Dharawal National Park

Overview

Walking and bike tracks, waterfalls and rock pools; Dharawal National Park near Helensburgh, an important place for Aboriginal people, is a great place to spend the day.

Read more about Dharawal National Park

Dharawal National Park offers a diverse bushland experience in southern Sydney. Sustained by a distinctive network of creeks, including the ecologically-important O'Hares Creek catchment, this leafy park is of great significance to the Dharawal Aboriginal people and protects a number of special Aboriginal sites.

The park’s ancient landscape is a contrast of tall eucalypts, heaths, swamps, waterfalls and rockpools. There’s plenty to see and do for the day; take a short walk to Maddens Falls, stop by Stokes Creek for a swim and picnic lunch or ride your mountain bike along one of the park’s trails. Dharawal National Park is one of NSW's newest, so NPWS is working to provide additional low key facilities for your enjoyment.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife among the eucalypt trees, frogs and the diverse birdlife flitting through the park’s trees, swamps and skies.

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/dharawal-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Dharawal National Park.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    You can access the park through any of three entry points.

    From Helensburgh to the park’s eastern entry, turn left onto Old Princes Highway/​State Route 60. Turn right onto Darkes Forest Road and continue along to the park entry at Maddens Falls.

    From Campbelltown to the park’s northwestern entry, head south on Wedderburn Road, then turn right onto Minerva Road. Continue onto Lysaght Road, and turn left onto Victoria Road and continue to the park entry.

    From Bulli Tops to the park’s southern entry, head north on Appin Road/​State Route 69 and continue towards Fire Road. You can access the park from the locked gate for the 10B management trail.

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    By bike

    Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

    Best times to visit

    Dharawal National Park is a great place to visit all year round. Head to the park for a refreshing dip during summer, a weekend picnic in the winter sun, some wildflower spotting during spring or an autumn walk or bike ride.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    17°C and 26°C

    Highest recorded

    42°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    6°C and 16°C

    Lowest recorded

    -0.6°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    Driest month

    September

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    254.5mm

    Facilities

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    However you discover NSW national parks and reserves, we want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Our park and reserve systems contrast greatly so you need to be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of those in your care.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Prohibited

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the OEH pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Nearby towns

    Campbelltown (14 km)

    For nature lovers, the Macarthur region has plenty of natural attractions. Explore nature reserves and wildlife trails or see spectacular native flora and fauna at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, the largest botanic garden in Australia.

    www.sydney.com

    Appin (22 km)

    Follow the 'Burragorang and Bushrangers' drive from Picton through Oakdale, Nattai, The Oaks, Mount Hunter and then via Razorback Lookout to Picton.

    www.sydney.com

    Wollongong (30 km)

    There are plenty of opportunities for adventure activities in and around Wollongong ranging from surfing and swimming to sailing, hang gliding, paragliding, cycling and abseiling. Wollongong is the only place in NSW where you can skydive onto the beach.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Dharawal National Park is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    Park history

    Maddens Falls, Dharawal National Park. Photo: Lucas Boyd

    Dharawal was proclaimed a national park in 2012 following significant community involvement. Previously, it operated as a state conservation area and, before this, a water catchment area managed by Sydney Water. Seventy years of restricted public access has kept the area largely undisturbed, so pristine surroundings await you on your visit.

    Inspiring scenery

    Maddens Falls, Dharawal National Park. Photo: Lucas Boyd

    Prepare to be awed by the beautiful dense vegetation and rugged Hawkesbury sandstone that dominates the park's landscape. Set off on a bushwalk to discover eucalypt and shale forests, stunted woodlands and windswept heath. Explore further to find patches of rainforest and extensive sedgeland amongst the scenic terrain.

    • 10B cycling trail 10B cycling trail in Dharawal National Park offers excellent easy cycling for enthusiastic bike riders, with a picturesque picnic spot along the way.
    • Minerva Pool walking track Minerva Pool walking track winds through the traditional country of the Aboriginal Dharawal People. Enjoy a short bushwalk and then picnic at Minerva Pool, in Dharawal National Park, near Campbelltown.
    • O'Hares Creek lookout For great gorge views near Campbelltown and Wollongong in southern Sydney, O'Hares Creek lookout in Dharawal National Park offers breathtaking scenery and birdwatching along a family-friendly walking track.

    Ancient landscapes

    Iluka Creek, Dharawal National Park. Photo: Lucas Boyd

    Dharawal National Park is the traditional land of the Dharawal Aboriginal people. Their long connection with this Country; the land and waterways, and the plants and animals that live in it feature in all facets of Aboriginal culture and are associated with Dreaming stories and cultural learning that is passed on today. The park protects several ancient Aboriginal sites, including drawings and axe-grinding grooves.

    • Jingga walking track Jingga walking track, in Dharawal National Park, is a short yet challenging walk to a waterhole, offering picnic and birdwatching opportunities.
    • Minerva Pool walking track Minerva Pool walking track winds through the traditional country of the Aboriginal Dharawal People. Enjoy a short bushwalk and then picnic at Minerva Pool, in Dharawal National Park, near Campbelltown.

    A crucial catchment

    10B Management trail, Dharawal National Park. Photo: Nick Cubbin

    O'Hares Creek catchment, on the Register of the National Estate is home to 17 vulnerable, rare or threatened species, and feeds the park's eucalypt forest, woodland, heathland, and sedgeland habitats. More than 500 plant species occur within the park, providing a home to a wide range of animals, including koalas and long-nosed potoroos, swamp wallabies, eastern wallaroos, New Holland honeyeaters and countless birds.

    • Maddens Falls Enjoy scenic waterfall views at Maddens Falls lookout near Helensburgh, a great reward after a long bushwalk and the perfect place for birdwatching and photography.
    • O’Hares Creek lookout walking track Gather the family and head to O’Hares Creek lookout walking track in Dharawal National Park, south of Campbelltown and near Appin. It’s a great getaway with scenic views and birdwatching.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Swamp wallaby, Murramarang National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

      Swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

      The swamp wallaby, also known as the black wallaby or black pademelon, lives in the dense understorey of rainforests, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forest along eastern Australia. This unique Australian macropod has a dark black-grey coat with a distinctive light-coloured cheek stripe.

    • Peron

      Peron's tree frog (Litoria peroni)

      Peron’s tree frog is found right across NSW. These tree-climbing and ground-dwelling Australian animals can quickly change colour, ranging from pale green-grey by day, to a reddish brown with emerald green flecks at night. The male frog has a drill-like call, which has been described as a 'maniacal cackle’.

    • Sugar glider. Photo: Jeff Betteridge

      Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)

      The sugar glider is a tree-dwelling Australian native marsupial, found in tall eucalypt forests and woodlands along eastern NSW. The nocturnal sugar glider feeds on insects and birds, and satisfies its sweet tooth with nectar and pollens.

    • Southern boobook. Photo: David Cook

      Southern boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)

      The southern boobook, also known as the mopoke, is the smallest and most common native owl in Australia. With a musical 'boo-book' call that echoes through forests and woodlands, the southern boobook is a great one to look out for while bird watching.

    • Eastern water dragon, Reef Beach, Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: John Spencer

      Eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii)

      The eastern water dragon is a subaquatic lizard found in healthy waterways along eastern NSW, from Nowra to halfway up the Cape York Pensinsula. It’s believed to be one of the oldest of Australian reptiles, remaining virtually unchanged for over 20 million years.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    What we're doing

    Dharawal National Park has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents. Here is just some of the work we’re doing to conserve these values:

    Preserving biodiversity

    NPWS aims to protect the biodiversity of all parks, and Dharawal National Park is no exception. Surveying and monitoring programs in place to protect the park's threatened, endangered, vulnerable and special-interest plants and animals. These programs assist research into the distribution, habitat requirements and threats to species, populations and ecological communities within the park.

    Conservation program

    BioNet

    Uniting technology with the vast collection of information on biodiversity in NSW, BioNet is a valuable database open to any user. From individual plant sightings to detailed scientific surveys, it offers a wealth of knowledge about ecology and threatened species in NSW. 

    Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

    Pests and weeds have a significant impact to the ecosystems within Dharawal National Park. Risk assessments for new and emerging weeds are carried out as an ongoing initiative within the park. Pest management is an important part of the work NPWS does to protect the integrity of biodiversity which exists within the area.

    Conservation program

    Regional pest management strategies

    Weeds and pest animals cause substantial damage to agriculture and our environment, so it’s essential we manage them in NSW national parks and reserves. Our regional pest management strategies aim to minimise the impact of pests on biodiversity in NSW.  We work hard to protect our parks and neighbours from pests and weeds, ensuring measurable results.

    Developing visitor facilities and experiences

    Dharawal National Park works to keep its visitors safe and informed, and this extends to issues of access and signage. Displaying up to date, easily understandable signage is an ongoing priority in this park. Maintenance of and enhancements to facilities and infrastructure such as roads, walking tracks and viewing platforms are also carried out in this national park.

    Conserving our Aboriginal culture

    Dharawal National Park boasts a proud legacy of Aboriginal culture. Ongoing NPWS projects are in place to audit, monitor and maintain the condition of the park's Aboriginal sites and assets. NPWS works in conjunction with the Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council and other relevant Aboriginal representatives to facilitate this, and works to ensure sites are appropriately recognised, supported and conserved.

    Managing fire

    NSW is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world as a result of our climate, weather systems, vegetation and the rugged terrain. NPWS is committed to maintaining natural and cultural heritage values and minimising the likelihood and impact of bushfires via a strategic program of fire research, fire planning, hazard reduction, highly trained rapid response firefighting crews and community alerts.

    Conservation program

    Hazard reduction program

    Managing fire-prone NSW national parks requires a three-pronged approach, including fire planning, community education, and fuel management. When it comes to fuel like dead wood, NPWS conducts planned hazard reduction activities like mowing and controlled burning to assist in the protection of life, property and community.

    Dharawal National Park. Photo: Nick Cubbin