Wattamolla is one of the most popular spots in the Royal National Park – it gets so crowded over the summer holiday period that the carpark is often closed by mid-morning. So arrive early if planning a day here in summer, or have a backup plan! (The nearby town of Bundeena also has some nice beaches, although parking can also be challenging on a busy day.) The attraction of Wattamolla is that there is both an ocean beach, and a large sheltered lagoon which is popular with families, and there are many shaded areas to sit, as well as picnic tables and gas barbecues.
The east-facing beach is 150m long and fairly well protected by two long headlands, so the waves are fairly low, and the beach is patrolled almost every day during the summer school holidays.
The large lagoon is fed by Wattamolla Creek and Coole Creeks; it has low cliffs on one side where the water gets very deep, and a sandy beach with shallow water on the other side. (Jumping off the cliffs is prohibited and a high fence is in place to stop people reaching the edge of the cliffs – but on summer weekends there’s still a line of people jumping into the water.)
Watamolla was “discovered” by Matthew Flinders in 1796 when he and his crew sought shelter in the calm water of the lagoon.
The voyage lurched from one near disaster to another. Their drinking water was foul, the Tom Thumb was swamped and most of their supplies were drenched. Bass was so badly sunburnt that Flinders reported that his body was covered with `almost one continuous blister’. On the fifth night they were caught in a storm and probably would not have survived except that they were able to take shelter at Wattamolla (now in the Royal National Park).
Before European habitation the area in and around what is now Audley was inhabited by the Gweagal people, a clan of the Dharawal tribe. Aboriginal sites at the beach have been excavated by archaeologists and show it to have been a specialised fishing site. The name “Wattamolla” stems from an Aboriginal word that means “place near running water”.
Getting to Wattamolla
The large carpark is at the end of Wattamolla Road, which is off Sir Bertram Stevens Drive. It’s about 25min drive from Waterfall, and just over an hour south of Sydney. There’s no public transport; you can get there on foot from Bundeena (ferry from Cronulla), but it’s about 10km (one-way). From Wattamolla there are number of shorter bushwalks you can do along the coast.