Popran National Park
Popran National Park conserves spectacular sandstone cliffs and gullies and many Aboriginal sites. It includes four kilometres of Hawkesbury River foreshore to the east and north of Milson Island and contains a number of undisturbed small creek catchments. These completely natural fresh running water tributaries to the Hawkesbury River are becoming scarce and so the park is important for their conservation and the protection of the animals and plants that depend on them. The park provides remote walking routes, secluded rock pools and exceptional displays of spring wildflowers.
This park is near...
Sydney (65 km)
Best access routes
This park is 65 km north of Sydneyand 25 km west of Gosford, north of the Hawkesbury River. There's easy access from the F3 Sydney–Newcastle Freeway exiting at Mount White or Calga. You can reach the northern section of the park from Ironbark Road, Mangrove Mountain, off Wisemans Ferry Road. The southern section, which includes Cascade Gully and parts of Marlows Gully, can be reached from the old Pacific Highway, Mount White. The southern section .
Road quality: paved
Facilities & things to do
You can go bushwalking or mountain bike riding, or wander through the exceptional wildflower displays. Camping is not permitted in the park but you can ramble through the rainforests where white cedars, lilli pillies and coachwoods are linked by vines, and bird nests, ferns and staghorns nestle high up in the canopy. You may be lucky enough to hear and see green catbirds, satin bowerbirds, lyrebirds or brush turkeys.
Take the Mount Olive Track through dry open woodland and soak up the magnificent views of Glenworth Valley, extending to the distant Hawkesbury River. You can see honeyeaters and spinebills along the way and may hear the raucous cries of yellow-tailed and glossy black cockatoos. Observant walkers may see Aboriginal engravings.
West of Mount Olive is 248 track. Ironbarks, turpentines and Sydney blue gums replace the dry open woodland of grey gums, Sydney peppermints and angophoras. There are more Aboriginal engravings along this track, which ends with spectacular views of Ironbark Creek and the Hawkesbury River.
For more experienced walkers there is an extensive system of fire trails starting in the Mt White area. These trails lead to Bar Point and the wreck of HMAS Parramatta, where only the hull remains. The walk is approximately 8 km one way, with steep sections only suited to fit walkers.
Horseriding is possible in north Popran, along the 248 and Mount Olive tracks. You can also explore the edges of the park by boat. Meander through the mangroves or enjoy views of the sandstone cliff lines while fishing. There's a boat ramp just outside the park at Mooney Mooney Point on the northern side of the Peats Ferry Bridge. You can also swim in the Hominy Creek near Mount Olive.
Popran Nation Park is one of a large group of predominantly sandstone parks and reserves surrounding Sydney. Over 450 plant species have been recorded and there are at least 19 vegetation communities ranging from mangroves, forests and rainforests to sedgelands and heaths.
Wetland habitats that occur in Mangrove, Ironbark and Popran creeks and on the banks of the Hawkesbury River support species that require very specialised habitats, such as Lewin's rail. There are stands of grey mangrove along the coastline, while the river mangrove prefers less salty water and can be found along river banks.
Threatened species include powerful owls, masked owls, black bitterns, tiger quolls, brush-tailed phascogales, yellow-bellied gliders, squirrel gliders, red-crowned toadlets and green and golden bell frogs, as well as four micro-bat species. The park is also significant for the large population of glossy black cockatoos and masked owls, which are found mainly in the tall forests of wet gullies.
Culture & history
The Dharug and Guringai Aboriginal peoples have occupied parts of Popran National Park for a least 11,000 years and the park includes a number of significant Aboriginal sites. Evidence of Aboriginal culture is abundant and includes occupation deposits in sandstone shelters, foreshore middens, rock engravings, paintings and axe grinding grooves. Rock engraving was the main art form in the area, with several hundred recorded in the park.
The land and waterways, and the plants and animals that live in them, feature in all facets of Aboriginal culture – including recreational, ceremonial, spiritual and as a main source of food and medicine. They are associated with dreaming stories and cultural learning that is still passed on today. We work with local Aboriginal communities to protect this rich heritage. To find out more about Aboriginal heritage in the park, you can get in touch with the local Aboriginal community. Contact the park office for more details.
History in the park
Limited logging of red cedar and large hardwoods was undertaken from the early days of settlement until around 1980 and you can still see the stumps of some of the larger trees. The land was primarily used for growing corn, vegetables and fruit, which was transported to Sydney by boat. Some of the land along Popran and Ironbark creeks was granted to convicts who had served their time. With increasing costs of transporting produce to Sydney in the mid 1900s, most people moved away and many of the farms deteriorated. A dam on Cascade Gully and Mailmans Track feature as historic structures.
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service