Somersby Falls picnic area access upgrade

A great place to picnic on the Central Coast, Somersby Falls in Brisbane Water National Park, offers barbecues and picnic tables in a lush rainforest setting, complete with a short walking track to waterfalls.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is upgrading the picnic area to improve the visitor experience and make it more universally accessible.

What the project involves

We are improving the existing facilities and universal accessibility at the site.

The upgrade will:

  • increase car parking capacity, including provisions for small bus parking
  • increase facilities such as barbecues and picnic tables
  • upgrade the amenities for universal access
  • provide a covered outdoor area for groups
  • enhanced protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites
  • better universal access across the site, including a new viewing platform over the top of the falls
  • refurbishment of the walking track and elevated timber walkways leading from the picnic area to the mid and lower falls.

The upgrade project involves 4 stages.

Stage 1: Project planning and preliminary design

Funding was secured in 2019 under the 4-year Improving Access to National Parks (IANP) program.

Project planning was undertaken during 2020, resulting in the preparation of a preliminary design or concept plan.

Stage 2: Public consultation on preliminary design

The preliminary concept plan was exhibited for 3 months, from 18 January to 18 April 2021. Five submissions were received, and all points raised were considered.

National Parks and Wildlife Service will continue to liaise with Central Coast regarding Somersby Falls Road, the access road to the picnic area.

Due diligence assessment for Aboriginal cultural heritage was undertaken in late 2021. This included consultation with community representatives on the cultural sites located at Somersby Falls.

We consulted with Crown Lands regarding the planned works at this stage and will continue to consult throughout the project.

Stage 3: Final design and planning approvals

The final design considers feedback on the preliminary concept plan as well as consultation with other relevant land managers, including utility providers, Crown Lands, Central Coast Council, park neighbours, commercial operators and other key stakeholders.

Planning assessments and approvals required include:

  • environmental impact assessment (review of environmental factors)
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment and section 90 Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit
  • licence from Crown Lands.

All approvals are required before construction commences.

Stage 4: Procurement

A procurement process to tender for the construction works is required. A suitably qualified contractor will be engaged via competitive tender for the construction of the planned works.

Stage 5: Construction

During construction, Somersby Falls precinct, including car parking, walking racks and amenities, will be closed to visitors for safety. Once construction is completed, and the works are certified for public use, the site will be reopened to visitors.

This project is funded through the NSW Government's Improving Access to National Parks program. The upgrade will be delivered in stages and is due for completion in 2023.

The NSW Government is delivering its largest investment in national parks history with more than $450 million for over 200 visitor infrastructure projects across the state.

This beautiful and popular bushland picnic area, not far from Sydney, is attracting more visitors than which it was originally designed. The recreation experience for locals and visitors will be improved by better parking, refreshing facilities, providing universal access and enhanced protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites.

Our national parks are managed to protect their unique values and provide for sustainable visitor use and enjoyment. This includes providing visitor experiences and, where appropriate, new visitor facilities.

Park values will be protected by the scope of works being undertaken in line with the Plan of Management, community feedback, and the conditions of approval for environmental and heritage impact assessments. Construction works will be monitored as they proceed.

To ensure visitor safety during construction, the site will be temporarily closed for up to 6 months, weather permitting.

Notification of the start of construction will be included as an update on this webpage, and site closures will be listed on the National Parks and Wildlife Alerts page.

Visitors to the area during this time may want to use other nearby facilities, such as Girrakool Picnic Area or go to Central Coast Tourism website to find other suitable local nature-based activities.

Update November 2022

This upgrade project is nearing the end of Stage 3.

  • 24 Nov 2022

The information you provide in this form will only be used for the purpose for which it was collected. By submitting, you consent to storage, use, and disclosure of your personal information in accordance with our privacy policy. You can request access and amendment of your personal information.