Discover the Royal National Park
The heritage-listed Royal National Park, just south of Sydney, Australia, is a breathtaking natural paradise bursting with scenic views, glistening beaches, ancient aboriginal sites, and an abundance of wildlife. Often considered a Sydneysider's extended backyard, the parks are a popular place for locals to retreat to for a family day out where they can enjoy picnics, camping, fishing, kayaking, surfing, biking, and swimming.
Spread over 15,000 hectares, the enormous park also features a range of renowned hiking and walking trails. The walks are diverse in ease; some can be completed in a mere 20 minutes at a leisurely pace and other, more gruelling treks, take up to two days to navigate.
Read on for an insight into the origins and history of the Royal National Park as well as the different walks on offer within its boundaries.
The History and Origins of the Royal National Park Walks
Established in 1879 as the ‘National Park’ this enormous natural wonderland is the second-oldest national park in the world. The oldest is Yellowstone National Park in the United States. The park was created out of a growing urge to protect and preserve the natural environment in the area, for future generations. After a visit from Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1955, the park became known as ‘The Royal National Park’ to which it is referred to today.
The Royal National Park Walks were formed almost straight away, in the late 1800s, to provide access to the park’s breathtaking scenery and otherwise hidden wonders. In the early 1900s improvements were made to the walks and they were expanded as part of a development plan to make the park more accessible to its visitors.
During World War II, the Royal National Park was closed to the public and used as a training ground for the Australian military. After the war, the park was reopened, and its walking trails were restored. By the 1960s and 70s there was an increased demand for trails in the Royal National Park on account of a growing interest in outdoor activities. As a result, the walks were further developed and new trails were created that could cater to different fitness and experience abilities.
The Types of Different Walks in the Royal National Park
There are several popular walking trails within the Royal National Park. Each of which feature jaw-dropping panoramic coastal views, dense forests, waterfalls, wildflowers, and native animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas.
Some of the beautiful Royal National Park Walks include:
The Coast Track
Particularly adventurous hikers often take on this two-day trek of a track. At 26 km one way, running from Bundeena to Otford, the Coast Track offers a great way to see the incredibly diverse nature of the National Park. From beaches like Little Marley, and The Garie, to insta-famous hotspots like Wedding Cake Rock and Figure 8 Pools. There are also stunning views out over the ocean and a chance to spot some well-preserved 2,000 year-old Aboriginal carvings by the Tharawal people at Jibbon Head, near Bundeena.
The Karloo Walking Track
Karloo Track is one of the most popular Royal National Park Walks. It starts at Heathcote Train Station and winds 5km down to one of Sydney’s finest natural swimming holes, Karloo Pools.
The Uloola Track
Rolling highlands, spring wildflowers, and layers of tumbling water at the Uloola Falls are some of the highlights along this 11 km track. The walk takes around 5 hours to complete but is also considerably popular among eager mountain bikers.
The Forest Path
The 4.5 km Forest Path is a relatively easy, tranquil path through the park’s littoral rainforest. Running alongside the Hacking River and looping through the lower gullies of Forest Island. The track is perfect for children – just be sure to pack a picnic and head for the Upper Causeway Picnic Area on your way through!
The Bungoona Path
Just north of Audley, this 500-metre path, is one of the most family-friendly walks in the park. The flat concrete path, which is also wheelchair and stroller accessible, takes visitors on an adventure through the park’s impressive mangrove forests. Make sure to take a pair of binoculars and keep an eye on the skies for a glimpse at the native birdlife.
Whattatreat is Wattamolla?! With its rolling golden sands, tumbling waterfall, bustling picnic area, and picturesque lagoon, it's the perfect starting point for several Royal National Park Walks.
Palm Jungle Loop and Curra Moors Loop
Because these looped tracks take you back to your starting point, with minimal retracing of your steps, they are considerably popular choices. Although the Palm Jungle Loop is definitely for the more experienced hikers among us! Both are located in the eastern portion of the Royal National Park and are approximately 10 km long.
Along the way visitors will traverse grassy woodlands, lush rainforests, and heathlands. In addition, where the path meets the coast they can also glimpse dramatic views from the towering cliffs of the sparkling ocean
The Werrong Beach Track
This 2 km Royal National Park Walk from Otford, provides access to the park’s only nudist beach. It is a difficult walk, with steep slopes to both climb and descend but it is considered worth it for the peaceful and secluded nature of Werrong Beach – not to mention a chance to go au naturale in nature!
The Royal National Park Walks have been an integral part of the park since its founding in 1879, as a perfect way of viewing all the natural sanctuary has to offer. Whether you're looking for an easy stroll along the beach or a challenging trek through the bush, the park has something for everyone. Not to mention the endless amount of other activities to indulge in like fishing, swimming, and bbqing!
Interested in finding more like Wattamolla Beach? Why not try one of our Scavenger Hunts in Sydney - work as a team to overcome cryptic riddles and allow yourselves to be swept off the beaten track on a journey to discover all the quirky bars and unusual sites Sydney has to offer.