From the internet, Castle Rocks near Mudgee didn’t leave Steph with the best impression. But once she got there and checked it out for herself, she found it hard to pull herself away.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Wiradjuri Nation, the traditional Country of the Wiradjuri people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


  • A city of natural sandstone temples  
  • 360-degree views over bush and farmland 
  • Abundant, interesting native flora 

Queen of the Castle Rocks

Early morning bush walks mean crisp air, close encounters with breakfasting wildlife, and the invisible threads of hundreds of webs spun overnight by industrious spiders! I found all this and then some on a memorable 7am visit to the Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve, 25 minutes outside Mudgee, on Wiradjuri Country.  



Just past the Ulan coal mine, a small, signposted car park marks the beginning of the 4.2km Castle Rocks Walking Track

Initially, the surroundings felt quite northern-hemispheric – native pines outnumbered the eucalyptus trees above a carpet of flowering shrubs. Being a designated conservation area, the bush on both sides of the trail was brimming with interesting and ornate wildflowers.  

Every few hundred metres, a wallaby bounded across the path and peered at me around a tree, chewing slowly. I’ve also never seen so many mature grass trees in one place! 



The path is wide, sandy, and largely flat. Right at the end, before you emerge above the tree line, there’s a  sharp, rocky ascent over about 80 metres.  

Before I arrived, my experience of the rock temples that give this walk its name was of crappy photos on the internet. They simply couldn’t prepare me for nature’s slam-dunk of majesty here.  



The lookout is unfenced, so care is needed, but it also allows for uninterrupted views and lots of exploration of the layered rock formations. Take in a 360-degree panorama of the surrounding bushland and sandstone pagodas that jut out at random above the canopy. On the horizon, spot pale fields, clusters of homes, and roads along with tiny, trundling cars.  

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!


Castle Rocks Might be the Best Spot You’ve Never Heard Of, Steph Lentz - Castle Rocks, Pagoda, cliffs

For at least an hour, I sat atop one of the pagodas, listening to birdcalls echo off rock walls, marvelling at nature’s unfailing capacity to surprise and delight. 

How To Get There

From the centre of Mudgee, it takes about 25 minutes to drive to Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve. The sign for the Castle Rocks Walking Track car park is on Wollar Rd, just past the coal mines at Ulan.

Essential Gear

  • Sturdy walking shoes 
  • 2L water per person  
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunnies
  • Camera

Skill Level

Beginner – Intermediate 

The track itself is unchallenging, but the ascent to the rock platform and exploration of the pagodas will require some fitness and mobility.

Distance / Duration

8.5 km / 2-2.5 hours