The Canyons of Donkey Mountain, Wolgan Valley (NSW)

Highlights:

  • Spectacular Valley lookouts
  • Fascinating Canyon Formations
  • Picturesque Sunrise/Sunsets
  • Astro-Photography on the summit
  • Wildlife

Our crew of five set off for the Wolgan Valley and find Donkey Mountain with ease before midday after visiting some nearby spectacular points of interest in the morning(Lithgow Blast Furnace, Capertee Lookout, Hassans Walls). We find Donkey Mountain easily, a fascinating lone mountain (350m from base) sprouting out from the middle of the Wolgan Valley, 30 minutes along Wolgan Road from Lidsdale. Plenty of wombats, kangaroos, and even elusive foxes to be seen on the way.

The best entrance up is noted as the “Grand Entrance’ and without much hesitation we head straight for Donkey Mountain from the carpark for the quickest route up. A slow incline quickly turns into a 45degree trek up mountain side with the last 50m ascent basically a vertical scramble. (These are the difficult entry points).

After 2 hours of exploring and scrambling across fairly ominous cliff lines we find a way onto the flat summit of Donkey Mountain and encounter the amazing pagoda formations and lookouts of Donkey Mountain and catch sight of an enormous wedge-tailed eagle taking flight!

With just over an hour left till sunrise we look for a way down, and end up emergency camping up top in a enclosed canyon with nothing but a fire and what we had on us. We looked up and saw an amazing window of stars from our canyon and safely scrambled to the freezing cold pagoda top and viewed an amazing starry sky and milky way. (coincidently my first try at astro-photography).

After a cold sleepless night, morning comes and we eventually find the ‘Grand Entrance’, a much easier and safe way up and down Donkey Mountain… but not before stopping at a Wolgan Valley lookout of the One and Only Emirates Resort shrouded in mist…

Essential Gear

(Providing the Grand Entrance is found before beginning)

  • Good Maps (Geoff Fox’s maps are a good start)
  • Compass/GPS
  • Tent/Torches/Camping gear to stay up top overnight (Highly Recommended for experienced hikers)
  • Food
  • Lots of Water is essential(no water available immediately on or around Donkey Mountain
  • A good sense of Direction and navigation is desired. Donkey Mountain is highly remote and completely surrounded by cliff edges prone to falling.

How to get there

Donkey Mountain, Wolgan Valley (Greater Blue Mountains, NSW) Drive along Castlereagh Highway towards Lidsdale from either Mudgee or Lithgow, and turn onto Wolgan Road towards Wolgan Valley. After driving for just over 30minutes Donkey Mountain should come into sight and the road winds to the left (north of Donkey Mountain) You will see a carpark(fenced) on the right with a small steel ladder signposted.

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Activities

    • Dry Canyoning
    • Unrivalled Astro Photography (completely lightless at night, A must do for experienced hikers/photographers)
    • Hiking/Climbing
    • Bird Watching
    • Photography opportunity at every angle from the flat summit of Donkey Mountain looking out 360degrees onto Wolgan Valley.
    • Camping (With or without tents in canyons: A definite must, with sufficient preparation)

Skill Level

Intermediate to Difficult, for the difficult canyons to navigate on top of the mountain and the moderate level of fitness required to climb 350m at quite a sustained incline with a lot of scrambles. Very limited reception, none available inside canyons. There are no trails marked and it is easy to stray from the right path at any given time.

Distance Covered/Elevation Gain

Donkey Mountain is 950m above sea level. Elevation is 350m from the Wolgan Valley base which inclines at a fairly high rate, many latter sections at a 45 degree+ angle.

Total Distance covered from Carpark to Donkey Mountain Summit and return is less than 10km, but can be extended via the amount explored on top of the summit and the route chosen up