Big Scrub loop walking track
Nightcap National Park
Big Scrub loop walking track is ideal for experienced bushwalkers and school groups as it leads through superb subtropical rainforest within Nightcap National Park, near Lismore.
- Nightcap National Park
- 1.5km loop
- Time suggested
- 30min - 1hr
- Grade 3
- Please note
- To access this walk, you’ll need to walk through shallow water across a causeway. The crossing can become impassable after or during heavy rainfall.
- The track can become hard to follow in places, so please follow the track markers and orange triangles to keep to the track.
- The weather in the area can be extreme and unpredictable, so please ensure you’re well-prepared for your visit.
- It’s a good idea to take insect repellent, particularly for repelling leeches.
- Remember to take your binoculars if you want to go bird watching
Big Scrub loop walking track offers the chance to experience some of the most magnificent subtropical rainforest in NSW. Part of Nightcap National Park, near Lismore, it’s a popular track for community and school groups, with excellent birdwatching opportunities, crystal clear creeks and lush vegetation.
From the shallow creek crossing, the track is clearly marked with orange markers so you’ll stay on-path. You’ll see enormous fig trees, giant stinging trees and yellow carabeen towering above, forming part of the rainforest canopy. Beneath the forest giants are lush bangalow palms, black bean and maidens blush, while jackwood and lawyer vine form the understorey.
There’s an abundance of birdlife all year round, including Albert’s lyrebirds, brush turkeys and rainforest pigeons.
For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/big-scrub-loop-walking-track/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 Nightcap National Park in the North Coast region
Nightcap 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 Big Scrub loop walking track.
Grade 3Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
30min - 1hr
Quality of markings
Clearly sign posted
Short steep hills
Quality of path
Formed track, some obstacles
Some bushwalking experience recommended
Getting there and parking
Get driving directions
On entering Nightcap National Park, from Dunoon:
- Take Dunoon Road north for approximately 3.6km and turn left onto Rocky Creek Dam Road
- Continue for approximately 1.5km and turn left onto unsealed Gibbergunyah Range Road
- Drive for 1km, across several cattlegrids, to the park gate.
You’ll need to walk an additional 300m from the park entry gate, as Gibbergunyah Range Road is closed to public vehicles. However, the road is accessible to walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
Park entry points
- Gibbergunyah Range Road access See on map
Parking is available at the open area adjacent to the information sign. Please do not park in front of the gate.
Best times to visit
There are lots of great things waiting for you in Nightcap National Park. Here are some of the highlights: Weather in the northern rivers region is generally mild in winter ranging to hot in summer. It can be very wet (the park receives the highest annual rainfall in NSW) and misty so check local weather conditions and pack suitable clothes as well as a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent.
Weather, temperature and rainfall
18°C and 29°C
6°C and 19°C
The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day
Drinking water is not available in this area, so it’s a good idea to bring your own.
Maps and downloads
You’re encouraged to bring gas or fuel stoves, especially in summer during the fire season.
Due to rough tracks and the risk of erosion, no bicycles are permitted on this track.
NSW national parks are no smoking areas.
Lismore (18 km)
Lismore is a major North Coast commercial, cultural and administrative centre. It's set in undulating country on the north arm of the Richmond River.
Mullumbimby (19 km)
Mullumbimby sits on the Brunswick River and is overshadowed by subtropical hills.
Nimbin (12 km)
Nimbin is the counter-culture capital of Australia. It's set in a beautiful green valley pierced with limestone spires.
Big Scrub loop walking track is in Nightcap National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:
Nightcap National Park is the traditional land of the Bundjalung People, in particular the Widjabul People who have inhabited the area for thousands of years. The park contains many ancient sites of cultural significance, including ceremonial and sacred sites that are still used by local Aboriginal people today. The creeks, plants, animals and landscape of the park feature in the stories, teachings and practices of Aboriginal people that continue to be passed on today.
Nightcap National Park's rainforests are part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, the largest area of subtropical rainforest in the world. They are a living link to the environment of ancient Australia and give us insight into the environment of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. This lush and diverse conservation area protects a number of vulnerable and threatened species such as the rufous scrub bird, red goshawk, sooty and masked owls and regent bowerbirds. It is also home to the recently discovered nightcap oak, which can grow up to 40m high.
The rainforest creeks in Nightcap National Park are home to a number of threatened frogs, including Fleay's barred frog and the pouched frog. You might see Fleay's barred frogs hiding under leaf litter near streams or foraging for food on the rainforest floor, but you're more likely to hear their chorus, a distinctive 'arrrrrrk'. This rare frog feeds mainly on insects and invertebrates, so crickets, moths and beetles make a good meal. Keep your eyes open for this pale brown frog around Terania creek at the base of Protesters Falls.
- Goorgana walking track Goorgana walking track is ideal for experienced bushwalkers keen to tackle the challenging iconic peaks in Nightcap National Park.
- Terania Creek picnic area Terania Creek picnic area is a great place for a family picnic or barbecue. Close to the carpark, walking tracks and waterfalls, its home to birds and goannas.
Nightcap National Park contains a number of sites of historical interest, including a flying fox on the Googarna track. The flying fox was used to lower logs 500m down to the Kunghur mill during the 1940s and 1950s. The historic Nightcap track provided the first bridle track and telegraph line between the Richmond and Tweed valleys in the 1870s, and today you can explore this track on foot, camping overnight in the bush.
Plants and animals you may see
Satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)
With vibrant blue-violet eyes and curious antics, the satin bowerbird is a favourite for bird watching and easy to spot as it forages for food in open forest. Relatively common across eastern Australia, in NSW they’re found in coastal rainforests and adjacent woodlands and mountain ranges.
Australian brush turkey (Alectura lathami)
The Australian brush turkey, also known as bush or scrub turkey, can be found in rainforests along eastern NSW. With a striking red head, blue-black plumage and booming call, these distinctive Australian birds are easy to spot while bird watching in several NSW national parks.
Lace monitor (Varanus varius)
One of Australia’s largest lizards, the carnivorous tree-dwelling lace monitor, or tree goanna, can grow to 2m in length and is found in forests and coastal tablelands across eastern Australia. These Australian animals are typically dark blue in colour with whitish spots or blotches.
Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum)
Coachwood trees are Australian native plants that grow in warm temperate rainforests along coastal NSW. Also known as scented satinwood, the mottled grey bark of the coachwood has horizontal markings and a delicate fragrance.
Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus)
The blueberry ash is a rainforest shrub which produces blue olive-shaped berries and spectacular bell-shaped flowers, which often appear on the plant together. It is a tall slender shrub or small tree found in rainforest, tall eucalypt forest and coastal bushland in eastern NSW, south-east Queensland and Victoria.