Somersby Falls picnic area

Brisbane Water National Park

Affected by closures, check current alerts 

Overview

A great place to picnic on the Central Coast, Somersby Falls offers barbecues and picnic tables in a lush rainforest complete with waterfalls and a walking track.

Type
Picnic areas
Accessibility
Medium
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
Opening times

9am - 8pm daylight savings time or 5pm at all other times

Somersby Falls picnic area is the perfect place to escape from everyday life. Enjoy your meal amidst lush rainforest that feels a million miles away but in reality is so close to home. 

It’s a great place to picnic, with free barbecues and picnic tables and plenty of space to set up your own rug and chairs. Whether you picnic under the shade of tall trees at the far end of the carpark or next to Floods creek before it descends over the cascades, you’re bound to see a bird or two. Make sure you look out for the industrious brush turkeys that might be keen on sharing your lunch.

When you’ve enjoyed a tasty barbecue and feel like stretching your legs, try the Somersby Falls walking track. It’s a 500m return walk through rainforest that takes in views of the top and bottom waterfalls. The walk is steep and slippery in places, so keep an eye on the kids as they walk along the track.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Also see:

  • Somersby Falls walking track, Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

    Somersby Falls walking track

    Somersby Falls walking track in Brisbane Water National Park runs to the bottom of Somersby Falls, with birdwatching opportunities and a nearby picnic area.

  • Girrakool picnic area, Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: John Yurasek © OEH

    Girrakool picnic area

    A great spot for a family picnic, Girrakool picnic area has barbecues, lots of green space to run around and a scenic walking track that features Aboriginal engravings.

  • Girrakool loop track, Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: John Yurasek © OEH

    Girrakool loop track

    A lovely way to finish a barbecue, the Girrakool loop track is a short and easy walk through bushland, featuring an Aboriginal rock engraving site and scenic waterfalls.

Map


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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/somersby-falls-picnic-area/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

  • in Brisbane Water National Park in the Sydney and surrounds region
  • Two picnic areas in Brisbane Water National Park close in the evening:

    • Girrakool picnic area is open 7am to 8pm during daylight savings and is open 7am to 6pm at other times
    • Somersby Falls picnic area is open 8am to 8pm during daylight savings and is open 8am to 5pm at other times

    Other areas of Brisbane Water National Park will be open at all times, however may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

     

     

  • Park entry fees:

    $8 per vehicle per day. The park has pay machines that accept both card and coins, or you can pay via the Park'nPay app.

    Other fees:

    You will need a permit to hold a wedding or undertake commercial photography within the park.

    Buy annual pass (//pass.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/).
See more visitor info

Visitor info

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

Getting there and parking

Somersby Falls is located in the northern section of the park, about 5km north of the Girrakool picnic area and the F3.

From Newcastle and Sydney:

  • Exit the F3 at the Central Coast Highway towards Gosford

From Gosford:

  • Take the Central Coast Highway past Kariong
  • Turn onto Wisemans Ferry Road
  • Take the second left onto Somersby Falls Road
  • The picnic area is at the end of Somersby Falls Road

Road quality

  • Sealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • All weather

Parking

  • There are 3 asphalt carparks at Somersby Falls picnic area. 
  • The carparks open at 9am every day and are locked at 8pm during daylight savings and at 5pm all other times. 
  • It can be a busy place on the weekend and during summer so parking might be limited.

Facilities

Toilets

There's an accessible toilet that can be reached via a paved stone pathway.

Picnic tables

The picnic tables are set on concrete slabs and are located along stone pathways or relatively flat grassy areas.

Step-free access

  • The picnic area is mostly flat
  • There's step-free access from the carpark along paved stone pathways.
  • At some points there are short, steep ramps where people with reduced mobility may need assistance.

  • Step-free outdoor pathways

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Bushwalking safety

If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

  • The walk is steep and slippery in places, so keep an eye on the kids as they walk along the track.

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).

Outback safety

Safety is of high priority in outback areas. In summer, temperatures can reach up to 50°C in some places. Food, water and fuel supplies can be scarce. Before you head off, check for road closures and use our contacts to stay safe in the outback.

River and lake safety

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

Accessibility

Disability access level - medium

  • The picnic area is mostly flat with step-free access from the carpark along paved stone pathways.
  • At some points there are short, steep ramps where people with reduced mobility may need assistance.
  • There's an accessible toilet
  • Picnic tables are accessible and located along stone pathways or relatively flat grassy areas.
  • There's a stone pathway that leads to the edge of Floods Creek, just before it descends over the first waterfall with views of the creek.

Prohibited

Camp fires and solid fuel burners

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.

Learn more

Somersby Falls picnic area is in Brisbane Water National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A haven for wildlife

Powerful owl. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

Brisbane Water National Park is home to an incredible 270 native animal species. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and bird life such as the threatened spotted tailed quoll, the rare glossy black cockatoo and powerful owl. You might be lucky enough to share a picnic at Girrakool picnic area with a few wallabies who love this peaceful place.

  • Girrakool loop track A lovely way to finish a barbecue, the Girrakool loop track is a short and easy walk through bushland, featuring an Aboriginal rock engraving site and scenic waterfalls.
  • Great North walk stage 8: Waratah spectacular Panoramic views of Sydney’s northern coastline await you on stage 8 of the Great North walk. The 20km guided tour through Brisbane Water National Park starts at Patonga and ends at Wondabyne Station.
  • Great North walk stage 9: Rainforest walk Stage 9 of the Great North walk takes you into the temperate rainforest of Brisbane Water National Park. The 16km guided tour starts at Wondabyne Station and ends at Kariong.
  • The Earth’s environment Join The Earth's environment Geography excursion for Stage 2 (Years 3-4) at Brisbane Water National Park, near Gosford. Students will discover how NSW National Parks safeguards over 10 per cent of land in NSW.
  • Tommos loop and Rocky Ponds cycling loop Mountain biking enthusiasts will enjoy the challenging Tommos loop and Rocky Ponds cycling loop, a 20km bushland ride taking in scenic Central Coast views.

A wonderland of wildflowers

Red spider flower in Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

Located 12km from Gosford, the park covers 12,000ha of rugged sandstone country, and boarders the Hawkesbury river, which feeds cascading waterfalls. The landscape is gorgeous all year round, especially from late winter to early spring when it comes alive with colourful wildflowers.

  • Great North walk stage 10: Brisbane Water dreaming Complete the Great North walk challenge with the tenth and final leg of the series. You’ll walk 18km from Kariong to Somersby, exploring the serene waterways of Brisbane Water National Park.
  • Great North walk stage 8: Waratah spectacular Panoramic views of Sydney’s northern coastline await you on stage 8 of the Great North walk. The 20km guided tour through Brisbane Water National Park starts at Patonga and ends at Wondabyne Station.
  • Great North walk stage 9: Rainforest walk Stage 9 of the Great North walk takes you into the temperate rainforest of Brisbane Water National Park. The 16km guided tour starts at Wondabyne Station and ends at Kariong.
  • Somersby Falls picnic area A great place to picnic on the Central Coast, Somersby Falls offers barbecues and picnic tables in a lush rainforest complete with waterfalls and a walking track.
  • Warrah lookout Warrah lookout, offering scenic views of Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River, is just a short walk from the carpark. It’s a great place to see Waratahs in season.

Ancient landscapes

Aboriginal rock carving, Girrakool Loop track, Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

Aboriginal people in the area have a long association with the landscape of Brisbane Water National Park and much evidence of this remains today in the form of rock engravings, foreshore middens and rock paintings. The flat, exposed areas of Hawkesbury sandstone within the park provide an ideal 'canvas' for Aboriginal artists, and there are hundreds of rock engraving sites throughout the park. Aboriginal sites on Hawkesbury sandstone have a distinctive style of engraving which is unique in Australia. The Bulgandry Aboriginal engraving site at Kariong is an excellent example of rock art within the park and is easily accessible.

  • Aboriginal culture Bring your students to this unique excursion in Brisbane Water National Park, near Gosford. They’ll experience the park through the eyes of an Aboriginal person on this Stage 2 (Years 3-4) Aboriginal culture Geography excursion.
  • Girrakool loop track A lovely way to finish a barbecue, the Girrakool loop track is a short and easy walk through bushland, featuring an Aboriginal rock engraving site and scenic waterfalls.
  • The Earth’s environment Join The Earth's environment Geography excursion for Stage 2 (Years 3-4) at Brisbane Water National Park, near Gosford. Students will discover how NSW National Parks safeguards over 10 per cent of land in NSW.

Stretch your legs

Warrah lookout, Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

Brisbane Water National Park offers great ways to get amongst nature. Why not hop on your mountain bike and get your adrenalin pumping along the Tommos loop and Rocky Ponds cycling route? Or you can wear out your walking shoes along the Girrakool loop walking track. For the more energetic, the park is a hikers delight. Longer treks range from an hour or two to overnight on sections of the Great North walk, which passes through the park on its way from Sydney to Newcastle.

  • Girrakool picnic area A great spot for a family picnic, Girrakool picnic area has barbecues, lots of green space to run around and a scenic walking track that features Aboriginal engravings.
  • Great North walk - Brisbane Water National Park You’ll find the Wondabyne to Patonga and Patonga to Pearl Beach parts of the iconic Great North walk in Brisbane Water National Park. Take a short walk or overnight hike.
  • Junior ranger: Brisbane Water coastal adventure tour Join a NPWS Discovery ranger for a day of adventure in Brisbane Water National Park, near Gosford. You’ll explore coastal trails, play games and make nature art.

Plants and animals protected in this park

Animals

  • Five pelicans stand at the beach shore in Bundjalung National Park as the sun rises. Photo: Nick Cubbin © DPE

    Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

    The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.

  • Koala. Photo: Lucy Morrell

    Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

    One of the most renowned Australian animals, the tree-dwelling marsupial koala can be found in gum tree forests and woodlands across eastern NSW, Victoria and Queensland, as well as in isolated regions in South Australia. With a vice-like grip, this perhaps most iconic but endangered Australian animal lives in tall eucalypts within a home range of several hectares.

  • A juvenile platypus saved by National Parks and Wildlife staff. Photo: M Bannerman/OEH

    Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

    One of the most fascinating and unusual Australian animals, the duck-billed platypus, along with the echidna, are the only known monotremes, or egg-laying mammals, in existence. The platypus is generally found in permanent river systems and lakes in southern and eastern NSW and east and west of the Great Dividing Range.

Plants

  • A red triangle slug on the trunk of a scribbly gum tree in Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

    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.

  • Close up photo of a waratah flower, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Simone Cottrell/OEH.

    Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

    The beautiful waratah is not only the NSW floral emblem, it's also one of the best-known Australian native plants. This iconic Australian bush flower can be found on sandstone ridges around Sydney, in nearby mountain ranges and on the NSW South Coast. The waratah has a vibrant crimson flowerhead, measuring up to 15cm across, and blossoms in spring.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)

School excursions (2)