Popran National Park

Overview

Popran National Park on the NSW central coast protects Aboriginal sites and offers great walking, kayaking, mountain biking, horse riding and fishing.

Read more about Popran National Park

Take a step back in time and visit the incredible Popran National Park. From hiking to mountain biking, and horse riding to fishing, there’s plenty to do in this iconic Australian setting.

Boasting 4km of Hawkesbury river foreshore, you can paddle through the mangroves, enjoy a spot of fishing and smell the coastal banksia. The park is steeped in Aboriginal heritage so you can’t help but get in touch with the history of the land.

Popran National Park, on the Central Coast, is just an hour and a half north of Sydney, so it makes for an excellent daytrip or weekend getaway.

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/popran-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

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

Getting there and parking

From Sydney:

  • Take the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway
  • Exit at Calga onto Peats Ridge Road.
  • After 13km turn left into Wisemans Ferry Road
  • After a further 8km turn left into Ironbark Road.

From Newcastle:

  • Take the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway
  • Exit at Peats Ridge Road
  • After 10km turn right into George Downs Drive
  • Turn left into Wisemans Ferry Road
  • After a further 8km turn left into Ironbark Road

Parking

Road quality

4WD to the Ironbark picnic area. Visitors in 2WD vehicles will need to park and leave their vehicle 600m from the Ironbark picnic area.

  • Unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • Most roads require 4WD vehicle

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 NSW country transport info website

Best times to visit

Weather conditions are usually quite moderate in Popran National Park. In summer, however, in summer the temperature can climb above 30C. With its pleasant climate and year-round beauty, any time is a good time to visit Popran National Park.

Spring

Go walking along the Emerald Pool Loop to see fantastic wildflower displays.

Summer

Enjoy a relaxing day exploring the edges of the southern section of the park by boat, canoe or kayak to discover hidden fishing spots.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

23°C and 27°C

Highest recorded

42.9°C

Winter temperature

Average

17°C and 22°C

Lowest recorded

0.1°C

Rainfall

Wettest month

February and March

Driest month

June and July

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

230.2mm

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.

Nearby towns

Peats Ridge (20 km)

Located on the NSW Central Coast, just north of Hawkesbury River, Peats Ridge is close to Popran National Park, where you can enjoy a spot of bushwalking, cycling, river fishing and paddling, and explore the Aboriginal history of the area.

www.gosford.nsw.gov.au

Gosford (39 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

Sydney City Centre (90 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

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

Rich Aboriginal heritage

A view through the trees and over the mountains, Popran National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

The land of Popran National Park was home to the Dharug and Guringai People, and when you visit, you'll see evidence of 11,000 years of rich Aboriginal heritage. From the earth to the waterways, animals and plants, each of these holds a special place in the hearts of the custodians of this land, and the park proudly protects these significant places so we can celebrate Aboriginal culture for generations to come. The park protects a number of Aboriginal sites, like rock engravings, sandstone shelters and foreshore middens. If you find an axe grinding groove in the sandstone, you might be able to imagine how you'd sharpen your tool to catch a meal for your family.

Outdoor adventurer's playground

A person enjoying the view from a lookout, Popran National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

Popran National Park offers an immense range of opportunities for recreation in a beautiful Australian bushland and river setting. Offering visitors expansive landscapes and gorgeous water views, it is one of only a few parks on the Central Coast that caters for horse riding and mountain biking. Both the 248 trail and the Mount Olive trail can be explored by horse or by bike, and you can enjoy a picnic or swim to relax after your efforts.

  • 248 trail 248 trail is a popular horse riding and mountain biking track which meanders through Popran National Park in the NSW Central Coast hinterland.
  • Mount Olive lookout Mount Olive Lookout is only a short walk from Ironbark picnic area in Popran National Park on the central coast and offers scenic views over Popran Creek.

A haven for wildlife

Rocky outcrop in the forest, Popran National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

The increasingly rare, untouched freshwater streams and mangroves of the Hawkesbury river are a sanctuary for the many animals that live there. If you're an avid birdwatcher, you might catch glimpses of glossy black cockatoos and masked owls in the park's tall forests and wet gullies. You are unlikely to see the nocturnal yellow-bellied glider during the day, but you might be lucky to hear their distinctive growling call, it's been recorded to have been heard up to 500m away.

  • 248 trail 248 trail is a popular horse riding and mountain biking track which meanders through Popran National Park in the NSW Central Coast hinterland.

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Sugar glider. Photo: Jeff Betteridge

    Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)

    The sugar glider is a tree-dwelling Australian native marsupial, found in tall eucalypt forests and woodlands along eastern NSW. The nocturnal sugar glider feeds on insects and birds, and satisfies its sweet tooth with nectar and pollens.

  • Yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Photo: Peter Sherratt

    Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus)

    The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is one of the largest species of parrot. With dusty-black plumage, they have a yellow tail and cheek patch. They’re easily spotted while bird watching, as they feed on seeds in native forests and pine plantations.

Plants

  • Gymea lily. Photo: Simone Cottrell

    Gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa)

    The magnificent Gymea lily is one of the most unusual Australian native plants, found only along the coast and surrounding bushland of the Sydney Basin, from Newcastle to Wollongong. In spring this giant lily shoots out spectacular red flowers that can reach heights of 2-4m.

  • Smooth-barked apple. Photo: Jaime Plaza

    Smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata)

    Smooth-barked apple gums, also known as Sydney red gum or rusty gum trees, are Australian native plants found along the NSW coast, and in the Sydney basin and parts of Queensland. Growing to heights of 15-30m, the russet-coloured angophoras shed their bark in spring to reveal spectacular new salmon-coloured bark.

  • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

    Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

    An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)

What we're doing

Popran 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:

Understanding landscapes and geology

NPWS is dedicated to preserving the special landscapes and natural assets of Popran National Park. Programs to protect and preserve the quality of its land, waterways and unique ecosystems are in effect. Landscape rehabilitation is carried out where required and monitoring activities are ongoing.

Preserving biodiversity

Popran National Park protects its plants and animals, and NPWS shows its commitment to threatened, vulnerable and endangered species by conducting frequent monitoring and environmental assessment in this park. Bush regeneration projects are also in effect to rehabilitate native vegetation and restore health to ecosystems. Weed control is an ongoing activity and the community is engaged where possible.

Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

Pests and weeds have a significant impact to the ecosystems within Popran National Park. NPWS carries out risk assesments for new and emerging weeds as well as wild dog control to protect biodiversity in this park.

Conservation program

Regional pest management strategies

Weeds and pest animals cause substantial damage to agriculture and our environment, so it’s essential we manage them in NSW national parks and reserves. Our regional pest management strategies aim to minimise the impact of pests on biodiversity in NSW.  We work hard to protect our parks and neighbours from pests and weeds, ensuring measurable results.

Developing visitor facilities and experiences

Maintaining Popran National Park’s visitor facilities is an NPWS priority. Programs relating to the upkeep and enhancement of the park’s facilities, infrastructure and other offerings are ongoing.

Conserving our Aboriginal culture

NPWS places great value on Aboriginal heritage and culture. Aboriginal sites and places in Popran National Park are recorded, conserved and interpreted in consultation with Aboriginal community groups. The impact of visitor use on Aboriginal sites in regularly monitored, and action is taken to further protect these sites, where required.

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.

Man standing on a lookout, Popran National Park. Photo: John Yurasek