Somersby Falls picnic area access upgrade

Somersby Falls on the Central Coast has a lush rainforest setting great for picnics and short walks. Our upgrade project will improve access, safety and facilities.

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

What the project involves

The initial works will include:

  • the completion of a new car park, which will increase parking capacity and include accessible parking
  • a new, small bus turning circle and drop off point
  • better universal access across the new car park and linking to the existing picnic area
  • walking track links to the picnic area
  • new accessible pathways and landscaping in the existing picnic area
  • replacement of the storm-damaged elevated walkways and steps to the lower falls
  • the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites
  • final design planning for upcoming works, including improved viewing and safety at the top falls.

Future proposed works (currently out of scope) will include:

  • increased facilities such as barbecues and picnic tables
  • upgraded amenities for universal access.

Stage 1: Project planning and preliminary design

NPWS secured funding in 2019 under the 4-year Improving Access to National Parks program.

We undertook project planning during 2020 and prepared a preliminary design or concept plan.

Stage 2: Public consultation on preliminary design

We exhibited the preliminary concept plan for 3 months, from 18 January to 18 April 2021. We received 5 submissions and considered all points that were raised.

NPWS will continue to liaise with Central Coast Council regarding Somersby Falls Road and utilities throughout the project.

We began the process for an Aboriginal heritage impact permit 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 with them throughout the project.

Stage 3: Final design and planning approvals

The final design considers feedback received on the preliminary concept plan during its exhibition. Input was also provided during consultation with other relevant land managers, including:

  • utility providers
  • Crown Lands
  • Central Coast Council
  • park neighbours
  • commercial operators
  • other key stakeholders.

Planning approvals needed included:

  • an Environmental Impact Assessment (review of environmental factors)
  • an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit
  • a licence from Crown Lands.

Stage 4: Procurement

NPWS followed the required process to procure a contractor for the planned construction works. A suitably qualified contractor was engaged via competitive tender.

Stage 5: Construction

During construction, Somersby Falls precinct will be closed to visitors for safety reasons, including existing car parking, walking tracks and amenities. Once each phase of 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 March 2024

Construction continues for the upgrade of the Somersby Falls picnic area.

  • 20 Mar 2024

Update November 2023

Construction is continuing at Somersby Falls picnic area.

  • 30 Nov 2023

Update September 2023

Construction has started at Somersby Falls Picnic Area.

  • 11 Sep 2023

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