read my Cape Solander Whale Watching Guide

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