Garawarra State Conservation Area

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Overview

On the border of Royal National Park near Sydney, Garawarra State Conservation Area is a peaceful spot with scenic waterfalls ideal for bushwalking, mountain biking, horse riding and enjoying a picnic.

Read more about Garawarra State Conservation Area

It's not often you get to retreat to the bush, so close to the city. Garawarra State Conservation Area borders the Helensburgh end of Royal National Park between Sydney and Wollongong. It’s a haven of scribbly gum and red bloodwood, with patches of subtropical rainforest, making the area perfect for bushwalking and hiking.

Take a walk or ride your mountain bike along Cawleys Road trail. It's a great place for birdwatching, and you could easily spot satin bowerbirds, honeyeaters and perhaps even a lyrebird. Horse riding is also popular in Garawarra, and there are scenic bridle trails located in the reserve to the west of Helensburgh.

Enjoy a picnic at Kellys Falls picnic area, with breathtaking views of its waterfalls below.

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/garawarra-state-conservation-area/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Garawarra State Conservation Area.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    From Helensburgh:

    • Take Parkes Street north to Helensburgh Station
    • Drive past the station and continue to the end of Wilsons Creek Road
    • At the bridge over the railway line, park your car and cross the bridge into the reserve.

    Park entry points

    Parking

    By bike

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

    By public transport

    Garawarra State Conservation Area is accessible by train to Helensburgh Station. Visit the NSW transport info website.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Garawarra State Conservation Area. Here are some of the highlights.

    Spring

    Blooming wildflowers bring large numbers of birds, making it a perfect time for birdwatching.

    Summer

    Beautiful weather for bushwalking and cycling, particularly early in the day.

    Winter

    Clear days, cool weather and low rainfall are perfect for bushwalking.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    17°C and 27°C

    Highest recorded

    42°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    7°C and 18°C

    Lowest recorded

    -0.6°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    Driest month

    September

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    254.5mm

    Facilities

    Picnic tables

    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.

    Nearby towns

    Wollongong (37 km)

    There are plenty of opportunities for adventure activities in and around Wollongong ranging from surfing and swimming to sailing, hang gliding, paragliding, cycling and abseiling. Wollongong is the only place in NSW where you can skydive onto the beach.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Campbelltown (52 km)

    For nature lovers, the Macarthur region has plenty of natural attractions. Explore nature reserves and wildlife trails or see spectacular native flora and fauna at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, the largest botanic garden in Australia.

    www.sydney.com

    Sydney City Centre (59 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

    Garawarra State Conservation Area is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    Wilderness zone

    Kellys Falls, Garawarra National Park. Photo: Nick Cubbin

    Garawarra State Conservation Area borders Royal National Park and, along with the Nasho, was added to the National Heritage list in 2006. With its close proximity to the ocean and temperate climate, a number of environments flourish in this park, including open heath, eucalypt forests and subtropical forests. In late winter and early spring, the area comes alive with colour as banksias, Christmas bells and wattles bloom.

    The sights and sounds of nature

    Lace monitor (Varanus varius), Garawarra State Conservation Area. Photo: John Spencer

    Wildflowers are a huge attraction for the area's birds and birdwatchers alike. Wattlebirds, known for the 'wattles' hanging from their cheeks or throats, are abundant. Listen out for unusual noises while bird watching; they could be coming from the lyrebird - the NPWS emblem. Common in the reserve, these ground-dwellers mimic sounds, both natural and artificial.

    • Cawleys Road trail Cawleys Road trail is a wide, well-formed track popular for bushwalking, mountain biking and horse riding in Garawarra State Conservation Area, near Helensburgh.
    • Kellys Falls picnic area Kellys Falls picnic area is a network of walking trails, cascading waterfalls and scenic lookouts within Garawarra State Conservation Area between Sydney and Wollongong, near Helensburgh.

    Activity central

    Cyclist on Cawleys Road, Garawarra State Conservation Area. Photo: John Spencer

    Trails weave through 900ha of Garawarra bushland, down into Hacking River gullies and up to scenic lookouts. These trails connect with other bushwalking trails in neighbouring Royal and Heathcote national parks. If cycling or bushwalking are on the agenda for your retreat into nature, then be sure to take your bicycle and hiking boots with you. Feeling more adventurous? Check out the scenic bridle trails for some horse riding in the reserve, west of Helensburgh.

    • Cawleys Road trail Cawleys Road trail is a wide, well-formed track popular for bushwalking, mountain biking and horse riding in Garawarra State Conservation Area, near Helensburgh.
    • Kellys Falls picnic area Kellys Falls picnic area is a network of walking trails, cascading waterfalls and scenic lookouts within Garawarra State Conservation Area between Sydney and Wollongong, near Helensburgh.

    Education resources (1)

    What we're doing

    Garawarra State Conservation Area 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.

    Garawarra State Conservation Area. Photo: Nick Cubbin