Figure Eight Pools

Royal National Park

Overview

Figure Eight Pools is located on a dangerous rock shelf in Sydney's Royal National Park near Burning Palms Beach. Plan your trip using the wave risk forecast.

Don't risk it - plan your trip

Getting there – it’s a long walk!

  • It’s a long, hard 6km walk on a steep, narrow, slippery track in a remote area.
  • The walk takes 2 hours each way. Give it a miss if you’re not feeling fit.
  • Aim to get to Figure Eight Pools before midday. No one wants to walk back up that hill in the dark, and park gates are locked by 8.30pm.
  • Take care, the terrain is uneven and not suitable for young children or prams.
  • If you must visit, look at a map first and wear the right shoes. This isn’t the place for thongs or high heels.

Walking directions

  • Start the walk at Garrawarra Farm carpark, off Garie Road.
  • The track winds down a steep hill, before it meets The Coast Track which you follow to Burning Palms Beach.
  • Continue walking south from Burning Palms Beach to Figure Eight Pools.
  • Return the same way.

Only visit at low tide

  • Use our risk forecast to plan your trip. Don’t go if it's mid tide, high tide, or if stormy weather is forecast.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean.
  • When you get to the rock shelf, stop and watch the waves for a bit before walking to the rock pools.
  • Surf conditions at Figure Eight Pools change quickly. The ocean can be calm for a couple of minutes before a series of big waves can suddenly smash the rock shelf.

Regular injuries

Injuries happen at Figure Eight Pools all the time. Don’t let it be you.

People often get dragged across the rock shelf by freak waves. We’ve seen head injuries, broken bones, and bad cuts and bruises from slipping on rocks.

Some injured people had to stay overnight because there’s no emergency access. Think it can’t happen to you?

Emergency rescue

  • In case of an emergency, ring Triple Zero (000) if you can get mobile coverage, which is limited.
  • There are no lifeguards or rescue services nearby so you could be waiting a long time for help if you’re injured. 
  • If Emergency Services have to attend, they'll either have to walk down, or in extreme cases, you may need to wait overnight…and then have to pay for it!
  • So, before you go, tell someone your plans and what time you’re coming back.

What to bring

It’s a hot, thirsty, difficult walk and there are no facilities. No toilet, no water, no food, no bins.

If you must visit, pack this:

  • 2 litres of water per person
  • Snacks
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Closed shoes
  • Fully-charged mobile phone
  • First-aid kit

Visit Figure Eight Pools on a guided tour

Despite warnings, some can’t resist the temptation for a selfie. If you have to go, take a safe option and go there on a guided tour with Barefoot Downunder.

They’re a NSW National Parks Certified Tour Operator. Their tours will only operate during low tide, low swell and safe ocean conditions.

Have a backup plan and pick another place to visit if conditions are dangerous on the day you planned to go.

Type
Lookouts
Where
Royal National Park
Please note

You are at risk if you go to Figure Eight Pools

  • Don’t visit at mid tide or high tide
  • Check the swell or wave size before setting off
  • Don’t go if there are big waves or storms
  • Surf conditions change quickly, stay alert at all times.
  • When conditions are dangerous, go somewhere else.
Injuries happen at Figure Eight Pools all the time. Don’t let it be you.
  • People have suffered large cuts, bruises and scratches from being washed over the rock platform.
  • Sprained ankles and wrists are not uncommon after people slip on rocks or take the wrong track
  • Injured people have had to stay overnight because there is no emergency access
The walk is long and hard 
  • Be ready to walk at least 3 hours – it's hard.
  • The track is slippery, steep and rocky.
  • Allow at least 4 hours for the whole journey from Garrawarra Farm car park
  • Leave extra time for the trip back uphill

In an emergency:

  • Call Triple Zero (000)
  • There is no quick access to the rock platform
  • There is limited mobile coverage

Going anyway and want that perfect photo?

  • Only go at low tide and when the waves are small
  • Morning sun is better for that perfect shot
  • Don’t wait in line – avoid the crowds by going in the week.

Do the right thing

  • Take your rubbish home with you
  • Don’t leave toilet paper 
  • Stay on designated tracks
  • Keep a low voice through the forest to reduce animal disturbances and increase sightings 
  • Take photos, not souvenirs.

Try these top instagrammable locations close to Sydney instead:



For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/lookouts/figure-eight-pools/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

  • in Royal National Park in the Sydney and surrounds and South Coast regions
  • Royal National Park is open 7am to 8.30pm but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

  • Park entry fees:

    $12 per vehicle per day. Seasonal ticket booths at Wattamolla and Garie Beach - cash and credit card facilities available. Please bring correct change. There's also coin and card operated pay and display machines to buy day passes.

    Vehicles over 8 seats: $4.40 per adult, $2.20 per child (per day). Students on educational programs: $1.10 per student. Teachers/educational supervisors: free (1 adult per 10 students).

    Buy annual pass (//pass.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/).
See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Figure Eight Pools.

Getting there and parking

Figure Eight Pools is located south of Burning Palms Beach in Royal National Park, a 6km return walk from the nearest carpark. To get there:

  • Park at Garrawarra Farm and walk east down Burgh Ridge track until it intersects with The Coast track.
  • Walk south on The Coast track through the cabin community of Burning Palms.
  • Turn off The Coast track at Burning Palms Beach.
  • The final leg of the walk involves rock hopping around a coastal headland beginning at the southern end of Burning Palms Beach. The pools are at the tip of the second headland from Burning Palms Beach. Access to this section is only possible at low tide.

Road quality

There’s no road access to Figure 8 Pools. You can drive as far as Garrawarra Farm carpark.

  • Mixture of sealed and unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • All weather

Parking

Parking is available at Garrawarra Farm, a 3km walk (one-way) from Figure Eight Pools.

By public transport

Figure Eight Pools is a very long way to walk from any railway stations.

It's a 6km walk (one-way) from Otford train station to Garrawarra Farm carpark, which takes about 2 hours.

From Garrawarra Farm carpark it's still another 3km to walk down to Figure Eight Pools.

Facilities

Figure Eight Pools is in an isolated location. There are no toilet facilities, rubbish bins or drinking water available at Figure Eight Pools, Garrawarra Farm or along the access tracks to the rockpools. It’s a good idea to use toilet facilities before you leave and bring enough food and water for the trip.

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Like many spectacular sites, a visit to Figure Eight Pools requires extreme caution, and in many cases it simply won't be safe to visit. Access to Figure Eight Pools is only safe at low tide and when surf conditions are calm and flat.

There’s no lifeguard service in this area. If you decide to make the challenging journey to the rockpools, make sure you check the height of the tide and waves, and check for dangerous surf conditions before you go. Check local conditions before planning a trip by going to Bureau of Meteorology district forecasts

Please take extreme caution when approaching the rock platform and remember – never turn your back on the ocean. Also check out the links and safety advice on Bureau of Meteorology's dedicated rock-fishing weather page.

Beach safety

Beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents. These beach safety tips will help you and your family stay safe in the water.

Bushwalking safety

If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

Fishing safety

Fishing from a boat, the beach or by the river is a popular activity for many national park visitors. If you’re planning a day out fishing, check out these fishing safety tips.

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

Water activities

Beaches, rivers and lakes in NSW national parks offer lots of opportunities for water activities. Please take care in the water and find out how to help your family and friends stay safe around water.

Permitted

Fishing

A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.

Prohibited

Drones

Flying recreational drones is not permitted because this park is located within 5.5km of an airfield or helicopter landing site. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) states that drones should not be flown within 30m of vehicles, boats, buildings or people, or within 5.5km of an airfield. Drones can also impact on public enjoyment and privacy, interfere with park operations, and may pose a threat to wildlife in some areas.

Please contact the park office for consent if you wish to fly a drone for commercial filming or photography purposes. For more information, see the Drones in Parks policy.

Pets

Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Visitor centre

Learn more

Figure Eight Pools is in Royal National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A date with history

Audley Visitor Centre, Royal National Park. Photo: Andy Richards

When exploring Royal National Park you can see a range of Aboriginal sites and artefacts. The best way to find out more about Aboriginal cultural heritage in the park is on a tour with an Aboriginal Discovery ranger. You might also spot one of the 80 historic remnants from the park’s Victorian-era establishment, including ornamental trees and residential remains.

  • Couranga walking track Vivid wildflowers pepper this medium walking track near Waterfall. Only an hour from Sydney, it offers several picnic spots and birdwatching opportunities.
  • Lady Carrington Drive This historic cycling track near Audley and a short drive from Sydney follows the river and offers birdwatching, pretty picnic areas and history to explore.

A place to get active

Coastal walk, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

Who needs a gym? At Royal National Park you can hike, swim and row to your heart’s content. Hire a paddleboat from the Audley boatshed or surf the renowned Garie Beach. Jog along sandstone cliffs, attempt over 100km of walking tracks or try mountain biking the East Heathcote trails (be sure to note the ‘no sign–no ride’ policy). Located at Audley, just 32km from Sydney city, the park offers incredible beauty and natural diversity just minutes from the highway and train station. Spanning Port Hacking to Helensburgh, the park features multiple entry points and is well signposted, though it’s always a good idea to take a Royal National Park map.

  • Bundeena Drive to Marley walk This rewarding walk from Bundeena Drive to Little Marley Beach leads through heath, past fresh water pools and creeks, and on to scenic beach views in Royal National Park.
  • Garie Beach picnic area A perfect day out, Garie Beach is a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic and is great for swimming, whale watching, fishing, surfing and walking options.

Exceptional environments

Rocky cliffs dropping off into the ocean, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

The park was one of Australia’s first areas of land set aside for conservation. In this natural haven, open ocean, sandstone cliffs and wetlands meet grassy woodland, rainforests, coastal heathland and eucalypt forests. You’ll also find some significant geological sites, including fascinating beach ridges at Cabbage Tree Basin.

  • Curra Moors loop track A challenging walk through heath and waterfalls, the Curra Moors loop track offers scenic sandstone cliff and coastal views, waterfalls and great birdwatching.
  • Palm Jungle loop track A challenging yet spectacular walk, Palm Jungle loop track takes in rainforest, cliff tops, beaches and scenic coastal views in Royal National Park, near Otford.
  • The Coast track The Coast track in Sydney's Royal National Park is an epic multi-day walk between Bundeena and Otford. Enjoy incredible coastal lookouts, swimming spots, seasonal wildflowers and whale watching along this challenging 26km track.

Home to the feathered and furry

A flower blooming,  Royal National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Many visitors regularly spot native wildlife in the Hacking River Valley area, so keep an eye out for possums, sugar gliders and wallabies. This Sydney park is also home to a huge number of bats, amphibians and reptiles. Plus, birdwatchers are in luck - over 300 bird species have been recorded here, look out for sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, yellow-tailed black cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets.

  • Biology fieldwork at Bonnie Vale Senior biology students will hone their skills on this Stage 6 (Years 11-12) fieldwork study in Royal National Park. This biology excursion is designed to support Module 3 (adaptations) and Module 4 (population dynamics) of the syllabus.
  • Biophysical interactions at Garie Beach Senior students will hone their fieldwork skills in this Stage 6 (Years 11-12) geography excursion at Garie Beach. Located at the southern end of Royal National Park, Garie Beach offers students a complex site to study biophysical interactions. 
  • Couranga walking track Vivid wildflowers pepper this medium walking track near Waterfall. Only an hour from Sydney, it offers several picnic spots and birdwatching opportunities.
  • Forest path Forest path is an easy walk in Royal National Park. It's great for kids and just 1 hour south of Sydney. Wander through cabbage tree palms and Gymea lilies on the path beside Bola Creek and the Hacking River.
  • Living world wet and dry environments This Stage 1 excursion in Royal National Park, southern Sydney, gives students first-hand experience exploring the living world. It aligns with the Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus. 
  • Living world WildTracker at Audley Join us on a WildTracker science and technology excursion for Stage 2 (Years 3-4) students in Royal National Park. We'll explore and analyse the natural environment, identify and group species, and discuss the adaptations that help them survive here.
  • WildThings at Audley Discover WildThings in Royal National Park on this Stage 1 (Years 1-2) science and technology excursion. Together we'll examine the unique mangrove environment and the abundance of life it supports. Exploring the living world has never been more fun.
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Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Australian pelican. Photo: Rob Cleary

    Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

    The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.

Plants

  • Close up photo of a waratah flower, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Simone Cottrell/OEH.

    Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

    The beautiful waratah is not only the NSW floral emblem, it's also one of the best-known Australian native plants. This iconic Australian bush flower can be found on sandstone ridges around Sydney, in nearby mountain ranges and on the NSW South Coast. The waratah has a vibrant crimson flowerhead, measuring up to 15cm across, and blossoms in spring.

  • Cabbage tree palm in Dalrymple-Hay Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

    Cabbage palm (Livistona australis)

    With glossy green leaves spanning 3-4m in length and a trunk reaching a height of up to 30m, the cabbage tree palm, or fan palm, is one of the tallest Australian native plants. Thriving in rainforest margins along the east coast of NSW, in summer this giant palm produces striking spikes of cream flowers which resemble cabbages.

  • Gymea lily. Photo: Simone Cottrell

    Gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa)

    The magnificent Gymea lily is one of the most unusual Australian native plants, found only along the coast and surrounding bushland of the Sydney Basin, from Newcastle to Wollongong. In spring this giant lily shoots out spectacular red flowers that can reach heights of 2-4m.

  • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

    Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

    An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)

School excursions (13)

Figure Eight Pools headland near Burning Palms Beach, Royal National Park. Photo: David Croft/OEH