8 great walks in Brisbane Water National Park 

Brisbane Water National Park covers an area of 12,000 hectares just north of the Hawkesbury River. It's best known for the Great North Walk that runs through it.

Warrah Lookout in Brisbane Water National Park

Don’t want to do the whole Great North Walk? Check out some of the shorter sections I have listed on this page. They don’t require any particular bushwalking experience, are under 8 km return and take at most 5 hrs. Some are much shorter and are great to bring kids along...

1. Girrakool Loop Walking Track 

2 KM - 45 MIN - EASY 

The first three walks I list on this page start from Girrakool Picnic Area. (You can combine them to form a 9.2 km walk – they all join up.) The picnic area contains picnic tables, barbecues and toilets. 

The only thing I dislike about this place is the noise of traffic coming from the freeway. But it fades once you move away from it on the Piles Creek loop or Mooney Mooney nature walk. The sound of cascading water and birds then take over – it’s a nice respite.

Girrakool loop track is the shortest walk located at Girrakool Picnic Area. It’s well signposted.

The track leads to an Aboriginal engraving site and a few lookouts overlooking small waterfalls. The Aboriginal engravings are a bit faded and difficult to see, but we saw a man and a kangaroo. 

It’s a perfect walking track for young children – they can experience Aboriginal rock art and see waterfalls while walking a short distance.

After walking past the Aboriginal rock engraving site, you arrive at Broula Lookout where you get filtered views of a small waterfall. It’s a great spot to stop for a rest or a snack. The sound of cascading water is soothing.

Then hike past Illoura Lookout, Bundilla Lookout and Andamira Lookout. 

Parking – Girrakool Picnic Area, Girrakool Rd, Somersby. $8 per day. Pay with cash or card at the automated machine.

Bundilla Lookout, Girrakool loop, Brisbane Water National Park


Andamira Lookout, Girrakool Loop, Brisbane Water National Park

2. Piles Creek Loop 

4 KM LOOP - 2 HRS 30 MIN - HARD 

I really enjoyed this hike. It’s officially rated hard – but I think it’s just a fantastic workout. You walk up and down the whole way.

The track passes rock ledges, creeks with cascading water and a cool suspended bridge.

The walk continues along escarpments with the relaxing sound of cascading water in the background.

It’s advised that you possess navigational skills to do this hike (Piles Creek loop is the only walk on this page to require navigational skills). For most of the way the track is easy to see. But at a few places the track just seemed to disappear in front of me. Before I continued walking I tried to spot the continuation of the track ahead.  

Good non-slippery walking shoes are a must. There are wet slippery boulders. 

If you walk with children (they would need to be in shape) be mindful of the steep falls on the side of the track. 

Parking – Girrakool Picnic Area, Girrakool Rd, Somersby. $8 per day. Pay with cash or card at the automated machine.

3. Mooney Mooney Nature Walk 

8.4 KM RETURN - 5HRS - PARTLY HARD

Mooney Mooney Nature Walk overlaps with Piles Creek loop between the suspended bridge and Girrakool Picnic Area…

Again, this section is hard because you walk up and down the whole way. It’s beautiful though – you walk along escarpments with the sound of cascading water in the background.

Past Phil Houghton Bridge the walk takes another direction. It becomes easy and well sign-posted. The track follows the untouched Mooney Mooney Creek. We could hear bellbirds. It’s a relaxing section.

Parking – Girrakool Picnic Area, Girrakool Rd, Somersby. $8 per day. Pay with cash or card at the automated machine.

Mooney Mooney Creek, Mooney Mooney nature walk
View of Mooney Mooney Creek from Mooney Mooney nature walk
Mooney Mooney nature walk

4. Patonga to Pearl Beach Walk  

6 KM RETURN - 3 HRS - HARD 

This is a popular walk in Brisbane Water National Park between Pearl Beach and Patonga over a headland through Warrah Lookout.

The walk is rated hard because you must walk up the headland and down. But it’s good exercise.

Plus you get rewarded at Warrah Lookout – my favourite lookout on the Central Coast. The view of the Hawkesbury River and the Northern Beaches is stunning. You can see sailing boats dotting the river far below.

Start the walk either from Pearl Beach or Patonga. Both villages are lovely and you can have a swim at the beach.

At Patonga, Patonga Pub has an outdoor terrace that overlooks the water. We like ending the walk there and having a cold beer. We deserve it, don’t we?

At Pearl Beach, eat at Pearl Beach Cafe, the lovely cafe across the beach.

Parking Pearl Beach – Crystal Ave, Pearl Beach. Enter 67 Crystal Ave, Pearl Beach in your GPS and drive a bit further to the small parking spot on the right.

Parking Patonga – along Patonga Dr. Enter 8 Patonga Dr Patonga in your GPS. The walk starts at the eastern end of the beach. 

View of Patonga Beach from Patonga to Pearl Beach walk.
Admiring the view over Broken Bay from Warrah Lookout.

5. Warrah Trig to Warrah Lookout 

800 M RETURN - 30 MIN - EASY

The easiest, shortest track that leads to Warrah Lookout. 

You could also walk Warrah Trig—Pearl Beach or Warrah Trig—Patonga. 

Parking – at the end of Warrah Trig Rd. Then follow Doyles track.

Warrah Trig Walk
Looking at the view from Warrah Lookout, Brisbane Water
Hawkesbury River at sunset

6. Somersby Falls  

500 M RETURN - STEEP 

There's a picnic ground at the start of the walk to Somersby Falls.

The popular walk leads to two beautiful waterfalls. The walking track winds steeply downhill through a dense rainforest.

The site can get surprisingly busy. Last time we went many families were visiting and having a picnic.

The most beautiful waterfall sits mid-way along the track. The walk leading to it is technically easy because of the stairs. Kids like to play around the puddle at the bottom of the waterfall. Some people like to stand under the falling water. 

It’s a great spot to visit during a hot summer day as the dense forest keeps you cool.

The last waterfall at the bottom of the hill is smaller. The pathway leading to it goes over wet rocks so it can be slippery. Make sure you wear non-slippery walking shoes.

Read about our experience walking to Somersby Falls.

Parking – Somersby Falls Rd, Somersby. Enter 265 Somersby Falls Rd, Somersby in your GPS. Parking fee is $8. Or park for free along the road before entering the formal parking spot.

Boardwalk and stairs along the Somersby Falls walk.

7. Kariong Brook Falls 

4.6 KM RETURN - 1 HR 30 MIN - PARTLY HARD

This walk makes you feel away from everything. You get nice views of valleys and hills, and only hear the wind and birds chirping. The large trail lets the sun rays infiltrate the path...

Walking along Tommos Loop trail is easy, but gets harder on the short off track section leading to Kariong Brook Falls.

The descend is worth it…

When you're nearly there, you can look down at the waterfall from higher up on the escarpment. The waterfall plunges into a deep rock pool and is surrounded by rock ledges – it looks like an enchanted world.

Have a picnic there. There’s shade and ample space on the rock platforms.

To get there, follow Tommos Loop Firetrail for 2 km. Then turn right at the signpost indicated “Girrakool”. This track descends over boulders for 300 metres.

Parking – in the small parking area along Woy Woy Rd, 350 m south of Staples Lookout. 

8. Bulgandry Aboriginal Art Site 

600 M RETURN - VERY EASY

Bulgandry Aboriginal Art Site is a 10-minute walk that lead to a large rock showing many Aboriginal engravings.

The walk is suitable for prams and wheelchairs.

The Aboriginal engraving rock is right at the end of the walk so you can’t miss it. A boardwalk surrounds the engravings.

It’s worth visiting. Even if you’re not into Aboriginal art, these ones are fascinating. The engravings are very clear and they have written descriptions so you know what you're looking at. It’s amazing they are in such good condition considering they are at least 200 years old.

If you want to take good photos visit early in the morning, before sunset or after rain. The grooves will show more contrast because of light coming at low angle. Also, make sure there's is no shadow on the engraving and avoid using a flash.  

Read about our experience walking to Bulgandry Aboriginal Art Site.

Parking – Along Woy Woy Rd in Brisbane Water National Park, about 3 km from the intersection of Central Coast Hwy and Woy Woy Rd in Kariong. It’s free to visit.

Bulgandry Aboriginal art site walking track
Boardwalk surrounds the sandstone rock surface with Bulgandry Aboriginal art.
Aboriginal engraving of a fish at Bulgandry Aboriginal art site.

Also, visit Staples Lookout...

Staples Lookout overlooks wide expanses of bush and Brisbane Water at a distance. There are picnic tables beside the lookout. 

Located on Woy Woy Rd in Brisbane Water National Park, another 2 km from Bulgandry Aboriginal Art Site, or 5 km from the intersection of Central Coast Hwy and Woy Woy Rd in Kariong. You’ll see signposts along the road.

View of Brisbane Water and bush from Staples Lookout.

accommodation - brisbane water national park

These towns are a great base for exploring Brisbane Water National Park: Ettalong Beach, Umina Beach, Patonga and Pearl Beach.  Accommodation near Brisbane Water National Park on Booking.com

map Brisbane water national park


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