Barren Grounds Nature Reserve
Boasting spectacular views, amazing birdwatching and walking opportunities for all ages, Barren Grounds is perfect for a school excursion or family day out.
Read more about Barren Grounds Nature Reserve
Escape from the city for the day and immerse yourself in the unique and fragile landscape of Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. Almost completely encircled in rocky cliffs at the top of Jamberoo Pass, it has a wealth of birdlife and unique plant species. The heathland wildflowers burst with colour during spring.
With walks ranging from an easy 2km to a more challenging 20km, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy. Head to Illawarra lookout or Cooks Nose for magnificent views of the Illawarra coastline and surrounding countryside. Or head off on Griffiths walking track and spend the day in the bush.
Barren Grounds is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with around 180 different species of birds. Keep your binoculars and cameras handy to catch a photo of honeyeaters, southern emu wrens, crimson rosellas, cockatoos and grey currawongs. You might even spot a threatened ground parrot or eastern bristlebird.
For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/barren-grounds-nature-reserve/local-alerts
- 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.
Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre
02 4887 8270
Contact hours: 9am to 4pm daily. Closed Christmas Day.
- 1301 Nowra Road, Fitzroy Falls NSW 2577
- Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre
All the practical information you need to know about Barren Grounds Nature Reserve.
Getting there and parking
Get driving directions
From Moss Vale:
- Take Illawarra Highway east towards Robertson
- Just after Robertson, turn right onto Jamberoo Mountain Road.
- Continue until you reach the signposted entrance on your right
- Take Jamberoo Road heading west to Jamberoo
- Turn left onto Jamberoo Mountain Road and follow it to the top of the escarpment
- The reserve entrance is signposted on your left
- Barren Grounds picnic area See on map
Bicycles are not permitted on management or walking trails in this reserve.
By public transport
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve is not accessible by public transport.
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
Camp fires and solid fuel burners
Wood fires, campfires and heat bead cookers are prohibited in this reserve.
NSW national parks are no smoking areas.
Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre
1301 Nowra Road, Fitzroy Falls NSW 2577
- 9am to 4pm daily. Closed Christmas Day.
- 02 4887 8270
Jamberoo (11 km)
If the kids are on board, take them to Jamberoo Action Park, where Billabong Beach, Rapid River and Outback Bay will keep them entertained for a whole day. Minnamurra Rainforest is also close by, with easy walks through the rainforest for the whole family to enjoy.
Robertson (17 km)
Robertson is known as the 'green heart of the Highlands' for a good reason - it's always green. Rich, fertile soil and abundant rural farmland make up Robertson's scenic landscape. It serves as a gateway to some of the State's best waterfalls.
Kiama (22 km)
A picturesque beachside town on the NSW South Coast, Kiama boasts several local and nearby attractions including the famous Kiama Blowhole, Jamberoo Action Park and Illawarra Fly. Enjoy whale watching during migration season while walking along Kiama Coast Walk, and visit the nearby Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in Budderoo National Park.
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:
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.
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.
Plants and animals protected in this park
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.
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.
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.
Education resources (1)
What we're doing
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents.