Lazy Sundays are a thing of the past for weekend explorers who want to make the most of their time off. This Sunday hike from Wattamolla in Sydney’s Royal National Park was a day well spent, especially with all the bonus whale sightings.


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


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.  En route we stopped for a quick 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 Royal National Park.

We parked up at Wattamolla and started our walk on the well-signed track through the bush. Shortly after we started we passed some small falls with a man made pool (Wattamolla Dam), which looked sublime to swim in. We chose to save it for the way back as we knew it would be bitterly cold that time of the morning.

Whale Watching Whale Bonanza Wattamolla Royal National Park Pool Crossing Mike Pidgeon, stepping stones, pool, person

The Wattamolla Dam track

Whale Watching

On we walked and the bush seemed to fall away around us as we emerged out on to the cliff top. 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 watching season from early May to late November we always kept an eye on the ocean. 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 the pools and little streams that were scattered across the sandstone.

We decided to park up and let our toes get sandy at Marley Beach. The rocks on the north end were great to have our picnic on, with the sounds of the waves accompanying our cheese and dips. Being English, the boys of the group decided to brave the chilly waters after we had eaten. 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.

On the way back we spotted three more pods of whales, totalling about twelve whales for the day, if our maths was correct in our hungover state! The walk back as the sun went down was beautiful. The orange light highlighted the wave like formations in the rocks, which were formed from layers when the coastline used to be a river bed. 

Essential Gear

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

How To Get There

Park in the Wattamolla car park within the Royal National Park.




      • Hiking
      • Swimming
      • Whale watching

Skill Level

Beginner (but there is a dangerous cliff edge so keep children close).

Distance covered / Elevation Gain

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

More Sydney Microadventures…

Exploring Kariong Brook Falls (NSW)

What’s Behind Wattamolla Jump Rock (NSW)

9 Spring Microadventures around NSW

America Bay Microadventure // Ku-ring-gai National Park (NSW)