Piles Creek Loop
Darkinjung & Guringai Country

2 h to 4 h

4 km
circuit

↑ 246 m
↓ -246 m

Moderate track
Starting from the Girrakool picnic area, this walk takes you on a round trip through part of the stunning Brisbane Water National Park. The walk explores both sides of Piles Creek, rewarding you with its waterfall and lookouts. Girrakool picnic area also has barbeques and toilets. Let us begin by acknowledging the Darkinjung & Guringai people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we travel today, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present. 
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Girrakool picnic area. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
BBQ shelter at Girrakool Picnic Area. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Plaque at picnic area. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Information sign and ticket machine. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Girrakool Trackhead. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Bottom of Girrakool picnic area. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Stairs below Girrakool picnic area. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Track between Girrakool and Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Stone foot path. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Broula Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Path between picnic area and Illoura Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Illoura Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Track passing Illoura Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Well signposted intersection. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Track intersection and rocky outcrop. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Leaks Creek Crossing. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Eriostemon australasius (Pink Wax Flower) and bee. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Bearded Heath flowers (Leucopogon ericoides). | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Piles Creek Loop track. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Bundilla Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Rocky track. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Track passing a rock wall. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
View to Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Walking past grass tree and rock formations. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Arrows mark the track. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
A cave west of Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Handrail on track in places. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Large boulders along much of this section of track. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Small bride in the ferns. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
A small cave. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Walking along the rock wall. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
One of the shorter caves in the area. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Flowers closer to Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Phil Houghton Bridge over Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Old bridge over Piles Creel. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Clearing near swing bridge. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Crossing Phil Houghton Bridge. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Well signposted section. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Track on eastern side of Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Boronia fraseri. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Ducking under the old tree. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Crossing Rat Gully. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Switch back on track north of Rat Gully. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Beside large rock. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Eriostemon australasius (Pink Wax Flower) in spring. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Cave and rock monoliths. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
a Rock Gully. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Piles Creek Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
View from Piles Creek Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Banksia. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Heath Kunzea flowers (Kunzea capitata). | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Coral Heath (Epacris microphylla). | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Track south of Girrakool. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Track south of Piles Creek and Girrakool. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Cave south of Girrakool and Pile Creel. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Plank plant (Bossiaea scolopendria). | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Piles Creek waterfall. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Crossing above Piles Creek waterfall. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Track to top of Piles Creek waterfall. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Wildflower. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Low water Crossing sign. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2009.
Downloads GPX PDF

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Safer Bushwalks
Tips on staying safe on track
Before you start any bushwalk ensure you;
• Tell someone you trust where you are going and what to do if you are overdue
• Have adequate equipment, supplies, skills & knowledge for the whole journey
• Consider the impact of weather forecasts, park/track closures & fire dangers
• Can respond to emergencies & call for help at any point
• Are healthy and fit enough for this journey
If not, change plans and stay safe. It is okay to delay and ask people for help.
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Getting There
Transport options and directions
Start (-33.4319388,151.2765593)
Mode Car (Parking fees apply in the area.)
DirectionsFrom Old Pacific Highway, B83
  • Turn on to Quarry Road then drive for 75 m
  • Keep left onto Girrakool Road and drive for another 630 m
  • Turn left and drive for another 65 m
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Track Notes
Turn by turn instructions & maps
Getting started
From the lower side of the car park, this walk follows the 'To The Great North Walk' sign down the path to the lower picnic area. The walk passes the toilet block (on the left) and comes to another picnic area. The path passes through this picnic area to turn right following the 'Piles Creek Loop Track' sign down the steps. The footpath then leads to an intersection with the Broula Lookout track (on the left) and a 'car park' sign pointing back up the hill.....
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
Find the car park at the start.
Girrakool Picnic Area (about 45 m back from the start).
Girrakool Picnic Area
Girrakool Picnic Area

Girrakool picnic area is a wonderful family destination, just 5 minutes' drive from Kariong. The picnic area provides all the necessary facilities for a full day's activities, including barbecues, tables, shelters, water and toilets. National Park fees apply. The main picnic area is on the eastern side of the car park, and smaller, older picnic area is at the north-eastern corner of the car park. The southern Girrakool picnic area is located near the toilets. The picnic area is dedicated to John 'Jack' Higgs, the first superintendent of Brisbane Water National Park, and Mrs Vera Murdoch, who provided the funds. 'Girrakool' is an Aboriginal word meaning 'place of still waters'.
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Girrakool picnic area is a wonderful family destination, just 5 minutes' drive from Kariong. The picnic area provides all the necessary facilities for a full day's activities, including barbecues, tables, shelters, water and toilets. National Park fees apply. The main picnic area is on the eastern side of the car park, and smaller, older picnic area is at the north-eastern corner of the car park. The southern Girrakool picnic area is located near the toilets. The picnic area is dedicated to John 'Jack' Higgs, the first superintendent of Brisbane Water National Park, and Mrs Vera Murdoch, who provided the funds. 'Girrakool' is an Aboriginal word meaning 'place of still waters'.

There is a sign (about 7 m back from the start).
After another 25 m pass the toilet (10 m on your left).
After another 60 m pass the BBQ (25 m on your left).
Continue straight.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. An optional side trip to Broula Lookout. To start this optional side trip turn left here. On returning from this side trip turn left when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 165 m continue straight, to head along Girrakool Loop Track.
After another 40 m (at the intersection of Girrakool Loop Track & Piles Creek Loop) continue straight, to head along Girrakool Loop Track.
After another 40 m find the "Illoura Lookout" (on your right).
Illoura Lookout
Illoura Lookout

Illoura Lookout, Brisbane Water National Park, can be found a short walk south-west of the Girrakool picnic area, following the Great North Walk sign. This lookout provides a filtered view up and down the Leask and Piles Creek junction. There is a view of a waterfall from Piles Creek. Illoura is an Aboriginal word referring to a pleasant or peaceful place.
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Illoura Lookout, Brisbane Water National Park, can be found a short walk south-west of the Girrakool picnic area, following the Great North Walk sign. This lookout provides a filtered view up and down the Leask and Piles Creek junction. There is a view of a waterfall from Piles Creek. Illoura is an Aboriginal word referring to a pleasant or peaceful place.

After another 15 m (at the intersection of Girrakool Loop Track & Piles Creek Loop) veer left, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. An optional side trip to Bundilla Lookout. To start this optional side trip veer left here. On returning from this side trip turn left when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 95 m continue straight, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
After another 255 m find the "Western Piles Creek Caves" (on your left).
Western Piles Creek Caves
Western Piles Creek Caves

The Western Piles Creek Caves are series of sandstone caves, not formally named, on the north western side on Piles Creek. The Piles Creek loop passes at the base of a cliff helping find these sandstone caves. Each overhang providing a cool sheltered spot for walkers to rest and enjoy the surrounding bushland. Some are very tall and others much shorter, but all fairly narrow.
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The Western Piles Creek Caves are series of sandstone caves, not formally named, on the north western side on Piles Creek. The Piles Creek loop passes at the base of a cliff helping find these sandstone caves. Each overhang providing a cool sheltered spot for walkers to rest and enjoy the surrounding bushland. Some are very tall and others much shorter, but all fairly narrow.

After another 1.3 km veer left, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
Then head down the metal steps (about 3 m long)
Then cross the bridge (about 20 m long)
Then come to the camp site (10 m on your right).
After another 20 m head down the metal steps (about 4 m long)
After another 8 m come to the "Phil Houghton Bridge".
Phil Houghton Bridge
Phil Houghton Bridge

The Phil Houghton Bridge is a metal suspension bridge that crosses Piles Creek. It is part of the Great North Walk and replaces an older bridge, with part still visible upstream. The bridge can hold up to 8 people and feels very stable. There are great views both up and downstream half way across this bridge. There is a clearing on the northern side that people have used for camping.
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The Phil Houghton Bridge is a metal suspension bridge that crosses Piles Creek. It is part of the Great North Walk and replaces an older bridge, with part still visible upstream. The bridge can hold up to 8 people and feels very stable. There are great views both up and downstream half way across this bridge. There is a clearing on the northern side that people have used for camping.

After another 115 m turn left, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
After another 500 m find the "Monolith Cave" (on your right).
Monolith Cave
Monolith Cave

Monolith Cave is an informally named cave and interesting rock formation high on the ridge east of Piles Creek and North of Rat Gully in the Brisbane Water National Park. The cave is a fairly large sandstone overhang on the edge of the track. The cave provides shelter for walkers and is a great spot to rest and enjoy the area. This rock and the more Monolithic rock about 60m to the south are interesting to explore, and provide great views of the surrounding area. Take great care if exploring the rocks.
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Monolith Cave is an informally named cave and interesting rock formation high on the ridge east of Piles Creek and North of Rat Gully in the Brisbane Water National Park. The cave is a fairly large sandstone overhang on the edge of the track. The cave provides shelter for walkers and is a great spot to rest and enjoy the area. This rock and the more Monolithic rock about 60m to the south are interesting to explore, and provide great views of the surrounding area. Take great care if exploring the rocks.

After another 30 m continue straight, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
After another 135 m continue straight, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
After another 930 m continue straight, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
After another 45 m find the "Piles Creek Waterfall" (on your left).
Piles Creek Waterfall
Piles Creek Waterfall

The large waterfall on Piles Creek is south of Girrakool Picnic Area in Brisbane Water National Park. At the Piles Creek Loop track crossing at the top of the falls, there is a large rock platform. The cliff edge is unfenced and would be dangerous to approach for the view. The water falls down the large drop, into a big pool below. The 'Bundilla Lookout' on the other side of the valley provides the only square view onto the falls, but even this only witnesses the top half.
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The large waterfall on Piles Creek is south of Girrakool Picnic Area in Brisbane Water National Park. At the Piles Creek Loop track crossing at the top of the falls, there is a large rock platform. The cliff edge is unfenced and would be dangerous to approach for the view. The water falls down the large drop, into a big pool below. The 'Bundilla Lookout' on the other side of the valley provides the only square view onto the falls, but even this only witnesses the top half.

After another 1 m (at the intersection of Girrakool Loop Track & Piles Creek Loop) turn right, to head along Girrakool Loop Track.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. An optional side trip to Broula Lookout. To start this optional side trip turn right here. On returning from this side trip turn right when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 40 m continue straight.
After another 210 m come to a car park.
The end.

An optional side trip to Broula Lookout.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start heading along Girrakool Loop Track.
Continue another 30 m to find Broula Lookout at the end.
"Broula Lookout".
Broula Lookout
Broula Lookout

Broula Lookout is fenced and a fairly short walk down from the Girrakool picnic area. Over time, the trees in the area have grown, filtering what would otherwise be a great vantage point for the Piles Creek waterfall. Broula is an Aboriginal word referring to a place of trickling water.
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Broula Lookout is fenced and a fairly short walk down from the Girrakool picnic area. Over time, the trees in the area have grown, filtering what would otherwise be a great vantage point for the Piles Creek waterfall. Broula is an Aboriginal word referring to a place of trickling water.

About 85 m past the end is "Piles Creek Cascades".
Piles Creek Cascades
Piles Creek Cascades

Piles Creek Cascades are an informally named set of cascades on a wide rock platform and Piles Creek, in Brisbane Water National Park. The creek, at this point, flows across a rock platform with many interesting sink holes, small water holes and cascades. this is a nice spot to explore. Care is needed as the rocks are slippery, with unfenced drops, and the area may not be passable after rain.
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Piles Creek Cascades are an informally named set of cascades on a wide rock platform and Piles Creek, in Brisbane Water National Park. The creek, at this point, flows across a rock platform with many interesting sink holes, small water holes and cascades. this is a nice spot to explore. Care is needed as the rocks are slippery, with unfenced drops, and the area may not be passable after rain.

Turn around and retrace your steps back the 30 m to the main route.

An optional side trip to Bundilla Lookout.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
Continue another 10 m to find Bundilla Lookout at the end.
"Bundilla Lookout".
Bundilla Lookout
Bundilla Lookout

Bundilla Lookout provides a good (but filtered) view from the southern side of the Leask and Piles Creeks junction. From the fenced lookout, you can see the top part of Piles Creek waterfall and much of the surrounding bushland. Bundilla is an Aboriginal word meaning 'meeting of waters'.
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Bundilla Lookout provides a good (but filtered) view from the southern side of the Leask and Piles Creeks junction. From the fenced lookout, you can see the top part of Piles Creek waterfall and much of the surrounding bushland. Bundilla is an Aboriginal word meaning 'meeting of waters'.

About 65 m past the end is "Piles Creek Waterfall".
Piles Creek Waterfall
Piles Creek Waterfall

The large waterfall on Piles Creek is south of Girrakool Picnic Area in Brisbane Water National Park. At the Piles Creek Loop track crossing at the top of the falls, there is a large rock platform. The cliff edge is unfenced and would be dangerous to approach for the view. The water falls down the large drop, into a big pool below. The 'Bundilla Lookout' on the other side of the valley provides the only square view onto the falls, but even this only witnesses the top half.
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The large waterfall on Piles Creek is south of Girrakool Picnic Area in Brisbane Water National Park. At the Piles Creek Loop track crossing at the top of the falls, there is a large rock platform. The cliff edge is unfenced and would be dangerous to approach for the view. The water falls down the large drop, into a big pool below. The 'Bundilla Lookout' on the other side of the valley provides the only square view onto the falls, but even this only witnesses the top half.

Turn around and retrace your steps back the 10 m to the main route.

An optional side trip to Piles Ck Lookout.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
After another 25 m come to "Piles Creek Lookout".
Piles Creek Lookout
Piles Creek Lookout

Piles Creek lookout (not formally named), Brisbane Water National Park, sits high on the ridge, east of Piles Creek and north of Rat Gully. This lookout provides views over the Piles Creek valley and can be enjoyed from behind a fence. The valley is surprisingly steep at this point and the views downstream are quite extensive.
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Piles Creek lookout (not formally named), Brisbane Water National Park, sits high on the ridge, east of Piles Creek and north of Rat Gully. This lookout provides views over the Piles Creek valley and can be enjoyed from behind a fence. The valley is surprisingly steep at this point and the views downstream are quite extensive.

Continue another 0 m to find Piles Creek Lookout at the end.
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 25 m to the main route.
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Terrain
Know the Hills, grading & facilities

Piles Creek Loop


Grading
Class 3/6
Moderate track
Length 4 km
Time 2 h to 4 h
Quality of track Formed track, with some branches and other obstacles (3/6)
Gradient Short steep hills (3/6)
Signage Directional signs along the way (3/6)
Infrastructure Limited facilities, not all cliffs are fenced (3/6)
Experience Required Some bushwalking experience recommended (3/6)
Weather Storms may impact on navigation and safety (3/6)

Some facilities on route
Camp site: There is one 2 km from the start.

Toilet: There is one 50 m from the start.


Order of key facilities on route
ItemFrom StartName & link to notes
Toilet
50 m[toilet]
Camp site
2 km[camp site]
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