Walking from Wondabyne to Pearl Beach, Patonga or Umina via Mount Wondabyne
Wondabyne train station is the starting point for one of the best bush walks located north of Sydney.
My wife and I spent seven hours walking the 26.8 kilometre trek from Wondabyne along the Great North Walk to Mount Wondabyne and Pearl Beach.
The only way to access Wondabyne is via rail or boat. We caught the train to Wondabyne for our walk.
The walk takes you past the magnificent Kariong Brook Falls — Located in the middle of the Brisbane Water National Park.
If you’re planning to do this walk, you’ll need to be prepared. Take food and lots of water — there’s no shop at Wondabyne, or anywhere along the tracks inside the Brisbane Water National Park. There are lots of mosquitos located deep inside some of the valleys. The insects will be attracted to you if you stop walking — pack an insect repellent — also do this in winter. Also consider that you’ll be walking across a lot rocks that have water running across them — walking a day after a large rain storm could be slippery. It also get muddy sometimes along the way. The best phone coverage can be found at the top of Mount Wondabyne and along some of the ridges.
The are are two types of tracks inside the Brisbane Water National Park — wide fire trails and narrow bush tracks. The walk is well sign posted by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
We spoke to several walkers inside the national park, and found that the area attracts people who want to visit Mount Wondabyne and the Kariong Brook Falls. Some of the walkers who wanted to visit those locations entered the Brisbane Water National Park from Woy Woy Road — near Staples Lookout. We spotted a trio of runners who ran from Staples Lookout to the Pindar Cave, and back. The Pindar Cave is located west of Wondabyne — about halfway between Wondabyne and Mooney Mooney Creek.
The walk to Pearl Beach is a long walk. We started walking from Wondabyne at 8:45am. And finished at Pearl Beach at 4:45pm — with a one hour break along the way. A train dropped us off Wondabyne, and a bus picked us up at Pearl Beach.
The walk from Wondabyne train station is immediately steep. The entry to the track is located at the southern end of the train station — on the quarry side of the platform.
This walk alongside the Wondabyne Quarry is by far the hardest part of the walk — you’ll come across several other steep areas on this walk, but they won’t be as steep and long as this initial climb.
At the top of Wondabyne train station is the Rife Range Firetrail. Along this track you’ll pass the poorly sign-posted Pindar Cave Walking Track — the track is over grown and not suitable for first-time walkers.
Along the Rifle Range Fire Trail you’ll arrive at a point referred to on Google Maps as the Great North Walk & Wondabyne Station Track Junction. Follow the sign to Patonga — this will put you onto the Hawkesbury Track and lead you down to Myron Brook and Kariong Brook — These are two creeks that feed fresh water from the Brisbane Water National Park into Mullett Creek and the Hawkesbury River. This part of the Hawkesbury Track is a bush track. You will walk over large rocks and past some amazing caves.
It takes about 90 minutes to walk from Wondabyne to Kariong Brook Falls.
The waterfall is an excellent spot for a long break and a swim — a great place to escape the summer heat too.
As I walked through this section of the Brisbane Water National Park I got a sense that the caves, large open-air rocks and waterfall have been in use by people for thousands of years.
We walked up from Kariong Brook Falls and onto Tommos Loop Firetrail where we re-connected with the Hawkesbury Trail.
Along this walk you’ll see a line of electricity poles. These poles follow the railway line from Woy Woy to Wondabyne — The poles signify when you’re crossing over the top of the Woy Woy rail tunnel.
A track leading off the Hawkesbury Trail takes you up to Mount Wondabyne where you will experience outstanding views of Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina, Brisbane Water, Broken Bay, Palm Beach, Hawkesbury River, Marramarra National Park, Dharug National Park, Somersby & Gosford.
Accessing the peak at Mount Wondabyne is tricky, but rewarding.
We spent almost an hour at the top of Mount Wondabyne.
Coming down from Mount Wondabyne, we followed the Patonga signs along the Mount Wondabyne Trig Firetrail and Tunnel Firetrail.
At the end of the Tunnel Firetrail don’t make the mistake of taking the wrong turn — Follow the arrow on the green timber post — enter the track called ‘Dillons Track’ — Google Maps refers to this track as the Hawkesbury Track.
Dillons Track is a bushwalk over large rock formations and along some narrow trails.
It will lead you down to the southern edge of the Woy Woy Tip — a sign here tells walkers that they can’t access the Woy Woy via the tip.
The track eventually puts you onto Van Dhals Firetrail - you’re on the home stretch. We took the Sani Depot Trail exit to Patonga Drive.
From this track you’re able to choose where you want to end your walk. For us, we chose to deviate to the left and onto a track that put us onto Patonga Drive where we walked down into Pearl Beach. From Pearl Beach you could walk around the coastal headland into Umina.
At this point in the walk, some people join the Pearl Beach Patonga Firetrail which takes them into Patonga. Last month we came across a hiker who had walked from Wondabyne to Patonga within five hours!
I had been wanting to explore this part of the Brisbane Water National Park for 40 years, and I am so glad that I did.
We hope you enjoy your walk around the park.