Lake Eckersley picnic area
Heathcote National Park
For a great day out just an hour south of Sydney, head to Lake Eckersley picnic area. Located near Waterfall in Heathcote National Park, this remote spot is a scenic place to swim and bushwalk.
- Picnic areas
- Heathcote National Park in Sydney and surrounds, South Coast
- No wheelchair access
- What to
- Drinking water, sturdy shoes, suitable clothing, hat, sunscreen, topographic map
- Please note
This is a remote area, please make sure you arrive well prepared.
If you love the idea of a bush picnic, you’ll enjoy a day trip to Lake Eckersley picnic area in Heathcote National Park. Although it’s only an hour’s drive from Sydney, you’ll feel worlds away surrounded by native vegetation at this secluded lakeside spot.
Picnic by the water’s edge as you take in the sight of the lake before cooling off with a freshwater dip. If you love to bushwalk, there are a multitude of tracks to choose from, including nearby Bullawarring walking track and Pipeline trail.
Heathcote National Park is a vehicle-free area so you can only access the picnic area by foot. Reaching the site involves quite a long walk, so be sure to take a Heathcote National Park map and plenty of water with you.
For great Sydney bushwalking, visit Heathcote National Park, near Waterfall in the Sutherland shire; combine your hike with birdwatching and freshwater swimming.
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/lake-eckersley-picnic-area/local-alerts
- National Parks Contact Centre
- 7am to 7pm daily
- 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS) for the cost of a local call within Australia excluding mobiles.
- in Heathcote National Park in the Sydney and surrounds and South Coast regions
Heathcote National Park is open sunrise to sunset but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
All the practical information you need to know about the Lake Eckersley picnic area.
Getting there and parking
Get driving directions
Lake Eckersley picnic area sits on the shore of Lake Eckersley in the middle of Heathcote National Park. It can only be accessed by foot from Heathcote or Waterfall.
To get there via Heathcote train station:
- Walk from the end of Oliver Street, following Pipeline fire trail (1.5 hour walk on a bush track)
- Follow the signs to the picnic area
To get there via Waterfall train station:
- Walk from the end of Warrabin Street (2.5 hour steep walk on a bush track)
- Follow the signs to Lake Eckersley, off Pipeline fire trail
It's quite a long walk from the park’s entrance to the picnic area, so be sure to bring a Heathcote National Park topographic map.
- No vehicle access
There is no vehicle access to the picnic area. Parking is available at:
- Heathcote, at the western end of Oliver Street (1.5 hour walk on a bush track to get to the picnic area)
- Waterfall, at the northern end of Warrabin Street (2.5 hour steep walk on a bush track to get to the picnic area)
Lake Eckersley is a remote picnic area. There are no facilities:
- Water, toilets and picnic tables are not available here so please pack accordingly.
- There are no rubbish bins – please take all rubbish with you when you leave.
Maps and downloads
Disability access level - no wheelchair access
It is a long walk along a bush track from the park entrance to the picnic area. The walk is not suitable for wheelchairs.
Camp fires and solid fuel burners
NSW national parks are no smoking areas.
Lake Eckersley picnic area is in Heathcote National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:
A long and varied history
The area was for years home to local Aboriginal people, and you can still see several Aboriginal rock engraving sites. In 1937, a bushwalking group leased a section of what is now national parkland to protect this important area of bush. This section and its surrounds became known as the Heathcote Primitive Area (1943). This was expanded again and renamed Heathcote State Park (1967). In 1974, the area became Heathcote National Park.
The beauty of the bush
Heathcote National Park is a rugged landscape, flourishing with a variety of plants and animals. Eucalypts such as bloodwood, grey gum, Sydney peppermint, and scribbly gum dominate open forest areas alongside pockets of bright flowers like banksias, hakeas, and waxflowers, which are best enjoyed along a relaxing bushwalk. With so much plant life to admire, it’s no wonder wildlife like sugar gliders, ringtail possums and swamp wallabies also call Heathcote home. A soundtrack of chatty friar birds, honeyeaters and lyrebirds can also be heard across the park gorges during winter.
- Bullawarring walking track For great Sydney bushwalking, visit Heathcote National Park, near Waterfall in the Sutherland shire; combine your hike with birdwatching and freshwater swimming.
The great outdoors
Slow down and forget your cares with a freshwater swim. Try Kingfisher Pool, Mirang Pool or Lake Eckersley. Or check out the pretty rockpools and waterfalls where Heathcote Creek meets the Woronora River. Cycle along Pipeline Road to the Sarahs Knob picnic area, where you can also complete a great hill run. The 2250ha park is less than an hour from central Sydney by car or train. The park adjoins Royal National Park, just west of the Princes Highway and South Coast train line. However, once you're inside you'll forget about transportation - the park is beautiful, quiet and secluded, plus, it's a vehicle-free zone. If you love to bushwalk, then Heathcote is your kind of park. A multitude of walking tracks criss-cross the park, including the Heathcote to Waterfall track linking Heathcote and Waterfall train stations.
- Kingfisher Pool picnic area A visit to this Sutherland picnic spot, located at Kingfisher Pool campground in Heathcote National Park, near Waterfall, offers birdwatching, bushwalking and swimming.
- Mooray walking track Enjoy a day of Sydney bushwalking and birdwatching. One of the best walks in Heathcote National Park, Mooray walking track is easily accessed from Waterfall train station.
Plants and animals you may see
Eastern blue-tongue lizard (Tiliqua scinciodes)
The eastern blue-tongue lizard, one of the largest skinks in Australia, is found throughout most of NSW. When threatened, the eastern blue-tongue lizard displays its blue tongue in a wide-mouthed intimidating show. Not an agile animal, they feed on slow-moving beetles and snails.
Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus)
The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is one of the largest species of parrot. With dusty-black plumage, they have a yellow tail and cheek patch. They’re easily spotted while bird watching, as they feed on seeds in native forests and pine plantations.
Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)
An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.
Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)
Hardy Australian native plants, old man banksias can be found along the coast, and in the dry sclerophyll forests and sandstone mountain ranges of NSW. With roughened bark and gnarled limbs, they produce a distinctive cylindrical yellow-green banksia flower which blossoms from summer to early autumn.
Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma)
Easily identifiable Australian native plants, scribbly gum trees are found throughout NSW coastal plains and hills in the Sydney region. The most distinctive features of this eucalypt are the ‘scribbles’ made by moth larva as it tunnels between the layers of bark.