Somersby Falls and Girakool Picnic Area
Doesn’t get much better than a dip under a waterfall, photo courtesy of NSW National Parks
Located in Brisbane Water National Park, Somersby Falls is a popular Central Coast spot.
Located about an hour north of Sydney and not far off the F3 Freeway, Somersby Falls makes a great day trip for Sydney-siders.
I love it here because it’s a bit rustic, it gets you out of your comfort zone and you get to experience some beautiful falls without a 5km hike!
Read on to find out all about Somersby Falls.
Picnic Area and Upper Falls
The excellent part about Somersby Falls is that visitors can see the upper falls from the picnic area
The first part of Somersby Falls that you will come to is it’s picnic area and upper falls. The picnic area is located right next to the carpark making the walk in very short and easy.
From the picnic area, visitors can see the upper falls without having to do a strenuous walk. Whilst these are not the most impressive of the falls, their easy access makes this a great spot for visitors with mobility concerns and young children.
There is paid parking (or you can park on Somersby Falls Road and do an easy walk in), free BBQ facilities, toilets, tables and some bench seats. There are small areas of grass as well as some bush land areas which are great for exploring. It is not the biggest of picnic areas but even on busy days everyone seems to fit in.
For safety there is a barrier between the falls and the picnic ground, but as with any water area keep a close eye on the kids!
Note: the water is not for drinking so make sure to bring water with you.
The picnic areas are rustic and quite small and they can get busy on weekends
Somersby Falls Walk
Please be aware that the walk is Grade 3 which means there are steep sections and rough surfaces
One of the main attractions of Somersby Falls is walking to the middle and bottom falls.
Before you set up for a picnic you might want to head off on the falls walk. Don’t take too much with you on the walk (except some water, a phone and towels) as the walk can be tricky in parts.
The walk is broken up into a few sections each with their own attractions.
The start of the walk is clearly marked. It is just near the upper falls.
Somersby Falls Upper Falls Lookout
The walk to the Upper Falls Lookout is slightly uneven and best for those with good mobility
Once you start the the walk you will pretty quickly come to the Upper Falls Lookout.
As the name suggests, The Upper Falls Lookout provides a view of the upper falls. The walk to it is a little bit steep and should be undertaken by those with good mobility.
It’s a good spot to stop and take a breather!
Somersby Falls Middle Falls
The middle falls are the most impressive ones and are perfect for a summers splash
The middle falls are about 200 metres from the start of the trail. The path down is steep and a bit precarious in places. It is safe to take kids here, but you will need to be careful with them.
The middle falls are the most impressive of the falls. They are particularly beautiful with a great rock ledge so you can get up close to them. There are also lots of interesting rock pools to explore.
On summer days you will find lots of kids and adults splashing about in and around the falls. If you think your kids will want to go for a dip, pop a towel or two in your backpack.
Even during winter Somersby Falls are a great place to explore. I actually really love visiting places like this during the cooler months, as you avoid the crowds and you really get to enjoy the environment around you.
The pathway to the Middle Falls is steep
The best time to visit the falls is after rainfall. The photo above is the falls after rain and the photo below is when it has not rained for some time.
The falls look very different depending on the amount of recent rain
Somersby Falls Bottom Falls
The bottom falls have a different feeling to the middle falls
To be honest I actually enjoyed the bottom falls the most. As you are walking down to them you can feel the temperature drop and the atmosphere change. The falls down here are not as impressive as the middle falls, but I loved the moss and the sheen and the rainforest feeling.
The ambiance at the bottom falls is beautiful
BUT the walk down here is slippery, uneven and quite precarious in places. I would not attempt it with young kids or the elderly. There are stairs, rocks, ledges and uneven paths.
The falls are around 400m from the start of the trail. And remember you will need to go back up again! The walk is absolutely worth it, but take care and use common sense.
There is a beautiful green valley here which the adventurous of us may wish to explore, but please note there is no official marked trail.
The walk to the bottom falls can be steep and slippery in places
Enjoy a picnic at Somersby Falls or Girakool
Girakool Picnic Area is another alternative to Somersby Falls
After enjoying the falls enjoy a picnic at the Somersby Falls picnic area.
Or, if you are after something a little different you could head to the Girakool Picnic Area. Located about a 10 minute drive from Somersby Falls, I actually think Girakool is a nicer picnic ground. It has lots of green space, some nice tables and good amenities. There is lots of wildlife here so you may even spot a wallaby or two!
At Girakool you will find walks, gas BBQs, wood fired BBQs, great lookouts and waterfalls.
There are also some great long and short walking trails here.
If you are looking for some views head to the right of the amenities block along the Girrakool Loop Walk and you will come to the lookouts and trails.
Make sure to take note of this sign at Illoura Lookout for instruction on where to go
If you turn left at this sign at the Illoura Lookout you can stand ‘on top’ of the waterfall and then complete the Pile Creek Loop (which is a long trail). If you head to the right you can complete the Girakool Loop and you will travel past a few different lookouts.
The Bundilla Lookout gives great views of the waterfall
Even if you don’t want to do a long walk, make sure to look find the ancient Aboriginal Art which is located off a short trail to the left of the car park.
Amazing that this ancient Aboriginal Art is still here today
Somersby Falls Picnic Area
Address: Somersby Falls Rd, Somersby NSW 2250
Opening hours: 9.00am – 8.00pm daylight savings time or 5.00pm at all other times
Entry fee: $8.00 per car, or park on Somersby Falls Road
Further details: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/picnic-areas/somersby-falls-picnic-area
Girrakool Picnic Area
Address: Brisbane Water National Park, Old Pacific Hwy, Kariong NSW 2250
Opening hours: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Entry fee: $8.00 per car
Further details: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/picnic-areas/girrakool-picnic-area