coastal view with era beach, royal national park, nsw

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Royal National Park

Top choice in Sydney Region

The 15,091-hectare Royal National Park was established in 1879, making it the oldest national park in the world after Yellowstone in the USA. Stretching inland from 32km of beautiful coast, it encompasses pockets of subtropical rainforest, windblown coastal scrub, sandstone gullies dominated by gum trees, freshwater and saltwater wetlands, secluded beaches and dramatic cliffs. Traditionally the home of the Dharawal people, there are also numerous Aboriginal sites and artefacts. Head to the website or visitor centre at Audley for good park maps and information.

Walking tracks include the spectacular 26km (two-day) Coast Track. Most beaches are unpatrolled and rips can make them dangerous. Garie, Wattamolla, Era, South Era and Burning Palms are popular surf beaches, and Werrong Beach is ‘clothing optional’.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sydney Region attractions

1. Wattamolla Beach

2.44 MILES

About halfway along the coast, Wattamolla Beach is one of the favourite picnic spots in the park and gets pretty busy in summer. It has the great…

2. Garie Beach

3.42 MILES

Three kilometres down a turn-off from the main road, this excellent surf beach is a picturesque spot. Like all of the Royal National Park surf beaches,…

3. Bundeena

4.96 MILES

The town of Bundeena, on the southern shore of Port Hacking opposite Sydney’s southern suburb of Cronulla, is surrounded by the Royal National Park and…

4. Figure Eight Pools

5.49 MILES

This eight-shaped pool on a rock shelf near Burning Palms Beach is an Instagram favourite. However it is imperative to pay attention to conditions: tides…

5. Cronulla Beach

6.39 MILES

Cronulla is a beachy surf suburb south of Botany Bay, its long surf beach (Sydney's only one reachable by train) stretching beyond the dunes to the Botany…

6. Sri Venkateswara Temple

8.42 MILES

Bone-white and richly decorated with sculptures of Hindu deities, Helensburgh's temple is a rewarding detour on the drive between Wollongong and Royal…

7. Symbio Wildlife Gardens

8.45 MILES

Friendly kangaroos are the highlight at this private zoo, 34km north of Wollongong. Native animals such as emus, echidnas and koalas (plus imported…

8. Kamay Botany Bay National Park

11.64 MILES

This national park straddles both heads of Botany Bay, 15km south of Sydney Harbour, enclosing 458 hectares of coastal bushland. Visitors come here to…