The NSW government is pushing for the Royal National Park to be given a World Heritage listing.
Environment minister Robyn Parker yesterday announced the state government would nominate the park to be included in the listing, along with Heathcote National Park and the Garawarra State Conservation Area.
The 16,000 hectare park was declared a national park in 1879, making it the oldest in the country and the second oldest in the world. It was added to Australia’s National Heritage list in 2006.
Once the home of the Dharawhal people, the park is full of countless Aboriginal artefacts, rock engravings and sites of importance.
It is also home to a wide variety of native plants and animals and is the most visited national park in NSW, with millions of people making the winding drive through the bush each year to reach its secluded beaches, trek along one of the many walking tracks or just take in the stunning views.
Heathcote MP Lee Evans said volunteers had been working for decades to get to this stage in the nomination process.
He said there were a long list of reasons why the park deserved to be named a World Heritage site.
‘‘There’s so many aspects that are special, and when you start looking at the Aboriginal history you got into a whole other area of richness. Once it’s world listed, all those things will be highlighted.’’
‘‘The obvious good thing is that UNESCO-listed parks increase tourism which is fantastic. It’s already topping the tourism list with four million visitors per year, so if we can top that, it’s great.’’
Mr Evans said a World Heritage listing would not restrict access to the park.
The federal government will now assess whether to include the Royal National Park on the list of sites they want recognised by UNESCO. The final decision can take several years.
If the nomination is successful, it will join 19 other Australian sites on the World Heritage list, including Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the Great Barrier Reef.
TOP ATTRACTIONS AT THE ROYAL NATIONAL PARK
The Coast Track: This 26-kilometre track runs from Bundeena to Otford. You can attempt it in sections, or spend two days tackling the trip with an overnight stay at North Era campground.
Bungoona lookout and path: This walk might only be a short 500-metre stroll, but the view at the end is worth it. It is wheelchair accessible.
Wattamolla picnic area: Whether you want take a dip in the calm lagoon or head over to the beach for some surf and a fish, Wattamolla is the perfect spot to spend a lazy summer day.
Governor Game lookout: This lookout is accessible by car and offers coastal and bush views. Perfect for a bit of birdwatching or whale spotting.
Loftus loop trail: This 10-kilometre mountain bike trail is relatively easy, but will get your heart pumping with its diverse terrain.
Uloola Falls campground: After a day of walking through the beautiful bush, set up camp next to Uloola Falls before an evening barbecue.
Bonnie Vale campground: Between Bundeena and Maianbar at the north end of the park, this camping ground is known for its great swimming spot.
Jibbon Aboriginal guided walk: This tour runs daily, taking walkers to the 7000-year-old Dharawal campsite on Jibbon Beach.
Jibbon Headland: Engravings done by the Dharawal people are still visible on the rocks, including depictions of Biame the Sky Spirit.