Brisbane Water National Park


Bushwalking in Brisbane Water National Park (Image: Evolving Images/DECCW)There are a number of walking tracks in Brisbane Water National Park that suit a variety of fitness levels and ages. The walks are described below.




Walking tracks

Somersby Falls walking track

Starting at one of the most spectacular and popular rest stops on the NSW Central Coast – Somersby Falls picnic area – Somersby Falls walking track winds down to the bottom of the falls along a graceful 100m path, with lookout stops along the way. This is a great walk at any time of year, but it really shines in the summer months, when the cool spray offers a respite from the heat, and after heavy rains, when the falls are particularly striking.

Be sure to bring your camera and keep an eye out for local wildlife, including water dragons, frogs and goannas. If you look up, you may even spot a kookaburra – birdwatching is terrific here, so don’t forget binoculars either. After visiting the bottom of the falls, return to the picnic area and pass the remainder of the day in the cool shade of a tree over a long lunch.

Girrakool loop track

Girrakool Loop Track in Brisbane Water National Park (Image: Evolving Images/DECCW)Girrakool loop track is a short and easy walk that starts and finishes at Girrakool picnic area. It offers scenic views over waterfalls and is full of colourful wildflowers during late winter and early spring.

At the start of the walk, be sure to check out the Aboriginal rock engraving site, take care not to walk over it though. From here, you’ll wind down into bushland, past views of forest, waterfalls and the creek. Make sure you stop at Illoura lookout and the shady waterfall at Andamira lookout for a photo or two.

Directions: The track starts at Girrakool picnic area. Crossing the carpark from the information sign you will see signposts for the track.  Follow the track across a large rock platform. Walk down steps and wind through the bush where you can catch a glimpse of Piles Creek. Follow the signs for the Girrakool Loop and enjoy the beautiful bushlands. The track finishes at the other end of the picnic area; follow the fenceline back to the carpark.

Plant communities: dry eucalypt forests

Cultural heritage: A large rock platform at the beginning of the track has Aboriginal engravings. Please respect this site and do not tread on or mark the engravings.

Not permitted here: Dogs.

Piles Creek loop

Angophora costa or red gum in Brisbane Water National Park (Image: Alan Henderson/DECCW)If you’re looking for a hike with a chance to unwind afterwards, head to Girrakool for Piles Creek loop. Wandering through dry eucalypt forest, this day walk follows the deep gorge of Piles Creek past waterfalls and scenic clearings, so make sure you bring your camera. It even crosses a suspension bridge and reaches the Illoura lookout, with stellar views over the forest canopy, which offers a good opportunity for birdwatching.

At Illoura, the trail also crosses the Girrakool loop for a longer walk that takes in a fascinating Aboriginal site with carvings in Hawkesbury sandstone. Eventually, all roads lead back to the large grassy Girrakool picnic area, where you might like to fire up the free gas barbecues for a lazy afternoon in the shade of eucalypts.

Directions: Follow the Great North Walk sign down the path to the lower picnic area past the toilet block. Then follow the signs to Piles Creek loop. After some time, you'll cross the suspension bridge across Piles Creek. The walk continues on and finishes where it started in the lower picnic area.

Plant communities: wet eucalypt forests

Opening hours: Girrakool picnic area carpark is:

  • Open 9am to 5pm

Mooney Mooney nature walk

Mooney Mooney nature walk links Mooney Mooney and Girrakool, leading through some of the most picturesque parts of Brisbane Water National Park. This challenging walk passes through diverse landscapes, including rainforest, grassy woodlands, waterfalls, casuarina forest and cave-like rocky overhangs.

Climbing steeply, perfectly positioned lookouts offer the chance to rest and take in the exquisite NSW Central Coast vistas. Crossing the scenic Piles Creek suspension bridge, pause to soak up serene views in all directions. In spring, you’ll see carpets of colourful wildflowers, including red darwinias, yellow acacias and orange banksias.

If you’re keen on birdwatching, you’ll love having the opportunity to see lyrebirds and kookaburras. Observant walkers may even spot a koala or two, along with native orchids clinging to moss-covered boulders.

Plant communities: rainforests, grassy woodlands

Opening hours: Mooney Mooney nature walk is always open, however the gate to Girrakool picnic area, at one end of the track, is closed between 5pm and 9am.

Patonga to Pearl Beach walking track

Fire/closure alerts currently apply to this location. See details below.

The Patonga to Pearl Beach walking track follows the Great North Walk through the beautiful red gums of Brisbane Water National Park. Bring your swimmers and a towel – this walk begins and ends on a beach, with plenty of opportunity for a refreshing dip or a spot of fishing.

From the end of Patonga Beach, follow signs to the national park. You can head to Warrah Trig from here, while following the trail up and over the hill will take you past the spectacular Warrah lookout with views of Hawkesbury River and Pacific Ocean. Pause for a snack, then return to the fire trail, following the Pearl Beach signs past sandstone caves with a natural hanging garden of native ferns. Be sure to keep an eye out for bush turkeys and an ear open for kookaburras.

Your exit is marked at Crystal Avenue. Follow the sounds of crashing waves to find a beautiful stretch of sand on the edge of the bush. You can enjoy a picnic, or take advantage of the small cafes nearby.

Directions: From the car park at Patonga wharf follow the foreshore with the water on your right hand side. Then follow the beach to the end where you will see a sign for Brisbane Water National Park. There are signs leading you to Warrah Trig if you'd like a small detour.

The track winds up the hill and along a ridge. You'll have fantastic views over the Hawkesbury River from Warrah Lookout. Return to the fire trail and follow the Pearl Beach sign down the fire trail, where you will catch glimpses of Pearl Beach. Take the fire trail which exits onto Crystal Street at Pearl Beach.

Plant communities: dry eucalypt forests

Events, activities and alerts at this location

Pearl Beach to Patonga Beach walking track closed

Some areas of this park are closed due to dangerous trees. This closure may be extended and any extension will be posted as soon as possible. Closed areas are:

  • Pearl Beach to Patonga Walking track

Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, please contact NPWS Gosford office on (02) 4320 4200 or visit the NSW National Parks safety page for park safety guidelines.

Ends Tuesday 28 April, 5:00PM

Wondabyne to Patonga walking track

View to Mount Wondabyne in Brisbane Water National Park (Image: Evolving Images/DECCW)Wondabyne to Patonga walking track is part of the renowned Great North walk, and is an absolute must for experienced bushwalkers and campers keen to explore Brisbane Water National Park. Starting at Wondabyne railway station, this challenging rough track winds through superb grassy woodlands, rainforest and coastal heath.

Soak up spectacular views over Brisbane Water, Broken Bay and Hawkesbury River and stop for a swim near Kariong Brook waterfall; particularly impressive after rain. Pitch your tent at remote Mount Wondabyne bush campground – be sure to look for the fire circle near the base of the mountain.

Birdwatching enthusiasts are spoilt for choice all year round, so keep an eye out for cockatoos, brush turkeys and owls. You may even spot a koala in one of the grey gums. Upon reaching Patonga, take the ferry to Palm Beach or the bus to Woy Woy or Gosford.

Plant communities: rainforests, grassy woodlands

Location:  shown on park map

Opening hours: Wondabyne to Patonga walking track is always open, but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

Great North walk - Brisbane Water National Park

Built in 1988 to celebrate Australia’s bicentennial year, Great North walk is a 250km bushwalking track linking the Sydney CBD with the Hunter Valley and Newcastle. The track passes through a number of national parks, including Brisbane Water National Park (for 34km), and is undoubtedly one of the best walks in NSW.

The walk offers something for everyone. If you’re walking with children you can choose an easy section of the track, and if you’re feeling energetic you can choose an overnight walk, or a more challenging section to hike. Whichever way you choose to walk this iconic track, you will definitely enjoy spectacular views, a scenic landscape and the sounds of native birds and wildlife.

The sections of Great North walk that are in the park include:

  • Patonga to Pearl Beach
  • Patonga to Wondabyne
  • Patonga to Mooney Mooney Creek campground (via Mt Wondabyne)
  • Wondabyne to Mooney Mooney Creek campground (via Mt Wondabyne)

If you can, it’s worth taking a couple of days to hike this section to really enjoy the bushland environment and local scenery. Continue your Great North walk exploration by linking with Great North walk – Berowra Valley National Park towards Sydney or continue north along Great North walk - Brisbane Water National Park.

Walking: events and activities

Commercial activity

Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre

You'll be surrounded by mountain peaks and ranges shrouded in mist and hear the calls of bellbirds ringing across ridges. You'll ride rushing rapids through scenic gorges, go with the flow in slow streams, or follow little known trails carved through an old growth forest. Breathe deeply; you're filling your lungs with cool, fresh air and clearing your mind of clutter. You're in the Barringtons, just 3 hours north of Sydney, and with us you've finally found an experience worth having.

The Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre offers you a range of exciting white water kayaking, canoeing and downhill mountain biking adventures that are easy for anyone to do. We provide a high quality outdoor experience with a friendly, personal and flexible service.

Please feel free to contact us for further information or to discuss your individual requirements.

More info: Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre, Phone: 02 6558 2093 (international +612 6558 2093)

As required.
Commercial activity

Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures

Glenworth Valley is Australia's leading provider of outstanding outdoor adventure experiences.

Glenworth Valley offers a range of exciting adventure activities including guided and free range horse riding, quad biking, abseiling, kayaking, laser skirmish and camping. No prior experience is required and all activities are suitable for all ability levels with friendly and professional guides.

Glenworth Valley is located on a scenic 3000 acre wilderness property in the hinterland region of the New South Wales Central Coast, just one hour north of Sydney's CBD.

More info: Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures, Phone: 02 4375 1222 (international +612 4375 1222)

Commercial activity

Southbound Adventures

A morning paddleSouthbound Adventures provides quality outdoor education for school groups. Tailored programs that challenge, build confidence and enrich young people's lives. Outdoor Education is truly a remarkable experience, it magnifies extraordinary moments and makes for powerful memories that enhance young people's lives with a strong sense of personal strength and purpose.

We will work closely with you to develop each program to ensure your individual outcomes are achieved. You will be able to select from a number of venues including National Parks in close proximity to Sydney and private campsites throughout the greater Sydney Metropolitan area.

Southbound Adventures fully qualified and friendly team will make every participants experience on each of our Outdoor Education Programs unique and full of experiential learning moments.

More info: Southbound Adventures, Phone: 02 4257 4888 (international +612 4257 4888)

As required
Commercial activity

Spirit Safaris

Outback & Wilderness ToursAustralian Outback & Wilderness Tours

One-day and extended small group tours in 4WD vehicles.

Private eco tours visit remote wilderness, Aboriginal rock art sites and wild nature.

More info: Spirit Safaris, Phone: 1300 763 188 (International +61417244600)

As requested
Commercial activity

Sydney Coast Walks

Walking in Royal National Park with Sydney Coast WalksSydney Coast Walks are the Sydney walking people. With some of the city's best natural beauty only accessible on foot, Sydney Coast Walks provides expertly guided half day, full day and overnight hiking adventures through Sydney Harbour and Royal National Parks, enabling guests to reconnect with nature in Australia's largest city. Small groups, maximum 12 guests, for a better walking experience.

Sydney Harbour National Park Walking Tours

Royal National Park Walking Tours

  • Jibbon Aboriginal Tour Learn the traditions of the Dharawal Aboriginal people, view thousand-year-old rock carvings and listen to Dreaming stories.
  • Marley Explore Royal's majestic sandstone coastline on a full day walk.
  • Wattamolla (Coast Track) Discover awe-inspiring views and fascinating history as you hike the iconic Coast Track. Enjoy a fully catered and supported camping experience.

When: year-round. Bookings essential.

More info: Sydney Coast Walks, Phone: 02 8521 7423 (international +612 8521 7423)

As required
Commercial activity

The Collaroy Centre

The Collaroy Centre is owned and operated by The Salvation Army. We self fund our programs by providing quality facilities and programs for our guests. Every cent of profit from these programs is used to run activities and camps for the needy and marginalised of society.

The Collaroy Centre specialises in hiking expeditions for the Adventurous Journey component of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. We offer practice and qualifying hikes across Bronze, Silver and Gold levels in each of the school holidays, and can also customise trips specifically for your school or corporate group.

The Collaroy Centre is always focused on its clients, and all programs are tailored to specific needs and desired outcomes.

More info: The Collaroy Centre, Phone: 02 9982 9800 (international +612 9982 9800)

As required
Commercial activity

The Outdoor Education Group

Bushwalking ProgramsThe Outdoor Education Group (OEG) is a unique, independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides experiential adventure-based learning programs to schools throughout NSW and Victoria. OEG runs programs in a diverse range of natural environments throughout NSW.

Our programs run from one day up to 30 days and offer activities such as bush walking, canoeing, rafting, cycling, snow shoeing and many more.

OEG envisages a world where more people respect and take responsibility for themselves, others and the natural world, and act to support positive relationships, healthy communities and the sustainability of life.

Our mission is to deliver excellence in outdoor education through partnerships with schools in order to prepare young people for the personal, social and environmental challenges in their lives.

More info: The Outdoor Education Group, Phone: 02 4869 6700 (international +612 4869 6700)

As required