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Illawarra lookout walking track

Barren Grounds Nature Reserve

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Learn more about why this park is special

Illawarra lookout walking track is in Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

Go wild for flowers

Flowers in bloom, Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

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, mamma...
  • 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.

Historic heritage

Illawarra lookout walking track, Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

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.

Plants and animals protected in this park

Animals

  • A spotted-tailed quoll walks across a moss-covered forest floor at night. Photo: Lachlan Hall © Lachlan Hall

    Spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)

    The spotted-tailed quoll is the largest remaining carnivorous marsupial on the Australian mainland. It’s protected as a vulnerable species in NSW.

  • Profile view of an eastern bristlebird on the ground amongst grassy habitat, it's beak open during birdsong. Photo: Leo Berzins © Leo Berzins

    Eastern bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus)

    The endangered eastern bristlebird is a shy, ground-dwelling songbird. Less than 2,500 birds are left in the wild, restricted to 3 isolated areas in eastern NSW and southern Queensland.

  • An eastern ground parrot bird's green and yellow colouring camouflages it amongst grassland. Photo: Lachlan Hall © Lachlan Hall

    Eastern ground parrot (Pezoporus wallicus wallicus)

    The eastern ground parrot is a beautiful, ground-dwelling native bird that lives in low heathland habitat along the NSW North and South coasts and escarpments. It’s listed as a vulnerable species in NSW.

Look out for...

Spotted-tailed quoll

Dasyurus maculatus

A spotted-tailed quoll walks across a moss-covered forest floor at night. Photo: Lachlan Hall © Lachlan Hall

The spotted-tailed quoll is the largest remaining carnivorous marsupial on the Australian mainland. It’s protected as a vulnerable species in NSW.

Education resources (1)

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