All the best things to see and do in the Royal National Park
The Royal National Park stretches from southern Sydney to Northern Wollongong on the east coast of NSW and is full to the brim with all kinds of things to do and see. Home to some of New South Wales’s most beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls, and invigorating hiking and walking tracks, it is a hive of possibility for those with the urge to go seeking adventure.
There is something about watching water cascade down a rockface that is justifiably mesmerising and enchanting. Everything about visiting a waterfall is magical. You can hear it as you approach, a tiny gargle or a roaring rush. You can feel the moisture in the air, and then you round the bend in the path or push through the brush and there it is. This wonderful bit of nature in all its glory.
Below, you’ll find the best waterfalls that the RNP has to offer.
Located right next to Eagle Head Rock, Curracurrong Creek cuts across the Coastal Track and cascades over the steep cliff face right into the ocean, an awesome sight to behold.
The falls can be approached from either the South at Garie Beach or the North at Wattamolla Beach. The walk from Garie will take you along the Coastal track for about an hour, whereas the walk from Wattamolla will likewise take you down the Coastal track, but only for about 30-40 minutes.
When you arrive, simply turn toward the ocean and carefully make your way down to the cliff face. There is no barrier at the cliff edge, so while caution and common sense are required, you can dangle your legs over the edge if you’re feeling bold enough.
On days of big swell, you can feel the rocks reverberate as the waves crash into a cave at the base of the cliffs. A unique sensory experience when combined with the rush of the falls.
The perfect waterfall for a hot Summer’s day, Winifred Falls offer the best of both worlds, a gorgeous waterfall to dunk your head under, and a sizeable swimming hole!
To get there, park at the junction of Warumbul Road and Winifred Falls Firetrail, then simply follow the trail as it slowly descends into the Aussie bush. At the bottom of the path there is a T-intersection, turn left for the falls and swimming hole, or turn right to follow the river upstream.
The fall itself is a series of small rock falls leading to two larger falls that land on a sandy beach-like spot. Both falls are high enough that you can stand under them for the perfect natural shower and (if the water is flowing hard enough) massage.
Note: If there has been enough rain, the water levels are such that the sandy beach spot is completely submerged!
The waterhole is deep, cool, and extremely refreshing on a hot day. As always with wild swimming, keep an eye out for submerged logs and the like so you don’t bump your noggin.
A quiet and peaceful fall right next to the road, this waterfall can be accessed by simply parking at the Toonoum Falls signposted area and making your way down to the base of the falls.
While it’s not the spot you’d choose for a spot of wild swimming, or to show off the power of nature, it is lovely as a quiet place to sit and listen to the sounds of the Aussie bush.
Another awesome waterfall in the Royal National Park, the National Falls are an easy roadside attraction and the namesake of the nearby town, ‘Waterfall’.
To get there, park near Waterfall Creek on McKell Avenue and follow the path and stairs down to the base of the fall.
While there are no watering holes to jump into, the falls still offer a refreshing break on a hot day. Perfect for dipping your head under, the falls can range from a light trickle to a surging mass, depending on rainfall.
Note: There is a 30-metre drop at the base of the falls and lots of slippery rocks, so have some caution.
Australian’s are obsessed with the beach, and who can blame them? The Australian coastline is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse stretches of sandy shores in the world. The Royal National Park is no exception to this, with an extensive array of spots to get sand between your toes (read: undies) and salt water through your hair (read: nose).
The poster child of The Royal National Park’s range of secluded and pristine beaches, Wattamolla is all the best parts of the Royal National Park combined.
About an hour south of Sydney’s CBD, there’s no shortage of activities at Wattamolla. This small stretch of sand is situated nearly in the middle of the Royal National Park’s ‘Coastal Walk’, so walk in either direction up or down the coast and you’ll be able to experience some of the best the RNP has to offer.
Or, if you’d rather set up camp and enjoy a day at the beach, you can! On one side of the stretch of sand is the ocean that rarely sees waves larger than a ripple, and on the other side is the lagoon – making this beach perfect for young families and those less experienced with the dangerous ocean currents and big waves Australia is sometimes known for. For those more adventurous beach-goers, clamber along the rocks on either side with your snorkel and jump in to explore the diverse reef system.
And for those who like a kick of adrenaline with their tan lines, Wattamolla is also home to one of the best cliff-jumping spots in the Royal National Park. Watch people try new gravity-defying tricks as they fling themselves over the edge into the lagoon below, or have a jump yourself if you’re feeling brave enough.
Probably best known as that beach you walk past on your way to the Figure 8 Rockpools, Burning Palms Beach definitely deserves a second glance. A classic Aussie beach in its own right, here you will find white sand, blue water, and waves aplenty.
As you walk down to the beach from Garrawarra Farm Carpark, you will probably notice the small beach shacks dotted across the hillside. These are people’s homes and holiday houses, so have some respect and keep your curiosity in check.
Seldom visited due to its proximity to the other more popular locations like the Figure 8 Rockpools and Garie Beach, the Era beaches are worth the walk if you want a quiet secluded stretch of sand.
Another beach with its own colony of beach shacks, the locals who own these shacks are likely to be the only other souls you see down by the water’s edge.
Marley and little Marley
The closest beaches to Wedding Cake Rock, the Marely Beaches are again your classic Aussie beach – yellow sand, blue water, sunshine.
Big Marley Beach can get some pretty rough swell, so if you’re keen for a dip, head a little further South to Little Marley Beach which is much more protected from the forces of nature.
One of the few beaches in the Royal National Park that you can drive to, Garie Beach is a long, exposed stretch of that classic NSW East Coast yellow sand and big blue waves. Located in the South of the RNP, between Era beach and Eaglehead Rock, Garie Beach has its own surf lifesaving club, which means the hard work of figuring out where it’s safe to swim has been done for you – stick between those red and yellow flags for best results.
Waterfalls and beaches aren’t the only reason you should visit the Royal National Park, there is stacks of other cool stuff to see and do!
Wedding Cake Rock
This white sandstone slab of rock jutting out over the ocean is named for its likeness to the pile of sugar and flour you get to eat on someone else’s special day.
Perched on the cliff line about an hour’s walk South of Bundeena, this white sandstone formation is a favourite tourist and photo spot for those visiting the Royal National Park or doing the coastal walk.
The rock is soft and crumbly, and you can see where it has cracked and fallen into the ocean in the past, so exercise caution and common sense around the edge.
Eagle Head Rock
Another natural rock formation worthy of note in the Royal National Park, Eagle Head Rock juts proudly out of the cliff face near Curracurrong Creek.
Just like Curracurrong Falls, Eagle Head Rock can be approached from the South at Garie Beach or from the North at Wattamolla.
The bonus of seeing Eagle Head Rock is that you get to see the majestic ocean waterfall that is Curracurrong Fall as well! Not only that, but the stunning views across the Tasman Sea are well worth the walk. During whale season, if you’re patient enough, you’re likely to see groups of these gorgeously giant beasts as they meander their way playfully up and down the coast, something everyone should see at least once.
Figure 8 Rockpool
Another poster-child of the Royal National Park, Figure 8 Rockpools are easily one of the more popular destinations for visiting tourists.
About 30 minutes walk from Garrawarra Farm Carpark, the actual figure 8 shaped pool for which the rockpools are named is only one of the possible options here. The flat stretch of rock hosts dozens of rockpools, some deep enough for a dip, some not.
As with most popular tourist hotspots, Figure 8 Pools can become seriously over-crowded during peak season. A hot Summer’s day will see this location packed to the brim with eager tourists and locals alike. If you’re not into that, go visit in off-peak season or get there as early as to avoid the crowds.
Note: Big swell makes this spot incredibly unsafe. Follow the safety instructions of the signs posted along the walk to the pools.
Sea Cliff Bridge
The ultimate sunrise spot in the Royal National Park, Sea Cliff Bridge is an ocean bridge that juts out from the cliff face between Coalcliff and Clifton, right at the Southern-most end of the RNP.
You can walk along the bridge and enjoy the view, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, carefully bush bash your way through to the top of the cliffs on the Clifton side and enjoy one of the best views the Royal National Park has to offer – best enjoyed at sunrise.
So there you have it!
A guide to some of the best waterfalls, beaches, and attractions in the NSW Royal National Park.
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