EXPLORE // Drawing Room Rocks
Jaw dropping views makes this glute-burning hike totally worth it!
While technically not in the Illawarra, Drawing Room Rocks is just over the border in the Barren Grounds Nature Reserve [just over a 10 minute drive west of Gerringong and a few minutes from Berry]. It’s a challenging hike but pays you back for your efforts with some of the most amazing views you’ll see anywhere.
Like anywhere. Ever.
For this reason alone it HAS to be included in our guide. Our fabulous Adventure Queen, Dimity crossed the border to find out everything we need to know about this fab walk.
Family friendly :: We’re saying no. It’s a tough walk and there are plenty of spots with steep drops that don’t have any fencing.
Easily Accessible :: Sure is! Take Woodhill Mountain Road out of Berry then turn into Brogers Creek Road. From there, follow the signs to Drawing Room Rocks.
Dog friendly :: Sorry no doggos! It’s in a National Park, people.
Stairs :: Yes, yes and yes. This one is steeeeeeeeep!
Length :: 3.8km return according to my GPS tracker but official length is 4.5km return.
Time :: It took me 1hr 40min (Official times say 2.5hrs) so I guess this just depends on your fitness level, although I don’t consider myself particularly fast or fit.
Cost :: Free!
Before you take off….
Okay guys let’s just start out by saying this is an epic walk and everyone needs to give it a crack, but before you even leave the house you need to be prepared.
It’s tough, steep and slippery. So best to head out in clear weather and definitely don’t attempt it in the wet.
Second thing is parking – it’s tight and limited. I was so glad we left the big ute behind and opted to take our little “city” car instead. The way in is a single lane gravel road with basically no spots to turn around. At the start of the walk there is enough space for 4-5 cars. So I would try and do this on a weekday if you can manage it, otherwise you may have a bit more of a trek to get to the start of the walk.
Last thing you need to be ready for is the mozzies. You may be thinking well no duh… of course there’s bugs in the bush. No honey, these mozzies are thick and fierce. Like a RuPaul drag race contestant, centre stage, mid death drop, kind of fierce. Aka…..load up on the repellent… okuuurrrrrr. *let’s pretend I can actually roll my tongue*
Getting there is pretty simple. I just dropped “drawing room rocks” into the GPS and it took us exactly where we needed to be. Once you’re on Brogers Creek Rd, you will see blue signs pointing you in the right direction. Once you park the car, head towards the farm gate at the end of the road and just off to the right you will see the start of the walk.
Starting off on top
The views even from the start of the walk are crazy beautiful. You’re starting at an elevation of roughly 250m above sea level, so every little viewpoint is just in-cred-i-bubble.
Finding the narrow dirt track, I instantly start climbing. It’s a steady incline and 15 minutes in, I’m puffing and panting while trying not to slip on the damp leaf litter underfoot. Most of the way up I’m surrounded by thick rainforest vegetation which is beautiful but the views are limited. But that’s all fine because my eyes are literally glued to the path in front of me. Its rocky and bumpy with a few steps thrown in to preserve the integrity of the path.
Lookout Number #1
After 20 minutes heading straight up, my calves are burning. I’m red in the face and incredibly grateful for the little paths that start to shoot off the main track, leading me to some beautiful rock edges (no railings so watch out!) where the views open up and extend for miles and miles in every direction. Why am I grateful? Because I’ve finally found some flat ground!
I take a path off to the left and sit for a couple of minutes, taking in the views all the way back up to the Highlands while I give my burning legs some time to CHILL…because we aren’t done climbing yet!
Just keep climbing just keep climbing
Back at the main path, the scrub is a bit more open, and the mozzies aren’t quite as mean. Now I just keep heading up, up and up. It’s more steps now and even a few flat stretches (YAY!!!) as I traverse under some seriously impressive sandstone boulders.
Every now and then a little path will shoot off to the side where you know you’re guaranteed another ridiculously amazing view out over the Illawarra and South Coast.
Past all the really nice boulders (I know you read that in Donkey’s voice) there’s a little bit of a rock scramble, another reason not to do this in the wet, before I hit the thickest banksia forest I think I have ever seen.
The path is seriously washed out and there are roots literally EVERYWHERE so be careful, but it really feels like you’re an intrepid adventurer exploring a mythical land for the first time. Its seriously so so so cool.
Banksia Forest to the top
If I thought that winding my way through the banksia forest was magical, I don’t think anything prepared me for what happens when I pop out the other side.
Straight out of the forest and I’m faced with a big rock plateau with views out to the coast. I would just say, be very careful up here. There’s no railings and some seriously big drops off the cliff edge.
Round to the right are the famous rock formations that you see in so many pictures. They’re awesome to see and an even better spot to sit and admire the seriously insane views back up towards the Highlands and all the way out to the coast. I would literally sit here all day if I could!
After a rest, some water and soaking up these epic views, it’s back down the way I came. Getting back to the car really only took about 30 minutes and it was ALL DOWNHILL, for which my calves were eternally grateful! Woohoo!
This is a seriously cool hike with views that are second to none, and with it so conveniently located near the Berry Donut Van, everyone should be giving this little walk a go! As long as you go in prepared and ready for the challenge, you are in for an absolute treat!