Dawson River walking track

Brimbin Nature Reserve

Affected by closures, check current alerts 


Starting at the Brimbin picnic area near Taree, Dawson River walking track follow the mangrove-lined waterway of Brimbin Nature Reserve, and joins with a historic bullock route.

1.5km loop
Time suggested
45min - 1hr 15min
Grade 3
What to
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen
Please note
  • The weather in the area can be extreme and unpredictable, so please ensure you’re well-prepared for your visit.
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to birdwatch

Dawson River walking track is a great hike that starts at Brimbin picnic area. Before or after your picnic lunch, take a stroll on this picturesque walking track that follows the line of Dawson River before joining up with the historic bullock route of Old Port Macquarie Road. This road is an important part of New South Wales’ colonial heritage.

While walking this track, see if you can find a narrow-leaved red gum, which rarely grows this far north. If you’re very lucky, you may even see a koala, as this gum provides important food and habitat to this animal. You’ll also pass grey myrtle, swamp oak, water gum and two types of mangrove: grey and river. Take along binoculars and see if you can spot birds as well as nests in the mangroves. Brimbin is home to raptors, waterbirds and woodland birds. Overhead, you may also see seabirds. This walking track provides a great opportunity for birdwatching.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info


Map legend

Map legend

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/walking-tracks/dawson-river-walking-track/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

  • in Brimbin Nature Reserve in the North Coast region
  • Brimbin Nature Reserve is always open but may have to close at times due to flood events, poor weather or fire danger.

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Dawson River walking track.

Track grading

Features of this track


1.5km loop


45min - 1hr 15min

Quality of markings

Clearly sign posted

Experience required

No experience required


Gentle hills


No steps

Quality of path

Formed track, some obstacles: The track is 4m wide and mostly hard-packed gravel with some rocky sections.

Other barriers

Gates: There's a locked vehicle swing gate at the northern end of the walking track.

Other barriers: There are 5 bridges at various points along the track:

  • The bridges are 1m wide and don't have handrails.
  • The bridges are all located after the first 50m of the start of the track.

Accessible options

The first 50m of the track on the eastern side of the loop leads towards the river and has a small incline and gentle hills. At the river, there's a flat section of track that overlooks the water.

The surface of the track past this point is uneven and rough. People with reduced mobility may need assistance along of the rest of the track due to the surface and slope. 

Getting there and parking

On entering Brimbin Nature Reserve, begin Dawson River walking track from Brimbin picnic area.


There are 3 gravel carparks at Brimbin picnic area where this walk begins.

Best times to visit

There are lots of great things waiting for you in Brimbin Nature Reserve. Here are some of the highlights.


Keep a close eye out for the flowering fairy light (or helmet) orchid in the forest leaf litter. It's a sparkling white flower with pinkish edges that grows on a short stem.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature


17.2°C and 28.6°C

Highest recorded


Winter temperature


6.5°C and 19.1°C

Lowest recorded



Wettest month


Driest month


The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day



There's a wheelchair accessible non-flush toilet with 2 cubicles at Brimbin picnic area where the walk begins.

Picnic tables

There's a picnic table near the start of the track set on a paved slab.

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.

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).

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.


Disability access level - medium

  • The track is 4m wide and hard-packed gravel along its length. There are some rocky sections.
  • The first 50m of the track on the eastern side of the loop that leads to the river has gentle hills. There's a flat section at the river where you can look out over the water.
  • After the first 50m, the track becomes more sloped, rough and uneven. There 5 bridges without handrails at various points along this section of track.
  • There's a locked vehicle swing gate at the northern end of the track.



A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.



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.


NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Learn more

Dawson River walking track is in Brimbin Nature Reserve. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

Biripi Aboriginal Nation

Fungi on a branch. Brimbin Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

When Europeans settled in Manning Valley, the area was occupied by Aboriginal people: the Biripi Nation. This Aboriginal nation is made up of small groups of mostly one or two families, who travelled their country as availability to food sources changed with the seasons. The Biripi harvested native plants, each for a specific use. Identify their food plants, medicinal plants, arts/crafts plants and cultural plants when you visit Brimbin with the help of the Biripi Nation website.

Feathering the nest

Brimbin Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

Manning Valley has over 260 different species of bird, many of which inhabit Brimbin, making it an ideal spot for bird watching. Nests can be seen along waterways. Due to the range of plant communities within the reserve and its proximity to the coast, waterbirds, raptors, woodland and seabirds can be seen at Brimbin. This includes the largest owl on the Australian continent: the powerful owl.

Shady grove

Looking up the tree canopy, Brimbin Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

The name 'Brimbin' comes from a local Aboriginal word for 'stringybark', which are common to the reserve, as are white mahogany, tallowwood and turpentine. Narrow-leaved red gums provide important food and habitat for koalas. Grey myrtle, swamp oak and water gum can be found along the waterways, with mangroves lining the banks below the tidal limit. River mangrove is usually a bushy shrub, with elongated fruit and clustered white flowers that smell like banana. Its main identifying feature is salt encrustation on its spoon-shaped leaves. Grey mangroves grow, in this area, to around 10m, and have oval pointed leaves, pale green flattened fruit and spongy pencil-like aerial roots spreading from the base of the trunk.

  • Brimbin picnic area Not far from Taree, Brimbin picnic area’s idyllic riverside location is a great spot for picnicking, barbecues, canoeing and birdwatching. It’s also where Dawson River walking track begins in Brimbin Nature Reserve.
  • Dawson River walking track Starting at the Brimbin picnic area near Taree, Dawson River walking track follow the mangrove-lined waterway of Brimbin Nature Reserve, and joins with a historic bullock route.

The Long Paddock

Ms Kellys walking track, Brimbin Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

The Travelling Stock Route (TSR) in Australia is an authorised thoroughfare for walking domestic lifestock between locations, and these routes are collectively known as 'The Long Paddock'. Parts of Brimbin were originally the TSR of a stock camp sold in the 1960s. Old Port Macquarie Road, now part of Ms Kellys walking track, follows a section of track established in the 1820s linking Port Macquarie to the Australian Agricultural Co. lands at Stroud and Gloucester. The route allowed bullock-drawn carts to cross Dawson River.

  • Dawson River walking track Starting at the Brimbin picnic area near Taree, Dawson River walking track follow the mangrove-lined waterway of Brimbin Nature Reserve, and joins with a historic bullock route.
  • Ms Kellys walking track Ms Kellys walking track in Brimbin Nature Reserve is a short walking track near Taree, that follows a historic bullock route and takes in landmarks with names significant to the area’s historic heritage.

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