Cronulla & the Sutherland Shire
Cronulla is the heart of 'the Shire', an area notorious in Sydney for a certain kind of mentality – very inward looking, complacent, and lifestyle focused. But the lifestyle is excellent, if your tastes are less cultural than beach-centred, with Cronulla Beach the culmination of a string of wonderful beaches from Maroubra and then South. The region is known as one of Australia's premier surfing centres.
Culturally, the area is perhaps Sydney's most homogenous, with most residents of Anglo-Irish – residents regrettably prone to calling themselves 'Australians' (as if to imply that other people – ie, those of non-Anglo descent - might not be Australians). The area was the site of infamous race riots in 2005 when mostly Anglo-Australians fought with mostly Lebanese-Australians in a series of ugly incidents that left many hurt, and several in jail.
The pick of the area? Just South of Cronulla, separated from Greater Sydney by Port Hacking is the beautiful Royal National Park - which some argue is the world's oldest National Park (it all depends on how one understands the notion of a National Park, as it turns out – under some understandings Yosemite in California is older). The Royal National Park is well worth a daytrip at the least – and conveniently there is a ferry from Cronulla into the cute little township of Bundeena. From here there are plenty of walks, which will take you along unspoilt coastline, lovely weathered rocks, secluded beaches, and more rock pools than you can shake a stick at! There are also some commercial cruise operators.