Lion Of The Plains // The Rock (NSW)

Just like so many Aussie place names, The Rock says it straight. You can climb it, you can hike up it or or you can look at it while you picnic beside it, but at the end of the day you’re doing all of this because this right here is the biggest hunk of rock for miles around. Cara Van Wyk runs us through all of the adventure possibilities on this aptly named chunk of stone near Wagga Wagga.

If you’re all for calling a spade a spade, you will froth The Rock. As the highest feature protruding from the gently rolling Riverina countryside, this 360m quartzite bulk is literally called The Rock. To make matters better (or worse?), The Rock is namesake to the local town of 860 people – also called The Rock.

Talk about an Inception moment: you can literally be standing on The Rock in The Rock.


  • 360° panoramic views across the Riverina
  • Photography opportunities
  • Bird life
  • Climbing with a view
  • A declared Aboriginal Place

The Rock

The Rock (the actual rock, not the town, and definitely not Johnson) offers unparalleled panoramic views all the way to the Snowies and Mount Kosciuszko on a clear day. With no higher peaks between here and Australia’s west coast, views theoretically extend to Western Australia (if only we could see that far!)

Lion Of The Plains// Rocking Out At The Rock (NSW), Cara Van Wyk, View across the spine, feet, lookout, high up, hiking boots, view, plains, horizon

The nature reserve is loaded with options for the keen adventurer – a hike to the summit, a geocache to bag, a trad climbing venue and a well-resourced picnic area.

The Rock is also known locally as Kengal, its Aboriginal name, or the ‘Lion Of The Plains‘ because, well, it looks a bit like a lion.

Yerrong Walking Track

Directly ahead as you drive into the parking lot, a 7km track rises to the summit of The Rock (the actual rock). Here you can look forward to perfect photo shoots basking in the 360° views of the Riverina region.

Kengal Picnic Area

At the base of the walking track, beside the carpark is a small picnic area with views to the summit between the trees. The area is well resourced with picnic tables, amenities and barbecue areas.

The Towers

The Towers offer a range of mostly trad climbing routes stretched 100m across the northeast face of The Rock (again, the actual rock).

The track extends from just to the right of the picnic shelter and is steep and difficult. Near the top of the track, a small plaque states that consent to climb is only achieved with agreement with the code of conduct and registering in a small logbook nearby.

The Towers are closed to climbers and abseilers during peregrine falcon season (between 1 July and 31 December). Instead of climbing, you can enjoy fantastic displays of the birds dipping and swinging between the rock columns.

Lion Of The Plains// Rocking Out At The Rock (NSW), Cara Van Wyk, Quarzite Rock Face, rock, climbing wall, vertical

Kengal – An Aboriginal Place

The Rock is a declared Aboriginal Place, known as Kengal. Take time while here to appreciate its beauty and significance. The local Wiradjuri culture celebrates Kengal as a songline which gently weaves culture, traditions and land together in a sacred melody.

Essential Gear

  • Camera
  • Binoculars (during the peregrine falcon breeding season)
  • Water
  • Climbing gear (between January and June)

Getting There

Getting to the nature reserve is not difficult, but being 32km outside Wagga Wagga puts it just outside comfortable driving range from any of the capital cities (or does it?). Even so, it is well worth visiting on your next road trip or if you find yourself in the area.

From Canberra: Approximately 3 hours
From Sydney: Approximately 5 hours
From Melbourne: Approximately 5 hours

Once at The Rock (the town), follow Lockhart-The Rock Road out of town to the turn off to the Rock Nature Reserve (the Rock Access Road).

Skill Level

Yerrong Walking Track: Intermediate – the hike rises steeply with a few scrambles to reach the summit.
The Towers Walking Track: Intermediate – just under 1km walk with a very steep ascent all the way.
Climbing at the Towers: Expert – the routes are mostly trad, only go if you know what you are doing.


Plenty more rocks where that came from…

A Maze Of Balancing Boulders // Cathedral Rock National Park (NSW)

Where Land Meets Sea // 6 Coastal Rock Platforms On The South Coast (NSW)

Dolerite Done Right // Cape Hauy, Tasman National Park (TAS)

Paradise Caves // Noosa National Park (QLD)

Cheeky Climbing Adventure // Canberra (ACT)