Traditional Country of the Gamilaroi Aboriginal people, Mount Kaputar National Park in North West NSW is bushwalking utopia, with incredible ecological diversity, numerous accessible hikes, and plentiful campgrounds.
- Excellent views of north-western NSW
- Variety of microclimates
- Unique wildlife
- Excellent hiking for all skill levels
Australia isn’t normally a place associated with volcanic activity due to the fact we’re smack bang in the middle of a tectonic plate, however if you look in the right places you can still find reminders of this continent’s violent and destructive past.
21 million years ago, as molten rock surged and rolled underneath part of the Indo-Australian plate, a weak spot in the earth’s crust gave rise to a massive shield volcano that was over 2100 meters high and 50 kilometres wide.
Active for almost four million years, the long-extinct volcano has since been tamed and carved into the lava terraces, volcanic plugs, and jagged summits of what is now the Nandewar Range in Mount Kaputar National Park.
Traditional Country of the Gamilaroi Aboriginal people, the mountain range towers over the surrounding flat savannah grassland, creating an isolated island wilderness that supports a range of unique ecosystems – from alpine zones above the snowline to semi-arid sclerophyll forests at lower altitudes.
Mount Kaputar, the highest peak in the park, sits at 1500 metres above sea level, providing visitors with panoramic views of north-west NSW. Kaputar offers some of the best bushwalking that can be found in the state, with most of the hikes accessible from the main road that crawls up to the summit.
Mount Coryah Walking Track
Time Taken: 1-2 hr
Starting Point: Coryah Gap car park
Although a shorter walk, the summit loop to Mount Coryah really displays the park’s ecological diversity, as the track winds up through lava terraces and dripping moss walls that give way to stunning panoramic views and grass trees growing precariously aside the cliffs.
Governor Summit (Corrunbral Borawah) Walking Track
Distance: 2km return
Time Taken: 1hr
Starting Point: The Governor car park
The short walk to the peak of The Governor is perfect for a sunrise mission (bring something to make a cuppa up the top!). The trail starts along a boardwalk and passes by The Governor lookout. The final hundred metres or so involves a bit of rock scrambling to the clamber onto the summit, but nothing too difficult.
Drink up the sprawling vistas from the top as you sip on your morning bean juice. Deeeelightful!
Time Taken: 2hr return
Starting Point: Green Camp car park
This is a day hike you won’t soon forget. Although short, the rocky scramble to the peak of Mt Yulludunida is one that takes patience and trial and error. But boy, is it worth it.
The first 2km have you ascending up through woodland forest, before the trees abruptly halt and you stare out from the base of Mt Yulludunida across the rugged and barren mountain peak and the valley that drops away below it. From here, the route to the top is up to you. Follow the rock cairns for the safest and most trodden route, but really, you can climb your way up any combination of rock holds. Enjoy sweeping countryside views at the top.
Distance: 1.5km return
Time Taken: 15-45 min
Starting Point: Sawn Rocks picnic area
Staggering beauty and geological questions abound at the sight of Sawn Rocks. The short and flat walk to the base of this epic towering rock face is easy enough for anyone to stroll and is wheelchair accessible too.
Wander up the creek that’s just below the viewing platform to see all the rock pillars that have tumbled down over time.
Scutts Hut Trail
Time Taken: 10-12 hr
Starting Point: Mt Kaputar Rd
For keen hikers seeking more of a challenge, Scutts Hut trail is a 19km return that provides splendid mountain scenery, passing the 70m tall Kurrawonga Falls and ending at the historic Scutts Hut. It’s worth camping nearby the hut overnight, although it’s possible to pack light and do the trip in a day.
Waa Gorge and Mill Bullah Waterfall
Time Taken: 2 hr
Starting Point: Waa Gorge Picnic Area
Half the fun of the Waa Gorge hike is getting to the starting point. Drive away from Mount Kaputar, along dirt roads, and through no fewer than five farm gates, to get to the trailhead. Although short, this hike involves a fair bit of rock scrambling, a touch of climbing, and follows a faint and overgrown trail.
But there are personal swimming holes to be discovered along the way before culminating in a soaring gorge which you can scramble up, with care of course.
There are two campgrounds situated along Mount Kaputar Road on the windy drive to the summit.
Bark Hut Campground
Bark Hut campground lies about halfway up the mountain and offers a tranquil space to pitch the tent surrounded by gums. There’s plenty of space for parking, picnic tables, toilets, and even hot showers available. Talk about luxury!
Sites are $16 a night.
Dawsons Spring Campground
Closer to the top of the mountain sits Dawsons Spring campground. A slightly larger campground surrounded by snow gums and the starting point for a few of the hikes in the park. This campground also has toilets, hot showers, BBQs, and picnic tables to make your stay all the more delightful!
Sites here are also $16 a night.
- Appropriate sleeping bag (it can snow up here sometimes!)
- Warm clothes
- Hiking shoes
- Sunscreen (a lot of the hikes are quite exposed in the middle of the day)
How To Get There
Mount Kaputar is located 50 km east of Narrabri, and is approx. 570 km north-west of Sydney (via New England Highway).
From Narrabri, drive south along Old Gunnedah Road and turn left onto Kaputar Road. This road goes all the way to the summit and passes most of the walks in the park.
However both Sawn Rocks and Waa Gorge are along separate roads out of Narrabri in different sections of the park.
Written in collaboration with Amy Fairall
Feature photo by @amy.eloise