This short but fiery hike to Pagoda Lookout takes in thousands of years of history alongside truly other-worldly landscapes at Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp in Wollemi National Park.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Experience incredible views over Wollemi National Park
- Walk amongst surreal Pagoda Rock formations
- Take a dip in the Cudgegong River
- Learn about the Dabee People on the Campsite Rocks Track
Before going to Wollemi National Park, I’d never even heard of ‘pagoda rocks’… Now I can’t get enough! These huge, sandstone formations surround the Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp Campground and made me feel like I was ages away from the real world.
There’s no shortage of adventures nearby, and the steep scramble up to Pagoda Lookout was the peak of this supernatural environment!
Standing on Wiradjuri Country
When we first arrived at the Cudgegong picnic area, we wandered around the 500m Campsite Rocks Circuit and learned a bit about Wiradjuri Country and the Dabee People who have occupied Ganguddy for over 12,000 years.
The overhanging sandstone ledges have often been used for shelter and it was incredible to see their stenciled ‘red hands’ still painted on the stone.
Once our legs were warmed up, we followed the scenic Weir Walk to Platypus Point. We stopped on the rocky spit for a moment to take in the rugged cliffs and tall reeds bordering the Cudgegong River.
The entire waterway used to be a swamp but in the 1920s the Kandos Weir was built and the dam was flooded, creating the current landscape.
A little further along, the path split in two and we stayed left, taking the trail towards the lookout (continuing straight would’ve led us to the Weir Wall and Long Cave).
Although it was only 120 metres to the top, this was where the track became a little more challenging. The nearly vertical section wasn’t well marked and we had to zigzag our way up between the cracks in the rocks.
After the tricky ascent, we reached a wide-open stone plateau and carefully made our way to the crest. It wasn’t much further but there was no clear route, ropes or chains to help us, so we took our time, making sure to steer clear of the edge!
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
Top of the Rock – Pagoda Lookout
From the top we had an incredible 360° view of the unique eroded terrain and the volcanic mountains in the distance. We admired the scenery from all angles and then found a spot to sit and snack while overlooking the expansive valley below!
Eventually, we retreated from the lookout and retraced our steps to the bottom, careful not to slip on the steep descent.
Apparently it can get smoking hot in the summer and snakes can be found basking in the sunlight, but luckily we didn’t have to deal with either of those issues. As we returned to the river, the golden light was bouncing off the water’s surface and we couldn’t resist taking a dip.
Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes
The Pagoda Lookout was unlike any track I’d hiked before and I felt so lucky to be able to visit this other-worldly environment. Ganguddy’s a truly special area that everyone should experience once in their life!
- Hiking shoes
- Water – There’s no drinking water at Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp so make sure you fill up beforehand!
- Swimmers for a post-walk dip in the river!
- Food – Rylstone and Kandos are the nearest towns if you need supplies!
How To Get There
Located in Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp Campground, (about four hours north-west of Sydney), the Pagoda Lookout trailhead can be found at the far end of the campground in the Cudgegong picnic area.
There’s lots to explore in the area so if you’re planning to spend a night or two make sure to bring supplies and reserve a spot in the campsite ahead of time!
Distance / Duration
2.5km return / 1 hour