The Coast track

Royal National Park

Overview

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.

Where
Royal National Park
Distance
26km one-way
Time suggested
2 days
Grade
Grade 5
Trip Intention Form

It's a good idea to let someone know where you're going. Fill in a trip intention form to send important details about your trip to your emergency contact.

What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, snacks, sturdy shoes, suitable clothing, sunscreen, tent, sleeping bag, raincoat
Please note

The Coast track can be tackled in sections or, if you’re super-fit, in a day. It's best experienced as a 2-day backpack trip with an overnight stop at North Era campground (advance bookings required).

The northern section of the walk covers around 18km from Bundeena to North Era. Allow at least 7hrs to enjoy the rugged beauty of Royal National Park's sandstone escarpments, sandy beaches, coastal heath and forest, as you walk. There are several scenic stops along the way, including Little Marley Beach, Wattamolla, Curracurrang Cove near Eagle Rock lookout, and Garie Beach. Stop for a rest, have a picnic, or cool off with a swim, before continuing to North Era campground for the night.

The southern section of the walk, between North Era and Otford lookout, covers 8km and takes around 3hrs. You'll pass several heritage shacks at South Era, and travel through coastal rainforest of burning palms and palm jungle. Why not stop at Burning Palms Beach, before climbing back atop the headlands. Take in the views from Werrong lookout then push on the last couple of kilometres to Otford lookout.

Plan your walk during whale watching season, May to October, for a chance to spot migrating humpback whales.

Take a virtual tour of The Coast track captured with Google Street View Trekker.

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/walking-tracks/the-coast-track/local-alerts

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

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about The Coast track.

Track grading

Grade 5

Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
  • Time

    2 days

  • Quality of markings

    Sign posted

  • Gradient

    Very steep and difficult

  • Distance

    26km one-way

  • Steps

    Many steps

  • Quality of path

    Rough track, many obstacles

  • Experience required

    Experienced bushwalkers

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    The Coast track starts at Beachcomber Avenue, Bundeena in the Bundeena precinct of Royal National Park. To drive there:

    From Sydney to Bundeena:

    • Take the Princes Highway south towards Wollongong
    • At Loftus, turn left at the signs for Royal National Park onto Farnell Avenue, which continues onto Audley Road
    • Drive across Audley Weir and continue along Sir Bertram Stevens Drive for approximately 10km
    • Turn left onto Bundeena Drive and continue to Bundeena township
    • Turn right onto Brighton Street then left onto Scarborough Street
    • Turn right at Beachcomber Avenue and follow to the end

    Alternatively, if starting from Otford lookout:

    • At Waterfall, turn off the Princes Highway onto McKell Avenue, and follow to the end
    • Turn right onto Lady Wakehurst Drive
    • Otford lookout is on the left as you reach the coastline

    Park entry points Show more

    Parking

    Parking is available in Beachcomber Avenue, Bundeena and at Otford lookout.

    By public transport

    • Take the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra train line to Cronulla, then the ferry to Bundeena. It's a 1.5km walk to the start of The Coast track.
    • Otford train station is on Georges Road, an extra 2km walk from Otford lookout, at the southern end of The Coast track. Take the South Coast train line to Sydney Central Station, or change at Sutherland for trains to Cronulla, then take the ferry across to Bundeena, if you've parked your car here.

    Best times to visit

    Royal National Park covers a wide range of landscapes, from open grassland to ocean-fronting clifftops. It's a good idea to pack clothing suitable for all weather conditions along with water, sunscreen and a map on your visit. Royal National Park shines in all seasons, though summer and winter each offer a few special attractions.

    Summer

    Visit the majestic Garie Beach to surf or just relax. The beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers in summer. Plus, the panorama from Garie North Head is just amazing, so be sure to take your camera. The beach at Bundeena's Bonnie Vale is a great swimming spot, as are Jibbon, Wattamolla and Little Marley beaches. If a freshwater swim is more your thing, try Karloo Pool, Deer Pool or Curracurrang. The summer holiday information has important tips to help you plan your day to Royal National Park during the busy holiday period .

    Winter

    Winter is a great time to tackle the popular Coast track from Bundeena to Otford. Not only will you be greeted by spectacular coastal scenery, you can also see whales from the cliffs (June to August). Complete the walk in small sections or undertake the entire 26km over two days. Plan a visit during spring to admire the stunning heathland wildflowers on display. Head along the Coast track or the Curra Moors Loop track or walk to Wises track to see them in bloom. .

    Maps and downloads

    If you plan to walk the Coast track get the interactive Royal National Park map app from Avenza.


    Safety messages

    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.

    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).

    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

    Nearby towns

    Bundeena (1 km)

    This historic national park, Australia's oldest, is now on the National Heritage List and is easily accessible by car or by ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena. More than 100 kilometres of walking trails are there for you to enjoy. The 26-km Coast Track has magnificent cliff-top views or you can take the Forest Island loop walk through cool valleys, thick with rainforest. Wattamolla, Garie and Burning Palms are amongst the most beautiful beaches in Australia.

    www.sydney.com

    Campbelltown (55 km)

    For nature lovers, the Macarthur region has plenty of natural attractions. Explore nature reserves and wildlife trails or see spectacular native flora and fauna at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, the largest botanic garden in Australia.

    www.sydney.com

    Sydney City Centre (15 km)

    No trip to Sydney is complete without spending some time in the city’s beautiful parks. Whether it’s in central areas like Hyde Park or the Royal Botanic Gardens or further out in Centennial Parklands, there’s plenty of green space to go out and enjoy.

    www.sydney.com

    Learn more

    The Coast track 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.
    Show more

    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)

    Coastal Walk, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan