Escape to Newnes // Wolgan Valley (NSW)

The little town of Newnes, located just out of Lithgow in the Wolgan Valley, has grown in popularity in recent years for the adventure-seeker. Read on to find out why…


Highlights

  • The Wolgan Valley and Newnes
  • Wollemi National Park museum
  • Epic views of the night sky
  • Glow worm tunnel walk

Cheeky Dash Out Of Sydney

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 whatnot are needed. A classic Bunnings trip never hurt anyone.

The night ticked over, and Saturday came. We left around 7:30 which wasn’t too bad in terms of the traffic. If you can though, try to leave earlier than that.

Rhys Tattersall Newnes Wollemi National Park NSW tent

Welcome To Magical Wolgan Valley

Three and a bit 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 Wolgan Valley. It’s something that 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 easily.

I 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.

Rhys Tattersall Newnes Wollemi National Park NSW

Campsite Goals At Newnes

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 and set up, and then fuelled up with some grub, you’re good to go exploring.

Rhys Tattersall Newnes Wollemi National Park NSW

Adventures In Every Direction

Wherever you walk you won’t be let down. Keep in mind it’s 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. (NB. This option is only for those experienced at navigation and overnight bush survival… You never know what can happen, so don’t be reckless if you’re inexperienced and stay on the tracks.)

The track we went up was based off eyesight from what we thought looked safe and walkable. We walked for about 40 minutes and we 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.

Oh, What A View!

This was the spot where that reward we were hoping would be, and it definitely 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.

Stargazing Utopia

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, as clear as you can imagine. There were 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, this close to Sydney.

If you’re going during the colder months, get a decent sleeping bag and a 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.

Rhys Tattersall Newnes Wollemi National Park NSW astrophotography star milky way

Glow Worm Tunnel Walk

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 (please don’t use flash photography) and stopping time, it take about 3-4 hours roughly.

 

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.

Rhys Tattersall Newnes Wollemi National Park NSW rainforest

Essential Gear

  • 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


More adventures around Newnes…

Escape to the Glow Worm Tunnels // Wollemi National Park (NSW)

Deep Pass // Newnes (NSW)

Conquering Mystery Mountain // Wolgan Valley (NSW)

Mt Dawson From The Wolgan Valley (NSW)