Brisbane Water National Park

Overview

Brisbane Water National Park, near Gosford on the central coast offers great walks, cycling and fishing spots. The park protects ancient Aboriginal rock engraving sites.

Read more about Brisbane Water National Park

Brisbane Water National Park is on the central coast near Gosford, north of Sydney. The park offers a range of wonderful experiences, making it a great daytrip or weekend away from the city.

Come to see colourful spring wildflowers, ancient Aboriginal engraving sites and scenic views from the park's lookouts. There are great fishing spots to discover, along with walking and cycling trails that cross rainforest and rugged sandstone country. The park's waterways are a great place to spend a day on the water, so don't forget your kayak.

Head to one of the coastal towns, like Umina Beach to organise your lunch before finding your own scenic picnic spot, or make a stop at Patonga for some tasty fish and chips and a beach view.

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/brisbane-water-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Brisbane Water National Park.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Brisbane Water National Park is located on the central coast near Gosford. Take the Central Coast Highway exit off the F3, followed by Wisemans Ferry Road for Somersby Falls and Girrakool, or Woy Woy Road for Patonga. Look for more information at the attraction you'd like to visit.

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    By bike

    Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

    By public transport

    For information about public transport options, visit the NSW transport info website or the Palm Beach and Hawkesbury River Cruises website.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Brisbane Water National Park. Here are some of the highlights.

    Autumn

    The cooler weather makes it a perfect time to find a waterfall walking track, and keep an eye out for ancient Aboriginal engravings along the way.

    Spring

    Pack a picnic lunch and soak up the delightful sights and sounds of spring. Relax among the wildflowers and wildlife as the Hawkesbury River flows by.

    Summer

    Take advantage of the warmer summer weather and paddle down Patonga Creek or Mooney Mooney Creek in a canoe.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    15°C and 27°C

    Highest recorded

    43.8°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    5°C and 19°C

    Lowest recorded

    -4.2°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    Driest month

    September

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    218.4mm

    Facilities

    Maps and downloads

    Fees and passes

    Park entry fees:

    $8 per vehicle per day applies at Girrakool and Somersby Falls picnic areas. The park has coin-operated pay and display machines - please bring correct coins.

    Other fees:

    You will need a permit to hold a wedding or undertake commercial photography within the park.

    • All Parks Pass - For all parks in NSW (including Kosciuszko NP) $190 (1 year) / $335 (2 years)
    • Multi Parks Pass - For all parks in NSW (except Kosciuszko) $65 (1 year) / $115 (2 years)
    • Country Parks Pass - For all parks in Country NSW (except Kosciuszko) $45 (1 year) / $75 (2 years)
    • Single Country Park Pass - For entry to a single park in country NSW (except Kosciuszko). $22 (1 year) / $40 (2 years)

    Annual passes and entry fees (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/passes-and-fees)

    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.

    If you're exploring the park, make sure you take up-to-date topographic maps with you.

    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 OEH pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Nearby towns

    Gosford (10 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

    Woy Woy (13 km)

    Pack your swimmers for Woy Woy, which lays on a shallow inlet on the western shore of Brisbane Water National Park. The stunning beaches of Ettalong Beach, Umina Beach and the exclusive Pearl Beach are also close by.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Sydney City Centre (72 km)

    No trip to Sydney is complete without spending some time in the city’s beautiful parks. Whether it’s in central areas like Hyde Park or the Royal Botanic Gardens or further out in Centennial Parklands, there’s plenty of green space to go out and enjoy.

    www.sydney.com

    Learn more

    Brisbane Water National Park is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    Stretch your legs

    Warrah lookout, Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

    Brisbane Water National Park offers great ways to get amongst nature. Why not hop on your mountain bike and get your adrenalin pumping along the Tommos loop and Rocky Ponds cycling route? Or you can wear out your walking shoes along the Girrakool loop walking track. For the more energetic, the park is a hikers delight. Longer treks range from an hour or two to overnight on sections of the Great North walk, which passes through the park on its way from Sydney to Newcastle.

    • Girrakool picnic area A great spot for a family picnic, Girrakool picnic area has barbecues, lots of green space to run around and a scenic walking track that features Aboriginal engravings.
    • Great North walk - Brisbane Water National Park You’ll find the Wondabyne to Patonga and Patonga to Pearl Beach parts of the iconic Great North walk in Brisbane Water National Park. Take a short walk or overnight hike.

    Ancient landscapes

    Aboriginal rock carving, Girrakool Loop track, Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

    Aboriginal people in the area have a long association with the landscape of Brisbane Water National Park and much evidence of this remains today in the form of rock engravings, foreshore middens and rock paintings. The flat, exposed areas of Hawkesbury sandstone within the park provide an ideal 'canvas' for Aboriginal artists, and there are hundreds of rock engraving sites throughout the park. Aboriginal sites on Hawkesbury sandstone have a distinctive style of engraving which is unique in Australia. The Bulgandry Aboriginal engraving site at Kariong is an excellent example of rock art within the park and is easily accessible.

    • Girrakool loop track A lovely way to finish a barbecue, the Girrakool loop track is a short and easy walk through bushland, featuring an Aboriginal rock engraving site and scenic waterfalls.

    A wonderland of wildflowers

    Red spider flower in Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

    Located 12km from Gosford, the park covers 12,000ha of rugged sandstone country, and boarders the Hawkesbury river, which feeds cascading waterfalls. The landscape is gorgeous all year round, especially from late winter to early spring when it comes alive with colourful wildflowers.

    • Somersby Falls picnic area A great place to picnic on the Central Coast, Somersby Falls offers barbecues and picnic tables in a lush rainforest complete with waterfalls and a walking track.
    • Warrah lookout Warrah lookout, offering scenic views of Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River, is just a short walk from the carpark. It’s a great place to see Waratahs in season.

    A haven for wildlife

    Powerful owl. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

    Brisbane Water National Park is home to an incredible 270 native animal species. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and bird life such as the threatened spotted tailed quoll, the rare glossy black cockatoo and powerful owl. You might be lucky enough to share a picnic at Girrakool picnic area with a few wallabies who love this peaceful place.

    • Girrakool loop track A lovely way to finish a barbecue, the Girrakool loop track is a short and easy walk through bushland, featuring an Aboriginal rock engraving site and scenic waterfalls.
    • Tommos loop and Rocky Ponds cycling loop Mountain biking enthusiasts will enjoy the challenging Tommos loop and Rocky Ponds cycling loop, a 20km bushland ride taking in scenic Central Coast views.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Australian pelican. Photo: Rob Cleary

      Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

      The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.

    • Koala. Photo: Lucy Morrell

      Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

      One of the most renowned Australian animals, the tree-dwelling marsupial koala can be found in gum tree forests and woodlands across eastern NSW, Victoria and Queensland, as well as in isolated regions in South Australia. With a vice-like grip, this perhaps most iconic but endangered Australian animal lives in tall eucalypts within a home range of several hectares.

    • Platypus climbing on to a submerged tree branch. Photo: Sharon Wormleaton/OEH

      Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

      One of the most fascinating and unusual Australian animals, the duck-billed platypus, along with the echidna, are the only known monotremes, or egg-laying mammals, in existence. The platypus is generally found in permanent river systems and lakes in southern and eastern NSW and east and west of the Great Dividing Range.

    Plants

    • A red triangle slug on the trunk of a scribbly gum tree in Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

      Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma)

      Easily identifiable Australian native plants, scribbly gum trees are found throughout NSW coastal plains and hills in the Sydney region. The most distinctive features of this eucalypt are the ‘scribbles’ made by moth larva as it tunnels between the layers of bark.

    • Close up photo of a waratah flower, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Simone Cottrell/OEH.

      Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

      The beautiful waratah is not only the NSW floral emblem, it's also one of the best-known Australian native plants. This iconic Australian bush flower can be found on sandstone ridges around Sydney, in nearby mountain ranges and on the NSW South Coast. The waratah has a vibrant crimson flowerhead, measuring up to 15cm across, and blossoms in spring.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    What we're doing

    Brisbane Water National Park 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. Here is just some of the work we’re doing to conserve these values:

    Preserving biodiversity

    Preserving biodiversity is a fundamental NPWS focus, and managing bushfire is a key component of this. Fire management plans are regularly prepared for and implemented in Brisbane Water National Park in order to protect threatened species.

    Conservation program

    Regional native vegetation mapping and classification

    Creating a comprehensive guide to plant biodiversity in NSW, ecologists are conducting vegetation mapping and classification. Through the compilation of data, they are able to determine the baseline state-wide layer of native vegetation. This influences conservation policy and offers valuable insight into how plant life in NSW is changing over time.

    Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

    Pests and weeds have a significant impact to the ecosystems within Brisbane Water National Park. Pest management is a priority for NPWS with the pest reduction of foxes and wild dogs being an important part of work undertaken to protect the integrity of biodiversity within this park. Risk assessments for new and emerging weeds are carried out as an ongoing initiative in Brisbane Water.

    Conservation program

    Wild dog control program

    Wild dogs can have significant impacts on other animals and are regarded as pests. Our wild dog control program operates in many NSW national parks and reserves. When carrying out wild dog pest control, we aim to minimise the impact that they have on livestock and domestic pets, while maintaining dingo conservation in key areas.

    Developing visitor facilities and experiences

    Brisbane Water National Park is dedicated to providing first-class facilities for all of its visitors. Enhancements to tracks, trails, steps and platforms are ongoing in this park.

    Managing fire

    NSW is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world as a result of our climate, weather systems, vegetation and the rugged terrain. NPWS is committed to maintaining natural and cultural heritage values and minimising the likelihood and impact of bushfires via a strategic program of fire research, fire planning, hazard reduction, highly trained rapid response firefighting crews and community alerts.

    Conservation program

    Planning for fire

    Bushfires are inevitable across fire-prone vegetation types within NSW national parks. NPWS prepares for wildfires by working with other fire agencies, reserve neighbours and the community to ensure protection of life, property and biodiversity. Every park has its own fire management strategy, devised in consultation with partner fire authorities and the community to plan and prioritise fire management.

    Warrah lookout, Brisbane Water National Park. Photo: Kevin McGrath