Mount Keira - Walking Tracks

Walking Tracks

The Mount Keira Ring Track provides walkers with a moderate 5.5 kilometre (3–5 hour) round trip. The Ring Track encircles the mountain at an average height of 250 metres. The walk can be commenced from a number of locations, including Mount Keira summit, Byarong Park, the Scout Camp and Queen Elizabeth Drive. The Ring Track can also be joined from the Mount Pleasant Track, which starts from Parrish Avenue. From Byarong Park, a picnic area with parking and an information bay, access to the Ring Track is via a short link track that runs from the northern perimeter of the picnic area to the entrance of the Girl Guide Camp road. The link track crosses the Guide Camp road and then ascends a short distance through rainforest, before joining the Ring Track. From the junction, two branches of the Ring Track ascend the mountain. The left branch gently climbs the southern flank of Mount Keira, following Mitchells Road to a saddle located at the junction of Mount Keira Road and Queen Elizabeth Drive. The right branch traverses the mountain's eastern flank, before emerging at Geordies Flat on Mount Keira Road. From Geordies Flat, the northern branch of the Ring Track climbs steadily to the junction of Mount Keira Road and Queen Elizabeth Drive. At this point, walkers can also join the Robertsons Lookout track, a short (1.2 km) walk that terminates at a spectacular view that takes in the Scout Camp, Mount Keira and the Illawarra coast. At Geordies Flat, a vehicle width trail leads north to Parrish avenue. Walkers combine this trail with the Ring Track and the Mount Pleasant walking track to complete a loop walk.

Highlights of the Ring Track are rainforest and many species of unique Australian animals, including wallabies, lyrebirds, brush turkeys, echidnas. Lyrebirds are common on the southern slopes. Rain forests have a mostly open understorey, consisting of ferns and low shrubs. Weeds such as Lantana are evident where the natural environment has been disturbed. Eucalyptus forests thrive where the rain forests have been cleared but even here rainforest plants typically dominate the understorey.

Walkers can climb from the Ring Track's southern branch to Mount Keira summit via the Dave Walsh Track, which joins the Ring Track opposite the Scout Camp Road, or from the northern branch via a branch track that emerges about halfway along Queen Elizabeth Drive. At the summit, the Dave Walsh track emerges at Five Islands Lookout. A short (200 metre) track leads to the summit park, where there is parking, toilets and a cafe. With care, walkers using the short northern link to Queen Elizabeth Drive can turn left when they reach the road and walk along the road to the summit. Walkers need to exercise great caution when walking along Queen Elizabeth Road because the road is narrow and steep with blind corners that limit visibility of both cars and walkers. From Mount Keira summit, fine views of Warra to the south and Brokers Nose Promontory to the north can be seen.

The track surface is variable. On the southern and eastern flanks, the track is reasonably well formed and the gradients are relatively steady. The northern branch is steeper and more rugged. The northern flank contains some particularly magnificent rain forests. The southern section of the track follows an early convict built road on Mount Keira, some of which is still visible. A similar feature, an early attempt to construct a carriageway, is visible west of the summit track on Mount Kembla. Also on the southern flank there is also an old telegraph camp site. The Ring Track is a locally well known and is popular with joggers, walkers and school groups. The track was rebuilt after it was damaged in 1998 by severe storms.

The Dave Walsh Track, named after a scout leader, climbs from Mount Keira Road opposite the scout Camp road through a small open area of ground ferns, up the western slope of Mount Keira, to Five Islands Lookout and the Summit Track. At the Mount Keira summit, it can also be reached via a maintenance trail that leads from the carpark in Summit Park. The tree growth is mainly, ground plants including and . Wallabies, lizards, snakes and many forms of bird and insects live in the area.

The Ken Ausburn Track begins at the end of Northfields Avenue (near the University of Wollongong and Wollongong Botanic Garden). It climbs up a steep grass path and turns into a section of wooden steps and a boardwalk. At the top of the steps is a plaque indicating several bird species to be found on the track. Near this is an oddly out of place lemon tree. It follows a level path to an open grass area where it then reaches the Lawrence Hargrave Memorial Sculpture, situated in an open grass area. The sculpture was made from 1988 to 1989 by Herbert "Bert" Flugelman, and is of stainless steel and part of the University of Wollongong Art Collection.

After this the track goes along gradually climbing a ridge until it reaches the Northern Illawarra Lookout, which gives views to the north and has a plaque telling of the shipwreck at Towradgi Point. From here it continues through a cutting, with a plaque indicating the cutting is a survivor from the Mount Keira Tramway opened in 1859. The track goes up some more wooden steps and reaches a brick airshaft completed in 1907 used to ventilate the Kemira Colliery, and a plaque tells of the mines history. From here the track goes for a short distance before reaching the Mount Pleasant Management Trail, and then to the northeastern entrance to the Ring Track, at Geordies Flat on Mount Keira Road. The track is popular with joggers and tourists, and has many plaques indicating various sights such as a remaining grey ironbark left from extensive logging in the late 19th century and several plants such as the invasive weed Lantana Camara and the native Settlers Flax.

The Mount Pleasant Track is 750 metres long. It extends between Parrish Avenue at Mount Pleasant and Mount Keira Road. By car, Parrish Avenue is reached by turning left off Mount Ousley Road (immediately before the Mount Pleasant road overpass bridge, driving southbound), and then right onto the overpass bridge. The track climbs the middle slopes of Mount Keira via dense rainforest. From Parrish Avenue, the walk steeply ascends a 3 metre wide trail for about 300 metres before narrowing to less than a metre. The final 500 metres wind through the rainforest, which contains many ferns, vines and palms. Large boulders are evidence of previous rockfalls from the sandstone plateau, which forms the escarpment cliffs and Mount Keira summit. Over the last 350 metres the gradient decreases until it reaches the Ring Track. About 100 metres north of the track-head at Parrish avenue are the Illawarra Rhododendron Gardens. The Gardens are lush, quiet and pleasantly cool in most seasons. Walkers can complete a loop back to Parrish Avenue by turning left onto the Ring Track and left again onto the Mount Pleasant Management Trail at Geordies Flat.

The Mount Pleasant Management Trail is a trail used for walking and mountain bike riding, bicycles being permitted only on management trails and not on walking tracks in the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area. The trail travels between the suburb of Mount Pleasant and Mount Keira Road, where it emerges at the hairpin bend (Geordies Flat). The trail is 2 to 3 metres wide. From Mount Pleasant the trail ascends steadily to its junction with the Ken Ausburn Track, which is located on the walker's left (east side of the trail). From here ascends a steep hill before levelling out to Mount Keira Road. Near the entrance to the Ken Ausburn track, views of Wollongong can be had. From Mount Pleasant good views of the northern cliff face can be seen. Birdwatching is an activity on this track, for many species can easily be seen including lyrebirds.

The Keira Summit Track skirts the edge of the Mount Keira cliffline. It links the Queen Victoria Lookout and Five Islands Lookout. The track forms a short (600 metre) loop when combined with a management trail that leads between the Five Islands lookout and the summit car park. The track goes through thick bush at the eastern clifftop and includes Sleber's Mint Bush, Lomandra grasses and many native flowering plants.

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