The New England Highlands, wowee! This jaw-dropping region is home to some of the most epic views in all of NSW. Dan drops the lowdown on eight spots you won’t want to miss. This is seriously one of the best road trips we’ve come across.
A road trip from Queensland took me and two other blokes (Andy and Adrian) across this expansive high country. As you traverse the New England Highlands you experience the layers upon layers of mountain ranges that stretch from the Queensland border in the north, to Coonabarabran in the south.
Given the close proximity these parks have to each other, we were able to cover a lot of territory and were rewarded with ripper view after ripper view. Here’s what we saw!
A Week in the New England HighlandsPLAY VIDEO
1. New England National Park
Closest town: Ebor
The top of the list has to be New England National Park. This park links the boundaries of the Dunghutti, Anaiwan and Gumbaynggir people and has to be the most scenic park in the highlands.
The park towers over smaller peaks in the area, and I can confirm that temperatures plummet rapidly as you approach the campground. Don’t let that stop you, the views are the best in town. A particular highlight for me was a sunrise hike out to Wrights Lookout, and to this day it was the most amazing sunrise I’ve ever seen – an absolute must do!
2. Cathedral Rock National Park
Closest town: Ebor
New England’s neighbour, Cathedral Rock National Park, boasts exquisite bushland with endless rocky crags to boot. You could spend all day climbing and scrambling your way through the weathered granite crevices here.
My suggestion is to hit the 6km Cathedral Rock Loop Track and treat yourself to a sunset, we did and I must say it was nothing short of bloody amazing. If you’re after something a bit longer, then the 8km Woolpack Rocks trail might be more up your alley.
3. Gibraltar Range National Park
Closest town: Glen Innes
What can I say about this park – Gibraltar Range is unreal and has it all. It has an immaculate campground known as Mulligan’s, a pristine waterhole (which is freezing), rocky crags, wildflowers in endless bushland, rainforest and one monster waterfall.
You’d be mad to pass up the chance to check out the 6km Needles trail at sunrise and the 3km Dandahra Crags trail at sunset. Both trails offer sensational viewpoints towards the east at sunrise and south at sunset that will have you gasping for more.
4. Warrumbungle National Park
Closest town: Coonabarabran
The Warrumbungles, although high on my do-to list, was a park that evaded us on this road trip. Never mind though, Caleb Hindley, a fellow Explorer, captured the beauty of this park with his imagery and highly recommended that we should trek the 14.5km Grand High Tops trail and camp at Balor Hut if we are ever down that way again.
Caleb assures us that the 360° view from Grand High Tops is the most breathtaking view he has ever seen. The Warrumbungles are known as the Astronomy Capital of Australia as it is the only Dark Sky Park in the country and remains a place of spiritual significance for the Gamilaroi, Wiradjuri and Weilwan people.
5. Mount Kaputar National Park
Closest town: Narrabri
Home to the Gamilaroi people, Mount Kaputar National Park is another of the epic Highlands landscapes. Again, Mount Kaputar was a park that didn’t feature on our road trip but Caleb assures that the 0.5km Governor and 2.8km Yulludunida Crater treks are absolute ‘bangers’.
Caleb recalls these places because those that are willing to have a crack will be rewarded with incredible views of an exceptionally unique landscape, which he has captured wonderfully below.
6. Bald Rock National Park
Closest town: Tenterfield
Go big or go home at Bald Rock because the pinnacle of this park proclaims the title of the largest granite monolith in Australia. The medium graded 3.2km loop to the summit is worth every step and you’ll trace the steps the Jukambal, Bundjalung and Kamilleroi people took during times of traditional trading.
Keep your eyes peeled, as the summit is home to an elusive Superb Lyrebird (the cheeky bugger didn’t stand still long enough for me to snag a decent shot of it). The summit gives you 360° views that overlook the neighbouring Granite Belt and the Mount Barney massif — a truly magnificent sight!
7. Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
Closest town: Walcha
Epic gorges dominate this park and after some rain, the Apsley River below roars and certainly puts the ‘wild’ in Oxley Wild Rivers. Although I didn’t have time to explore everything I wanted to here, I could still relish in the jaw-dropping views that seemed to be around every corner.
A highlight here was observing several Wedge-tailed eagles that were soaring above, warning that aerial images should be captured somewhere else (and heed the warning I did).
8. Guy Fawkes River National Park
Closest town: Ebor
The pinnacle of this park, Ebor Falls, is situated along the Waterfall Way and links Dorrigo National Park with Cathedral Rock National Park — a perfect stop on your road trip across the New England Highlands. Here you can marvel at Ebor Falls and understand why people of the Gumbaynggir language group named it Martiam, meaning Great Falls.