Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

The Draft Wattamolla Master Plan: Questions and answers

Comments are closed on the Draft Wattamolla Master Plan. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are considering community and stakeholder feedback and preparing a final master plan for the site. Visit the Royal National Park community engagement portal to stay up to date on improvements to Wattamolla.

Why do we need a master plan for Wattamolla?

Wattamolla, with its freshwater lagoon, waterfall, beach and stunning coastal scenery, is the most popular destination within Royal National Park, attracting over 300,000 visitors per year. It is located along the Royal Coast Track, an iconic walk in Royal National Park.

Most of the visitors to Wattamolla come during the summer months and warmer school holidays. On some busy days over 4,000 people visit Wattamolla, exceeding the parking and waste-water disposal capacity of the site. We need to come up with safe and sustainable ways to enhance visitors’ enjoyment whilst protecting Wattamolla’s outstanding natural features. 

What is the difference between a master plan and a plan of management?

A plan of management is a statutory document prepared in accordance with the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 which details what NPWS will do across the entire national park. NPWS is currently in the process of preparing a new plan of management for Royal National Park.

A master plan is a non-statutory document that outlines a vision to guide the management of a particular site over the next 20–30 years. It isn’t a detailed design but considers what is important about a site and shows how the site can change over time and how its character can be conserved and improved into the future. The master plan for Wattamolla is one of many documents that will inform the plan of management for Royal National Park.

What does the Draft Wattamolla Master Plan propose?

The Draft Wattamolla Master Plan proposes to do the following:

  • upgrade the existing toilet facilities
  • convert part of the existing car park to a new picnic area
  • undertake landscape works in the existing cleared areas to allow the site to be better and more safely used by visitors
  • provide a new walking loop to Providential Point and connection of the loop to the Royal Coast Track
  • provide a new swing bridge and loop track taking visitors down the beach from the northern side of the lagoon
  • renovate the existing unused kiosk building to allow for commercial use of the building
  • convert an under-used picnic area into a camping area for Royal Coast Track walkers
  • formalise the current small camping area to provide a small camping area for group and/or commercial tour walkers
  • provide an opportunity for a zip-line adventure experience
  • provide additional car-parking spaces
  • introduce a peak period car space booking system.

Are you fixing up the existing public toilets at Wattamolla?

Yes, we are proposing to upgrade the toilets to improve their condition, provide for wheelchair access and minimise water usage.

How will the Wattamolla master plan affect public access?

NPWS is proposing to redesign car-parking facilities, which will provide more parking spaces and improve pedestrian safety. NPWS is also proposing to introduce an online car-park booking service so that visitors can be sure parking spaces are available before they arrive at the park. This will allow people to know in advance if car spaces are available and avoid the frustration of arriving at Wattamolla to find the site is closed because the car park is full. NPWS is planning to use the booking service on peak days when it is expected that the car park will reach capacity.

Will this increase the cost for me to visit Wattamolla?

A car-space booking fee may be introduced as part of the overall strategy which encourages turn-over of parking to allow other people to enjoy the site. In setting the booking fee, NPWS would need to consider the additional costs incurred to manage the site on peak days, such as provision of qualified traffic management contractors and rubbish disposal. It is envisaged that all-day parking at the site will cost more than the standard day entry fee of $12.

Will this proposal increase the number of people visiting Wattamolla?

No. This plan aims to set a maximum carrying capacity for the site which takes into consideration visitor enjoyment of the site, protection of the site’s natural and cultural values and visitor infrastructure, namely car-parking and sewage treatment. This capacity is less than the current number of visitors on some peak days. The provision of a maximum of 700 car parking spaces will assist in limiting visitation to the carrying capacity of 3,500 people per day.

How are you planning to improve waste-water management at Wattamolla?

Waste water from the toilets is treated by means of a septic system and irrigation fields. Assessment of the site by qualified waste-water engineers indicates that the capacity of the on-site septic system can be expanded to manage the peak visitation periods without damaging the environment.

Who have you spoken to already about the Draft Wattamolla Master Plan?

NPWS invited a number of stakeholders along to preliminary planning briefings. Of those invited, groups that attended include: NSW Police, Roads and Maritime Services, Sutherland Shire Council, Friends of Royal National Park, National Parks Association and commercial tour operators providing guided tours in the park.

The public exhibition of the draft master plan closed on June 3, 2016. During this process NPWS received 10 email submissions and 141 online submissions. These comments will be considered in the final design options for the master plan.

What happens next?

The final Wattamolla master plan will be available to view or download from this page when it's ready, along with the submissions report. Visit the Royal National Park community engagement portal if you would like to register your interest to hear from us when the final master plan is available.

Page last updated: 15 June 2016