Mt Kaputar National Park [The Island in the Sky]

Highlights:

  • Excellent views of North Western NSW
  • Variety of microclimates
  • Wildlife
  • Excellent hiking

Summary

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 kilometers 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 Mt Kaputar National Park, North West NSW.

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 snow line to semi arid sclerophyll forests at lower altitudes. Mt 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 NSW, with most of the hikes accessible from the main road that crawls up to the summit.

Although a shorter walk, the summit loop to Mt 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.

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.

Due to the altitude temperatures in the park are much lower than the surrounding areas, so be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes and ensure the equipment you’re using is suitable for the climate (this is mainly if you’re visiting in winter, like we did).

There are several dedicated camping grounds within the park that have some facilities (cold showers, bore water, toilets), and these make a good home base as many of the hikes start nearby.

Essential Gear Required

  • Tent
  • Appropriate sleeping bag (it can snow up there sometimes)
  • Water
  • Warm clothes
  • Snacks and Food

How to get there

Mt Kaputar is located 50 km east of Narrabri, and is approx. 570 km North West of Sydney (Via New England Highway) https://goo.gl/IzZ9Mz

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.

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Climbing
  • Birdwatching
  • Photography
  • Cycling

Skill Level:

There are activities for all skill levels in the park, from beginner to expert. See the National Parks website for more info (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Mount-Kaputar-National-Park)

Distance Covered/Elevation Gain:

Euglah Rock Track: 650m to lookout

Mt Coryah Track: 3km return

Scutts Hut and Kurrawonga Falls: 19km return