There are so many bush walks in Royal National Park that it can be hard to know where to begin. Sure, you’ve probably heard of The Coast Track, so let’s explore more of the best walks in Royal National Park. But first, a story…

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there were no national parks. Not here, not anywhere. Then, the folks over in the United States stuck a National Park tag on Yellowstone. And a few years later, Australia was next to get in on the act.

In April 1879, Royal National Park on Sydney’s outskirts, became the second national park in the world. Back then, it was just The National Park (no need to be more specific with only one in the country).

It took until 1955 – a year after Queen Elizabeth II visited Sydney and travelled through the National Park – that it was re-named Royal National Park.

Here are some of the best walks in Royal National Park.

Best Royal National Park Hikes

These days, Royal National Park has more than 100km of walking tracks to explore, nearly 300 species of birds within the parks’ boundaries, wildlife such as rock wallabies and echidna, and the most pristine coastline of any major city.

How to get to Royal National Park

We go into detail about how to get to the track’s starting point for each specific walk (click through the links above), but generally speaking there are three access points to get into Royal National Park… well, four if you include the ferry (which we highly recommend).

The park is in southern Sydney, so assuming you’re coming from the city centre, you’re heading to near Sutherland.

By Car

  • Farnell Avenue, Loftus. Just past Sutherland. Best for Audley, Bundeena and Wattamolla. Good for Garie Beach and Garawarra Farm too. Also the best scenic drive through the whole park via a coffee stop at Audley.
  • McKell Avenue, Waterfall. Keep driving south on the A1. Best for Garie Beach, Garawarra Farm car park for Figure 8 Pools and Eagle Rock walks. Good for Wattamolla and Lady Carrington Drive too. Or a scenic drive to Otford.
  • Lady Wakehurst Drive, Otford. Perfect for southern end of The Coast Track including Palm Jungle and Figure 8 Pools.

By Public Transport

  • Catch the Bundeena ferry from Cronulla Ferry Wharf (Tonkin St, Cronulla) to Bundeena. A beautiful 20 minute trip across the Hacking River – worth a journey even if you’re not planning to walk. The wharf is a few minutes walk from the train station. Cronulla is on the blue Illawarra line, direct from most city train stations as well as Bondi and Kings Cross.
    Regular services run every half hour on weekends and far more often in peak times. There’s free parking at Cronulla too.
  • Train to Otford Station, then a 20 minute walk up a steep hill to get to the Coast Track, southern access point to Royal National Park. Otford is on the South Coast line, with trains from Central Station running regularly but infrequently – usually once per hour or even once every two hours on a Sunday afternoon.
  • Loftus and Waterfall train stations provide access to walking tracks in the western part of the park. But you can not – I repeat, can not – get to The Coast Track (or Wedding Cake Rock or Figure 8 Pools) from either of these train stations.
Cronulla to Bundeena ferry to Royal National Park

Tips From a Local

We love walking in Royal National Park – it’s essentially where Ian and I grew up – but… I say this as a friend: there are some days it’s best not to go at all. Or to get there really early.

Public holidays on a beautiful summer’s day are the worst. So avoid Christmas and Boxing Days, New Year’s Day and Australia Day. Car parks fill up, the one and only road through Royal is congested, and the picnickers descend. That said, you’re walking, right? So in theory you’ll be far from the madding crowds. Choose a less popular walk that day, be prepared, and you’ll be right mate.

Royal National Park Contacts

In busy times, follow @ROYALbusy on Twitter for regular, real-time updates on the amount of parking available in the park, and traffic info.

For more, contact the Royal National Park Visitor’s Centre on (02) 9542 0648.


With all these bushwalking options, it’s no wonder Royal National Park is a favourite escape for Sydney-siders. It’s a pleasure to share some of the best Royal National Park walks with you, after all, this park is where it all started for us. The only problem now is choosing which walk you’ll tackle this weekend!

About

Tara Wells co-owns Sydney Coast Walks, and co-hosts new podcast This Hiking Life with her husband Ian Wells. She is a journalist and former TV and radio producer/presenter who’s delighted to combine her love of hiking with story-telling.



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