Cooks Nose walking track
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve
Stroll through the park's rich heathlands on Cooks Nose walking track and you’ll be rewarded with striking scenic views from the escarpment overlooking Kangaroo Valley.
- Barren Grounds Nature Reserve in South Coast
- 8km return
- Time suggested
- 2hrs 30min - 3hrs 30min
- Grade 3
- What to
- Drinking water, hat, sunscreen
- Please note
- Remember to take your binoculars if you want to birdwatch
- The weather in this area can be extreme and unpredictable, so please ensure you’re well-prepared for your visit.
- There is limited/no mobile reception in this park
The walking track out to Cooks Nose is well-marked and steep in places, but the views at the end are simply spectacular. The track wanders through open expanses of heathland, which burst with colour in spring when the wildflowers are out. The brightly coloured red and yellow Christmas bells are a special treat on this walk.
There are also plenty of birdwatching opportunities. You might see eagles riding the thermal air currents above Kangaroo Valley or a group of black cockatoos. But keep a special eye out for threatened heathland birds like the striated fieldwren, eastern bristlebird and ground parrot.
Relax for a while, take in the views looking out from the top of the escarpment, or head back to Barren Grounds picnic area or nearby Robertson for a warm lunch.
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/cooks-nose-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 Barren Grounds Nature Reserve in the South Coast region
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
All the practical information you need to know about Cooks Nose walking track.
Grade 3Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
2hrs 30min - 3hrs 30min
Quality of markings
Short steep hills
Quality of path
Formed track, some obstacles
Some bushwalking experience recommended
Getting there and parking
Cooks Nose walking track is at the northern end of Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. To get there:
- Continue on the road from the reserve entrance for approximately 1km
- Cooks Nose walking track starts from Barren Grounds picnic area
Parking is available at Barren Grounds picnic area
Best times to visit
There are lots of great things waiting for you in Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. Here are some of the highlights.
Enjoy spectacular views on a clear autumn day of the coastline and surrounds from Illawarra lookout.
Enjoy the colourful wildflower display in the reserve's upland heaths.
Escape the crowds on the coast for a peaceful picnic among nature.
Warm up with a brisk walk in the misty highlands and admire the flowering banksias.
Weather, temperature and rainfall
16°C and 5°C
8°C and 18°C
The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day
Maps and downloads
Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre
1301 Nowra Road, Fitzroy Falls NSW 2577
- 9am to 4pm daily. Closed Christmas Day.
- 02 4887 7270
Cooks Nose walking track is in Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:
Go wild for flowers
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve is famous for its heath wildflowers in spring and summer and flowering banksias in winter. The heathland is also one of only 4 large areas of heath on the NSW South Coast, making it an important habitat for many species of plants and animals. A large number of threatened or regionally rare ferns and other species also occur in wet sheltered sites below the escarpment, including several species of filmy fern. Around 180 bird species can also be found here, including honeyeaters, southern emu wrens, lyrebirds, crimson rosellas, cockatoos and grey currawongs. If you're really lucky, you might even spot the bright green ground parrot or an eastern bristlebird. In fact, it was to protect these two threatened heathland birds that Barren Grounds Nature Reserve was set up in 1956.
- 6-day birding and natural history tours Explore the beauty and diversity of Australian wildlife at Sydney’s doorstep on this 6-day tour with the knowledgeable guides of Inala Nature Tours. Visiting parklands, you'll see amazing birds, mammals and reptiles in their natural habitat.
- Cooks Nose walking track Stroll through the park's rich heathlands on Cooks Nose walking track and you’ll be rewarded with striking scenic views from the escarpment overlooking Kangaroo Valley.
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve holds a very special place in the history of conservation in NSW, as it was the third faunal reserve to be gazetted under the Fauna Protection Act. Led by early conservation leaders like Myles Dunphy, Paddy Pallin and Allen Strom, it was protected in 1956. Since then, it has been an important place for researchers and students alike to record and learn about the incredible biodiversity of this area. The stone building at Barren Grounds picnic area - once known as The Lodge - was used for accommodation by researchers and honorary rangers.