6 Wild waterfalls to seek out on the Central Coast
Say no to La Niña ruining your summertime! Rain or shine, you can explore the natural beauty of these six Central Coast waterfalls...
For picnicking and paddling, sunbathing and photographing, check out where to find the Central Coast's best falls with our go-to guide.
Waterfalls are most magnificent in the rain, so if venturing during wet weather plan your journey thoroughly. It's always recommended you plan ahead when venturing into any NSW national park or state forest, simply check the latest safety alerts, wear sensible, enclosed footwear and pack enough water and food. Always tell someone where you are hiking and when you expect to be back, and download the Australian Emergency Services' Emergency+ app.
To guarantee a stress-free adventure, visit the NSW Parks & Wildlife's dedicated Think Before you TREK page. And now - for an epic waterfall ride through the Central Coast's most stunning natural cascades!
Brisbane Water National Park
**Major upgrade in progress for Somersby Falls picnic area from 13 June-31 December 2023*
Please note the Somersby Falls picnic area and walking track is currently closed to complete upgrades on enhanced visitor safety, accessibility and protect sensitive cultural heritage. See below to visit our other wonderful waterfalls.
Named one of the 7 best waterfalls in New South Wales, Somersby Falls is the Central Coast's most popular family-friendly spot to visit a waterfall. Ideal for a swim in the heat of summer at its lower pool, with the water forming a stunning liquid curtain to shower beneath. Also a good collection of falls to explore for the adventurous, best experienced during wet weather, as these cascading creeks can grow immensely in size and power!
Park up at Somersby Falls Picnic Area and follow the signs to the Top Falls, Main Falls, or Bottom Falls with an easy 500m walking track surrounded by lush rainforest with lookout stops en route. There is paid parking on site ($8 per car per day) and amenities including picnic tables, BBQs and toilets. We recommend visiting before 10am or after 3pm if you're keen to avoid the crowds. If you rock up at Somersby Falls and it's just too busy, travel only a few minutes drive nearby to Girrakool picnic area and walking track - which also has beautiful waterfalls, walking tracks, and a larger picnic area.
Piles Creek Loop, Brisbane Water National Park
Explore where Piles Creek and Leask Creek meet just minutes off the M1. Once parking up (standard park entry fees apply), you have two options here. Take the 2km Girrakool Loop Track for a short and easy walk through dry eucalypt forest, featuring an Aboriginal rock engraving site and scenic views of waterfalls. Or you can take the amazing (and recently upgraded) Piles Creek Loop, which is double the distance but tours you right down to the creek itself that cuts through the national park, brave your way over an incredible suspension bridge, and hike up along the rising path to the canopy, to finish with the waterfalls. Birds will sing out on your walk, bush turkeys will pop up to say hello, and the falls are a popular spot for local lizards to sunbathe. Stop at Illoura lookout and the Andamira lookout for a photo of the two falls at this location, and also Broula Lookout and Bundilla Lookout for a different perspective.
Kariong Brook Falls
Brisbane Water National Park
The Central Coast's stunning hidden waterfall awaits! On the way down from Kariong to Woy Woy driving through Brisbane Water National Park, you will find Staples Lookout - an amazing view and good starting point for venturing onto the 3.2km one-way bush track to find Kariong Brook Falls. Follow signs first for Tommos Fire Trail, then the Hawkesbury Track, and then simply 'Girrakool'. As one of the Central Coast's lesser known waterfalls, this only adds to its untouched beauty. The pool is deep enough to swim in, but the short trail down to reach it passes through dense bushland, sandstone shelters and is steep and winding for 800m - but so, so worth it. This is a short falls walk for the adventurous, and like every waterfall route it should be pursued with care during the peak of summer and wet weather.
Strickland State Forest
An ecotourism gem of the Central Coast, Strickland State Forest is 100% free, family and dog-friendly, and filled with many amazing ways to enjoy nature - and this includes its own waterfall. Once parking up at the Banksia Picnic Area, find the signs that lead to 'Strickland Falls' 1.6km walking track. There are several loop tracks in this forest, ranging from challenging hikes along rainforest ridges to simple tracks to a waterfall or through the on-site arboretum, one of the oldest in Australia! Strickland Falls surrounds are rocky and can be slippery off the walking trail, so take due care when admiring their trickle or flow, depending on the weather.
Mangrove Mountain, Popran National Park
Exploring little known Popran National Park on the Central Coast is new to many locals and visitors, but a beautiful place to start is by seeking out its waterfall. Located in Mangrove Mountain, this is what we call the Hinterland area of the region, as nearby there are farm gates, orchards, animal sanctuaries and village cafes. But your short trek to find this fall starts at Ironbark Road, at Ironbark Falls Reserve, and continues along the path until you find the scenic spot open up. This is a great 'wild' waterfall that would pair perfectly with a picnic of local farm produce ingredients sourced at the Mountain Grower's Market.
Woy Woy waterfall
Hidden in Brisbane Water National Park
The very definition of a hidden gem that experienced a surge of popularity with local explorers during lockdown. Loosely named the 'Woy Woy Waterfall', it's actually a partially man-made structure perched at the base of a large cliff drop along one of Brisbane Water National Park's trails. Do not be fooled into thinking this is an easy waterfall to access (or find!) - it's reserved for experienced hikers and savvy adventurers only. Pack water and snacks, wear sensible enclosed shoes, take swimmers, and definitely take a mate - they'll come in handy when taking an amazing shot of you in the hidden pool! Set off along the Tunnel Trail, a fire trail off Woy Woy Road (park at Staples lookout), located in Brisbane Water National Park. Some proper planning and research is involved before chasing this one.
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