Girrakool to Patonga
Darkinjung & Guringai Country

10 h to 2 days

24.4 km
oneway

↑ 899 m
↓ -1019 m

Hard track
This overnight walk explores the main ridge of Brisbane Water National Park. Starting at Girrakool picnic area in the north, this track heads over Scopas Peak, with some excellent views over Mooney Mooney creek, and then over Mt Wondabyne, further south. Much of this walk follows the Great North Walk, and it uses a campsite at the base of Mt Wondabyne. There are bus and ferry services from Patonga. Keep in mind that you can do this walk in one day as well. 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. 
Show all
Girracool Picnic Area. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Illoura Lookout view. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
waterfall at Piles Creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Piles Creek lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Rock Flats. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Twisted tree south of Scopas Peak. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2007.
view of mooney mooney creek. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2007.
Kariong Brook Water fall. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
view of Woy Woy. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Rock Flats. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Warrah Trig Station carpark. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
path down towards headland. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
View of Barrenjoey Lighthouse from Warrah Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Near the bottom of Patonga Track. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
across to Patonga boat ramp. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
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 (A park entry fee is required for driving into the park.)
DirectionsFrom Woy Woy Road
  • Turn on to Woy Woy Road then drive for 500 m
  • Turn left onto Central Coast Highway, A49 and drive for another 1.4 km
  • Turn right onto Wisemans Ferry Road, B83 and drive for another 810 m
  • At roundabout, take exit 1 onto Old Pacific Highway, B83 and drive for another 1.6 km
  • Turn left onto Quarry Road and drive for another 75 m
  • Keep left onto Girrakool Road and drive for another 660 m
Finish (-33.5504179,151.2744485)
Mode (end) Car Shuttle   Bus   Car   (There is free parking available.) Ferry   Special   (There is no regular ferry service between Patonga and Brooklyn any more. You can easily grab a water taxi (about $80+). If you are part of a large group they can also organise a larger boat carrying 35 passengers (about $16 pp). Phone 0410 554 777 to book. Enjoy the boat ride.)
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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.
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) turn left, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
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 7 m continue straight, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
After another 20 m find the "Piles Creek Waterfall" (on your right).
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 910 m continue straight, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. An optional side trip to Piles Ck Lookout. To start this optional side trip turn right here. On returning from this side trip turn left when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 135 m continue straight, to head along Piles Creek Loop.
After another 150 m find the "Monolith Cave" (on your left).
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 390 m turn left.
After another 1.3 km come to the viewpoint.
After another 305 m come to the viewpoint.
After another 1.4 km pass the "Scopas Peak" (25 m on your left).
After another 1.1 km veer right, to head along Rifle Range Firetrail.
After another 1.1 km come to the viewpoint.
After another 55 m turn left.
After another 20 m pass the sign (on your right).
After another 1.9 km pass the "Kariong Brook Falls" (15 m on your left).
Continue straight.
After another 6 m find the "Kariong Brook Falls" (on your right).
Kariong Brook Falls
Kariong Brook Falls

This tranquil spot of the Great North Walk is home to some lovely falls and a water hole. The eastern side of the creek has a tall sandstone cave and wall. After rain these falls can become very spectacular, other times is a cool place to rest. A great spot to stop for a snack.
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This tranquil spot of the Great North Walk is home to some lovely falls and a water hole. The eastern side of the creek has a tall sandstone cave and wall. After rain these falls can become very spectacular, other times is a cool place to rest. A great spot to stop for a snack.

After another 640 m veer right, to head along Thommos Loop.
After another 15 m pass the "The Great North Walk" (on your left).
After another 1.5 km continue straight.
After another 810 m turn right, to head along Mullet Creek Firetrail.
After another 215 m turn left.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. An optional side trip to Mt Wondabyne Peak. 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 940 m continue straight.
After another 145 m come to the "Mt Wondabyne Campsite".
Mt Wondabyne Campsite
Mt Wondabyne Campsite

This basic campsite is found at the end of a management trail, near the base of Mt Wondabyne. The campsite is at the bottom of a small (east facing) rock wall and has trees surrounding much of the area, providing some shelter. There is an established fire circle and a basic seat. There is no water or other facilities. (There is also small cave suitable for sleeping a few people about half way up Mount Wondabyne).
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This basic campsite is found at the end of a management trail, near the base of Mt Wondabyne. The campsite is at the bottom of a small (east facing) rock wall and has trees surrounding much of the area, providing some shelter. There is an established fire circle and a basic seat. There is no water or other facilities. (There is also small cave suitable for sleeping a few people about half way up Mount Wondabyne).

After another 700 m (at the intersection of Tunnel Trail & Mount Wondabyne Trig Firetrail) turn right, to head along Tunnel Trail.
After another 470 m (at the intersection of Rocky Ponds Trail & Tunnel Trail) continue straight, to head along Tunnel Trail.
After another 150 m (at the intersection of Tunnel Trail & Dillons Trail) turn left, to head along Dillons Trail (a walking track).
After another 25 m (at the intersection of Dillons Trail & Dillons Firetrail) continue straight, to head along Dillons Trail.
After another 325 m come to the viewpoint (5 m on your left).
After another 1.9 km (at the intersection of Van Dahls Firetrail & Dillons Trail) veer right, to head along Van Dahls Firetrail (a vehicle track).
After another 185 m continue straight, to head along Van Dahls Firetrail.
After another 1.6 km (at the intersection of Van Dahls Firetrail & Sani Depot Trail) continue straight, to head along Van Dahls Firetrail.
After another 1.1 km turn left, to head along Van Dahls Firetrail.
After another 200 m (at the intersection of Van Dahls Firetrail & Warrah Patch Firetrail) turn right, to head along Warrah Patch Firetrail.
After another 270 m (at the intersection of PMG Firetrail & Warrah Patch Firetrail) turn left, to head along Warrah Patch Firetrail.
After another 280 m veer left, to head along Warrah Patch Firetrail.
After another 220 m head through/around the gate.
At the intersection of Patonga Drive & Warrah Patch Firetrail continue straight (a walking track).
After another 20 m pass the "Waratah" (on your right).
After another 245 m veer left, to head along Warrah Trig Road.
After another 940 m (at the intersection of Warrah Escape Trail & Warrah Trig Road) continue straight, to head along Warrah Trig Road.
After another 145 m continue straight, to head along Warrah Trig Road.
After another 200 m pass the sign (5 m on your left).
After another 55 m find the "Warrah Trig Station" (on your right).
Warrah Trig Station
Warrah Trig Station

Warrah Trig Station is part of a national geodetic survey established during the 1970's. The 'Triangulation station' (aka trigonometrical or trig station) is a distinct marker once clear of trees, and would have been visible for many kilometers in the area. There are many such trig stations around Australia, which were used to help in surveying. Each station has a know position and altitude, which allows surveyors to use triangulation and determine another point's location. With advances in technology, these trig stations have been abandoned and superseded. The trig station is now surrounded by trees, with some filtered views along the Hawkesbury River. The area is rich with wildflowers in spring.
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Warrah Trig Station is part of a national geodetic survey established during the 1970's. The 'Triangulation station' (aka trigonometrical or trig station) is a distinct marker once clear of trees, and would have been visible for many kilometers in the area. There are many such trig stations around Australia, which were used to help in surveying. Each station has a know position and altitude, which allows surveyors to use triangulation and determine another point's location. With advances in technology, these trig stations have been abandoned and superseded. The trig station is now surrounded by trees, with some filtered views along the Hawkesbury River. The area is rich with wildflowers in spring.

The starting point of an optional sidetrip. An optional side trip to Warrah Lookout. To start this optional side trip continue straight here. On returning from this side trip veer left when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 220 m (at the intersection of Tony Doyle Track & Pearl Beach Patonga Firetrail) turn right, to head along Pearl Beach Patonga Firetrail (a vehicle track).
After another 25 m pass the sign (on your left).
After another 325 m continue straight.
After another 860 m find the "Broken Bay View" (30 m on your left).
Broken Bay View
Broken Bay View

Broken Bay View is an informal, unnamed and unfenced vantage point at the top of the cliffs, east of Patonga. The large rock platform has a number of large Sydney Red Gums, providing some shade. There are great views across the Hawkesbury River, along Cowan Creek and to West Head. The views to the left extend past Lion Island to Barrenjoey Head and out to the Pacific Ocean.
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Broken Bay View is an informal, unnamed and unfenced vantage point at the top of the cliffs, east of Patonga. The large rock platform has a number of large Sydney Red Gums, providing some shade. There are great views across the Hawkesbury River, along Cowan Creek and to West Head. The views to the left extend past Lion Island to Barrenjoey Head and out to the Pacific Ocean.

Veer right.
After another 430 m head down the steps (about 15 m long)
After another 135 m continue straight.
After another 35 m continue straight.
After another 20 m find the "Warrah Reserve boat ramp" (15 m on your right).
Warrah Reserve boat ramp
Warrah Reserve boat ramp

Warrah Reserve boat ramp provides a large car park and access to both the boat ramp and Patonga Beach. There are garbage bins, a picnic table and information board. The boat ramp offers good views along the beach to 'Dark Corner', found at the eastern end of Patonga Beach.
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Warrah Reserve boat ramp provides a large car park and access to both the boat ramp and Patonga Beach. There are garbage bins, a picnic table and information board. The boat ramp offers good views along the beach to 'Dark Corner', found at the eastern end of Patonga Beach.

After another 20 m continue straight.
After another 190 m turn sharp left, to head along Patonga Drive.
After another 25 m continue straight, to head along Patonga Drive.
After another 55 m pass the park (8 m on your left).
After another 8 m pass the toilet (15 m on your right).
After another 50 m continue straight, to head along Patonga Drive.
Then pass the car park (on your left).
About 15 m past the end is a picnic table.
About 20 m past the end is a shelter.
About 10 m past the end is a sign.
The end.
"Patonga Village".
Patonga Village
Patonga Village

Patonga Village is a lovely small township on the Hawkesbury River. Just near the ferry wharf are a few helpful facilities: The Eve Williams Memorial Oval, where you will find a large pavilion, drinking water and public toilets. A fish and chips shop (and general store) is open reasonable hours, where you can buy lunch, a coffee and basic supplies (fishing needs, milk, canned food). Patonga Beach Hotel is available for a cold drink at the bar or a meal on the deck, or even overnight accommodation (from $242 a couple) ph: 02 4379 1111.
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Patonga Village is a lovely small township on the Hawkesbury River. Just near the ferry wharf are a few helpful facilities: The Eve Williams Memorial Oval, where you will find a large pavilion, drinking water and public toilets. A fish and chips shop (and general store) is open reasonable hours, where you can buy lunch, a coffee and basic supplies (fishing needs, milk, canned food). Patonga Beach Hotel is available for a cold drink at the bar or a meal on the deck, or even overnight accommodation (from $242 a couple) ph: 02 4379 1111.

About 70 m past the end is a artwork.

Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
After 55 m come to the "Broula Lookout".
Then find the "Broula Lookout" (on your right).
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.

After another 35 m turn around.
After another 85 m come to the end.
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 175 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.
"Piles Creek Lookout".
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 25 m to the main route.

An optional side trip to Mt Wondabyne Peak.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
After another 195 m come to "Mt Wondabyne".
Mt Wondabyne
Mt Wondabyne

Mount Wondabyne is one of the most prominent peaks in Brisbane Water National Park. The long cone-shaped hill has a rocky top and is home to a trig station. Walkers can enjoy full 360-degree panoramic views from the top. To the east are good views over the Brisbane Water, Woy Woy and other central coast suburbs. West, down next to Mullet Creek, you can see some buildings near Wondabyne Station and the train line. Otherwise, most of the expansive views are over much of Brisbane Water National Park. There are some small trees providing limited shade, a great place to soak up the views.
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Mount Wondabyne is one of the most prominent peaks in Brisbane Water National Park. The long cone-shaped hill has a rocky top and is home to a trig station. Walkers can enjoy full 360-degree panoramic views from the top. To the east are good views over the Brisbane Water, Woy Woy and other central coast suburbs. West, down next to Mullet Creek, you can see some buildings near Wondabyne Station and the train line. Otherwise, most of the expansive views are over much of Brisbane Water National Park. There are some small trees providing limited shade, a great place to soak up the views.

The end.
A viewpoint.
About 20 m past the end is "Mount Wondabyne".
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 195 m to the main route.

An optional side trip to Warrah Lookout.
Turn map Directions & comments
At the intersection of Tony Doyle Track & Pearl Beach Patonga Firetrail Start heading along Tony Doyle Track (a footpath).
Continue another 70 m to find Warrah Lookout at the end.
"Warrah Lookout".
Warrah Lookout
Warrah Lookout

Warrah Lookout is a mostly fenced lookout on a large sandstone platform. The lookout provides fantastic views across the Hawkesbury River. From left to right, you can see along the escarpment which forms the southern boundary of Brisbane Water National Park, out to the Pacific Ocean, Barrenjoey Headland, West Head, along Cowan Creek, Juno Point and along the escarpment to Patonga. This is a great place to spend some time soaking up the views.
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Warrah Lookout is a mostly fenced lookout on a large sandstone platform. The lookout provides fantastic views across the Hawkesbury River. From left to right, you can see along the escarpment which forms the southern boundary of Brisbane Water National Park, out to the Pacific Ocean, Barrenjoey Headland, West Head, along Cowan Creek, Juno Point and along the escarpment to Patonga. This is a great place to spend some time soaking up the views.

"Warrah Lookout".
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 70 m to the main route.
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Terrain
Know the Hills, grading & facilities

Girrakool to Patonga


Grading
Class 4/6
Hard track
Length 24.4 km
Time 10 h to 2 days
Quality of track Rough track, where fallen trees and other obstacles are likely (4/6)
Gradient Very steep (4/6)
Signage Minimal directional signs (4/6)
Infrastructure Limited facilities (such as cliffs not fenced, significant creeks not bridged) (4/6)
Experience Required Some bushwalking experience recommended (3/6)
Weather Storms may impact on navigation and safety (3/6)

Some facilities on route
Campsite: There is one 13.4 km from the start.

Shelter: There is one 24.5 km from the start.

Toilet: There are 2 on route, on average they are 8.1 km apart with the largest gap of 24.3 km.


Order of key facilities on route
ItemFrom StartName & link to notes
Toilet
50 m[toilet]
Campsite
13.4 kmMt Wondabyne Campsite
Toilet
24.3 km[toilet]
Shelter
24.5 km[shelter]
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