Great North walk – Palm Grove Nature Reserve

Palm Grove Nature Reserve

Overview

Palm Grove Nature Reserve features a section of Great North walk, a well-known hiking track that runs from Newcastle to Sydney.

Where
Palm Grove Nature Reserve
Distance
2.8km one-way
Time suggested
1hr 30min - 2hrs 30min
Grade
Grade 3
Price
Free
Opening times

Great North walk – Palm Grove Nature Reserve is open at all times.

What to
bring
Hat, sunscreen, drinking water
Please note
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to go birdwatching.
  • Check the weather before you set out as a creek crossing on Kilkenny Road is required to get to Palm Grove Nature Reserve.
  • There is limited/no mobile reception in this park.

The iconic and much-loved Great North walk is a 250km track that runs between Sydney and Newcastle in NSW. In Palm Grove Nature Reserve, visitors can enjoy a picturesque sample of this walk, making it either a great self-contained bushwalk or part of a bigger walking adventure. The trail’s scenic views begin at the end of Kilkenny Road on the Somersby Plateau and finish on Ourimbah Creek Road, Palm Grove.

Meander through open forests dominated by majestic Sydney blue gums, Sydney peppermint, blackbutt, ironbark and turpentine before descending into the cool moist rainforest over a pristine creek, where cabbage tree palms, corkwood, sassafras and giant strangler figs flourish over a carpet of green ferns, vines, shrubs and orchids.

The track is undulating with some small, steep sections and a creek crossing. It’s a short, accessible walk that brings you to a beautiful forested area, where you can enjoy birdwatching and wildlife photography. The calls of the frogs that call the area home can be heard throughout the reserve, particularly after heavy rain.

Interpretative signs located along the track provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the plants and animals found along the way and encourage you to explore the environment through your sense of smell, hearing and touch. For a longer section of the walk be sure to try Great North walk - Brisbane Water National Park.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

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/great-north-walk-palm-grove-nature-reserve/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Great North walk – Palm Grove Nature Reserve.

Track grading

Grade 3

Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
  • Time

    1hr 30min - 2hrs 30min

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Short steep hills

  • Distance

    2.8km one-way

  • Steps

    Occasional steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track, some obstacles

  • Experience required

    Some bushwalking experience recommended

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Great North walk - Palm Grove Nature Reserve is in Palm Grove Nature Reserve. To get there:

    • From the F3 Freeway, take the Peats Ridge Road exit.
    • Take the first right into Wisemans Ferry Road
    • Turn right onto Dog Trap Road and then turn left onto Kilkenny Road
    • Follow to the entrance of Palm Grove Nature Reserve

    Alternatively, if beginning from Ourimbah Creek Road:

    • From the F3 Freeway, take the Pacific Highway exit for Ourimbah.
    • Head south along Pacific Highway
    • Take the first right into Ourimbah Creek Road and continue for approximately 9.5km

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Parking is available at end of Kilkenny Road and Ourimbah Creek Road.

    Best times to visit

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

    Autumn

    Rug up and enjoy a crisp autumn picnic amongst moss-covered sandstone cliffs and fern-filled rainforests.

    Spring

    Visit the reserve to view gorgeous spring blooms, including a variety of native orchids, creamy white angophora flowers and the white blooms of the turpentines.

    Summer

    Enjoy an escape from the heat by taking a leisurely bushwalk through cool, moist rainforest.

    Winter

    Cool, but fine winter days are a great time to explore the more challenging terrain of Great North walk.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    17°C and 27°C

    Highest recorded

    42.9°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    7°C and 17°C

    Lowest recorded

    0.1°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    February

    Driest month

    March

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    230.2mm

    Facilities

    Drinking water

    You'll need to bring your own drinking water.

    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 + 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.

    Prohibited

    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.

    Nearby towns

    Cessnock (38 km)

    Some of the finest wines in the world are created in the Hunter Valley and its towns, gourmet food is acclaimed and luxury, boutique accommodations are matched by the most beautiful natural scenery.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Gosford (16 km)

    Gosford is a great destination for a family day trip or holiday. It's situated on Brisbane Water National Park and surrounded by state forests, lakes and beaches.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Peats Ridge (14 km)

    Located on the NSW Central Coast, just north of Hawkesbury River, Peats Ridge is close to Popran National Park, where you can enjoy a spot of bushwalking, cycling, river fishing and paddling, and explore the Aboriginal history of the area.

    www.gosford.nsw.gov.au

    Learn more

    Great North walk – Palm Grove Nature Reserve is in Palm Grove Nature Reserve. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    A prized conservation area

     Looking up the tree canopy in Palm Grove Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    Palm Grove Nature Reserve has been recognised by local conservationists as an area of great wilderness significance worth acknowledging and protecting. Its unique plants include remnants of ancient rainforest communities, including the threatened magenta lilly pilly and bristly shield fern. The reserve’s ridges and slopes support six woodland and forest communities, which are dominated by species that have adapted to the Hawkesbury sandstone surrounds. Wander amongst red cedars, bangalows, palms and brackens. In the spring, keep your eyes open for the lovely creamy flowers of the angophoras and turpentines and the various beautiful native orchids.

    A rich history

    Ourimbah Creek, Palm Grove Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    The Ourimbah Creek area was a booming area of industry for early European settlers, dating all the way back to the 1820s. Prior to the reserve being gazetted, highly priced red cedar, turpentine and other eucalypt species were harvested for use in the construction of homes, railway sleepers and mine props.

    Aboriginal occupation

    Great North walk, Palm Grove Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    Throughout the reserve, you’ll find evidence of early Aboriginal occupation. Among them, Aboriginal axe-grinding grooves in sandstone outcrops and shelters that have managed to withstand the test of time in Palm Grove Nature Reserve.

    Beautiful birds and fantastic frogs

    Local vegetation, Palm Grove Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    Frog enthusiasts love the reserve for the opportunity to spot many colourful and unusual species including colourful red-eyed green tree frogs and rocky river frogs. Those who enjoy birdwatching are in for a treat here too, as over 80 birds have been recorded in the area, including five listed as threatened species. Among them, masked and powerful owls, glossy black and gang gang cockatoos.

    Education resources (1)

    Great North walk, Palm Grove Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer