Whale Bonanza in the Royal National Park (NSW)



    • Spectacular ocean and cliff views
    • Whale watching
    • Swimming at the dam or a play in the waves
    • Stunning cliffs and rock formations


Lazy Sundays are a thing of the past for any true weekend explorers who want to make the most of any time off work they can. One such Sunday was spent down in the Royal National Park.

After a unplanned night out and only a couple of hours sleep on Saturday night we set off from Sydney down the Princess Highway in glorious sunshine, stopping for a quick McDonald’s breakfast and to buy some supplies for lunch from the shops.

With windows down and an ipod hooked up to the speakers time flew and it felt like we had only popped round the corner when we reached the entrance to the National park ($12 entrance fee).

We parked up at Wattamolla and started our walk on the well signed track through the bush. Shortly after we started there are some small falls with a manmade pool (Wattamolla Dam), which looked sublime to swim in. We chose to save it for the way back as it would be bitterly cold.

On we walked and the bush seemed to fall away around us and out onto the cliff top we emerged. You spend most of your time along the top of the sandstone cliffs and as the track pretty much hugs the coastline you have endless ocean views on one side the whole way along the walk. As it is whale season we always kept an eye on the ocean and it wasn’t long until we spotted some small plumes of water and a small pod of humpbacks following us as we walked along the coast. We strolled along the cliffs for about an hour meandering between pools and little streams that took up most of the sandstone.

We decided to park up and let our toes get sandy at Marley Beach. Finding some rocks on the north end to have our picnic with the sounds of the waves to accompany our cheese and dips. Being English, the boys of the group decided to brave the chilly waters after we had eaten, and after a quick dip all trace of the hangovers we had been carrying with us had vanished. To top it off as we were finishing lunch a humpback decided to put a little show on for us and breached right out in front of the beach.

We headed back from there spotting 3 more pods of whales totalling about 12 whales for the day if our maths was correct in our hungover state. The walk back as the sun went down was beautiful, with the falling sun’s orange light highlighting the wave like formations in the rocks formed from layers when the coastline use to be a river bed. 

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Essential gear required

    • Water
    • Sun screen
    • Swim gear
    • Binoculars handy but not necessary
    • Picnic

How to get there Royal National Park. Park in the Wattamolla car park


      • Hiking
      • Swimming
      • Whale watching

Skill Level

Beginner (dangerous cliff edge so keep children close)

Distance covered / Elevation Gain

Dealers choice. Wattemolla to Marley beach was around 4km but you could go further or turn back sooner if you wished.