Royal National Park
If you were to design your ultimate outdoor playground you’d likely come up with Royal. Flush with the southern suburbs Sydney, the New South Wales capital, Royal has two hike-in camping areas and more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) of walking trails that snake from exposed sandstone headlands to palm jungle and Aboriginal engravings to the low-tide Figure 8 Pools. The Coast Read more...
If you were to design your ultimate outdoor playground you’d likely come up with Royal. Flush with the southern suburbs Sydney, the New South Wales capital, Royal has two hike-in camping areas and more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) of walking trails that snake from exposed sandstone headlands to palm jungle and Aboriginal engravings to the low-tide Figure 8 Pools. The Coast Track, a spectacular two-day 26km (16mi) walking track, runs north-south through the park. Sydneysiders see Royal as their backyard getaway so the picnic areas and northern walks can be busy over holiday weekends and on sunny days year-round. Most visitors are day trippers, though, doing only short bushwalks so you can escape the crowds at either of the park's two hike-in camping areas. Don't miss the remarkable Wedding Cake Rock.
- Best for overnight hikers: North Era Campground features tent sites for 36 people behind a huge Aboriginal shell midden (mound) on North Era Beach.
- Best for cascade lovers: Uloola Falls Campground offers tent-only overnight stops for 18 hikers (and mountain bikers) beside a permanent waterfall
- Best for car-based campers: Coledale Camping Reserve, features 18 unpowered beachfront sites and 28 grassed tent and RV sites just 13km south of Royal, via spectacular Grand Pacific Drive.
Tips for Snagging a Campsite Reservation
- Camping sites within the national park must be reserved and pre-paid (on-line or by phone) and one-night maximum stay applies. Book early to secure a site on weekends.
- Check the Royal website for any park camping area closures.
- Set a calendar reminder to book mid-year for Christmas at Coledale. The cut-off date for payment is usually 1 October.
When to Go
Royal is busiest over spring and summer, with wildflowers colouring the heathlands October–November—lookout for towering red gymea lilies—and swimmers and surfers flocking to the beaches and waves on hot summer days. Consider visiting in autumn (April–May), for cooler walking weather, and in winter (June–August) to see the ocean at its most powerful and watch humpback and southern right whales migrating up and down NSW's South Coast. Both camping areas remain open throughout the year.
Know Before You Go
- Royal is accessible by public transport, with metropolitan Sydney trains to Cronulla, from where ferries cross to Bundeena on the park’s northern boundary, and Otford, in the south. This is the best option for busy times when car parks are at a premium.
- Park entry fees apply for vehicles. You can get a ticket from pay-and-display machines in parking areas or seasonal booths.
- Park Connections provide a ticketed bus service between popular park destinations. Operating times vary through the year and bookings are recommended.
- Drinking water is not guaranteed at either in-park campground so remember to check with the visitor centre before setting off.
- The park can close when severe storms and extreme wildfire conditions are forecast.