Our Favourite Hike Near Gosford

31 Aug 2023
Suspension Bridge over Piles Creek in Brisbane Water National Park


Just a 15-minute drive from central Gosford, you will find yourself in the magnificent Brisbane Water National Park in New South Wales. Some sections of this hike will take you along the Great North Walk, which stretches from Sydney to Newcastle. The nearly 5-kilometer Piles Creek Loop will wind through sandstone caves, impressive waterfalls and emerald rivers. Meandering through dense rainforest and dry bushland, this hike will take you through diverse landscape and offer some challenging inclines and declines, perfect for Kokoda Challenge training! 


Starting at the Girrakool Picnic Area where there are a number of picnic tables and chairs for you to enjoy the surrounding serenity, we decidde to first add on the Girrakool Loop Track to make the most of soaking in this beautiful area.  


Eroded caves in Brisbane Water National Park


If walking in a clockwise direction and following the Girrakool Loop Track, you will first visit a site with Aboriginal Rock Engravings. This is an important part of Aboriginal songs, stories and customs that connect people with the land. Please show your respect at this site by not touching or interfering with the engravings or walking or riding over the sites.  


The track then carves through rocky outcrops along an established and well-formed track. While visiting in August, the native flowers were thriving and made for a spectacular display of colours. Continue to follow the sandstone pavers through to the first cascade. We do not advise crossing this section if there has been substantial rain, as this section of the track requires you to hop over the cascade to continue on. We spotted a small lizard bathing on the rocks here too, but unfortunately didn’t see any other animals on the day! 

Stepping stones over Piles Creek in Brisbane Water National Park
Piles Creek Loop hiking trail Brisbane Water National Park

Continuing along the Girrakool Loop Track, you will eventually arrive at the top of a large waterfall along Piles Creek. We quickly hopped over the stepping stones to reach the other side of the creek and then hopped back again to continue our hike along Piles Creek Loop. 


This is where you will start to head down into the rainforest below and feel the temperature drop as you meander through the eroded caves that have formed spectacular natural artwork. The track continues to be well formed with ample signage making it difficult to get lost! Make sure you take the short turn off the main trail to visit Piles Creek Lookout to enjoy the scenery of the valley below, it is breathtaking.


Eventually you will reach the bottom of the valley at Piles Creek, which is the most vivid shade of emerald, especially when the sun peers through the clouds. Stop here and marvel at the the creek from the suspension bridge you will need to cross to continue on your journey. You will also gain exceptional views on the other side of the creek where there is a large, open area with some wreckage of what must have been an old bridge. 

Onward and upward! The trail will now start to climb back up to the Girrakool Picnic Area, with steep sections where you will climb stairs and wind through the rainforest of Brisbane Water National Park. On your way up, you will reach another platform, Bundilla Lookout, where you can view the waterfall that you started your hike at.  


With a total elevation of 148 metres, this hike provide a reasonable spot for some of your earlier Kokoda Challenge training hikes. If you’re participating in longer distances such as the 48 kilometre team endurance event, you will want to make sure that you’re increasing the difficulty and length of your training hikes as you get closer to the event.  


All up, this hike took approximately two and a half hours including the additional Girrakool loop at the start, but we were walking at a very quick pace! Other sites have suggested that this walk took them three and a half hours, so ensure you allow plenty of daylight before you set off! 

Tree along Piles Creek Loop in Brisbane Water National Park
Waterfall along Piles Creek in Brisbane Water National Park

Please remember that, as this is a national park, there are no pets permitted. Please respect these rules as Brisbane Water National Park is home to native wildlife that get scared off by domestic animals.  


It’s worth also noting that there is a parking meter here that costs $8.00 per vehicle for a full day of parking. Please also note that Brisbane Water National Park closes and opens their gates during certain times, so be sure to check the website to stay tuned for updates.  


Heading on this hike? Make sure you tag us in your adventure! Click here to view the video of our experience here.  

Suspension bridge over Piles Creek in Brisbane Water National Park
Piles Creek Loop hiking trail in Brisbane Water National Park

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