Escape to Newnes (NSW)

You most likely haven’t heard of it, and probably trying to decide how to pronounce it. Its the little town of Newnes, located just out of Lithgow.

This is the place you’d want to go for that random, last minute, grab anything, overnighter or two, away from Sydney. A mate of mine mentioned it, and we decided “yea why not”, with a cheeky 3 and a half hour drive from just south of Sydney, it seemed like a pretty good option.

The day before, we grabbed some essentials we hadn’t bought before. Things to cook food with, and well, the food itself. This place isn’t a powered site, so all the portable stove tops and what not are needed. A classic Bunnings trip never hurt anyone. The night ticked over, and came Saturday, we left around 7:30 which wasn’t too bad in terms of the traffic, but if you can , I’d leave earlier next time.

3 and abit hours later and you get to some little road that leads you to the campsite. From this point on you’re in awe. You continue down the road, and then comes the part you need descend, and the moment you see through a gap in the trees, it literally gives you a jaw dropping moment. The giant valley that is Newnes. Its something you need to see.

As we continue down into the great valley that is Wollemi national park, down one of the quietest drives I’ve ever been down, we finally get to a dirt road. Not to fear though, we did this in a Mazda 6, so yes your little Corolla can make it quite easy. Would recommend stopping by the little museum they have there, telling you a little bit about the history of the national park. Seeing some of the things they were able to do back then with what they had, is mind-blowing.

Continuing down to the campsite, and the entry of the campsite is executed perfectly. You drive up a slight mound with the view slightly obstructed by low hanging trees. Only once you’re up and over that mound, you’ll realise how epic this campsite is. Massive cliff edges shooting straight up from your feet and in every direction you look there is another cliff edge as big if not bigger than the last. Once you’ve picked your camp spot, set up and fuel up with some food, you’re good to go exploring. Wherever you walk you wont be let down. Keep in mind its either going to be a decent walk to a good lookout, or, as we did, you go off the general track and literally walk as straight up as you can, up any hill or cliff face you can.

I can recall a few tracks around the site, however we didn’t check them out unfortunately. The track we went up was based off eyesight from what we thought looked safe and walkable and a few stacked rocks from a previous bushwalker creating his own recommended path. We walked for about 40 minutes and were climbing the whole time, so we knew there had to be some sort of rewarding view at the end. Through the bush scrub and rock forests, half caves from rock faces that have fallen, and over some decent rock faces, we made it to what we decided to call the ‘top’, but I assure you if we were able to climb up a vertical rock face, we could’ve gone higher. This was the spot where that reward we were hoping would be, and it defiantly was. You look out over a massive valley, where you can almost imagine what used to be a giant river bed carving the landscape out many many years ago. Keep in mind the time it takes you to walk anywhere, and how far out you are going, walking back in this terrain in dark is not recommended, we had a few struggles in daylight.

As the evening turned to night, the stars started to show, and man, didn’t they show! This has got to be the most of the night sky i have ever seen, with a full view of an arm from the milky way, clear as you can imagine, and so many stars it was incredible. I will say, if you haven’t seen the milky way before, this is probably the best you’ll see it. If you’re going during the colder months, get a decent sleeping bag or decent tent, my little pop up kmart thing is amazing in time and setting up, but we woke up with ice on the inside of the tent and on our sleeping bags. It was a cold night to say the least.

Would 10/10 recommend doing the Glow worm tunnel walk on the way out. There is a 9km return track from a little carpark further back down the entry road to the campsite. Fairly easy walk, and depending on how many photos you’re taking and stopping time, it take about 3-4 hours roughly. This walk has about 3 types of walks in one. You start off with a general bush vibe, low scrub trees and gums plus some stand out wattle. Then as you begin to climb, it becomes a cliff edge walk. As you progress the greenery gets more dense and wet, almost like a rainforest vibe which is almost better than a rainforest, with a stream running alongside the walk, it is really something, which then leads you to the mouth of the glow worm tunnel. If you’ve never seen glow worms before, I want to give anything away, but its peaceful and calming within the tunnel, provided there are no screaming kids running though, they usually passed through quite quickly though. One thing i would recommend is to take your time walking through, its a lot nicer that way.

There are many other walks and treks around this area, which can be done over a few days, however if you’re just smashing out a one nighter, this schedule worked well for us. we were home around 6pm on Sunday. Will be definitely going back here soon.

Essential Gear Required

  • Pair of walking shoes/boots
  • Food/Water, definitely would recommend snacks as well
  • Camera gear
  • First Aid kit

How to get there

  • Turn off the Castlereagh Highway at Lidsdale, 7km west of Lithgow
  • Newnes is 35km from the turnoff
  • Access to the other campground on the opposite side of the Wolgan river is by walking or driving across the ford near the Newnes Hotel – take care as the river levels can rise rapidly when it has been or is raining.

Activities

  • Bush walking/ tramping
  • 4WDing (2WD access most places unless it’s been very wet)
  • Star gazing

Skill Level

Beginner mostly, unless inclined to do the more lengthy treks which would be intermediate. Distance covered/ Elevation gained: – For the first ‘of the track’ we did, 2kms return/ 200m – Glow worm tunnel, 9kms return/ 280m