Wattamolla Falls spills over a 5-6 metre high sandstone cliff into a long lagoon, where you can swim well over a
hundred metres from the base of the falls to the sandbar that divides the lagoon from the sea. The sandbar runs
all along the far side of the lagoon, providing effortless entry into the water and a centre stage view of the
falls when they are running. Note that despite what you might read elsewhere, jumping off the top of the falls
is no longer permitted after previous fatalities.
Above: Wattamolla Falls from across the lagoon
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There are a couple of ways to get across to the sandbar in the middle of the lagoon. If you are just coming for a swim,
from the car park walk down the concrete path to the canoe ramp, which gives you immediate access to deep water. Just watch the
rocks getting in and out of the water. If you are staying for an extended period, take the longer walk along the defined paths through the forest to the downstream end
of the lagoon. Here you can walk across the sandbar to the beach on the other side of the lagoon. From this side, entry into the
water is gradual, and amenable to shallow water play as well as swimming. You can also swim at Wattamolla Beach in the ocean,
which is a narrow beach that is reasonably well protected by two headlands that tend to dampen the waves, but after having spent
time swimming in the lagoon, I didn't get a chance to test the ocean water.
Above: From the top of Wattamolla falls to the sea
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At the picnic area next to the top of the falls, look out for the water dragons that sun themselves on the rocks. They freaked
me out a bit at first because they look like they could be ferocious, but they proved to be fairly docile and timid. I was able to
get to within about a metre of these huge lizards (some were about a metre long from top to tail) before they scurried
away. The picnic area has some sloping lawn on the hill and a few picnic tables that are close to the car park, but without a
clear view of the falls or the lagoon.
Other Information Before You Go:
Wattamolla Falls, Royal National Park, near Heathcote,
48 km (approx. 1 hr 20 min drive) south of the Sydney CBD.
From the city head south along the Princes Hwy (A1/M1) then follow
the signs to Royal National Park along Farnell Ave at Loftus. Follow Farnell Ave /
Audley Rd / Sir Bertram Stevens Drive to Wattamolla Road, which leads to the car park
at the falls. The lookout above the falls is at the northern end of the car park, whilst
the paths leading down to the water are accessible from near the southern end of the car park.
It's only about a 200 metre walk to the end of the lagoon and then the same distance back again to
your preferred spot on the sand. All roads were 2WD accessible on my visit. According to the
managing authority, the number of visitors on a weekend often exceeds the available number of
car parks, so have a backup plan to swim somewhere else nearby if the car park is full.
Public toilets, picnic tables, gas/electric barbecues, car park, walking trails
There is a nominal fee for access to Royal National Park ($12 per vehicle during
Maximum water depth:
Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Beginners (under supervision) in the shallows when the
mouth of the lagoon is closed, and experienced in the deeper water or when the mouth is open.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
No pets, no smoking, no camping, no fires, no littering.
Climbing the fence and jumping from rock is prohibited.
Shade available from the vegetation on the sandbar, back a few metres from the lagoon beach. No
shade available at the water's edge or in the water.
Open 7 am to 8.30 pm daily. There are gates on Wattamolla Road that close at night.
You could wheel down to the water along the steep concrete path to the canoe ramp
No camping is permitted at Wattamolla Falls. The closest campgrounds in the
Royal National Park are at Bonnie Vale, 13 km to the north, and North Era, 9 km to the south.
You can book these through the managing authority for a nominal fee ($12 per night last time I checked the bush
camping at North Era, but considerably more at Bonnie Vale, which also caters for caravans). If you are
staying overnight in the area and don't want to camp, you can try
accommodation in Bundeena
which is a small enclave surrounded by the Royal National Park at its northern edge.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Pool Flat and Audley Weir, near the northern park entrance. Wattamolla Creek Dam, a 700 metre
walk to the north, is also suitable for swimming.
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions. Specific to this site, the managing authority advises
on site that there is no lifesaving service, children need to be supervised, there can be unexpected large
waves and strong currents, shallow water, sudden drop offs and slippery rocks. The managing authority urges
visitors to use extreme caution when the creek is open to the sea.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the sandbar in front of the falls.
If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming spot, please fill in the comment box below.
I am particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2019. All rights reserved.