Southern Highlands, NSW

The best nature walks in the Southern Highlands NSW

By Rosie Stevens

September 9, 2020 | 4 minute read

Carrington Falls. Image credit: Jessica Best
Carrington Falls. Image credit: Jessica Best

Bursting with colonial charm, rolling hills and plenty of seasonal things to see and do, the Southern Highlands in NSW is about as perfect a weekend destination as they come. While there's no doubt the shopping and cafe scene is great, one of my favourite activities when visiting the region is to escape the everyday on a lovely nature walk. Here are some of my favourites, with options for both families and keen bush walkers. 

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Berrima River Walk - 2 km

Stunning scenery and a rich history combine to create the Berrima River Walk, an easy return trip that is just under 2km in distance. This hidden gem showcases beautiful Aussie bushland, a gorgeous riverscape and plenty of birdlife, and was historically an internment area during the First World War. 

Signs placed along the walk tell the story of how German prisoners of war lived, and what the seamen built during their four year stint in the area from 1915-1919. 

Carrington Falls - <1 km

A real hero of the area in the Budderoo National Park, Carrington Falls offers a fun, family-friendly walk that really showcases the diverse beauty of the Kangaroo River. There are plenty of lookouts that offer ever-changing views of the waterfalls and it’s a great spot for wildlife lovers. Depending on the season, you can hope to catch glimpses of a swamp wallaby or two, a long-nosed potoroo or even a lyrebird.

If the sub-1km loop isn’t long enough for you, and you’re looking to stretch your legs a little more, the Budderoo National Park has other walks that make great additions to Carrington Falls. These include the Warris Chair walk; a particularly great one for birdwatchers (think flame robbins, honey eaters and firetails) so don’t forget those binoculars! 

Alternatively (or as well as, depending on how much energy you have!), the Missingham Lookout Track shows off both the beautiful Kangaroo Valley in all its glory, as well as the Carrington Falls Gorge area. The 3.8 km return track is a great one for those hiking without children and promises unforgettable scenery.

Cave Creek walking track
Cave Creek walking track

Box Vale Walking Track - 10 km

If you’re keen for a longer walk from the get-go, the Box Vale Walking Track is a great pick. It’s a 10 km return trip that takes you along a track that was formed as part of the coal mining area in the 1800s, so is another great option for history enthusiasts. The unique track features a 100-metre long tunnel through rock hill and rewards its visitors with spectacular views out to the Nattai National Park

Cave Creek and Big Hill Cutting - 2.6 km

The family-friendly 2.6 km Cave Creek walk takes walkers underneath a breathtaking overhanging rock through gorgeous native bushland lofty gum trees and low bushes—to a cave at the end of the track. There’s plenty of birdlife to be seen if that’s your jam, and the gully that walkers enter after the cave is a veritable oasis of quintessential Australian bushland. 

From here, Big Hill Cutting isn’t far away. The renowned old railway line near Buxton and Hill Top used to be the biggest railway cutting in the Southern Hemisphere, dating back to the 1860s. Now that it’s not in use, it offers a great opportunity for walkers to visit this slice of Australian history in the Southern Highlands.

Clover Hill Trail - image credit  @bushwalkthegong
Clover Hill Trail - image credit @bushwalkthegong

Erith Coal Mine - 2.25 km

If short and steep is your M.O for a bushwalk, look no further than Erith Coal Mine in the Morton National Park, not far from Bundanoon. The walk boasts a waterfall, plenty of mossy bushland, and of course exhibits the rich history of coal mining in the Southern Highlands. The walk is roughly a 2.25 km return trip through Coals Creek Crossing and takes walkers through woodland and rainforest to a coal mine that was open from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. 

Clover Hill Trail - 6 km

Situated near Wollongong and Kiama, the Clover Hill Trail at Macquarie Pass offers an interesting and diverse walk that’s recommended for more seasoned hikers. The 6 km return route takes walkers to Rainbow Falls and three smaller sets of falls on the Macquarie River. Through dense forest to an open scape at Clover Hill, the walk showcases beautiful rainforest, plenty of birdlife, native fauna and clear plains that are home to plenty of kangaroos. 

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