Figure 8 pools warning: this wilderness lacks shops

NO JOKE: Be careful, the area ahead of you may not have shops. Picture: DAVID NOBLE.
NO JOKE: Be careful, the area ahead of you may not have shops. Picture: DAVID NOBLE.

Friends, I have an important word of warning for anyone heading out on a bushwalk this weekend: there might not be any shops there.

In fact, after walking for hours, you might find only bush, or lake, or beach, or whatever it is that’s out there.

If that sounds like a shock to you, perhaps you’d like to reassess your choice of destination. Maybe just green screen a wilderness background on your Instagram.

I’m talking, of course, about the trendy selfie pilgrimage to the Figure Eight pools in the Royal National Park.

Did you know, there are no shops there? Not one. This might be a shock to you – but these are not ordinary bushwalkers.

These young glamours from Sydney and overseas trek in their thousands, in fashion activewear, in platform sneakers, without water or hats, clueless about having to scramble over rocks for more than 1km.

So they can line up on a rock shelf with their backs to the crashing sea and – if they don’t get washed away – take their picture next to the pools (which are tiny, only a few metres in size) and get it up on Instagram.

They adorn the rock shelves, stripping down to strike the perfect pose for the camera. It’s a very strange scene.

In this company, this lack of shops is considered such a threat that National Parks has put up signs which warn people the path ahead has no water, no toilets, and no shops!

Laugh? I nearly cried. Then nearly died, a few days later when I found someone’s description of the location on TripAdvisor: “Very nice and beautiful place but the way to get there is horrible... more than an hour hiking after you park your car,” user Anna O wrote. “It is not mentioned anywhere and there aren't any cafe or amenities.”

No cafe. Not even a small food truck.

Spare a thought for the owners of the few dozen Depression-era shacks at Burning Palms, whose little piece of paradise is now a superhighway for Pommie lobsters who travel with blaring speakers, leaving rubbish.

For the record, the walk is one of the most stunning you’ll ever see. And it’s tough in spots. The road in is heavily potholed and I hope they never make it any easier to get in.

Aside from challenges with accessibility and disability, these places should be as hard to get to as possible. That way they’ll be enjoyed by people who actually want to be there – for the place it is.