- Epic Illawarra views from secluded lookouts
- Beautiful heath and woodland with lots of birds
- A lower grade walk that is reasonably flat, suitable for families
As part of the Barren Grounds Nature Reserve, this walk starts at the back of Jamberoo on Jamberoo Mountain Road. The signage is pretty good and once you survive the seriously windy Jamberoo Pass there is ample parking and plenty of info signage in the car park – even a toilet block!
The Griffiths Loop trail is a great starting point to other trails leading off the main track, so you can really choose your own adventure in terms of length and difficulty. This guide only covers the Griffiths Loop trail, however Cooks Nose is a good divert that adds another few kilometres to the walk.
You can start at either end of the loop trail. We started at the northern gate which is well signposted. The vast majority of the walk is on a wide management trail, which can get fairly boggy in sections. Autumn is not known for an abundance of wildflowers, however there was still wattle, plenty of banksia (Banksia spinulosa mostly) and some remnant fuchsias (Epacris longiflora). The Drosera (sundews) were still around and Leptospermum scoparium (tea tree) still showing some blooms. This walk is definitely worth repeating in spring when you can add plenty of Boronia, Isopogan and possibly the beautiful Waratah to your list of flower spotting.
The first feature of the walk is Illawarra Lookout, easily found with signposting, this little diversion will take you to a North East facing looking showing spectacular views of the coastline. On a clear day you can see right up to the iconic Wollongong mountains and beyond. The fenced lookout is kid friendly and here is the spot to take your selfies and take a moment to enjoy the view. Ready to move on? Join the main track again and head slightly uphill to the highest part of the trail. Don’t forget to turn around and take in the full 360 degrees, there are some lovely views back across the top of the highlands and there are also some rocky outcrops on the left that provide some sneaky views back to Wollongong, there are no rails here, so be cautious with kids.
In literally a turn of bend, you walk straight down into The Glen, a lush temperate rainforest section with an abundance of ferns, tall trees and we even found some Omphalotus nidiformis a bio-luminescent fungi.
Further along you move back into the heath and head towards the Saddleback Trig. At this point there is a great little viewing platform where you climb up to see wonderful views 180 degrees across the plateau and ocean. A great spot for a panorama photo or grab a seat at the picnic table for a snack. Continue down the trail where you can turn off for the Kangaroo Ridge Trail (this will add another 19km’s to your walk), but keep walking on the Griffiths Trail down hill towards the next view point, Stone Bridge. Here a natural formed ‘bridge’ over a creek is a lovely cool spot for lunch or a swim. The water is beautifully stained from the tea trees but still clear and very serene with the naturally occurring cascades. Once you can draw yourself away, continue back up the slight increase, look out for wombat holes and some beautiful bird calls through this section, Barren Grounds is home to some 180 bird species – so it might pay to pack the binoculars.
Keep on the trail and you will pass the next trail diversion, Cooks Nose which adds another 6km’s to the walk if you choose, otherwise continue on the Griffiths Trail. From here it’s a nice stroll back, passing the field centre and back into the carpark.
Warm clothes and sun protection, it can be very windy and exposed in places
- Insect & Leech protection
- Basic First Aid kit
- Water, there is no water available here and it is a long and exposed walk
- Sneakers, not too good – very muddy in sections, hiking boots ideal as some loose rock sections and ankle support is ideal
- A snack/lunch to enjoy
- Basic fitness required
How to get to the trail (Interactive Map including train station):
- Trail running (a perfect trail run, wide and long trails)
- Grade 3 – Low gradient walk, some rocky sections might be loose underfoot so be mindful of ankle sprains. Track is in reasonable condition, low risk of slipping or tripping. Some water sections and cliffs to be mindful of if walking with children.
- Approximate distance 8km loop trail with mild gradient changes, taking about 3 to 4hrs return depending on your level of fitness.
- All pets (other than assistance dogs) and smoking.
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This trail is one of the National Parks Association’s 60 Best Walks. Find out more here.