In the hinterland behind the beautiful town of Berry is a hidden treasure featuring exquisite forests, timeless geological features and, depending on the mood of Mother Nature, a vista of the coastline that is truly magnificent.
However, the path to Drawing Room Rocks can be a little rough, muddy and steep in places, so ensure you wear appropriate footwear and are reasonably fit.
This trail is part of a suite of walks within the Barren Grounds National Park, and is easily accessible at the end Woodhill Mountain Road - only one turn from Queen Street, the main street of Berry. There are two options for parking in the area: park at the cross-street with Wattamolla Road and walk up the gravel road; or drive up Woodbine Road and start from there. We chose the longer walk to add a little more to the distance.
The walk starts off on rich green farmland – take a good look around at the beautiful country views. It gets reasonably steep from here, but it’s an interesting walk with beautiful fungi, orchids and bird life, so take your time on the uneven ground and primitive steps as you climb to the top of the escarpment plateau. The trail can be quite damp and muddy right from the start, so be careful negotiating puddles and slippery sections (generally the soil/mud is quite sandy and not too slippery).
The climb uphill quickly brings rewards. The forest changes, bringing you beautiful, lush ferns and close-up views of the geology in the area. Smaller sheer cliffs reveal artistic sculptures of cutout overhangs and colourful lichens.
As you get closer to the top of the escarpment plateau, the vegetation changes to beautiful heathland banksias and a few side trails provide previews of the coastline and greater Kiama vistas to come. From here, you can also see the Drawing Rooms Rock site, which is still a traverse away and slight uphill climb. Taking time to enjoy these little spots allows you to see the views from alternate angles and enjoy the trail in its entirety. Simply backtrack to the main trail and continue along when you’re ready.
A little further ahead is the tea-tree forest. In the right conditions, this forest is something straight out of a horror movie. Grey, lifeless trees forming tunnels (are the branches closing in on me?!), tannin-stained puddles, echos of trickling water over rocks and tree roots reaching out all over the path (are they trying to grab my foot?!). Depending on what you like and your imagination, this is a really unusual and beautiful feature, which brings an unexpected contrast to the rainforest at the start of the walk.
After you’ve navigated your way through the tea-tree forest, it’s only a short distance to the famed Drawing Room Rocks, where horizontal mineral-laden layers have eroded at a slower pace than the surrounding Hawkesbury Sandstone to carve out what looks like tables and chairs, reminiscent of the time-gone drawing room chairs and tables. Or, at the very least, the early picnic days where school groups and churches used to enjoy their white linen spreads in their best Sunday clothes.
At the lookout point, there are no fences or specific viewing platforms so you can (carefully) enjoy lots of vantage points. When we say cliffs, we mean the real deal. Sheer-face drop-offs. There is no room for error here - surviving a fall would be virtually impossible. Be prepared for sudden and unexpected wind gusts. We know everyone wants the perfect Instagram photo, but not at the cost of a life – be safe, show caution and watch out for your mates. If you’re sensible, this place poses no excessive risks. Play it safe so we can all enjoy this place in its natural state.
Depending on the day and time, what you see at the lookout point could be anything! It will range from thick fog blocking any views (yep – that’s what we got!), to epic sunsets, sunrises and meteorologic wonders of fog formations over the surrounding precipices and valleys. Whatever you get on the day, it’s sure to be a magical sight and one that entices you back to see what other views can be had.
Once you drag yourself away from the view, simply walk out the same way you came and enjoy the nice meander downhill back to your car. Take the opportunity to do some shopping and wandering in Berry after your walk or even make a weekend out of it.
Parking and transport
There is no public transport and car pooling is recommended due to very limited street parking. Please park sensibly.
Watch out for Google Maps, it’s a little bit out of whack on the directions. Here are the directions to the start of the trail. Just head for Berry and it’s only one turn off from the main Queen Street.
This trail has steep sections. So people with knee issues or poor fitness will struggle. It is completely suitable for children that are used to walking however, the cliff sections are extremely dangerous with no room for error, they are sheer drops. Only take children that are responsible in taking direction in the bush. There is a high chance of leeches in this area after rain, so take adequate protection. Some areas are slippery underfoot with uneven ground, tree roots and mud 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.
Only people with reasonable fitness should attempt this trail as it is steep, less fit people can attempt it at a slow, comfortable pace.
Signage and track condition
This trail is easy to navigate with some stair installations and a clear pathway. Although not in the best state, the trail is very easy to follow. Signage is minimal.
It is very important that individuals do their best to stay on the main trail to avoid 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
Phone coverage is fairly low and shouldn’t be relied upon. Always carry a basic first aid kit in case of an emergency.
This track is ideal for birdwatchers, photographers or people looking to increase their fitness. Fast becoming a popular walk, with every reason, it’s worthwhile adding it to your bushwalking bucket list for it’s magnificent views and easily accessible location. If you can go mid-week to avoid any crowds it is ideal.
Want to know where you are going to hurt the next day? Depending on how fast you are intending to walk, expect a reasonable workout. As there are steep sections, your legs and glutes are going to get a good workout.
Hiking grade: Grade 3
Short but steep. You will need to be reasonably fit to do this walk, if you don’t currently do regular exercise, this is not your trail.
Distance and time
The track is a round trip being roughly a 4.5km walk. Time it takes is dependent on your fitness level, the average walker would possibly take about two hours.
Pollution/rubbish status: Grade 1
This trail is pretty good for rubbish, not much around.
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, fires, camping, smoking and alcohol.