Australian conservation movement- our oldest national park

Stream/s: Reaching conservation goals; Reconciling development challenges; Improving health and wellbeing
Host Organisation: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service
Location: Royal National Park, southern Sydney

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Above Image: Nick Cubbin OEH
Tile Image: D Finnegan OEH

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service invites you to visit Australia’s oldest national park. Royal National Park offers a plethora of nature’s best - from spectacular coastal views and swims in rocky coves to walking trails that meander through forests and river valleys - it is sure to impress!

Established in 1879, the history of this heritage-listed park provides an ideal illustration of how the conservation movement in Australia led to the creation of its national parks system.

On the way to Royal National Park, which is about an hour’s drive south of Sydney, National Parks and Wildlife Service guides will introduce you to the natural, cultural and heritage values of the park and discuss the daily challenges they face in managing one of Sydney’s most popular play grounds.

Your first stop will be the picturesque Audley, a gateway settlement developed as a picnic area in the late 19th century for day-tripping Sydneysiders. Morning tea will be served in the Audley Dance Hall Café, site of the historic Audley Dance Hall, which also contains the Royal National Park Visitor Centre. There you will have a chance to meet local scientists, park staff and recreational groups.

You will also have the opportunity to explore the visitor kiosks – information stations that provide guests with interactive experiences enabling you to delve into facts about the Park, its history, unique ecology and other thought-provoking subjects.

The beautiful waterfalls, lagoons and serene ocean beach setting of Wattamolla – the local Aboriginal name meaning ‘place near running water’ – will be your next stop. Take a guided walk to the cliffs overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean/Tasman Sea and the Royal Coast Track. Relax in the shade of a cabbage tree palm or head to the beach and watch for humpback whales heading south for the summer. A discussion will be facilitated about reconciling development challenges such as how to accommodate a changing visitor demographic and managing multiple park uses – including administering public and private commercial tour enterprises.

You will visit Governor Game Lookout, a commanding site perched high above the narrow coastal plain overlooking three coastal cabin communities. Keep an eye out for the magnificent sea eagles and osprey that live in the area.

A lunch break will take place at the nearby Garie Beach Surf Life Saving Club, one of Australia’s iconic surf clubs. And if the sea is calm take the opportunity to have a swim in the ocean before boarding the bus back to Sydney Olympic Park where you can enjoy the afternoon entertainment at PlanetFest.

Expect an enjoyable and informative excursion in Australia’s oldest and much-loved national park.

Particulars and requirements

This excursion includes an easy grade nature walk. A swim in the ocean is an option subject to weather and ocean conditions.


Transportation: Return travel to Sydney Olympic Park via coach. There will be a communique to delegates closer to the date regarding options to get to/back from Sydney Olympic Park pre/post excursion.
Meals: Morning tea and lunch *Catering will include some vegetarian options. Delegates with other special dietary requirements will need to bring their own packed food/beverage.

What to bring

  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Closed-toe walking shoes
  • Bathers/swimming costume and towel
  • Sun lotion
  • Weather gear (hat, rain jacket, a sweater/warm clothing in case the wind picks up by the water)
  • Water bottle


Weather conditions can be checked at

IUCN WCPA Parks Australia NSW NPWS