Royal National Park

Royal National Park

Infobox_protected_area | name = Royal National Park
iucn_category = II

caption = Map of Australia
locator_x = 255
locator_y = 170
location = New South Wales
nearest_city = Sydney
lat_degrees = 34
lat_minutes = 7
lat_seconds = 21
lat_direction = S
long_degrees = 151
long_minutes = 3
long_seconds = 50
long_direction = E
area = 154.42 km²
established = 1879
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body = NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

The Royal National Park is a national park in New South Wales, Australia, 29 km south of Sydney.

Founded by Sir John Robertson, Acting cite web|url=;place_id=105893 |title=Royal National Park and Garawarra State Conservation Area, Sir Bertram Stevens Dr, Audley, NSW, Australia |accessdate=2007-10-08 |work=Australian Heritage Database |publisher=Department of the Environment and Water Resources ] Premier of New South Wales, and formally proclaimed on 26 April 1879, it is the world's second oldest purposed national park, the first usage of the term "national park" after Yellowstone in the United States. Its original name was "The National Park", but it was renamed in 1955 after Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia passed through on the way to Wollongong during her 1954 tour cite web|url= |title=National parks |accessdate=2007-10-08 |date=2007-07-31 |work=Australia's Culture Portal |publisher=Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts ] . (It could be argued that the Royal is the oldest gazetted national park because Yellowstone's original gazetting was "recreation area.")

The Royal was added to the list of the National Heritage in December, 2006. cite web
title=Royal National Park and Garawarra State Conservation Area, Sir Bertram Stevens Dr, Audley, NSW, Australia |accessdate=2007-10-08
work=Australian Heritage Database
publisher=Department of the Environment and Water Resources


The park includes the settlements of Audley, Maianbar and Bundeena. There was once a railway line connected to the City Rail Illawarra line but this has now closed. The Sydney Tramway Museum, at Loftus currently runs a tram line on this allotment.

Audley can be accessed by road, and there are several railway stations on the outskirts of the park. Bundeena and Maianbar can also be accessed by road through the park or by the passenger ferry service from Cronulla. Road access is also possible from the south at Otford near Stanwell Park.

There are numerous walking trails, BBQ areas & picnic sites throughout the park. Mountain biking is allowed on fire trails and on specially marked tracks within the Park. The specially marked mountain biking tracks are bi-directional; care should be taken when traversing these trails. There is a car park just within the Park to leave vehicles. A fee of $11.00 applies when taking a car into the Park.

One popular walk is the coast walk. It is a two-day walk, involving walking from Bundeena to North Era and camping for the night. The next day's walk proceeds to Otford, where there is a railway station. This walk is often done as part of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

The park has been burnt in bushfires on several occasions, most notably in 1994 and in the 2001 Black Christmas fires. Australian native bush naturally regenerates after bushfires and as of 2008 few signs of these fires remain visible. In times of extreme fire danger the parks service very occasionally close the park to ensure visitor safety.

There are camping sites at Bundeena and North Era. These are the only places where camping is permitted within the park, and they are regulated with a booking/registration system, which requires pre-booking a site.

Geography, flora and fauna

The Royal National contains a wide variety of terrain. Roughly, the park moves from coastal cliffs broken by beaches and small inlets to an ancient high plateau broken by extensive and deep river valleys. The river valleys drain from south to north where they run into Port Hacking, the extensive but generally shallow harbour inlet which forms the northern border of the park. When looking across the park from east to west (or vice versa) the rugged folds of valley after valley fade into the distance.

Coastal heathland

Running the full coastal length of the park is a coastal heathland characterised by hardy, low-growing, salt-tolerant shrubs that spread across rocky, hard terrain with very little topsoil. The coast itself is composed mostly of high cliffs reaching a height of nearly two hundred metres at the southern end. These cliffs are puntuated by a number of fine, sandy beaches open to the ocean and providing fine swimming and surfing. Several of the beaches can be reached by road, others only by several hours bush walking. There are a small number of rocky coves. The beaches, two of which have volunteer surf life saving clubs and large car parks, are amongst the most visited areas of the park.

Exposed uplands

Moving farther inland the terrain rises to a series of very rocky ridges and plateaus characterised by hardy, low-growing shrubs and very poor, rocky soil. These ridges are the remnants of an ancient, much larger plateau that has been deeply eroded into an extensive series of river valleys

Valley sides

On the sides of the steep river valleys that punctuate the uplands the terrain changes to exposed rock with collected pockets of soil. Although still fairly rocky, a large number of eucalyptus and other tree species are prevalent. Small streams are to be found reasonably frequently and understory plants cohabitate with the larger trees, although the terrain is still fairly open and easy to move through. Tree heights in this area reach an average maximum of about ten metres. The plant mix and geography conditions in this area are typical of much of the terrain in the coastal areas of New South Wales.

Valley floors

With rich soils and good supply of water the valley floors are cooler and more humid than any other part of the park. Large tree species such as Australian Cedar and the larger Eucalypt species dominate. Tree height reach 30 metres or more and a rich understory of fern, wattles, and other medium-size plants proliferate. Some small areas are classified as temperate rainforest. These areas are characterised by dense groves of very large trees including the iconic Port Jackson Fig and Moreton Bay Fig trees. The absence of light leads to a lack of undergrowth other than a profusion of ferns. These are among the more popular areas for visitors to the park. The park service is also very careful to protect these areas due to their general rarity in the hot, arid Australian landscape.

Park highlights

* Audley - Audley is a large, flat area at the base of one of the larger valleys in the park. The main road into the park from the north drops quickly from the heights to Audley, where it crosses the Hacking River on a weir before climbing up the other side of the valley to continue further into the park. Audley was developed in the late 19th century as a picnic area for Sydneysiders on a day trip. A large, heritage listed timber boathouse from that time still exists on the western bank of the weir and currently rents rowing boats and canoes to allow leisurely exploration of the upper reaches of the river. It also rents mountain bikes. A timber dance hall built in the early 20th century on the eastern bank is available for functions. Large picnic areas, grassy meadows and a café, rest rooms and a colony of hungry ducks complete the picnic picture. Audley is as popular with families today as it was in the 19th century. After a heavy rain the weir floods, closing the road and forcing the residents of Bundeena to drive an extra 30 kilometres to the southern end of the park if they wish to drive to Sydney.
* Jibbon Hill- This is the southern head of Port Hacking and has fine views over the Sutherland peninsula. Aboriginal rock art sites are visible.
* Eagle Rock - A unique rock formation near Curracarong, about halfway down the length of the park on the coast. It is a large rock outcrop that looks like an eagle's head when viewed from the side. The other remarkable feature of Curracarong are the several waterfalls which tumble over the cliffs and into the sea over one hundred metres below.
* Garie Beach - One of the most popular coastal surf beaches in the park. [ Garie Surf Life Saving Club]
* Wattamolla beach has a large lagoon tucked behind the beach, which then enters the sea via an ankle-deep stream at one end of the beach. Families enjoy playing in the calm lagoon with their young children whilst adults enjoy the clean, even surf. Substantial parking and a canteen serving refreshments on summer weekends are also there.
* 'Figure 8' pool south of Burning Palms
* Werrong beach is one of the legal naturist beaches in the park. It faces east on the Pacific Ocean. The hill behind the beach is covered in trees and undergrowth. Those who camp overnight can be woken at dawn by wallabies wandering around the campsite.
* Lady Carrington Drive - Lady Carrington Drive was one of the early roads through the park. It runs south from Audley, roughly following the Hacking River upstream from the weir for a distance of about 10 kilometres (6 miles) to its end, where it meets the main sealed road through the park (there is limited parking at the southern end). The road was a popular carriage drive in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It had long been closed to traffic and now forms one of the most popular walking and cycling tracks in the park. It is mostly flat and well formed (although unsealed) and being a former road averages 4 to 5 metres (12 to 18 feet) in width. It passes through valley floor vegetation and in spring is lit up by brilliant yellow displays of wattle trees and oranges and reds of the Australian native Banksia trees and Waratah flowers. Many secondary schools in the Sutherland Shire area use Lady Carrington Drive for an annual sports or fundraising event where their students walk from the southern end through to Audley where a large barbecue picnic is held.
* North and South Era beaches. [ Era Surf Life Saving Club]


The Royal National Parks offers one legally sanctioned and several unofficial naturist beaches, for experiencing harmony between nature and the human body.

Werrong Beach is "the only authorised nude bathing area in the national park".cite web
url =
title = Royal National Park - Walking tracks
accessdate = 2007-10-08
date = 2007-07-19
publisher = Department of Environment & Conservation (NSW)

Informally listed places are: cite web|url= |title=Free Beaches in New South Wales |accessdate=2007-10-08 |last=Reed |first=Bob |coauthors=Jo Mulholland, Gerald Ganglbauer |date=2006-07-24 |work=Free Beach Action NSW |publisher=Gerald Ganglbauer ]
* Little Jibbon Beach
* Jibbon Beach
* Ocean Beach

ee also

* Protected areas of New South Wales (Australia)


External links

* [ NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service]
* [ Royal National Park Photo & Video Gallery]
* [ Royal National Park - Photos]
* [ Fairfax "Walkabout" Australian Travel Guide]

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