Last updated: October 17, 2021
If you’re looking for a quiet and unspoiled alternative to the larger and more popular national parks in and around Sydney, Dharawal National Park near Campbelltown most definitely deserves your attention.
In this article we are going to introduce Dharawal National Park as your next outdoor adventure destination, with a list of five exciting highlights to consider exploring.
About Dharawal National Park
Dharawal National Park is still a relatively unknown protected area in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.
The park is nestled between the Hume Motorway (M31) and Appin Road (B69) in the west, and the Princes Motorway (M1) in the east.
The name Dharawal refers to the language group of the local Aboriginal people, who have continued to have a close relationship with the area for more than 15,000 years. Several Aboriginal sites can still be found, such as shelters and art work.
Dharawal National Park is characterised by an extensive network of creeks, swamp areas and heath vegetation, and is home to various cycling trails, walking tracks, waterfalls, and natural swimming holes.
These activities and natural sights make visiting Dharawal National Park a fantastic alternative to the larger national parks, such as the Blue Mountains and the Royal National Park.
Top 5 Highlights
In no particular order, here are five fantastic walking tracks and sights to explore in Dharawal National Park.
1. Maddens Falls
Maddens Falls is a stunning cascade waterfall in the rural locality of Darkes Forest in the eastern section of Dharawal National Park.
An easy 1 km bushwalk through beautiful scenery brings visitors to a viewing platform from where you can soak in panoramic views of the waterfall and the surrounding area.
The walking track is mainly an elevated walkway, designed to protect the vulnerable swamp vegetation. Once you’re at the platform, you can continue walking over the top of the waterfall to the other side for more scenic views.
To get to Maddens Falls, turn into Darkes Forest Road from the Princes Highway, and continue for about 2.5 km until you see the 10Z management trail signpost.
2. Minerva Pool Walking Track
Minerva Pool is a rather large natural water hole in the northwestern section of Dharawal National Park, accessible via a relatively easy and scenic bush walking track.
A fenced lookout platform located towards the end of this walking track offers stunning views of Minerva Pool from above.
The 3 km return walk is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Good shoes are recommended though, because the surface is quite rough at times, and there is a bit of rock scrambling involved to get to the pool.
The start of this walking track is located in Wedderburn. To get there, follow Victoria Road all the way to the entrance gate to the national park, where Victoria Road turns into a dirt road.
3. Jingga Walking Track
The 2.5 km return Jingga Pool walking track starts from the same spot as the trail to Minerva Pool, and also leads to a natural waterhole. That means you might be able to visit two waterholes in one day!
The Jingga track is perhaps a little bit more challenging, but the reward of swimming in the freshwater lagoon that is the Jingga Pool will make the effort very worthwhile.
4. O’Hares Creek Lookout
Yet another little hiking adventure in the Wedderburn part of Dharawal National Park is the short walking track to the O’Hares Creek Lookout.
This is a family-friendly 3 km return bush walking track that leads to a large lookout platform with spectacular views over O’Hares Creek and the surrounding area.
Park your car in the same car park on Victoria Road to get to the start of this easy and highly enjoyable walking track.
5. 10B Cycling Trail
The 10B Trail is an exciting cycling route that crosses the entire Dharawal National Park from north to south, with the northern entrance in Wedderburn and the southern entrance on Appin Road.
It’s essentially a 15 km long unsealed road from start to finish, suitable for mountain bikes, with a steep descent and ascent at Stokes Creek near the Wedderburn entrance.
Read more about the 10B cycling trail on the NSW National Parks website.