Cascades picnic area

Macquarie Pass National Park

Open, check current alerts 

Overview

Take a break from your road trip or relax after Cascades walk at this sunny picnic area amid the cool rainforest, near Wollongong on the south coast of NSW.

Type
Picnic areas
Where
Macquarie Pass National Park
Accessibility
Medium
Price
Free
What to
bring
Hat, sunscreen, drinking water
Please note
  • Extensive bush regeneration work has been undertaken in the picnic area – please help their development by staying in designated visitor areas.
  • Tall forest is best avoided when there are strong winds
  • There is limited mobile reception in this park
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to bird watch

Even if you don’t have time for the short and very pretty bushwalk to the cascades, the picnic area is a gorgeous place to stop for lunch as you travel along the Illawarra Highway. Surrounded by rainforest and close to a creek, the open grassy area is the perfect spot to spread out a rug and relax.

Cool in summer and much warmer than the highlands in winter, you can visit all through the year to check out the abundant birdlife, resident lyrebirds and goannas. Perhaps you’ll even spot a platypus in the creek. Enjoy the variety of the huge eucalypts, turpentines, lilly pillys, cabbage tree palms and native figs and the view of the creek lined with ferns.

If you’re feeling a little more energetic, it’s a lovely shaded walk along Cascades walk.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

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 https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/picnic-areas/cascades-picnic-area/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about the Cascades picnic area.

Getting there and parking

From Sydney and Wollongong:

  • Take the Princes Highway and Southern Freeway to the Illawarra Highway turnoff at Haywards Bay
  • Travel about 14km along the Illawarra Highway, which veers right in Albion Park, to Macquarie Pass National Park and the Cascades picnic area.

From Robertson:

  • Take the Illawarra Highway east to reach Macquarie Pass National Park and the Cascades picnic area

From Nowra:

  • Head north along the Princes Highway and turn west into Tongarra Road at Albion Park Rail
  • Travel about 15km along Tongarra Road , which becomes the Illawarra Highway, to Macquarie Pass National Park and the Cascades picnic area.

Caution should be exercised when exiting and entering the Illawarra Highway

Road quality

  • Sealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • All weather

Parking

Parking is available at Cascades picnic area, including limited bus parking. It can be a busy place on the weekend, so parking might be limited.

Best times to visit

There are lots of great things waiting for you in Macquarie Pass National Park. Here are some of the highlights.

Autumn

Take on some longer walks and see the lilly pillys fruiting.

Spring

Smell the sweet scent of flowering pittosporum and wattle throughout the park.

Summer

Walk in the cool of the rainforest and see the Illawarra flame trees and coachwoods in flower.

Winter

Enjoy the early wattle blooming at the edge of the forest and bring your binoculars for the bird activity of late winter.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

18°C and 25°C

Highest recorded

42.4°C

Winter temperature

Average

8°C and 18°C

Lowest recorded

2.3°C

Rainfall

Wettest month

March

Driest month

September

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

304.4mm

Facilities

Drinking water is not available in this area, so it’s a good idea to bring your own. Please do not drink the creek water.

Picnic tables

Carpark

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus 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).

Accessibility

Disability access level - medium

Assistance may be required to access this area

Prohibited

Gathering firewood

Firewood may not be collected from the park.

Pets

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

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Nearby towns

Bowral (28 km)

Spring is tulip time while summer has fragrant roses and autumn, flowering bulbs. Bowral Tulip Festival runs from the end of September until early October; the Autumn Garden Festival is held in May.

www.visitnsw.com

Robertson (9 km)

Robertson is known as the 'green heart of the Highlands' for a good reason - it's always green. Rich, fertile soil and abundant rural farmland make up Robertson's scenic landscape. It serves as a gateway to some of the State's best waterfalls.

www.visitnsw.com

Wollongong (26 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

Cascades picnic area is in Macquarie Pass National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A colourful escarpment

View of Macquarie Pass National Park. Photo:  T Moody

Macquarie Pass National Park covers a spectacular sandstone escarpment that glows a rich yellow and orange in the sunlight, contrasting with the lush, deep green of the forest. At its base lie massive boulders lined with ferns and orchids. It's said that local Nurrewin House was built entirely from the stone of one boulder.

  • Cascades picnic area Take a break from your road trip or relax after Cascades walk at this sunny picnic area amid the cool rainforest, near Wollongong on the south coast of NSW.
  • Clover Hill trail For escarpment views, rainforest, waterfalls, birdwatching and cool creeks, take the Clover Hill trail at Macquarie Pass near Wollongong and Kiama.

An ancient route

View of Macquarie Pass National Park. Photo: T Moody

It's thought that the track through Macquarie Pass followed a traditional path used by the Wodi Wodi people to travel between the coast and the highlands. Made into a track in 1863 and a road in 1898, it was so rugged that the brakes and radiators of the first cars had trouble coping. At least one went straight over the embankment. Today, it's a much more enjoyable journey - the winding, steep Illawarra Highway gives travellers time to take a look at the beautiful landscape and forest.

  • Cascades walk For an easy walk through shady rainforest, take Cascades walk to a beautiful waterfall and pool near Kiama and Robertson.

Diverse habitats

Macquarie Pass National Park. Photo: T Moody

The first thing visitors will notice in the park is the sheer size of the trees and the rainforest feel of the park, with plentiful figs, cabbage tree palms and vines. Tall open forest on the north and west slopes contains huge turpentine, brown barrel and gully gum, and there are three distinct types of rainforest in the park. If you're patient and lucky, you may see platypus in the larger watercourses and koalas in the forests. There are thought to be threatened broad-headed snakes here too, and you're also likely to see grey-headed flying foxes feeding on native figs in season. The park is an important place for the conservation of tiger quolls and long-nosed potoroos. There's plenty for birdwatchers to see too. Lyrebirds and satin bowerbirds wander about and the threatened powerful owl is also local to the area.

  • Cascades picnic area Take a break from your road trip or relax after Cascades walk at this sunny picnic area amid the cool rainforest, near Wollongong on the south coast of NSW.
  • Cascades walk For an easy walk through shady rainforest, take Cascades walk to a beautiful waterfall and pool near Kiama and Robertson.
  • Scones in the forest South Coast walking tours Experience South Coast beauty on this wilderness excursion with Nature Engagement Tours. Walking with a friendly and knowledgeable guide, you'll explore pristine forests in beautiful Macquarie Pass National Park, near Wollongong and Kiama.

The perfect climate for bushwalking

Native vegetation, Macquarie Pass National Park. Photo: T Moody

In summer, take advantage of the dense shade and fern-lined watercourses criss-crossing the park. In winter, you'll find that many parts of the park are much milder than the exposed highlands, which makes walking a pleasant thing to do all year round.

  • Clover Hill trail For escarpment views, rainforest, waterfalls, birdwatching and cool creeks, take the Clover Hill trail at Macquarie Pass near Wollongong and Kiama.

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