This walk starts from the Girrakool picnic area and winds south, through the Brisbane Waters National Park. The walk crosses some long rock flats and climbs to the top of Scopas Peak, providing views spanning right across the park. The walk then continues down to Wondabyne station, and provides an optional side trip to the Kariong Brook falls.
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Cross sectional view of the Girrakool to Wondabyne station bushwalking track
Analysis and summary of the altitude variation on the Girrakool to Wondabyne station bushwalking track
Overview of this walks Grading - Based on the AS 2156.1 - 2001
These details are new. This new feature still requires more testing and refining. Please use the 'Walker Feedback' for report specific issues. Please e-mail Matt if you have any general comments. Hope you find it helpful.
Under this standard, a walk is graded based on the most difficult section of the walk.
Very steep (4/6)
Quality of track
Rough track, where fallen trees and other obstacles are likely (4/6)
Minimal directional signs (4/6)
Some bushwalking experience recommended (3/6)
Storms may impact on navigation and safety (3/6)
Limited facilities, not all cliffs are fenced (3/6)
*This summary of grading information is new and still in testing
Some more detail of this walks Grading
Here is a bit more details explaining the grading looking at sections of the walk. Gradient
6km of this walk is very steep and another 2km has short steep hills. Whilst another 1.7km has gentle hills with occasional steps and the remaining 130m is flat with no steps.
Quality of track
4km of this walk follows a clear and well formed track or trail and another 3km follows a formed track, with some branches and other obstacles. The remaining (2.4km) follows a rough track, where fallen trees and other obstacles are likely.
6km of this walk has directional signs at most intersection and another 2.4km has minimal directional signs. The remaining (630m) is clearly signposted.
Around 7km of this walk requires some bushwalking experience, whilst the remaining 2.3km requires no previous bushwalking experience.
Around 9km of this walk is not usually affected by severe weather events (that would unexpectedly impact safety and navigation), whilst the remaining 970m is affected by storms that may impact your navigation and safety.
Around 4.9km of this walk has limited facilities (such as not all cliffs fenced), whilst the remaining 4.6km is close to useful facilities (such as fenced cliffs and seats).
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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'. More info
Girrakool picnic area car park
Illoura Lookout Walk: Easy - footpath
Length = 265 m
Time = 6 mins
Climb = 0 m
Descent = -33 m
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. Continue straight: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Girrakool Loop' sign down along the stone path. The path soon heads down some steps and comes to a fenced and signposted 'Illoura Lookout'.
Alt = 91 m
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.
Int of Girrakool and Piles Ck lookout tracks Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 1.11 km
Time = 27 mins
Climb = 47 m
Descent = -83 m
Turn left: From Illoura Lookout, the walk follows the left-hand 'Piles Creek' and GNW arrow down the wooden steps (keeping the valley to the right). The track soon passes a 'Caution Low Water Level Crossing Only' sign and crosses Piles Creek using the concrete stepping stones (the creek may be impassable after rain). The track then opens up on an unfenced rock platform, at the top of the waterfall. Veer left: From the top of Piles Creek waterfall, this walk follows the track heading south away from the waterfall (keeping the big valley to the right). The clear track winds through the thick bush crossing a few small tributaries and though four sandstone caves. The caves provide good shelter and a great spot to rest. The track then flattens out and comes to a 3-way intersection and a 'Girrakool' sign. Continue straight: From the intersection, the walk heads south along the wide track in the opposite direction of the 'Girrakool' sign. Soon the track heads down a short wooden staircase to the intersection at the bottom (Piles Creek Lookout visible to the right).
Int of Girrakool and Piles Ck lookout tracks
Piles Ck Lookout Optional sidetrip: Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 17 m
Time = 1 mins
Climb = 0 m
Descent = -8 m
Turn right: With the stairs to the right, this walk follows the short track to the fenced lookout. There are a few steps that then lead down the the lookout platform. (Retrace your steps back to the main track, then turn right to continue along this walk.)
Piles Creek Lookout
Alt = 46 m
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.
Int of Girrakool and Piles Ck lookout tracks
Monolith Cave Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 83 m
Time = 2 mins
Climb = 16 m
Descent = 0 m
Veer left: From the intersection, this walk heads away from the steps and lookout to soon pass a rock wall. A short time later the track leads through the cleft in a rock to reveal a cave on the right.
Alt = 72 m
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.
Rat Gully Lookout Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 221 m
Time = 7 mins
Climb = 13 m
Descent = -29 m
Continue straight: From the cave, this walk heads south following the track away from the rock to soon come to another large and interesting monolithic rock. Soon after this large rock the track starts to head down the hill to come to an old fenced lookout, looking over Rat Gully.
Rat Gully Lookout
Int of Patonga Ferry and Girrakool tracks Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 291 m
Time = 8 mins
Climb = 14 m
Descent = -33 m
Continue straight: From the lookout, the track follows the bush track heading downhill. The track soon does a sharp left hand switch back (at the 'Girrakool' sign) and continues down to Rat Gully. The track then crosses the creek and boulder field following the cut steps (and passing the old bridge). On the other side the track heads right, under the fallen tree and then climbs up the hill. After a short meander through the bush the track drops down and crosses another gully (passing a sign pointing back to 'Girrakool') and coming to a 'Great North Walk' signpost and intersection.
Int of Patonga Ferry and Girrakool tracks
Scopas Peak Track: Hard - bushtrack
Length = 3.14 km
Time = 1 hr 18 mins
Climb = 271 m
Descent = -81 m
Turn sharp left: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Patonga Ferry' sign up the side of the gully, keeping the intermittent creek to your left. The track leads past a 'Patonga' sign then winds steeply up the hill for about 130m, through a cleft in the rock and past a few rock walls, and then the track mostly flattens out with some filtered distant views. The track continues gently uphill for another 300m, becoming progressively flatter before passing along the side of a long rock wall, with a tall sandstone overhang. The track then crosses a small gully and leads past another overhang, where the track begins to lead downhill. The rocky track winds steeply downhill for about 130m to then cross an intermittent creek which flows over the solid sandstone platform. Continue straight: From the west side of the creek, this walk climbs uphill following the rocky track. The track climb for about 600m, fairly steeply for a while then becoming progressively less steep. The track passes a couple of rocky outcrops to then come to a large flat rock platform, with distant views. The rocky track then leads off this rock platform and continues up the ridge for just shy of 300m to come to the edge of a much larger rock platform with more views. A series of GNW arrow posts lead across this rock platform, generally leading towards Scopas Peak for about 400m where the arrows lead off the rock platform and back onto a heathy track. Keeping Scopas Peak up to the left, this track leads around the side of the hill for about 150m to pass a view across the valley to Mooney Mooney Bridge. Over the next 800m, the track leads up across a few more rock platforms then climbs fairly steeply up to a view point, just to the west of Scopas Peak.
South end of Scopas Peak Track Track: Hard - bushtrack
Length = 1.17 km
Time = 23 mins
Climb = 14 m
Descent = -80 m
Veer left: From the view point, just west of Scopas Peak, this walk heads south steeply down the rocky track, initially keeping the distant view to your right. The track leads steeply down past a few rock walls then climbs down over some rocks with cut steps, enjoying more views for about 230m, and then the track mostly flattens out to lead gently down across the narrow saddle. The track gently undulates along this ridge for about 750m to come to a green painted metal box on a post (on your left), containing a Great North Walk intentions book. Continue straight: From the Great North Walk intentions book, after leaving your comments, this walk heads south, gently downhill along the clear track. After about 150m, the walk comes to a T-intersection with the Gosford Rifle Range trail - At this intersection is a 'Girrakool' sign, pointing back along the track.
Int of GNW and Gosford Rifle Range trail
Int of GNW and Wondabyne trail Track: Moderate - servicetrail
Length = 1.12 km
Time = 22 mins
Climb = 40 m
Descent = -27 m
Turn right: From the intersection, this walk follows the GNW arrow post downhill along the management trail (directly away from the 'No Entry Past This Point' sign). The trail undulates moderately steeply in a few places) along the ridge line for about 900m, to then walk over a large rock platform. From the top of this platform, there are some distant views over Mooney Mooney Creek. On the large rock platform, this walk tends left to follow the scrape marks on the rock and soon find the wide trail again. The trail leads downhill for about 50m, coming to a signposted intersection with a track on your left and a 'Girrakool' sign pointing back up the trail.
Int of GNW and Wondabyne Station Trail
Kariong Brook crossing Optional sidetrip: Track: Hard - bushtrack
Length = 1.97 km
Time = 47 mins
Climb = 64 m
Descent = -211 m
Turn left: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Patonga' sign heading east down along the rocky track. The track soon bends right and heads around a rock outcrop then continues down through the heath and scribbly gums for about 400m to come to a flat rock platform. Here the track continues downhill over several more rock platforms, becoming progressively steeper for just over 1km to head into the cool valley and come to the bank beside Myron Brook. Continue straight: From the western side of Myron Brook, this walk crosses the creek on the sandstone rock platform to follow the track up a few stone steps and up the short steep hill. The track then flattens out as it leads around the side of the hill for about 200m to pass alongside a long rock wall (on your left). Now leading downhill, the track continues for another 100m then heads down a short steep section into the dense moist gully, coming to a faint intersection in front of Kariong Brook Falls (on your left) (just before crossing the creek, which is often underground). (Retrace your steps back to the main track, then turn left to continue along this walk.)
Kariong Brook Falls
Alt = 27 m
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.
Int of GNW and Wondabyne Station tracks
Eastern end of the Pindar Cave Track Track: Moderate - servicetrail
Length = 629 m
Time = 11 mins
Climb = 5 m
Descent = -19 m
Continue straight: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Wondabyne Station' sign downhill along the management trail. The trail gently undulates along the top of the ridge for about 600m to come to an intersection with the Pindar Cave track (leading over a rock platform, on your right), marked with a GNW arrow post (on your left).
Eastern end of the Pindar Cave Track
Clearing above Wondabyne Station Track: Hard - servicetrail
Length = 1.03 km
Time = 19 mins
Climb = 3 m
Descent = -72 m
Continue straight: From the intersection, this walk follows the GNW arrow post south, gently down along the wide management trail. The trail soon bends right and leads quite steeply down before mostly flattening out again. From here, the trail leads gently downhill for about 600m until the trail bends left and leads quite steeply down for just shy of 250m to come to a clearing at the end of this management trail, marked with a 'Brisbane Water National Park' sign.
Clearing above Wondabyne Station
Wondabyne Station Track: Hard - bushtrack
Length = 441 m
Time = 13 mins
Climb = 15 m
Descent = -100 m
Continue straight: From the clearing, this walk follows the GNW arrow post south, down along the track to head down some carved steps through a cleft in a rock. The track winds steeply down the series of rock steps for about 150m to pass a filtered view (left) of the cranes, down at the old Gosford Quarry. The track continues to wind down, a little less steeply, for just over 200m to then climb down a timber staircase (which starts with a metal landing at the top). From the bottom, the walk continues down towards the train line, soon bending left to pass a large boulder and strangler fig tree and come to the north-bound platform of Wondabyne Train Station.
Alt = 12 m
Wondabyne is situated in Brisbane Waters National Park on the banks of Mullet River, which feeds into the Hawkesbury River north of Brooklyn. The area is defined by the National Park's flora and fauna, the quarry, railway station and a few houses sitting above the water around the river. The quarry produced sandstone building materials, used in the construction of the National War Memorial in Canberra. More recently, in 2000, the quarry was re-opened for restoration of St Mary's Cathedral spire in Sydney. Wondabyne Station, named after the nearby Mt Wondabyne, was built in 1889 and exclusively used for the quarry - it was then known as Mullet Creek Station. The station is one of the smallest on the line and one of very few railway stations in a NSW National Park. When you catch the train to Wondabyne, let the guard know you want to get off at Wondabyne Station, otherwise the train will not stop. Travel in the last carriage as the platform is very short. To catch the train from Wondabyne, wave to the driver.
Fire Danger This walk passes Greater Sydney Region fire area which currently has a LOW MODERATE rating and No fire ban in place. (Tomorrow the Fire Danger Rating is LOW MODERATE, No fire ban.) (Downloaded 7 years ago) Please Note: Each park may have its own fire ban, this rating is only valid for today and is based on information from the RFS Please check the RFS Website for more information.
Brisbane Water National ParkLink to official closures and fire bans page Brisbane Waters National Park is situated south west of Gosford perched on the Hawkesbury River. The park is characterised by sandstone features, Aboriginal engravings, flowery heaths, bird life and spectacular water views. Brisbane Waters NP has many bushwalks through the are with the Great North Walk passing through the middle of the park. Region: Sydney & Surrounds Park feesCampingFacilities I am not aware of any closures in this park at the moment.