Just an hour’s drive from Sydney, Lady Carrington Drive is a historic cycling track which doubles as an accessible walking track for all ability levels. Matt takes us through one of his favourite spots in Sydney’s Royal National Park for a stroll and some wildlife spotting.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Dharawal Nation, the traditional Country of the Dharawal people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Plenty of wildlife
- Family friendly
- River views
A Walk in The (Royal National) Park
The Lady Carrington Drive track is a very easy going, accessible, rewarding walk that can be as long or short as you like. The route follows the Lady Carrington Drive in Sydney’s Royal National Park from it’s northern end at Audley Dance Hall, along the Hacking River, and finishes 11km later by a car park on Lady Wakehurst Drive.
The route can be hiked in either direction, depending where you park the car, but starting and finishing with a coffee and snack at Audley is my favourite option.
The track itself is wide and only slightly undulating. It was the first track to be built within the newly declared National Park in 1886 and was originally open to horse and carriage as a ‘pleasure drive’. Now both ends are cut off from motorised traffic, leaving it to the hikers and cyclists to enjoy.
It’s well worth keeping your eyes and ears open on this one. Most visits deliver a wildlife encounter that’ll stop you in your tracks; kingfishers (there are three species here in the summer), echidnas, pythons, birds of prey gliding above the forest, turtles in the river, the list goes on.
If you visit on a warm, sunny day, you’re also likely to see a bounty of butterflies, from tiny Blues to the mighty Wanderer feeding on wildflowers along the edge of the path and in the numerous glades beside the river. Pack a picnic, rest up on a bench and let the wildlife come to you. Keep your eyes out for echidnas who like to patrol the open, grassy areas.
If you set out to walk the whole track, be aware that the return journey totals 22km, so you’ll need some food to keep you going and water is essential. Even on cool days, there’s often little to no breeze in the valley meaning it can get hot and humid.
Read more: The Coast Track // Royal National Park (NSW)
- Plenty of water
- Snacks and lunch
How To Get There
This walk is in the middle of the Royal National Park, south of Sydney. You can start the walk from either end of Lady Carrington Drive. The northern end starts in Audley car park. The southern end starts on the edge of the Forest Path car park on Sir Bertram Stevens Drive. Neither are accessible by public transport, so you’ll need to organise your own transport.
If you’re not up to walking the whole 22km return, do a car shuffle and leave one car in either car park, so you only have to walk one way.
Lady Carrington Drive is a very straightforward, beginner and family friendly hike. The trail only has a few slight undulations, it’s well maintained and remains wide enough for walkers and cyclists to easily pass for the entire route.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
~ 20km out and back. Many people walk shorter sections from either end / Elevation is only slight, undulating less than 100 metres across the whole route, with no steep sections / 3-4 hours