Great South Coast Walk

Track conditions

Alerts for NSW National Parks: Gives latest track conditions within National Parks, including closures, flooding, fires etc.

NSW Water Level Data Collection Program: A good way to find out the state of water-crossings. Provides charts for coastal lakes showing water levels over several days, which show whether a lake is closed off by a sand bar or open and subject to tidal influences.

Willyweather: Gives a nice graphic presentation of tides for the next 5 days for various locations along the south coast. This information can be used to plan times when walking sections that have water-crossings.

Beachsafe: by Surf Life Saving Australia gives descriptions of most of the beaches that you will walk on, as well as swell, tide and weather information for up to seven days. A smartphone app can also be downloaded from the site.

Organisation websites

Royal National Park Coast Track: National Parks web page with practical information for walking this section from Bundeena to Otford.

Forest Walk to Sublime Point Track: National Parks web page describing this section along the Illawarra Escarpment.

Illawarra Escarpment Walking Track (PDF): A brochure produced by Illawarra NPA of the new track along the Illawarra Escarpment from Stanwell Park to Austinmer.

Grand Pacific Walk: A proposal by Wollongong City Council for an urban-fringe style walk from Stanwell Park to Lake Illawarra - it will offer a variant to the Escarpment and will no doubt provide the best way to cross The 'Gong.

Kiama Coast Walk (PDF): A downloadable brochure of this new track which forms part of Stage 2 of the walk.

Seven Mile Beach Sand Track Walk: National Parks web page describing a short variant to beach-walking, which explores the coastal forest.

White Sands Walk and Scribbly Gum Track: National Parks web page describing a loop variant that takes in several beaches on Jervis Bay.

Hyams Beach Trail: National Parks web page describing a short 2km section of the walk past Hyams Beach.

Burrawang Track: National Parks web page describing a short section of coastal wetlands and rainforest from Conjola to Buckleys Point.

Pot Holes Walking Track: National Parks web page describing a short variant through coastal heath south of Dolphin Point.

Meroo Head Walking Track: National Parks web page describing a short section from Meroo camsite to Meroo Lake.

Meroo Lakes Walking Track: National Parks web page describing a short section from the beach below Meroo Head to Meroo campsite.

Nuggan Point Walking Track: National Parks web page describing a short section from Meroo Lake to Bawley Point.

Murramarang Aboriginal Area Walking Track: National Parks web page describing a loop through this Aboriginal heritage area.

Pretty Beach to Durras Mountain Walking Track: National Parks web page with practical information for walking this section in Murramarang National Park.

Pretty Beach to Pebbly Beach walking track: National Parks web page describing the first part of a coastal variant to the Durras Mountain track.

Pebbly Beach to Snake Bay walking track: National Parks web page describing the second part of a coastal variant to the Durras Mountain track.

Southern Shoalhaven Coast Walk: A proposal by John Souter for a 4-day walk from Narawallee to Durras, with nice descriptions of this part of the walk.

Honeysuckle Beach walking track: National Parks web page describing the track from Honeysuckle Beach to North Head campsite.

Mangrove Walk: National Parks web page describing a short section of track at Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve.

Bingi Dreaming Track: National Parks web page describing this aboriginal heritage trail that forms part of the walk from Congo to Tuross Head.

Kangarutha Walking Track: National Parks web page with practical information for walking this section from Tathra to Bournda Lake.

Haycock Point Walking Track: National Parks web page describing a track variant from Pambula to Barmouth Beach.

Light to Light Walk: National Parks web page with practical information for walking this section from Ben Boyd Tower to Green Cape Lighthouse.

Merrica River nature trail: National Parks web page describing the route from Merrica River to join up with the Nadgee Wilderness Trail.

Nadgee Wilderness Walk: National Parks web page with practical information for walking this section from Merrica River to Mallacoota.

Download GPX or KMZ track file

Click on an icon to download a zipfile containing either GPX or KMZ files of the entire Great South Coast Walk and track variations. Remember, this route data is for visual representation during trip planning and is not intended as a navigation tool. You should carry hard-copy maps with you when walking the route. Do not rely on electronic equipment, as batteries might expire and the device might fail or break.

Disclaimer: These digital files are for non-commercial, personal use only. By downloading them, you accept that their use is entirely at your own risk. We have tried to ensure the accuracy and currency of the data, but accept no responsibility for the results of any actions taken when using the GPX or KMZ files. Routes may be subject to foreseen or unforeseen change at any time and it is the users' responsibility to inform themselves of current track conditions or hazards.

Topographic maps


Topographic maps (1:25000) can be purchased on-line as hardcopies, or downloaded for free as pdf files, from the SIX Maps website managed by the NSW Government Spatial Services Unit). An interactive map of the state is also available at this site. This could be useful for planning purposes.

Downloading maps to a smart phone

Recent GSCW walkers, Tom and Jess, devised a way to download topographic or satellite maps to their i-phone, using the Gaia GPS app. This enabled them to use their phone as the main means of navigation. View the steps they took to do this.

Personal websites

These people have walked all or part of the Great South Coast Walk. Read about their adventures.

Photodiary of a Nomad / The Great South Coast Walk: Personal description and reflections on our 2004 walk from Sydney to Mallacoota. It was the genesis for proposing this long distance walk.

Australia: Great South Coast Walk: An American couple, Amy and Jim, found out about the Great South Coast Walk from the Photodiary of a Nomad website above and came all the way to Australia in 2011 to  walk it end to end. You can read about their impressions and get some great tips on doing the walk here.

Maureen's Meander to Melbourne: Between 2008-2011 Maureen led a series of walks and bike rides from Sydney to Mallacoota, and then on to Melbourne. You can read about her experiences on the Great South Coast Walk here.

She Walks: Claire walked the Great South Coast Walk in 2017 and used it to raise funds for the training of midwives in Ethiopia. She has posted a daily account of her walk on Facebook.

Ratherbebushwalking: Joanne is walking the Great South Coast Walk in 2018 and is posting a daily account on her Facebook page.

The Great South Coast Walk on Youtube: For a more dynamic look, Kate Grarock has made a video of her 25 day solo hike of the Great South Coast Walk in 2016.

Saunter101: Great South Coast Walk: Ross Young walked the Great South Coast Walk in three stages in 2019 and kept a daily blog of his trip. You can read about this on his website and also get some great tips and suggestions for doing the walk.

Books

Exploring a Wild Australian Coast: On the South Coast of New South Wales by Klaus Hueneke (Rosenberg Publishing, 2014)
String of Pearls: The South Coast of NSW by Klaus Hueneke (Seashell Publishers, 2016)
These two books by Klaus are worth a read and may well inspire you to do the walk.
 

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Transport

Train timetable: South Coast Line from Sydney to Bomaderry (useful for accessing start and end points on the first 3 stages of the walk)

Bus timetable: Premier bus line from Sydney to Eden (can access start and end points for Stages 1 to 9)

Bus timetables: Shoalhaven Heads to Nowra and Nowra to Greenwell Point or Culburra (these can be used if the Shoalhaven River mouth is open to the sea and there is no boat transport)

Bike hire: A novel way to cross the urban fringe areas of Wollongong and Port Kembla would be to hire a bike. Wollongong Bike Hire will drop the bikes to you at a pre-arranged location and pick them up from the end location. The area is well served by bike paths to make for a pleasant trip.
 

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Weather Forecasts

The most accurate weather forecasts for the next 7 days can be obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology website. Willyweather gives a nice graphic presentation of the BOM weather data.

Beachsafe by Surf Life Saving Australia gives descriptions of most of the beaches that you will walk on, as well as swell, tide and weather information for up to seven days.

Tide Charts

There are quite a few water-crossings on the Great South Coast Walk and some may need to be waded or swum. All tidal crossings can be dangerous due to currents and tidal variations, and should preferably be attempted at or close to low tide when there is little inflow or outflow. The NSW Government produces downloadable PDF and EPUB booklets with the current year's tide tables. This information can be used to plan times when walking sections that have water-crossings.

The Bureau of Meteorology also publishes tide charts and on-line tide information on its website.  These also provide PDF files of charts for Port Kembla, Crookhaven Heads, Jervis Bay, Ulladulla, Batemans Bay, Bermagui and Eden. Other sites, such as Moruya and Gabo Island are on-line.

Willyweather gives a nice graphic presentation of tides for the next 5 days for various locations along the south coast.

Phone Coverage

Mobile coverage maps for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Need to phone home - some areas of the South Coast are wild enough to not have mobile coverage.

 

National Parks and Other Reserves

The Great South Coast Walk passes through 13 National Parks and six other conservation areas, as listed below.

Royal National Park: Opportunities for barbecues, fishing, bushwalking, birdwatching and whale watching.

Illawarra State Conservation Conservation Area: Framing Wollongong, the Illawarra Escarpment is a dramatic 30 million-years-old formation, offering scenic lookouts, hiking, walking, birding, and picnic spots.

Killalea State Park: Coastlines, rainforest areas, extensive wetlands and seabird breeding areas.

Seven Mile Beach National Park: Walk through the forest, admiring the local wildlife, then kick off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as you stroll back along the beach.

Comerong Island Nature Reserve: Encompasses part of the Shoalhaven Estuary, an internationally recognised habitat for a range of shorebirds and waders.

Jervis Bay National Park: With its powder-white sands, crystal clear waters, forests, woodlands and wetlands, parts of this south coast park seem untouched by people.

Booderee National Park: A bay of plenty, with stunning beaches and surprising wildlife.

Conjola National Park: Boasting lakes, ocean and forests, Conjola is a nature-lover’s paradise.

Narawallee Creek Nature Reserve: With golden beaches, lush coastal forests and tranquil waterways, Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve is a little-known jewel on the spectacular NSW South Coast.

Meroo National Park: Coastal lakes ideal for kayaking, paddling and fishing, walking tracks and trails for cycling and exploring on your mountain bike.

Murramarang National Park: Spanning 44km of dramatic coastline, Murramarang is the ultimate spot to explore the cliffs, headlands and pristine beaches of the NSW South Coast.

Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve: Mangrove-lined estuary with scenic views and a rich birdlife.

Eurobodalla National Park: There are plenty of coastal lakes, plus lookouts and headlands that offer amazing coastal views, as well as being great vantage spots for whale watching.

Biamanga National Park: Jointly managed by Aboriginal people and the NPWS, Biamanga is a significant Aboriginal site filled with dramatic landscapes.

Mimosa Rocks National Park: With show-stopping headland views, beaches and pure lagoons, you’ll be spoilt for choice with lookouts, rainforest pockets and historic sites to explore.

Bournda National Park: The Far South Coast’s best-kept secret, offering secluded beaches, stunning coastal walks and great birdwatching.

Ben Boyd National Park: With rare wildlife, sheltered inlets and 45km of stunning rocky coastline, the park’s rugged beauty is a sight to behold.

Nadgee Nature Reserve: A startling area of untouched beauty, Nadgee Nature Reserve is a haven for those who relish getting back to nature and thrive on peace and quiet.

Croajingalong National Park: A stretch of true coastal wilderness.

Flora and Fauna

The Atlas of Life project provides up to date lists of the flora and fauna along the route of the Great South Coast Walk:

Atlas of Life - Coastal Wilderness and Budawang Coast

As well as seeing what others have observed, you can become a citizen scientist by adding your own flora and fauna observations. This can be done using the downloadable app for android phones or i-phones. Not only can you enjoy the walk, you can contribute to our knowledge of the biodiversity of this magnificent coastline.

Geological Sites

The walk passes by a number of New South Wale's designated geological sites, which highlight the diverse geological features of the route (see links below for more detail).

Illawarra Escarpment: The escarpment cliffs and plateau are comprised of massive beds of durable quartz sandstone lifte 600m above sea level by the warping of layers.

Bombo Headland Quarry: Juxtaposition of sedimentary sandstone and volcanic basalt layers - with impressive columnar jointing.

Kiama Blowholes: Latite lava rock platforms eroded by the sea to produce two spectacular blowholes.

Ulladulla Fossil Beds: Siltstone rock platforms containing an abundance of Permian marine invertebrate fossils.

Murramarang Unconformity: Where the Permian sandstones of the Sydney Basin meet the much older metamorphic Ordovician rock beds.

Guerilla Bay: Guerilla Bay rocks are some of the oldest rock formations on the east coast of Australia and were once part of an ancient subduction zone.

Bingie Bingie Point: The northern end of Bingie Beach comprises a spectacular display of intrusive igneous rocks.

Narooma Accretionary Complex: Cambrian pillow lava formations and chevron folded rocks created by the collision of tectonic plates.

Mystery Bay: A kink zone of sedimentary cherts, mudstones and slate from the Ordovian Period.

Tilba Headland: Igneous dykes and quartz veins intruding into the sedimentary Ordovician beds.

Mimosa Rocks: Highly folded and faulted sedimentary rocks such as slate, siltstone and shale deposited during the Ordovician period plus an array of volcanic materials.

Ben Boyd Laterites: A folded Devonian strata of red, brown and green shales, sandstones, siltstones, conglomerates and quartzites.

 

 

Beginnings

2004 – Pennie and David Briese walked 650 km from Cronulla to Mallacoota and published an on-line photodiary of their walk under the name “Great South Coast Walk”.

2007-2011 – several other people did the walk after reading the photodiary, either as through-walks or in stages. This included an American couple who travelled to Australia to do it, wrote a detailed description and included it in their Top Ten World Walks.

Phase 1: Floating the Idea

This led to the idea that the Great South Coast Walk could be formalised and promoted as one of Australia’s iconic long-distance walks (similar to the Bibbulmun Track and Heysen Trail).

2012 – the idea was floated with a number of bushwalking clubs, who liked the idea; local government organisations, who were generally positive but non-committal; and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), who gave a negative response, citing budget constraints and existing strategic plans.

2014 – submitted concept to NSW Great Walks Program - no response.

Phase 2: Getting Serious

2015 – Realised that more detailed information needed to be available if the concept of the walk was to gain some traction with state and local government agencies.

2016 – the first step was to develop a dedicated walk website giving maps, stage descriptions, resources etc to enable people to do the walk. The Great South Coast Walk website was published in May 2016 and is regularly updated.

2016 – Produced a GSCW flyer highlighting benefits of a long-distance walk along the South Coast. This was pitched at local government and business chambers who might support the walk.

2016 – Contacted various LGAs, business chambers and land councils to seek feedback and gauge support.

Jan 2017 – sought and obtained formal endorsement of proposal from bushwalking clubs and local branches of the National Park Association.

May 2017 – Discussions with Bushwalking NSW (Kirsten Meyer) and the National Parks Association (Matt McLelland) – both were supportive (suggested forming a steering committee to maximise impact).

Jun 2017 – Formed steering committee. Members were David Briese – convenor, Graham Burgess – Illawarra, Fiona Stewart and Barry Tomkinson – Shoalhaven, Frances Perkins – Far South Coast, Jan Thomas – Eurobodalla, and Maureen Carter – Sydney. Members used their local networks to raise awareness by talking to bushwalking clubs and community groups etc. and through newspaper articles and podcasts, as well as lobbying state and local government members, businesses and tourism agencies.

Apr 2018 – a Facebook page was created (following suggestion by Tom Bartlett) to provide a forum for updates on the walk concept progress, give feedback on the route, share descriptions of sections by recent walkers etc. It now has over 2000 followers.

May 2018 – discussions with NPWS – Matt Colahan (Track Development Project Officer) /Julie Bishop who directed us to their Visitor Experience section

Nov 2018 – discussion with Jo Issaverdis (Team Leader, Visitor Experience, South Coast Branch, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service) – referral to Destination NSW as an overarching body that could bring together other agencies. The walk fell within the ambit of Destination Sydney South and Surrounds (DSSS) and Destination Southern NSW (DSNSW) who had been created in 2016 as part of the Destination NSW network. Having a body that could interact with others was essential as there are 6 LGAs and 12 Land Councils, as well as NPWS and Forestry NSW, that could be considered stakeholders.

 

Phase 3: Movement at the Station

Feb 2019 – met with Steve Lawson and Greg Binskin of DSSS in Ulladulla (Community Centre café) to discuss proposal – this was a key event as both were highly supportive of the proposal.

Jun 2019 – DSSS and DSNSW made the decision to fund a business plan ($20000) and also produced a brochure and promotional video for the Great South Coast Walk concept.

Dec 2019 – TRC Tourism successfully tendered for the consultancy and produced a 136-page GSCW Opportunity Analysis and an 11-page GSCW Summary Report which highlighted the benefits that the walk could bring to the South Coast region.

In Jan 2021 massive bushfires devastated much of the South Coast, followed by the covid lockdowns in 2020/2021, These resulted in an hiatus for the project as Destinations NSW were pre-occupied with tourism recovery plans from these two disasters.

Dec 2020 – DSSS application made to Austrade for development of the proposal under Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grant scheme. The application was considered ineligible as grants were more for getting existing activities back on their feet rather than creating new ones.

Jun 2021 - Teleconference with Shannan Perry-Hall and Aaron Mattis (DSSS) – Following the very positive assessment in the Opportunity Analysis, DSSS decided to fund a Brand Development and Asset Ownership consultancy as the next step in the GSCW project ($30000).The tender was awarded to The Destination Agency in Sep 2021.

Sep 2022 – Tender partially completed, having obtained “strong support from all the LGA’s consulted to pursue a shared vision, branding and marketing strategy to position the NSW South Coast as Australia’s premier coastal walking destination through the development of the Great South Coast Walk concept.”