Saturday, July 28, 2012

Newnes - Free - Not pet friendly

Wollemi National Park is home to the recently identified Wollemi Pine, which was discovered by National Parks officer Mr David Noble in 1994.  Not only is the Wollemi Pine one of the rarest trees in the world, with less than 100 mature trees in the wild, it is also one of the oldest, with fossil records indicating this rare tree existed about 90 million years ago.

Wollemi National Park is only a couple of hundred km from Sydney and it is one of those places that should appeal to anyone who loves the outdoor lifestyle.  Although the exact location of the pines has never been made publicly available by National Parks there is plenty of interesting flora and fauna in the park.  For history buffs there is the former township of Newnes and Blackfellow's Hand Rock and for 4WD enthusiasts there are any number of great tracks in the area.

I haven't mentioned lots of other attractions, but a search on a good search engine will point you in the right direction.

Add to all of this the fact that the campsite is free this place is pretty cool.

We set off and it is about a half day drive to get there.  It is a reasonably easy drive in to Newnes in the dry, and it would be accessible by 2WD vehicles, but in the wet it gets slippery.

To camp where we camped you will need to cross the Wolgan River and that requires 4WD.

It is a pretty easy crossing...

And you have arrived in the National Park...

Once across the creek the campsite is magnificent!

There are a fair number of campsites and the ruins of the Shale Oil mining facility are quite close. The Wolgan River runs near the campsite and there is a nice, clean drop loo.

After arriving, setting up and taking some photos we caught up with some friends, and planned the following day - a 4WD trip to the Spanish Steps.

The next day was a bit of an adventure - but the scenery in the area is amazing.  And the track conditions vary from muddy bog holes to quite good dirt tracks.

Being guided down the Spanish Steps is something I won't forget in a hurry...

The photo doesn't really do the steepness justice - nor does it reflect how fast my heart was beating as I descended into the valley.  The Spanish Steps, as they are known, are a sandstone formation that resemble steps down into a valley.  And as the saying goes, what goes up...  So there was also a slightly more challenging ascent.

I should point out that the Land Rover Discovery, lately christened 'The Snail' is not a highly modified 4WD.  It has not been lifted and the tyres I use are all terrain pattern.  I do have a winch on the bull bar, and some other bits and pieces like driving lights, UHF CB radio and camping gear.  All up I was pretty impressed that The Snail was able to get down into the valley and then up the other side along with the others who had the benefit of lockers, lift and highly aggressive tyres.

It was an amazing day, lots of fun in the 4WD's and we headed back to re-establish our camp.

The next day we decided to walk to the glow worm tunnel and have a look at Blackfellows Hand.

It's a fair walk in to the tunnel, but worth it for the views and to see the glow worms.

Being way to hard to photograph I did the next best thing...

Looking out of the tunnel - I used a flash to introduce the wall perspective into the pic.  Flash photography, I think, would not capture the glow worms.  In fact it might even upset them into not glowing so I didn't try.

If you intend visiting the tunnel - and I would encourage a visit - wear good shoes, take a torch and remember to be courteous to other visitors and more importantly respect the glow worms.

And respect the natural beauty of the flora and rock formations - how good is this!?

If you walk to the glow worm tunnel from the Newnes side (it can also be accessed from the Lithgow side) it is worth remembering that the trail is the abandoned Newnes Railway line.  You are walking over and alongside history!

It is worth keeping an eye out for the historical stuff like the rock walls and old sleepers on the track.

After the hike in and out we drove to what is known as Blackfellow's Hand Rock.  This rock formation has a number of aboriginal artworks and is definitely worth a look.

Hand paintings on the rock.  If you do go in for a bit of a look please don't touch the paintings.  Once they are gone, they are gone forever.

Access: Some campsites are accessible by 4WD. 2WD would be OK in dry weather if you want to camp on the 'pub' side of the river.
Toilets: Yes.
Showers: No.
Water: Boil water from the river.
Shop: Limited to the Newnes Hotel - best to check if it is open.
Campfires: Yes - subject to firebans. Bring own wood.
Pets: NO - National Park
Cost: FREE.

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