Newnes, deep in the Wolgan Valley is a special place for all who visit, probably more so for the campers who aren’t spending 2k a night at the resort down the road. For Adrian Mascenon it’s a region full of undiscovered potential – a sunrise scramble up Mystery Mountain was just scratching the surface.
- Steep climb that rewards you with panoramic views of the Wolgan Valley
- A good introduction to un-signposted walks
- Unique rock pagodas at the top make for the perfect lunch spot
- Epic location for sunrise!
Magical Wolgan Valley
Newnes, hidden deep in the Wolgan Valley has become known as one of NSW’s key adventure playgrounds and it’s not hard to see why. Climbing, canyoning, 4WDing and oh so much walking, is just a stone’s throw from Sydney.
Steeped in a rich history, the former town of Newnes was built to support the Shale Oil industry that was nearby, and it was the train line from the mines to Lithgow that carved the magnificent tunnel we know today as the Glow Worm Tunnel. But there’s so much more to this area than glow worms and an epic, free campsite…
Everyone who goes to Newnes has a similar first experience. The jaw dropping drive through the Wolgan Valley and the wonder as you venture deeper into the Wollemi National Park.
Heavenward our heads turn as we enter the campsite, in absolute awe as we’re greeted by the towering golden cliffs that surround the grassy campsite.
However, there’s one particular peak that often draws the attention of campers below. A triangular mountain top that overlooks the Newnes Campground: Mystery Mountain.
Mysterious Mystery Mountain
No one really knows how Mystery Mountain got its name, there aren’t even any signs that dictate such other than the hand drawn maps and bountiful knowledge of Thomas and Helen Ebersoll, the current patrons of the Newnes Hotel and its cabins.
The Newnes Hotel was once part of the Newnes township that was built to support the Shale Oil mining nearby. Built originally in 1907, it was physically moved by volunteers to its current site in 1986 after a flood compromised its foundations. The hotel is no longer licensed, however acts as a small museum, kiosk, and library of knowledge of the surrounding area.
Mystery Mountain – The Climb
370m from the base to the summit, you could fit an entire Eiffel Tower inside it and then some. Though this stony Eiffel Tower lacks the stairs and elevators of its French counterpart…instead it’s a challenging, steep climb over loose leaf litter and stones, which is definitely trickier on the way down.
How long it takes is completely reliant on your fitness, but it’s doable for anyone with appropriate breaks. I personally felt like my heart was going to explode when we hit the summit in just under an hour – however the record was set in 1955 by the Bantam Weight World Champion Boxer, Jimmy Carruthers: 22 minutes from bottom to top.
It’s no Everest, but it’s sure no walk in the park. Either way, soaking up the elation as the summit ridge edges closer and gazing upon nothing but the sky beyond – you can’t help but feel you’ve conquered a beast.
Bonus: Start well before sunrise and get to the top for first light. You will be rewarded with an incredible sunrise as light fills the gully – Just take plenty of warm stuff, and spare torches!
How To Get There
From Newnes Campground (Little Capertee Campsite), walk back along the road and cross the stepping stones at the Wolgan River ford that leads to the smaller 4wd campsite. At the T junction, turn left and after 20m you should see a large rock cairn on the side of the road, indicating the start of the trail, as it goes over an ants nest.
Follow the trail up as it braids up the hill guided by the white dots and arrows. Near the top you will pass through a steep gully, at the top of which the track turns left to the summit.
Warning: After rain, parts of the track may be washed out or significantly eroded. Be careful not to follow a water run off instead of the track!
Intermediate – Advanced
Basic navigation skills are necessary as the track is not signposted.
The climb is VERY steep, and loose rock and leaf litter can make descending dangerous.
Take it slow, and give yourself plenty of time to get there and back – 4 hrs return for average fitness.
- Sturdy walking boots – preferably something with good grip and ankle support.
- Extra layers for the summit. It can get windy up there!
- Food and water for a half day.
- First Aid and emergency supplies, including a torch in case you get stuck out after dark.
- Recommended but not essential is a set of trekking poles. At least find a stick to take the weight off your knees on the descent!
Distance/ Elevation/ Duration
Distance is uncertain, however the 370m climb is oftentimes a 45 to 50 degree incline as you scramble over rocks and up the steep face. Give yourself 2 hours to get to the top with average fitness – and similar time to return.
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