Living in a big urban city such as Sydney, it’s easy to get swept up in everyday routine, and to forget about all the wonderful things there are to do on your doorstep. I’ve lived here for sixteen years now, and for years as we’ve returned from holidays and flown over the Royal National Park, I’ve commented that ‘one day’ I’d really love to get down there, and see those beaches for myself. So this Easter long weekend, we became ‘home town tourists’ and did the 11km walk from Wattamolla to Big Marley beach.
Established in 1879, The Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world (Yellowstone in USA is the first), its purpose to be a dedicated area specifically for rest and recreation. At the time of its establishment, it was observed that the park should be ‘a sanctuary for the pale-faced Sydneyites fleeing the pollution – physical, mental and social – of that closely-packed city.’ Such foresight! If only they could see Sydney now!
It’s just over an hours drive from central Sydney to the park…We set out from the Wattamolla Lagoon (park your car here) and headed north, over the dam, past Deer Pools, through the bush, popping out at the cliffs (breathtaking!), finishing at Big Marley. I’m so taken with the bush, the smells and all those poddy wildflowers; banksia, hakea, flowering gums and the rest; native fuchsia, tiny purple fringe lilies, grass trees. It’s so good to be immersed in nature.
Take plenty of water.
Apply sunscreen and wear a hat.
Leave early if at all possible. It was pretty quiet when we arrived at 10am to start our walk, but it was chockers when we got back at 2pm. So busy that the road into the Wattamolla carpark was closed, and people were parking on the main road and walking 2 kms down to the water!
Reward yourself with a swim…Wattamolla beach is perfect!
Read up before you go. The track has subtle markers, but I only saw 2 maps with routes on the actual track. (I’ve included some useful links below)
Wear proper footwear. We spotted a young man who had done the 10km walk in flip flops.
Be sensible near the cliffs. There are no barriers, and it’s a long way down.
Take off your wedding band to apply sunscreen, forget to put ring back on, pack up and continue your walk, SANS WEDDING BAND! (true story! We had to leg it back to where we’d stopped for lunch, the whole time praying that a magpie/bowerbird hadn’t spotted it and absconded with it! Luckily, it was exactly where I’d left it. Phew!)
Hike in denim cut offs. Denim rubs! Ouch.
Attempt to swim at Little Marley beach (too much seaweed!) or Big Marley beach neither beach is patrolled, and both have rips.
Royal National Park Visitor Centre
2 Lady Carrington Drive, Audley, Royal National Park, NSW
Park entry fees:
$12 per vehicle per day. Seasonal ticket booths at Bonnie Vale, Wattamolla and Garie Beach are cash only, as there is no power or mobile connection.
Royal National National Park is open 7am to 8.30pm but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.