You could lose yourself for days in the idyll that is Audley, located within the Royal National Park. Audley was developed as a small village in a pleasant garden setting in 1879 with an accommodation house (1891), a picnic pavilion (1901) and a boatshed (1893). While some of the original buildings are no longer in existence, the picturesque causeway and picnic lawns are still a centrepiece of the Royal National Park.

You can walk beside the river, or cycle along the historic Lady Carrington Drive bor picnic in the flat, grassy parklands. You can also hire a rowing boat from historic Audley Boatshed and paddle upstream where the river curves through the beautiful Royal National Park. 

With some 16,000ha of national park all around, Audley is a great daytrip away from the frenetic pace of Sydney because of its many diverse attractions. Enjoy a short hike to a waterfall, hire a rowing boat for a bit of romance or enjoy a picnic under a shady tree.   

The old dance hall retains its century-old charm in its current incarnation as a café, where it caters to everyone from multi-generational families celebrating a birthday to young parents who like to indulge in coffee and breakfast while the kids tumble around on the lawn.   

While Bonnie Vale Campground is about 20km away, the park has some beautifully restored heritage-listed homes such as Hilltop Cottage, which is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding wilderness.  

There are also free barbecue facilities and picnic tables dotted around the lawns designed to encourage visitors to linger longer and enjoy the natural environment where the native birds and blooms provide colourful counterpoints to the landscaped surrounds. 

Audley is blessedly less trampled than most Sydney picnic spots and, while it is a great spot to stay put – with mornings for biking or boating – it’s also a great place to base yourself and enjoy a week of everything from whale watching to wilderness walks. 

In order to enjoy the best of what Audley has to offer, pop into the newly refurbished Royal National Park Visitor Centre to map out a plan.