Kariong Brook Falls
Brisbane Water National Park, Kariong, NSW
About The Spot: This small romantic waterhole beneath Kariong Brook Waterfall has surrounding rock ledges which make great picnic spots. The swimming hole is nestled in a lush rainforest environment in a secluded area, surrounded by abundant flora and fauna. A few scenic walks access the falls traversing arid eucalyptus landscapes to a cool temperate rainforest and the diverse terrain captures expansive mountain and water views. As part of the Great North Walk this is a well marked area. Enclosed by the waterfall’s dark pyramid-shaped cliff face and verdant rainforest, temperatures remain cool year round – which makes a dip in the water unbelievably refreshing!
How To Get There: A few options, depending on what you want to do regarding transport/difficulty of trail:
By Car: The waterfall is accessed from Woy Woy Road, Woy Woy (6km return trip). At this location there is a closed gate with a sign for walkers, displaying: ‘To the Great North Walk 1.7 km.’ This access area/small car park (space for 3 cars) is on the opposite side of the road 300 meters from Staples Lookout, heading towards Woy Woy. A good landmark is a sign on the road displaying ‘Staples Lookout is 300 meters ahead.’ Driving from this direction (towards Woy Woy) you will see the back of the sign; a clearing of land/car park, and a closed gate, the front of the sign faces Woy Woy.
Once you start walking from the Woy Woy Road access area (following the Great North Walk sign), you will continue on this management trail for at least 2km until you reach a sign that says Girrakool. Follow the Girrakool sign. This trail begins the descent to the waterfall, half way is a small camping ground. The tracks are easy to access and are easily seen, some steps on the journey are carved into stone. The return trip from waterfall will require a little energy and effort – due to the uphill steps and trail.
Easier walk (requires two cars) – begins from the same starting point; Woy Woy Road, but ends at Wondabyne Station – the waterfall is in the middle of the two destinations, it is an easier walk due to the descents, however you will need two cars, one to take you to the Woy Woy Road entrance, the other left at Woy Woy station. It is about the same distance as the return trip. From the waterfall continue to follow the dirt track until you reach the management trail – where you will turn left, follow signs to Wondabyne Station.
By public transport: This option captures the lovely water views. You will start the walk at Wondabyne Station, located on the river’s waterfront – (8.1km return trip). From the station follow the path into the bushland leading to ascending steps. The steps veer into a management trail, continue straight ahead on this track for 2.5 km until you reach a sign, where you will turn right (following the sign to Patonga) which takes you to the waterfall. (Note: Inform the train guard that you will be going to Wondabyne Station, otherwise the train will not stop at this station. As it is a small station you will need to travel in the last carriages. Check train times here.
These walks are along both the Thommos loop management trail and part of the Great North Walk (green wooden posts with an arrow indicates the GNW trail).
Difficulty of access: The return walk from Woy Woy Road to the waterfall is moderate to hard. The trail from Woy Woy Road to Wondabyne Station (requiring two cars) is easy to moderate. The return walk from Wondabyne station to waterfall – once you walk up the steps at the station (about 2km uphill) – the rest of the walk to the waterfall and back to Wondabyne station will be easy to moderate.
Opening Times/Seasons: All day/year round
Entrance Fee: It is free entry into Brisbane Water National Park
Facilities Nearby: These walks are about a three hour walk into a remote destination (from Wondabyne to falls return 3.5 hours). There are no shops or toilet facilities by the entrances (i.e. Woy Woy Road and Wondabyne station). Woy Woy Station and town centre will be the closest for amenities and food supplies. Make sure you take plenty of water and snacks
Other Activities: Bird Watching
Other Places of Interest Nearby: A train ride to Wondabyne Station is one way to access Brisbane Water National Park, which makes this a fun and interesting start to the journey. The waterfront location of this small and quaint station on Mullet Creek, a tributary of the Hawkesbury River, is renowned for its remoteness; it is believed to be the only station in Australia inaccessible by road. Just north of the station is a sandstone quarry which was recently reopened for restoration work on St Mary’s Cathedral spire in Sydney, the sandstone’s origins can be traced back to the Triassic period 200 million years. On this hike you’ll be trekking on terrain of precious Wondabyne sandstone!
Wildlife: A variety of bird calls echo through the forest. We managed to spot two frolicking lyrebirds, and a covey of grouse at Wondabyne station
Places to Eat: In the town centre of Woy Woy there are plenty of options.
Where to Camp: There is a campground on the trail, about halfway between the Woy Woy Road entrance and the Waterfall. It is a small, peaceful clearing of land (space for 3 small tents) with a firepit.
Nearby Towns: Woy Woy, Kariong, Umina Beach and Ettalong
Other Swimming Holes Nearby: Yet to be discovered (Beaches; Umina and Ettalong)
Comments: The hike offers a little bit of everything: historical sites – Wondabyne Station and sandstone quarry; water and mountain views; diverse landscapes; a beautiful waterfall and waterhole surrounded by a picturesque rainforest!
Huge thanks to Shelley Ann Morgan for the writeup of this location.
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