Royal National Park. National Park in New South Wales, Australia

Royal National Park

National Park in New South Wales, Australia

08 08 2013 Photo © Eddy Milfort

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Royal National Park

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Waterfall in the Royal National Park - Royal National Park
Waterfall in the Royal National Park - Royal National Park. Photo by Justin griffiths
Royal National Park is located a short distance (approximately 30 kilometers) south of Sydney on the east coast of the state of New South Wales, Australia. It lies near the suburban towns of Otford, Waterfall, and Loftus. The national park is listed as an Australian Heritage Site and is known among the locals as ‘the Nasho’ or ‘the Royal’. It is the oldest second-oldest national park. Because it is located within less than an hour’s drive from both Sydney and Wollongong, it is a very popular park. People go there for a weekend away in nature or just for a morning or evening run.

The national park consists of many different terrains and landscapes. Rivers have cut down wide valleys in the inland plateaus and the coastline includes spectacular coastal cliffs, hidden beaches, and small bays. The coastal areas of Royal National Park are made up of heathlands. In addition, other types of habitats that can be found throughout the park are salt marshes, eucalypt forests, rock pools, mangroves, grasslands, and exposed plateaus. Most of the park’s area consists of sandstone.

This variety of vegetation provides a home to many different plant and animal species. The park’s heathlands are its most valuable vegetation, containing more than 500 flowering plants, which from July to November provide a colorful spectacle. Most mammals can be found in the tall eucalypt forests; examples are Quolls, Pademelons, Possums, Wallabies, and Echidnas. Royal National Park is also an important habitat for birds. More than 200 different bird species have been spotted. About 40 reptile species and 30 amphibians feel at home in the varied landscapes of the park. Venomous snakes such as Death Adders, Tiger Snakes, and Brown Snakes live in the park, so visitors are advised to be careful and wear high boots when walking in the park.

Waterfall in the Royal National Park - Royal National Park
Waterfall in the Royal National Park. Photo by Justin griffiths


The Tharawal (Wikipedia Article) Aborigines have lived in the area for several thousands of years. Their culture and traditions are now protected by the national park.

Royal National Park was established in 1879 (then named ‘The National Park’), making it the very first national park in Australia and the second-oldest national park in the world (after Yellowstone National Park in the United States). The park got its present name after Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit in 1955. At the time of creation, the park’s main purpose wasn’t conservation, but recreation. It was regarded as a place where Sydney’s inhabitants could go for leisurely walks and picnics. First marshes and mangroves were filled up and lawns and parklands were created. Even meticulously landscaped gardens were part of the national park. Around the turn of the century, however, the Sydneysiders became more aware of the necessity to provide the natural landscapes. In 1930, the first conservationists lobbied for a National Parks Authority, which was eventually established in 1967.

Now, more than 80 historic sites can be visited in Royal National Park, from remains of old houses, to dams and quarries, and military sites.

Things to Do

Royal National Park has many historic features, as well as interesting plant and animal life. It is a very popular place among birders, for example. Its various landscapes provide opportunities to hike, cycle, picnic, camp, canoe, fish, surf, and etcetera. From June to November, the park is an ideal place to witness the annual whale migration.

Audley is a real highlight of the national park. It was developed in the late 19th century to serve as a picnic and recreation area for people from Sydney. A large, flat area near a river at the bottom of one of the park’s valleys, Audley now has a boathouse where visitors can rent mountain bikes, canoes and kayaks, a café, grassy parklands, and picnic areas. It still has the same purpose it had when it was created.

Other major highlights are Jibbon Point, offering great views of Sutherland Peninsula, Eagle Rock, Garie Beach, a popular surf beach, Wattamolla Beach, a beach sheltered in a cove, ideal for families, and North and South Era Beaches.

The Lady Carrington Drive used to be one of the first roads in Royal National Park. A former carriage road, it is now closed to traffic and serves as a great walking and cycling trail.

The park’s Visitor Center has loads of information on activities, campsites and things to see in Royal National Park.

How to Get There

Royal National Park lies about 30 kilometers south of Sydney and 40 kilometers north of Wollongong. From both directions, the park can easily be reached by car along the Princes Highway.

Similar Landmarks

Other national parks within close proximity of Sydney are the Blue Mountains National Park, Sydney Harbour National Park and Lane Cove National Park. Similar national parks in Australia are Wilsons Promontory National Park, Great Otway National Park, and Freycinet National Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Oct 14, 2014

Pictures of Royal National Park

Waterfall in the Royal National Park - Royal National Park
Waterfall in the Royal National Park - Photo by Justin griffiths

20120506 002 Picture of Audley from Boathouse in Royal National Park - Royal National Park
20120506 002 Picture of Audley from Boathouse in Royal National Park - Photo by sydneydawg2006


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