The Great Outdoors with Laurie

The Great Outdoors with Laurie

Immerse yourself in nature just an hour outside Sydney - replace the sound of cars with the hum of native wildlife as you stroll or cycle in the Coast’s five incredible national parks.

Local of 30 years, Laurie Pasco is a Central Coast eco warrior. The NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service ranger spends her days conserving native plants, animals and important historic sites, while also working as a firefighter, protecting the region – and beyond – during bushfire season. Based in Brisbane Water National Park, Laurie shares why the Central Coast is special to her.

Image with caption
Laurie Pasco, NPWS Ranger, Brisbane Water National Park

What do you love most about the Coast?

“There is so much to do on the Central Coast. Within a few minutes’ drive, you can visit some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, sail or canoe on a lake or waterway, hike into remote rainforest, mountain bike, road ride or simply take the family for a bushwalk along one of the many walking tracks in our national parks. It’s an outdoor wonderland.”

As a ranger, what's your favourite national park on the Central Coast?

Brisbane Water National Park, of course. It’s a park that offers amazing diversity across its landscape, from stunning sandstone cliffs and escarpments, to rainforest gullies, including spectacular water views over Mooney Mooney Creek, Hawkesbury River and Brisbane Water.

 

What are your top three national park hiking trails for families?

  1. Piles Creek loop walking trail, Brisbane Water National Park
    This is for the more adventurous and experienced. It starts at Girrakool picnic area at Somersby and loops around the gully above Piles Creek. There is so much diversity along this walk – from rocky, rainforest gullies and waterfalls to the southern lookout where you have fabulous views over the forest canopy into the gorge.

 

  1. Warrah Trig to Patonga, also in Brisbane Water National Park
    This walk gives you an opportunity to view a diverse range of wildflowers. Start the walk on Warrah Trig Road, continuing along Doyles Walking Track to Warrah lookout for wonderful views over Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River. The walk then continues down Dark Corner walking track to the beach at Patonga.

 

  1. Bouddi Coastal Walk, Bouddi National Park
    The section of this walk between Putty Beach and Maitland Bay is a lovely, easy walk for families and provides access to two of the Coast’s most beautiful beaches.

What's the most underappreciated natural attraction in the region?

The Great North Walk, a 250-kilometre track between Sydney and Newcastle. It takes 14 days to walk the entire track, which passes through Brisbane Water National Park and Jilliby State Conservation Area through to Newcastle. If you don’t have time for a 14-day walk, you can also complete shorter sections in a day or two, camping at one of the designated remote campsites.

 

Where is the first place you would take a visitor to the Coast?

I’d take a visitor straight to Warrah lookout above Pearl Beach for the impressive views over the Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay. Alternatively, I’d say Girrakool picnic area for a family picnic, followed by a short walk to view the beautiful waterfalls and sacred Aboriginal engraving located there.

 

As a lifelong nature-lover, what's your go-to outdoor experience?

Mountain biking. I love riding single track at Ourimbah and Awaba State Forests on the Central Coast, as well as other tracks in national parks and council reserves that are set aside for mountain biking. The Coast has plenty of fire trails to explore too, which are great for families wanting to pursue more nature-based activities together.