{Sublime Point Lookout Ascent}

  • Epic Wollongong views from an iconic lookout
  • Beautiful coastal rainforest and woodland
  • A higher grade walk that offers a great cardio workout

Summary of adventure:

One of Wollongong’s most iconic walks is the Sublime Point lookout. With access at the top and bottom of the walk there are a few options on the best way to tackle this walk, and you can certainly mix it up according to your fitness ability. In addition the walk intersects with the Gibson Trail and also joins the Woodward trail at the top, so plenty of options are available to tailor the walk to your needs.

My preferred option is to start at the bottom and save the reward of walking downhill for the way home. The track starts from Foothills Rd, Austinmer in a residential area, so be very considerate in your parking (ie. don’t park across driveways), noise levels and certainly ensure you don’t leave any rubbish behind.

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The track is very well signposted and often the base of the track is very muddy straight off the road, so ensure you are not wearing your favourite sneakers! An easy walk in is soon diminished as the 1,000 odd wooden and dirt stairs start your ascent up approximately 800m to the summit. There is virtually no opportunity for rest due to lack of flatter sections, the track continues to meander up and up. After the trail refurbishment in 2009, National Parks and Wildlife Service were so kind to include a bench seat at approximately quarterly intervals to alleviate the burn and provide a rest point to get hydrated.

The walk is quite simply stunning, if your intentions are to walk it for sightseeing rather than fitness, enjoy an abundance of tree ferns, cabbage tree palms and bracken. The area is rich in biodiversity and you may spot black cockatoos above you or a Southern Leaf Tail Gecko at your feet, so be careful where you tread! Noting this walk is a single trail only, so if you are taking it slow, give way and let people overtake you and let them past on the way down, good manners on the trail goes a long way as it is particularly busy.

For those of you in training or wishing to push your heart rate to the limit, here is the spot. An ideal trail for trekking practice, don’t forget to load your pack for the real experience, or simply get your sneakers and earphones on and start running up those stairs. It’s not unusual to be lapped by a fit runner on their second leg up the escarpment.

Once you get closer to the top of the escarpment you are greeted with beautiful sandstone walls which make way for the six ladders that take you to the top (at the time of the refurbishment they needed to be flown in by helicopter). All the ladders are steel with handrails and a reasonable grip underfoot even in wet weather. They are particularly steep, so those susceptible to being scared of heights or vertigo may not enjoy this section; however the handrails are a welcome relief for the legs after doing all of the work.

After the ladders you walk across and under some cooling rock overhangs that provide some relief from the heat you have generated as the water seeps and drips from the sandstone. Walking North and up onto the escarpment plateau you are welcomed back to civilisation and the short pathway to the official lookout and Trigonometric Station.

Take a well-earned rest here and don’t forget your iconic selfie whilst you absorb the beautiful views. The facilities at the summit include; Sublime Point Cafe, toilets, BBQ’s and picnic shelters.

Once you have had your rest, then turn around and descend the same way you came, keeping in mind, you should be facing towards the ladder when descending ladders, not facing out and downwards like a staircase. Take your time getting down also, descending on stairs puts strain on your knees and thighs and you could notice a little bit of ‘jelly legs’ on the down from your fatigued muscles, but this will soon pass.

Public transport by train is also available via Austinmer train station, which provides an even greater opportunity to expand your fitness by adding the additional hills to the walk.

MEDICAL WARNING: A word of advice, this walk is very steep with predominately stairs and nearly a kilometre uphill, in addition to steep ladders at the top. People attempting this walk should check with their GP particularly if you have any of the following or similar conditions; cardiac issues, severe asthma, blood pressure, vertigo, knee or leg issues etc. This is a physically demanding trail for people that are not considered very fit, so you either need to go extra slow or reconsider starting from the bottom and just walk down.
Essential Gear Required:

  • Warm clothes and sun protection, it can be quite breezy and open in places
  • Insect & Leech protection
  • Basic First Aid kit
  • Water
  • Sneakers, not too good – very muddy in sections
  • A snack for the summit or utilise the café facilities
  • Reasonable fitness required

How to get to the trail (Interactive Map including train station):

  • Walking/hiking
  • Training/Cardio fitness
  • Trail running
  • Photography
  • Birdwatching

Skill Level:

Grade 4 – Steep gradient walk, mostly steps and some ladders requiring reasonable fitness and ability. Track is in reasonable condition, low risk of slipping or tripping.

Distance Covered:

Approximate distance 800m each way return with steep gradient changes, taking 
anywhere from 20min to 2hrs return depending on your level of fitness.

Prohibited

All pets (other than assistance dogs) and smoking.

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