Royal National Park
One of the world’s oldest national parks is a natural sanctuary of pristine beaches, littoral rainforest and ancient Aboriginal sites, home to abundant wildlife, waterfalls and wildflowers. Nestled between Sydney and Wollongong, the heritage-listed Royal National Park provides endless opportunities to reconnect with nature and admire its beauty.
Bushwalking & cycling
Established in 1879, the jaw-dropping Royal National Park spans over 15,000 hectares. Many Sydneysiders treat it as an extended backyard, where they can enjoy nature at its finest. It’s popular for picnics, family days out, walking and cycling the many trails through bushland and along clifftops. There’s also great surfing, swimming holes, scenic lookouts and camping.
The best walking and cycling trails in the Royal National Park include:
- The Coast Track, a two-day, 26km one-way hike and camping adventure
- Bundeena Drive to Marley walk, an 8km return walk
- Curra Moors loop track, a 10km return walk
- Forest path, a 4.4km loop walk
- Karloo walking track, a 10km return walk
- Uloola walking track, 11km one-way walk
- Couranga walking track, a 5.1km one-way walk
- Loftus loop trail, a 10km return mountain bike trail
- Lady Carrington Drive, a 10km one-way historic walking and cycling trail
- Jibbon Beach loop track, 5km return walk
- Winifred Falls Trail, 2km return walk
- Garie Beach to Era Beach, 5km return walk
- Wattamolla to Eagle Rock, 8km return walk
Jibbon Head, near Bundeena, is where you can see Aboriginal rock art that was engraved eons ago, including depictions of a whale and a sky spirit. Take the Jibbon Beach loop track to get a closer look.
The 26km Coast Track is a particular highlight, beginning in Bundeena and weaving south past Wedding Cake Rock, hidden beaches, over a sandstone escarpment and through forest to Otford, near Stanwell Park. You can explore small portions to get a taste – starting from Bundeena and walking to Little Marley Beach is a great option.
Before you begin your adventure, please read these bushwalking safety tips. There are also guided walks and hiking tours in the park. Life’s an Adventure leads a two-day Coast Track tour, while Sydney Nimble Tours offers a private guided walking experience. Bird watching is also popular, with the national park home to hundreds of species.
On the water
You can spot humpback whales from Governor Game lookout, near the North Era campground, during the migration season between May and November. Eagle Rock is another great lookout and vantage point. If you’re in luck, you might even see the majestic creatures breaching, leaping out of the water.
Some of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches are in the park, including Wattamolla, Garie and Burning Palms. If you want to do more than just swim, hire a rowboat or canoe from Audley Boat Shed and paddle your way across Kangaroo Creek and the Hacking River. Bundeena Kayaks offers kayaking tours into the park, or you can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore on your own.
The beautifully formed Figure Eight Pools have become Insta-famous in recent years. If you plan to visit, check the tides and ocean conditions beforehand, as the pools are inaccessible during certain times of the day. To ensure you are being safe, book a guided tour with Barefoot Downunder.
The Royal National Park is near Cronulla about an hour’s drive from both the Sydney CBD and Wollongong to the south. There is a per-car entry fee to the park. You can get to the park via a car, with several sealed road entry points; a ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena; or a tram from the Sydney Tramway Museum in Loftus. For a scenic drive, the spectacular Grand Pacific Drive winds through the park.