Replacement of the Nielsen Park seawall

National Parks and Wildlife Service is replacing the concrete seawall at Nielsen Park, part of the Sydney Harbour National Park.

The seawall at Nielsen Park has served visitors well for nearly 100 years. In July 2016, the seawall was badly damaged by large swells during storms. Some sections of the sandstone seawall along the western part of the beach were repaired, but the 160-metre concrete seawall has reached the end of its serviceable life. 

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is committed to maintaining access and improving the convenience of Nielsen Park and Shark Beach for our visitors and local community and is planning to replace the old seawall. This once in a life-time project will enhance visitor access and safety and ensure the new work is undertaken sensitively with consideration of the natural, cultural and social environment, heritage significance, and visitor and NPWS operational needs.

Nielsen Park at Vaucluse was incorporated into Sydney Harbour National Park in 1978 and was placed on the NSW State Heritage Register in 2018. The Park is of state heritage significance as an outstanding natural and cultural landscape demonstrating a rich and diverse range of uses spanning pre-European settlement to the present. 

Visitors continue to be attracted to Nielsen Park to:

  • enjoy a swim at the family friendly Shark Beach, which is netted during the warm swimming months
  • enjoy spectacular harbour views while relaxing in the shady grounds
  • observe remnant bush areas and native wildlife
  • take a break at the Nielsen Park kiosk
  • journey along the Hermitage Foreshore Walk.

What is proposed?

NPWS has completed site investigations and analysis which informed the development of the replacement seawall concept. The new structure will have improved accessibility including separate pedestrian and vehicular ramps. It will also be upgraded to withstand future storm events and sea level rise. The character of Shark Beach will be retained with complementary materials.

Download the plans and sketches for more information.

Project stages and timeframes

NPWS has completed site investigation and analysis. The next stage will be to complete detailed design development and approvals while engaging with the community. Construction is scheduled to take place from Autumn 2021.

NPWS may adjust the schedule as the project develops to strike a balance between minimising the impact on visitors and working with environmental considerations, such as high tides and significant storm events, to deliver the project in a timely and cost-effective manner. 

Community engagement

Stakeholders, visitors and nearby residents will be kept informed of this project as it develops. Updates will be available from this project webpage.

Protecting park values

In accordance with NSW planning legislation, NPWS has carryied out a rigorous environmental assessment of the site with input from specialists in landscape architecture, archaeology, heritage, engineering and coastal management. The project will be consistent with the Sydney Harbour National Park Plan of Management 2012 and the Nielsen Park Conservation Management Plan 2013. Necessary approvals including a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) will be prepared to support development approvals. A Development Application will be submitted to Woollahra Council in mid-2020.

Temporary closures and visitor updates

There will be unavoidable impacts to visitor access and convenience of the beach and surrounding area during the construction phase (scheduled for 2021). In preparing the schedule of works, NPWS will consider a balance between effects on visitor convenience, cost and environmental impact of staging the works.

Visitors and the community will be kept informed of necessary closures and access to Nielsen Park and Shark Bay through online alerts via the NPWS website and onsite signage.

Do you have any questions?

For further information on the project, please email the Sydney South Area at

If you have any questions about this project, please fill out the form below and the project team will provide updates via this webpage.