One of Wollongong’s most beautiful and unique walks. Depending on the weather; a plethora of fungi, an eerie walk in the clouds or simply a great walk to absorb the iconic Wollongong coastline and Lake Illawarra views. A great walk anytime of year, enjoying plenty of wildlife with a short challenging walk.
Danger: The Illawarra escarpment cliff edges are very unstable. Beyond the trails there is subsidence that could lead to landslides. Bushwalk the Gong does not condone or recommend going off trail. It is dangerous and comes with the risk of serious injury or death. There are signs in the area noting the same.
The path may be a little rough, muddy and very steep in places so ensure you wear appropriate footwear.
This walk is part of a suite of walks in the Mount Kembla area, found easily at the end of Cordeaux Road. The walk has a small car park and, with only small signage at the trail head, it is well hidden.
The trail starts through the service gate and you follow the NPWS signpost into the bush (to the left of the powerlines when looking east). A few metres in you will see the full NPWS signage board as well as a directional sign ahead marking the way to Kembla Summit or the Ring Trail. Take your time here and read about the history of the area and what animals to expect. To continue, take the path on the left.
The trail starts quite barren of undergrowth due to maintenance from the NPSW, but shortly you will be greeted with some ferns and forest. If you look carefully you may find some fungus hugging dead branches or on the trees. The track continues heading up and up; depending on recent rainfall, the trail is generally a luscious green with blankets of moss on the rocks. The trail falls off steeply to the right down the escarpment so it’s important to stay on the trail. However, take a good look to the left and make note of the remains of the carriageway that was built (looks like a driveway). The carriageway never eventuated for tourists, but the initial works still scar the escarpment.
Make sure you have a good look around on this trail; there are beautiful ferns, fungus, lizards and lots of bird life including the cheeky lyrebird.
You will pass a beautiful big boulder that creates a little cave. Once you walk over the top of it you will start to see glimpses of the views south. Be careful near the edges, stay well back and avoid walking on any mosses or plants.
As you continue up, the trail starts to get trickier as the bush changes to a Casuarina forest. Be careful as the tree needles can become slippery as well as the eroded sandstone that slides underfoot. The trail becomes a little harder to follow as it gets rockier, but keep your eye out for some yellow arrows on the trees that help lead the way.
Enjoy the stairs which take you closer and closer to the top of the mountain. Once you reach the metal staircase you can take a little breather - the hard work is now all done! Continue along the well trodden path, in Autumn you will find the most amazing mushrooms on this walk (none edible, so watch the kids closely).
Once you continue along you will reach the viewing platform, which overlooks a large rock platform and shows off wonderful views of Lake Illawarra and further south. Stop and enjoy! That was a good effort getting up those stairs and trail.
Once you are ready to head back, continue on the trail past the trig station (large metal structure) and stop and log yourself in the book with an inspirational message for the next walker. Continue along as the trail loops back onto itself and you can continue back the same path right back to the car park.
Parking and transport:
There is no public transport, but the carpark is good and very visible from the road. Many people get lost trying to make it up to the carpark, just remember you need to turn left to continue on Cordeaux Rd, not right onto Harry Graham Drive. You will go through Windy Gully and pass an old cemetery and very old buildings, just keep going, you’ll easily find the carpark with the powerlines where the trail starts.
This trail has steep sections, so people with knee issues or poor fitness will struggle. It is completely suitable for younger children (infants school and up), naturally with a close eye. Ensure safety at all times as there are cliff dangers. There is a high chance of leeches in this area, so take adequate protection. Some areas are slippery underfoot with loose rocks so there is a risk of spraining ankles or falling, so take your time, check your footing before you put your weight down. In the warmer months, be cautious of snake danger on the open sections of the trail.
Ensure you come down the ladder facing the ladder, it is not a staircase and the step pads are narrow. Be careful in the rain and take a good grip with your hands to assist.
Signage and track condition:
Signage is reasonable on this trail. There is good signage at the beginning, danger signs and the ocassional yellow arrow to guide the way. It is generally fairly easy to navigate as you are basically heading up. If you do get on a side track, they basically all lead back onto the main trail. The track condition is good, there are stair sections, a ladder and chain barriers.
It is very important that individuals do their best to stay on the main trail to avoid further erosion and damage to the delicate environment. This is not too difficult and is critical to the ongoing integrity and future access of the trail.
Data and cellular coverage:
There is generally excellent reception on this trail. Always carry a basic first aid kit in case of an emergency.
This track is great fun for younger and older families and all ages, people with knee or hip issues will likely struggle. It is steep in sections, but taking your time even the unfit could take this on, but average fitness is highly recommended to get the most out of the walk.
Want to know where you are going to hurt the next day? This track will use your quads, calf’s and glutes mostly. In general, an easy walk for people with moderate fitness, so don’t expect to be sore the next day.
Hiking Grade: Grade 3
Although a fairly short walk, this grades at a 3 as there are steep sections with some rock scrambling and a basic ladder.
Distance and time:
The track is a round trip being roughly a 1.5hr walk . Distance is approximately 3.5km return with a 240m elevation gain.
Pollution/Rubbish Status: Grade 2
Generally this trail does attract some small amounts of litter. The carpark is particularly bad and the road up is a disaster, thankfully most of this doesn’t make it to the trail.
Please ensure you take a garbage bag to collect rubbish, and don’t forget to take a photo of your collection and tag us in #bushwalkthegong #cleanupgongsbushland – let’s spread the word that littering in or around our bushland areas is NOT OK!
All dogs (except for assistance dogs), bikes and smoking – and especially alcohol.