- Epic Wollongong views from an iconic lookout
- Beautiful coastal rainforest and woodland
- A higher grade walk that offers a great cardio workout
What to expect
With access at the top and bottom of the walk, there are a few ways to tackle the iconic Sublime Point Lookout. The walk intersects with the Gibson Trail and also joins the Woodward trail at the top, so you can certainly tailor it to your fitness ability.
I prefer to start at the bottom and save the reward of walking downhill for the way home. The track starts from Foothills Road, Austinmer in a residential area, so be very considerate of parking, noise levels and litter.
The track is well signposted and the base of the track is often muddy, so ensure you are not wearing your favourite sneakers! An easy walk in is soon forgotten as 1000-odd wooden and dirt stairs signal an 800m ascent up to the summit. There is little opportunity for rest as the track continues to meander up and up. After the trail refurbishment in 2009, National Parks and Wildlife Service were so kind to include a bench seat at quarterly intervals to alleviate the burn and provide a rest point to get hydrated.
The walk is quite simply stunning. If your intention is to walk it for sightseeing rather than fitness, enjoy an abundance of tree ferns, cabbage tree palms and bracken. The area is rich in biodiversity and you may spot black cockatoos above you or a Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko at your feet, so be careful where you tread. Note: this walk is a single trail only, so if you’re taking it slow, let people overtake you and go past on the way down - good manners goes a long way on this particularly busy trail.
For those of you in training or wishing to push your heart rate to the limit, here is the spot. An ideal trail for trekking practice, don’t forget to load your pack for the real experience, or simply get your sneakers and earphones on and start running up those stairs. It’s not unusual to be lapped by a fit runner on their second leg up the escarpment.
Once you get closer to the top of the escarpment, you are greeted with beautiful sandstone walls which make way for the six ladders that take you to the top (at the time of the refurbishment they needed to be flown in by helicopter). All the ladders are steel with handrails and a reasonable grip underfoot, even in wet weather. They are particularly steep, so those susceptible to a fear of heights or vertigo may not enjoy this section. However, the handrails are a welcome relief for the legs after doing all of the work.
Past the ladders, the walk takes you across and under some rock overhangs. Water seeps and drips from the sandstone, providing some cool relief from the heat you’ve generated. Walking north and up onto the escarpment plateau, you are welcomed back to civilisation with a short pathway to the official lookout and Trigonometric Station.
Take a well-earned rest here and don’t forget your iconic selfie whilst you absorb the beautiful views. The facilities at the summit include Sublime Point Cafe, toilets, BBQs and picnic shelters.
After a rest, it’s time to turn around and go back the way you came. Always face the ladder when descending and take your time - climbing down stairs puts strain on your knees and thighs. You could notice a little bit of ‘jelly legs’ from your fatigued muscles, but this will soon pass.
Public transport by train is also available via Austinmer train station, which provides an even greater opportunity to expand your fitness by adding the additional hills to the walk.
This walk is very steep, predominately stairs and nearly a kilometre uphill, with steep ladders at the top. Check with your GP before attempting the walk, particularly if you have any of the following or similar conditions: cardiac issues, severe asthma, blood pressure, vertigo, knee or leg issues etc. This is a physically demanding trail for people who are not considered very fit, so you either need to go extra slow or consider starting at the top and just walking down.
Essential gear required:
- Warm clothes and sun protection, it can be quite breezy and open in places
- Insect & Leech protection
- Basic First Aid kit
- Sneakers, not too good – very muddy in sections
- A snack for the summit or utilise the café facilities
- Reasonable fitness required
How to get to the trail (Interactive Map including train station):
- Training/Cardio fitness
- Trail running
Grade 4 – Steep gradient walk, mostly steps and some ladders requiring reasonable fitness and ability. Track is in reasonable condition, low risk of slipping or tripping.
About 800m each way return with steep gradient changes, taking anywhere from 20min to 2hrs return depending on your level of fitness.
All pets (other than assistance dogs) and smoking.
Visit the Bushwalk the Gong Facebook page here.