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Royal National Park, Australia

Royal National Park is a national park in New South Wales, Australia, 29 km south of Sydney CBD.

Founded by Sir John Robertson, Acting Premier of New South Wales, and formally proclaimed on 26 April 1879, it is the world’s second oldest purposed national park, the first usage of the term “national park” after Yellowstone in the United States. Its original name was National Park, but it was renamed in 1955 after Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia passed by in the train on the way from Wollongong during her 1954 tour. (It could be argued that Royal is the oldest gazettednational park because Yellowstone’s original gazetting was “public park or pleasuring ground”) The park was added to the Australian National Heritage List in December, 2006.

The park includes the settlements of Audley, Maianbar and Bundeena. There was once a railway line connected to the City Rail Illawarra line but this has now closed. The Sydney Tramway Museum, at Loftus currently runs a tram line on this allotment. Audley can be accessed by road, and there are several railway stations on the outskirts of the park. Bundeena and Maianbar can also be accessed by road through the park or by the passenger ferry service from Cronulla. Road access is also possible from the south at Otford near Stanwell Park.

There are numerous walking trails, barbecue areas and picnic sites throughout the park. Mountain biking is allowed on fire trails and on specially marked tracks within the Park. The specially marked mountain biking tracks are bi-directional; care should be taken when traversing these trails. There is a car park just within the Park to leave vehicles. A fee of $11.00 applies when taking a car into the Park. One popular walk is the coast walk. It is a two-day walk, involving walking from Bundeena to North Era and camping for the night. The next day’s walk proceeds to Otford, where there is a railway station. This walk is often done as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

The park has been burnt in bushfires on several occasions, most notably in 1994 and in the 2001 Black Christmas fires. Australian native bush naturally regenerates after bushfires and as of 2008 few signs of these fires remain visible. In times of extreme fire danger the parks service very occasionally close the park to ensure visitor safety. There are camping sites at Bonnie Vale, North Era and Wattamolla. These are the only places where camping is permitted within the park, and they are regulated with a booking/registration system, which requires pre-booking a site. The park charges a vehicle access fee, but is free for people on foot

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