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Situated in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, and not far from Wollongong, Dharawal National Park is a 6,500-hectare national park that has been home to the Dharawal (Tharwal) people for more than 15,000 years.
Dharawal National Park is within the Tharawal and the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Councils areas and is home to archaeological sites that showcase the amazing talents of the indigenous Australians who lived on the land. On a visit, you can see rock art of drawings, paintings, and stencils that have been made using black charcoal, white clay, or red, yellow, or orange ochre. Approximately 236 archaeological sites have been found inside the national park.
Dharawal has just been on the national parks register since 2012, so it’s one of the newest national parks in Australia. It’s also really close to Campbelltown, so that’s a good spot to start if you’re looking for accommodation close by.
Alongside the amazing historical sites at Dharawal, you’ll find bush walks, mountain bike trails, waterfalls, and rock pools.
Dharawal National Park Bush Walks
The walk to Maddens Falls is a fairly easy one, but as always we’d recommend sunscreen, a hat, and some decent walking shoes to make it easier on yourself. It’s definitely easy enough to take kids on the trek.
Ending at the Maddens Falls—which sees the Maddens Creek fall over rocks into the pools below—you’ll encounter a ton of native birds such as honeyeaters, red wattle birds, and golden whistlers. You might also hear tree frogs, brown froglets, and banjo frogs on your stroll.
Tree wise you’ll get a glimpse acacias, native river roses, and a ton of ferns at the base of Maddens Falls.
A note from National Parks NSW: “Minerva Pool is a sacred women’s place for the Aboriginal Dharawal People. The Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council asks that visitors respect the cultural importance of this site. Only women and children may enter the waters of Minerva Pool.”
The walk to Minerva Pool in Dharawal National Park is just a 2.5km round trip but features some spectacular views along the way. Look out for Sydney golden wattle, and mountain devil shrub which was used by the Dharawal people for food and bush medicine.
Jingga Walking Trail
‘Jingga’ means ‘nice and sweet’ in the Dharawal language in relation to water. The Jingga walking trail is a steep trail that is just under 2.5km long. At the end of the trail, you’ll find a freshwater swimming hole that is part of O’Hare’s Creek.
Along the walk you’ll catch beautiful eucalyptus bushland that is surrounded by sandstone formations. As with the rest of Dharawal National Park, expect to see plenty of birds and you’re also likely to catch a glimpse of the endangered long-nosed potoroo.
O’Hare’s Creek Lookout
The best views in Dharawal National Park are definitely seen from the O’Hare’s Creek Lookout. Getting to the lookout is easy, just follow the O’Hare’s Creek lookout walking trail lined with scribbly gums and red bloodwoods.
On the animal front you’ll probably catch a glimpse of wallabies, the odd goanna, with plenty of nectar-loving birds around as well.
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Dharawal National Park Mountain Bike Trails
10B Cycling Trail
The 10B cycling trail in Dharawal is a 30km round trip that’ll take you around 3 hours to finish off.
The trail starts near the Appin Road entrance to the national park, and is a fairly easy trek to a great picnic spot. Given the incline it’s not recommended for smaller children, but older kids should be able to finish it no drama.
Pack a picnic for the end of the 15km ride, and expect to see native bird life including the yellow-tailed black cockatoo which are often in the area.
About Illawarra region:
Illawarra is a region in the Australian state of New South Wales. It is a coastal region situated immediately south of Sydney and north of the Shoalhaven or South Coast region. It encompasses the cities of Wollongong, Shellharbour and the town of Kiama.
The Illawarra region is characterised by three distinct districts: the north-central district, which is a contiguous urban sprawl centred on Lake Illawarra; the western district defined by the Illawarra escarpment, which leads up to the south-west fringe of Greater Metropolitan Sydney including the Macarthur and Southern Highlands regions; and the southern district, which is historically semi-rural (area undefined), yet now defined by increasing urbanisation.
- Campbelltown | 12.9KM | 16-minute drive
- Wollongong | 59KM | 53-minute drive
- Cronulla | 66KM | 1 hour, 10-minute drive
- Bowral | 75KM | 1 hour drive
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Image credit: via Wikipedia