The second oldest national park in the whole world borders Sydney

Spread across 15,091 hectares of coastal bushland between Sydney and Wollongong, on the traditional land of the Dharawal people, Sydney Royal National Park is a stunning natural retreat just under an hour’s drive from the city. Established in 1879, it holds the title of Australia’s oldest national park and is the second-oldest in the world, following Yellowstone National Park.

Originally designated as protected land to offer Sydneysiders a respite from urban pollution and overcrowding, the park continues to serve this purpose over 140 years later while also playing a crucial role in conservation efforts in New South Wales.

Where is Sydney Royal National Park?

Sydney Royal National Park is Sydney’s second-largest national park, following Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Located south of Sydney near the suburb of Cronulla, it’s an easy day trip from the city, taking just under an hour’s drive from Sydney’s CBD.

What Can I See at Sydney Royal National Park?

The park boasts expansive coastal walks, pristine beaches, a beautiful littoral rainforest, magnificent waterfalls, and magical rock pools. A standout feature is a stunning 26-kilometre coastal walk that takes days to complete. Conservation efforts by the Taronga Conservation Society have reintroduced wild platypuses, with the first baby platypus born in the park in over 50 years recorded in March of this year.

The Royal National Park is rich in Aboriginal heritage, with ancient sites featuring engravings, drawings, and shelters formed within the rocks, along with shell middens scattered throughout the park.

Things to Do in Sydney Royal National Park

Enjoy a beach day on the park’s sparkling shores, but be cautious as the beaches are not patrolled. The park also offers incredible walks, waterfalls, and other natural wonders. For a magical experience, consider staying at the historic cottage on the banks of Bundeena Creek for a weekend immersed in nature.

How Do I Get to Sydney Royal National Park?

Driving from Sydney takes about 55 minutes. Head south on the Princes Highway and turn off at Farnell Avenue (just south of Loftus) or McKell Avenue at Waterfall. Without a car, take the train from Central to Waterfall for access to hiking trails, including a two-hour trek to Garie Beach. For a deeper journey into the park, change at Waterfall and travel to the coastal village of Otford, the starting point of the popular Otford to Bundeena coastal walk.

When is Sydney Royal National Park Open?

The park is generally open daily from 7 am to 8:30 pm but may close during extreme weather conditions or fire risks.

How Much Does It Cost to Visit Sydney Royal National Park?

Entry by car costs $12 per vehicle, with vehicle entry stations on the park’s routes. For frequent visitors, a $65 annual pass offers a cost-effective option.

Are There Cafés at Sydney Royal National Park?

The villages within the park, such as Bundeena and Otford, host a few village-style cafés and fish and chip shops. The Audley Dance Hall café by the Hacking River offers a charming dining experience with dishes like loaded prawn rolls and chili prawn linguine. With abundant outdoor space, packing a picnic is also a great option.

When is the Best Time to Visit Sydney Royal National Park?

The park is beautiful year-round, but visiting during cooler months reduces fire risk and makes long hikes more comfortable. However, a summer day at one of the park’s secluded beaches is also a delightful experience, provided you check fire warnings beforehand.

Do You Need a Ticket to Access Sydney Royal National Park?

To enter the park by car, you need to buy a ticket for $12 per vehicle. With a full car, this works out to about $3 per person for a day of natural beauty.

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