The Woy Woy Peninsula is a coastal sandplain, naturally covered with wetlands in the west below the Umina escarpment, coastal dunes and Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland, an endemic ecosystem now existing in remnants including at Brisbane Water High School Umina Campus and between Umina Oval and the caravan park. (This paper describes in detail the original vegetation of the peninsula.)
The surrounding plateau country of Brisbane Water National Park consists of Hawkesbury Sandstone, which crumbles easily into broken escarpments and sculpted rock formations, with dry sclerophyll forest the predominant ecosystem. 814 plant species, 261 animal species and more than 150 bird species have been recorded in the park.
There is great bushwalking in Brisbane Water and Bouddi national parks and Blackwall Mountain reserve. The best time of year for bushwalking is winter and early spring, between April and October, when the weather is cooler and there are no flies, mosquitoes, snakes or ticks. Even in summer, snakes will do their best to get out of your way, and ticks are probably the biggest health hazard in the bush; read this information page on ticks.
The best months to see wildflowers are August and September.
PEG runs occasional bushwalks. Follow PEG on Facebook for details of upcoming walks. Otherwise, the Wildwalks website and mobile app is the best guide to local bushwalks. Other local groups organising bushwalks include Brisbane Water Outdoor Club and Central Coast Bush Walking Friends. National Parks NSW also runs a program of Discovery Walks.
Some great short local bushwalks, all on clear well-marked paths or fire trails, include:
- Mt Ettalong Lookout. 30min return. Start from the small carpark near the watertank on Patonga Drive just before the Pearl Beach turnoff
- Pearl Beach waterfall. 30min return. Start at end of Amethyst Ave in Pearl Beach. Return from the falls, or the track climbs to the right of the waterfall, from where you can follow the creek-bed for 5min to the Pearly Ponds waterhole.
- Blackwall Mountain Lookout. 1hr return. Start from Kitchener Ave in Orange Grove. Follow the obvious unsealed road/path past the watertank to the lookout. Return from here or you can continue on a fainter path down to Mullbong Rd.
- Warrah Trig/Lookout. 1hr return. Start from the end of the unsealed road on your left halfway along Patonga Drive. (The unsealed road is OK for 2WD.) A well-maintained path with steps leads down to a great lookout over the Hawkesbury River.
- Pearl Beach to Patonga. Start at the firetrail gate near the end of Crystal Ave in Pearl Beach. Follow the firetrail up to Warrah Lookout. Either return from here (1.5hr return) or continue on the firetrail for 10min then turn left onto the Great North Walk track, which takes you steeply down to Patonga (3hr return).
- Kariong Brook Waterfall. 2hr return. Start from the gate at the top of the small stretch of dual carriageway on Woy Woy Rd (the road to Kariong). Follow Tommos Loop firetrail for 40min then turn right onto the Great North Walk track down to the falls. Return from here, or continue past the falls for 1hr to a firetrail, then turn right for 10min for a great view over Mooney Mooney Creek.
- Bambara “hieroglyphs”. 2hr return. Start from the large parking area on Woy Woy Rd just south of Kariong. Follow the fire trail for 30min and turn left at the prominent Sydney redgum to find some intriquing “Egyptian” hieroglyphs carved onto a rock face.
- Maitland Bay. 2hr return. Start from Maitland Bay Visitor Centre on the Scenic Road in Killcare. A well-marked trail to the beach.
- Bullimah Spur. 1hr return. From Maitland Bay Visitor Centre, take the signed right turn about 5min down the Maitland Bay track. An easy walk through lovely forest to a great lookout. Retrace your steps. (The track continues down from here to join the coastal walkway, but is very steep.)
- Bouddi Coastal Walk. 3hr return. Well-marked cliff/ocean walk from the Putty Beach campground to Maitland Bay then retrace your steps. The walk continues to MacMasters Beach, another 3hr return.
- Bulgandry Man rock art site. 20min loop. A short trail with interpretive signage to a prominent Aboriginal rock art site on the Woy Woy Rd just south of Kariong.
Identifying local plants and animals
Burnum Burnum’s Wild Things is an excellent pocket field guide to help identify local plants, birds and animals.
Pl@ntnet is a free plant identification app you can download from the Google Play Store; you simply take a picture of a plant and it tells you what it is.
Paul Dudley’s PBase website and warrahtrig.info both have simple picture guides to local bushflowers. (Use the “In Flower This Month” section of the Warrah Trig Info site.) The Royal Botanical Gardens’ Plantnet: Flora Online is a much more comprehensive guide to NSW native plants.
The area around Warrah Trig is probably the most accessible local location to see a wide variety of native flowers. It is accessible via an unsealed road (OK for 2WD) on the road to Patonga.
Pearl Beach Arboretum has signage identifying some of the many species of plants and trees in its grounds.
Aboriginal and Bushcraft
Girrigirra Aboriginal Tours run short Aboriginal cultural walks in Bouddi National Park visiting rock art sites.
Jake Cassar offers courses in bushcraft, wilderness survival, bushtucker and medicinal plants on Mangrove Mountain.