The 7 Best Royal National Park Walks

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There are certain moments of our life that will always be brought back by a special song that captured the essence of an experience.

As I sat on the bus watching Centrepoint Tower and the Sydney skyline fade into the distance, I knew that I would never be able to hear Cat Steven’s ‘Moon Shadow’ without thinking of the evening I walked around the Australian bush in Royal National Park.

Sunrise at Curracurrong Falls and Eagle Rock in the Royal National Park, Sydney.
Sunrise at Curracurrong Falls and Eagle Rock | Destination NSW

Located just under an hour from Sydney, it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, either for a day trip or a weekend of multi-day hiking.

One of the best activities in Royal National Park is hiking. But if you don’t know what Royal National Park walks to do, then below are some of the best!

About Royal National Park

Aerial overlooking footprints along Garie Beach in Sydney's Royal National Park.
Garie Beach | Adam Krowitz

Situated only an hour south of Sydney, the park’s diversity can be seen in its coastal cliffs surrounded by heath, sandy beaches, black palm jungle, and mountainous sandstone ridges with deep river valleys that are home to a mixture of Eucalyptus woodlands and temperate rainforest.

The Royal National Park, Australia’s oldest and the world’s second oldest National Park, is a park that fades into the Blue Mountain’s shadow, but one that has just as much stark natural beauty, and Aboriginal and White Australian cultural significance to explore.

Established in 1879, originally named “National Park,” it was renamed in 1955 to honor Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Australia.

Flowers growing within the Royal National Park, Sydney.
Destination NSW

This breathtaking sanctuary, spanning over 16,000 hectares, shelters an array of diverse flora and fauna, including land below the high water mark.

Its creation marked a turning point in prioritizing nature conservation and protection, inspiring the establishment of national parks worldwide.

The Best Royal National Park Walks

One of the best ways to see the beauty and nature of the park is to go walking. Below are some of the best hikes in Royal National Park you shouldn’t miss!

1. Royal National Park Coastal Walk

waves crashing into a rocky shoreline
  • Length: 27.7km one way
  • Difficulty: moderately challenging
  • Time to complete: most people take 2 days to complete the walk so they can admire the beauty, but without stopping it takes 8.5 hours.

The Coast Track is the most famous walk in Royal National Park. This scenic 26km hike showcases the rugged beauty of Australia’s second oldest national park.

As you traverse the Coast Track, be prepared to be captivated by the dramatic coastal cliffs, pristine beaches, and breathtaking ocean views.

Starting from Bundeena Drive to Otford Lookout, this challenging trail offers a fusion of natural wonders and rich history.

The trail passes Little Marley Beach, Wattamolla, Curracurrang Cove and Eagle Rock Lookout, as well as Garie Beach. 

It’s recommended to spend the night at North Era campground and continue on the second leg of the journey, which takes you to North Era and Otford lookout.

rocky coastline of Royal National Park

Along the way, you’ll encounter heritage shacks at South Era, allowing you to glimpse into the past, as well as the coastal rainforest of Burning Palms and Palm Jungle.

Stop off at Burning Palms Beach for a swim before climbing to Werrong lookout and on to Otford lookout.

Be sure to pop into the Visitors Centre to get a map and information about the walk.

2. Garie Beach to North Era Beach

waves spilling over rocks at sunset on the coast
  • Length: 3.2km
  • Difficulty: moderately challenging
  • Time to complete: 1.5 hours

If you don’t have time to walk the entire Royal National Park Coastal Track, then we recommend you do sections of it.

One of the most beautiful sections is Garie Beach to North Era Beach, which is a picturesque trail that spans approximately 2.5 kilometers, taking hikers through a mesmerizing coastal landscape.

As you traverse the well-maintained path, you’ll encounter stunning ocean views, the most beautiful beaches, and rugged cliffs.

This moderately challenging hike can be completed in around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on your pace and the time spent soaking in the breathtaking surroundings. Along the way, take a moment to appreciate the serenity of Little Marley Beach, Wattamolla, and Curracurrang Cove near Eagle Rock lookout.

Both Garie Beach and North Era Beach are popular surf spots, where you can find surf board rentals.

3. Wattamolla to Curracurrong Falls & Eagle Rock

person staning on edge of coastal cliff
  • Length: 9km out and back
  • Difficulty: moderately-challenging
  • Time to complete: 2 hours 45 minutes

Another short hike in Royal National Park is from Wattamolla to Curracurrong Falls and Eagle Rock.

This spectacular coastal trail offers a mesmerizing experience, showcasing some of Sydney’s most scenic landscapes.

Wattamolla means place near running water’ and this was because at the back of the lagoon was a small gorge with a waterfall running over it.

According to the rest of the world, it would have been known as a trickle, but in the eyes of the driest continent on Earth it was a true marvel.

Prepare to be captivated by the beauty of Curracurrong Falls, a unique tidefall cascading into the ocean. A few minute’s walk from there and you’ll encounter the iconic Eagle Rock formation, a natural wonder that rewards hikers with sweeping coastal views.

This walk allows you to immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature as you traverse through lush forests and along rugged cliffs. Take time to capture the beauty of Wattamolla Creek Waterfall and explore beyond the beaten path for hidden gems.

4. Curra Moors Loop Track

waterfall in national falls national park
National Falls in Royal National Park
  • Length: 9.7km loop
  • Difficulty: moderately challenging
  • Time to complete: 2 hours 45 minutes

The Curra Moors Loop Track offers a perfect blend of scenic bushland and panoramic coastal views. The trail takes you through heath and waterfalls, showcasing stunning sandstone cliffs and providing ample opportunities for birdwatching.

This walk is a short section of the Coastal Track, allowing you to soak in breathtaking vistas of the coast and the vast expanse of the sea. The trail is known for its diverse flora, including vibrant wildflowers that add a touch of color to your journey.

5. Jibbon Beach Loop Track

Scenic views over Jibbon Beach,
Scenic views over Jibbon Beach | Destination NSW
  • Length: 6.6km loop
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time to complete: 1 hour 35 minutes

This scenic trail offers a perfect blend of coastal beauty and cultural significance. As you make your way along this loop hike, you’ll traverse the golden sand of Shelley Beach, head up to Port Hacking Point (Jibbon Head), pass through enchanting bushland, and see awe-inspiring sea cliffs.

Immerse yourself in the natural splendor of Jibbon Beach, known for its serene atmosphere and sparkling views. Along the way, take time to appreciate the extensive Aboriginal rock engravings, a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of the area.

This moderately graded hike is suitable for all skill levels, offering an easy but incredibly rewarding experience. As you explore the Jibbon Beach Loop Track, prepare to be captivated by the diverse landscapes and the tranquility that envelops you.

6. Werrong Beach Track

Scenic coastal views looking south across the Royal National Park, Sydney.
Credit: Destination NSW
  • Length: 2.9km out and back
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Time to complete: 1 hour 20 minutes

Werrong Beach Track is a moderate to easy trail that offers scenic coastal views and the opportunity to discover the secluded beauty of Werrong Beach, also known as Hell Hole nude beach.

As you navigate the short but steep path, immerse yourself in the natural splendor that surrounds you. The trail leads you to the tranquil waters of Werrong Beach, where you can take a refreshing dip and bask in the serenity of this lesser-known spot.

7. Wattamolla Dam Walk

water in lagoon by cliffs
  • Length: 1.7km out and back
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time to complete: 45 minutes

This scenic trail begins near the picnic area and takes you through a path that winds down the hill and leads to the northern end of the park, near a serene creek crossing.

The highlight of this hike is the picturesque Wattamolla Dam, a hidden gem nestled amidst the beauty of nature. Take a moment to admire the calm, crystal-clear waters of the dam, perfect for a refreshing dip or a peaceful picnic by its banks.

Wattamolla Dam Walk offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to connect with nature and rejuvenate your senses. Bring your swimsuit and be sure to go for a swim to cool off!

How to Get to Royal National Park

Scenic views of Coote Creek to Wattamolla Beach in the Royal National Park.
Coote Creek, Wattamolla Beach | Destination NSW

If you want to use public transport, you can get there by hopping on a train from Sydney Central Station train station. Relax and enjoy the scenic ride as you head towards Cronulla.

Disembark at Cronulla Station and catch the ferry to Bundeena Ferry Wharf. Let the gentle sway of the boat mesmerize you as you sail across the azure waters.

Alternatively, you can take a tram from the Sydney Tramway Museum in Loftus, or drive. Royal National Park is situated 29km south of Sydney CBD in the Sutherland Shire, and takes around 1 hour.

Those who prefer to drive will be able to enter via Farnell Avenue, Lady Wakehurst Drive, or McKell Avenue. There is a $12 park entry fee per car.

Tips for Visiting Royal National Park

Crowds enjoying Wattamolla Beach in the Royal National Park.
Wattamolla Beach | Dee Kramer Photography

Before you go, here are a few tips to make your walk in Royal National Park smoother…

  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes.
  • Pack warm clothing, camera and a tripod.
  • Get plenty of rest before the hike.
  • Pack plenty of water and snacks.
  • Bring a rubbish bag to put your rubbish in.
  • Wear insect repellent!
  • Bring suncream and a sunhat.

Our Experience Hiking The Royal National Park

The night sky over Wattamolla Beach, Royal National Park in Sydney.
The night sky over Wattamolla Beach | Filippo Rivetti

There are certain moments of our life that will always be brought back by a special song that captured the essence of an experience.

As I sat on the bus watching Centrepoint Tower and the Sydney skyline fade into the distance, I knew that I would never be able to hear Cat Steven’s ‘Moon Shadow’ without thinking of the evening I walked around the Australian bush in Royal National Park.

We were on our way to the Royal National Park and had booked onto a night hike tour (which is no longer available) but were still amazed by the beauty of this park which was illuminated by moonlight.

Andy, our tour guide, was determined to make this unique adventure an unforgettable experience.

The bus trip to the National Park began with a play list of Moon Songs to get us in the mood. How could John Butler Trio and music from the Lion King not inspire you to stride purposefully forward?

Lots of little surprises like this awaited us on the journey.

Andy was always popping something new from his bag of tricks, the most touching being the glowing ice cube to place in our moonshine. Moonshine, as in energy drink, rather than highly potent liquor made from potatoes.

The moonshine was there to help us get through the evening and although I was incredibly excited about the journey, I was concerned as to whether I would make the 10km nocturnal hike along the coastal track.

My positive thinking was, if I can stay awake all night drinking and partying, then I could stay awake all night having an experience that I’ll always remember.

Andy’s passion and enthusiasm for the park and the cultural heritage of the Dharawal Aboriginal tribe, the original owners of the area, is so evident in the stories he tells and the energy that radiates from him as he bounds about in the bush, ready to share and have you experience the same natural high that comes with spending time in nature.

14 thoughts on “The 7 Best Royal National Park Walks”

  1. This national park looks really amazing. Looks like you guys had a great and unforgettable experience there. Love the slow shutter speed shots during the night.

  2. Wow – this looks like such an amazing experience! Great photos – I enjoy night tours; we’ll have to look into this when we finally get around to our trek up the east coast of Australia. Not sure I could sleep on the sand either, though.

  3. I’ve never heard of this place before, but the photos are stunning. I love the fact that you also had the chance to see it at night! Australia is high on my list of places to visit and I’ll have to check this out when I make it there.

  4. The way you have described this experience is seriously amazing, I would love to have a chance to experience it myself. The photos and words paint a beautiful picture of your tour!

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