The 5km return hike up Didthul/Pigeon House Mountain on the NSW South Coast is one of the best day hikes along the entire coastline.
With strong Aboriginal significance and a final climb to the summit that packs a punch, this is a must-do hike for all Explorers.
- Challenging and scenic hike through Morton National Park
- Become immersed in an area of Aboriginal cultural significance
- Epic views of Didthul / Pigeon House Mountain, The Budawangs and southern NSW coastline
- Post-hike pies from Hayden’s in Ulladulla
The History of Didthul
Driving through Ulladulla, I could see the outline of Didthul in the distance. It’s hard to miss the distinct breast-like peak, and not surprising that the place name ‘Didthul’ is understood to mean ‘woman’s breast’.
It wasn’t until Captain Cook came along in 1770 and thought it looked like a Pigeon House that it became known as such (maybe he’d never seen a woman’s nipple before).
Although Didthul is one of the most prominent features in the area, the land and sea surrounding it hold just as much significance. Aboriginal people have called this place home for over 11,000 years and their sacred ceremonies, stories, and songlines are woven into the vast landscape.
Deep in Morton National Park
Currently, this expanse of bush is known as Morton National Park. As we neared the trailhead, the cars parked on either side of the gravel road gave evidence to how popular the hike up Didthul has become. After a quick car park coffee, we began our journey.
The hike starts off with a gradual switchback climb and passes by eucalyptus trees charred in the 2019 bushfires, now draped in regrowth.
After about 20 minutes, the trail became progressively steeper and we had to navigate large roots and boulders to make it to the first lookout. A flat, stone platform made for the perfect rest stop with views of the Koori coastline to the east and the ‘nipple’ to the west.
The terrain flattened out after this, giving our glutes some respite before the next incline.
As we continued to gain elevation, the vibrancy of the greens intensified. Every plant beamed with life, as if trying to make up for drier days.
Reaching The Summit of Didthul
The air seemed to go numb as we reached the summit, even the calls of the bellbirds were muted at this height. We’d left the forest cover far below and at 720m, were exposed to a cool breeze as we followed the path to the viewing platform.
We had a moment of serenity to enjoy the panoramic views of the Budawangs before the fog – and other hikers – rolled in. I took a moment to reflect on the sacred nature of this place and to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians, the Yuin people, who have looked after Didthul for so many years.
The walk down seemed to take half as long and we reached the car in no time. If we’d been heading back to Ulladulla our first stop would’ve been Hayden’s Pies, but we’d planned to spend the next day tackling Cooyoyo / The Castle so we made our way to a nearby campground.
The appeal of Didthul / Pigeon House Mountain is obvious. Easily accessible, well marked, incredible views, and technical enough to feel immersed in the South Coast ranges without having to be an expert.
It’s a hike I’d recommend to anyone who’s looking for a challenge. My only advice would be to treat Didthul like you would treat any woman’s breast; be respectful, be gentle, and be grateful so that it can continue to be enjoyed in the future.
- Hiking shoes
- Water (make sure you fill up at Milton or Uludulla because there’s no water source at the trailhead)
- Rain jacket/appropriate all-weather clothing
How To Get There
Didthul/Pigeon House Mountain is located in Morton National Park, about three hours south of Sydney. There are a few ways to get to the trailhead but the route via Milton is the best option.
From Milton, follow the signs reading ‘Pigeon House’ for approx. 40 minutes until you reach the car park/picnic area.
The road is partly unsealed and might not be accessible in 2WD if it’s been raining, check the local alerts before departing.
Intermediate (Class 4 hiking trail)
There are some steeper sections near the top so a good level of fitness is recommended.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
5km return / 455m / 2.5-4 hours