Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area

Walking

Walking tracks

Sublime Point walking track

Sublime Point walking track is one of the iconic treks of the Illawarra escarpment, and a challenging walk through lush coastal rainforest to the plateau above with incredible scenic views. The steep climb is ideal for experienced bushwalkers and a great nature escape only an hour from Sydney, north of Wollongong.

Starting near Austinmer, the track ascends steeply with many steps through dense forests dotted with tree ferns and palms. Stop for a breather for some great birdwatching, and look out for yellow-tailed black cockatoos or raptor birds such as falcons and kestrels.

A series of ladders allow you to rock-hop your way to the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views up and down the coast. Enjoy lunch at the picnic facilities or nearby cafe before heading back down. If the hike up is enough for you though, you can organise a pick-up from the top.

Plant communities: rainforests, dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Bulli to Sublime Point map

Dave Walsh's Track

Ascending the western face of Mt Keira, the track climbs a steep ridge with magnificent views, providing a link between the Mt Keira Ring Track and the Mt Keira summit, where you'll have panoramic views to the coast. It offers a kiosk and restaurant, toilets, car parking and other facilities.

Dave Walsh's track can be accessed from Byarong Park (via the Mt Keira Ring Track) or from the Mt Keira summit.

From the Byarong Park carpark, join the Mt Keira Ring Track and walk in a clockwise direction towards the Mt Keira Scout Camp. At the junction with the Scout Camp road, cross Mt Keira Road to join with Dave Walsh's track.

From Mt Keira summit, walk towards the Five Islands lookout. The upper Dave Walsh track starts to the right of the path, before the lookout.

Plant communities: dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Mount Keira map

Woodward track

This short loop walk starts and ends at the northern perimeter of Lady Fuller Park at Sublime Point, about 100m west of the lookout. The terrain is virtually flat with woodland and heath on top of the escarpment. There are excellent views from parts of the track. Stay at least 4 metres away from cliff edges. Ideal for families and other groups.

Plant communities: dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Bulli to Sublime Point map

Lower Escarpment trail

This unsealed vehicle-width trail traverses the lush middle slopes between Tarrawanna (Hawthorn Street) and Bulli (Bulli Pass). Its length makes it ideal for joggers and cyclists. The terrain is mostly undulating, although there are some hilly sections towards the Tarrawanna end. Visitors will experience the Illawarra's magnificent tall moist forests and will often hear or see lyrebirds, catbirds and other rainforest wildlife. Occasional spectacular glimpses of the escarpment and coast are other highlights.

Ideal for: fit walkers, joggers and cyclists.

Plant communities: rainforests, dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Bulli to Sublime Point map

Robertsons Lookout track

This walk caters to walkers of all abilities, as well the disabled. It offers some of the best views on the escarpment. The main walk climbs a forested knoll before skirting the escarpment edge. It joins a path 700 m long, which gives access to spectacular views from Robertson's lookout. The main walking track joins the Mt Keira Ring track on Mt Keira Road. The path is ideal for assisted wheelchairs and is accessible from Harry Graham Drive.

Gibsons track

After a short steep climb from Foothills Road at Austinmer, walkers are rewarded with a gentle easy loop walk through tall eucalypt forests and over undulating terrain.

Ideal for: families, schools and other groups.

Plant communities: rainforests, dry eucalypt forests

Wodi Wodi track

The Wodi Wodi are the traditional owners of the Illawarra. Evidence of their occupation extends beyond the time of the ancient civilisations in Egypt or Babylon. In part, the eastern portion of the walking track follows an Aboriginal route and a later convict-built road, the Bullock track constructed in about 1820. The Wodi Wodi track extends in an arc between Stanwell Park railway station and Lawrence Hargrave Drive 700 metres north of Coalcliff station. A branch track links Stanwell Park station to Stanwell Tops (Stonehaven Drive). The Wodi Wodi track is rugged and can be difficult to navigate, as infrequent use means that rapidly growing vegetation can obscure the track. A topographic map as well as the ability to use it is strongly recommended. Walkers experience a wild remoteness even though the track is never more than 1km from any road. Walkers must remain on the track as dense bush and steep drops are close to the track in places. Ideal for fit & experienced walkers

Plant communities: rainforests, dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Stanwell Park map

Mount Kembla Summit Track

Geological forces have been kind to walkers on Mt Kembla and have created a convenient route to the summit of Mount Kembla. From the carpark at Kembla Lookout, follow the signs to the Ring Track. The Summit Track branches off the Ring Track and ascends a prominent ridge. About half way up, there is a commanding view of Lake Illawarra and the coastal plain with the southern escarpment in the background. The Summit has several routes that lead to stunning views. The Summit is unfenced so please take care and keep children under close supervision. Return to the Lookout carpark using the same route.

Plant communities: dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Mount Kembla map

Mount Pleasant track

This track is a convenient link walk between suburban Mount Pleasant (Parrish Avenue) and the Mount Keira Ring Track, but its rainforest makes it a spectacular walk in its own right. At its junction with the Ring track, turn left to return to Mt Pleasant via Geordies Flat, or turn right to complete the Ring Track or climb to the Mt Keira summit. From Geordies Flat, the Mt Pleasant management trail (which is closed to all vehicles) forms a short easy loop walk back to Parrish Avenue.

Visitors shouldn't miss the nearby Rhododendron gardens, which is located about 200 metres from the start of this track at Parrish Avenue. Ideal for families.

Plant communities: rainforests, dry eucalypt forests

Mount Kembla Ring track

Mount Kembla is a significant Aboriginal site for the Wodi Wodi people, featuring in many of their creation stories. The impressive natural landmark also acts as a dramatic backdrop for the Ring track, with lush vegetation and a glimpse of local history on a terrific 5km loop.

With easy access to the scenic Kembla lookout (via the Summit track), there’s much to see, from native birdwatching to spectacular views of the NSW coast. So don’t forget your hiking boots.

The Ring track quickly descends from shaded slopes into cool rainforest. Cycling offers a thrilling alternative on the fire trail. Also, note the closed entrances to two early coal mines – the area is rich with fascinating Illawarra heritage.

Plant communities: rainforests, dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Mount Kembla map

Opening hours: The track is always open, but it is recommended that the walk only be attempted during daylight hours.

Mount Keira Ring track

Circling Mount Keira in an engaging loop, the ring track is a terrific setting for a casual hike or an energetic run. Expect to encounter a lush parade of forests and terrain, from cool sub-tropical bush to lofty red cedars and rocky outcrops. Catbirds call in the rainforest as you trace the old route of an early colonial road.

You’ll find the track-head by following the trail from the car park to the Girl Guide Camp entrance road. Cross the road, rejoining the trail on the other side. The ring track is just a short distance away.

If you want to make a day of it, pack a picnic. Byarong Park picnic area is a terrific spot to settle down for a relaxing barbecue or an afternoon ball game.

Plant communities: rainforests, dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Mount Keira map

Opening hours: The track-head at Byarong Park is open from sunrise to sunset.

Forest walk to Sublime Point track

The Illawarra Escarpment offers a full range of exciting walks. This extended hike combines several of the best, threading through magnificent cliff-top rainforest and dry eucalypts.

Start the walk at either Coalcliff (Wodi Wodi track) or Austinmer (Sublime Point track). Both trackheads are a short stroll from the train station. Your path then ascends sharply before snaking a leisurely 11km along Forest walk. Views are superb across the panoramic coast below, as you wander through upland swamps and tall blackbutt-apple shale forest. You’re bound to capture some inspiring photos here.

You can cap it all off with a post-trek barbecue: at Sublime Point lookout, the track takes a steep turn down to Austinmer via a narrow cliff ledge and several ladders. The nearby Lady Fuller park, featuring picnic tables and toilets, offers a fitting end to your challenging, but rewarding hike.

Plant communities: rainforests, dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Stanwell Park map

Opening hours: The walking tracks are always open, though it is recommended that the extended hike is only attempted in daylight hours.

Walking: events and activities

Commercial activity

Auswalk

Auswalk offers quality accommodated walking holiday packages in many destinations.

Self-guided inn-to-inn walking holidays in the Blue Mountains and Snowy Mountains. Walk from one comfortable accommodation to the next through the national park. We move your luggage ahead for you. Follow our detailed walk notes and marked maps. Start any day of the year in season.

Group guided walking holidays in the Snowy Mountains. Join a group with two knowledgeable guides and hike through the area, staying in comfortable accommodation at night. We also have a spring snowshoeing trip in the Snowy Mountains.

Privately guided trips ranging from 1 to 5 days in the Sydney Harbour area and Blue Mountains.

More info: Auswalk, Phone: 03 5356 4971 (international +613 5356 4971)

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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)

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