Barren Grounds Nature Reserve

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Overview

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.

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/visit-a-park/parks/barren-grounds-nature-reserve/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Barren Grounds Nature Reserve.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get 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

    From Kiama:

    • 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

    Park entry points

    Parking

    By bike

    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.

    Autumn

    Enjoy spectacular views on a clear autumn day of the coastline and surrounds from Illawarra lookout.

    Spring

    Enjoy the colourful wildflower display in the reserve's upland heaths.

    Summer

    Escape the crowds on the coast for a peaceful picnic among nature.

    Winter

    Warm up with a brisk walk in the misty highlands and admire the flowering banksias.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    16°C and 5°C

    Highest recorded

    42.4°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    8°C and 18°C

    Lowest recorded

    2.3°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    Driest month

    September

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    728.4mm

    Facilities

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    However you discover NSW national parks and reserves, we want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Our park and reserve systems contrast greatly so you need to be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of those in your care.

    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).

    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.

    Visitor centre

    Nearby towns

    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.

    www.visitnsw.com

    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.

    www.visitnsw.com

    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.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Barren Grounds Nature Reserve is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    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.

    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, 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.

    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.

    Barren Grounds Nature Reserve, Stone Bridge. Photo: John Spencer/NSW Government