Grade: Medium. Time: 4 hrs (round trip).
The Glow Worm Tunnel is one of two railway tunnels of the now disused railway line which serviced Newnes 100 years ago. The Glow Worm Tunnel is the most popular walk from Newnes. It leads through a great variety of landscapes and offers excellent views. The walk through the tunnel and the rainforest gorge leading to it are an unforgettable experience. Do not forget to bring a torch!
From Newnes drive back 6km on Wolgan Road and park the car. It takes 1.5 hrs from here to the tunnel. Cross the river on the concrete causeway and you will find the National Parks sign on the other side. Proceed through an old coal mine and then steep up the hill until you reach the railway embankment. Turn right and follow the former railway line along the cliff and then through the gorge to the tunnel. The tunnel is 270 metres long and describes a long curve. The Glow Worms vary in numbers, usually there are more in wet weather. They don't like light and noise - please be kind to them.
Instead of going back the same way it is much more interesting to proceed for another ten minutes from the top end of the tunnel and turn left at the sign which says 'Pagoda Track'. This leads you through some Pagoda country for approx. 20 minutes before it joins the Coach Road. This will bring you all the way down to the concrete causeway, where you started.
If you are fit there is a 21km version of this walk following the railway line all the way from Newnes and back.
A more detailed brochure on the Glow-worm Tunnel Walk is on sale ($1.00) at the Newnes Kiosk.
School Chimney Walk
Grade: Easy. Time: 45 minutes (round trip).
This is an easy walk which brings you through open bush with stands of Cypress Pine, the rocky and eroded landscape around the former school, the fern gully of Little Capertee Creek and the open grass land of the camping ground.
From the Hotel walk past the Capertee Cabin and follow the track up the hill either straight up or up the zig zag fire trail. Once on top look out for ‘The Hollow Rock’ and another stunning view of Mystery Mountain. Please respect that this is private land, not part of our property. We have the kind permission to let our guests walk through here. Proceed along the well trodden trail around the mountain side and down to a gully from where you can see the school chimneys above you. Climb up to the flat area between the chimneys for a magnificent view.
Imagine going to school here. There were 728 students enrolled here between 1907 and 1913. At the time of the school’s opening in 1907 the School Master Mr. Alexander E. McDonald recorded 181 students enrolled. At the time of the school’s closure in October 1940 the enrolment had fallen to 11 students. If you sit quietly up here you can still hear the voices of exited kids running out to get home after a day at school. Actually, the way you came was the way home for most of the kids as most Newnes residences were on the southern side of the Newnes Hotel.
For a quick return from the school, go straight down to the road below and turn right to take you to the campsite road where you turn right again to bring you back to the Hotel.
For a slightly longer walk, you can drop down to the road below and turn left, following the road until you come to a gate. Here turn right and drop down into a gully and cross Little Capertee Creek. Coming up on the other side of the creek, the track winds through the bush and widens where a big tree lies across it. Further down this track you pass an old fireplace on your right, another survivor of this once thriving town. Continue on this track to the campground from where you can return to the Hotel along the road.
The Philosopher's Walk
Grade: Medium. Time: 1.5 hrs (round trip).
This is our latest discovery and it’s a stunner. It leads you along the bottom of the cliffs of ‘Old Baldy’, through a garden of massive rocks which have fallen off the cliff millions of years ago. Now they lie around the landscape covered in mosses and orchids, sculptures from a long gone time. Three quarters into the walk you can climb a hill which provides for another grand view back to the hotel and over Little Capertee campground.
From the Hotel walk to the campground and proceed across to the lowest end where you cross a gully next to the river. Continue on this track for about one kilometre as it winds up and along until it begins to loop around what was the Manager’s Residence. Just before the loop turn left off the main track where you see a white marker on a large Stringy Bark tree on the left hand side of the track. Pass the ruins of the Manager’s Residence and you will reach the former tennis court where you will see the wrecks of two ‘Zepher’ cars left by a former resident. Walk past the cars and you will come to a clear track which follows an old road.
Just 100 metres past the tennis courts you will come to a stone cairn where the philosophers walk leads off the main track, up the hill to your left. After 150m of steep track you reach another stone cairn. Straight on leads to the cliff where the rock climbers have fun – the less adventurous turn left here. The track winds through the large rocks which are scattered around the landscape. After about one kilometre you will come to a hill on your left. A short scramble up the hill will reward you with a nice view back to the hotel and the Wolgan cabin.
From the hill, come down to the track again. It’s all down hill now. The track passes more impressive rocks and is steep in places. It is a bit of a scramble down after you passed the big rock on your right. You reach the main track again at the Wolgan River and the way home is the same as you came, via the campground.
The Manager's House Round Walk
Grade: Medium. Time: 2.5 hrs (round trip).
This is our favourite walk. It leads you through open bush and beautiful ‘rock garden landscapes’ down to the river. There are great views of the cliffs on the southern side of the Wolgan River and up Petries Gully and you will see the historic remains of the Manager’s Residence and the chimneys of some more Company Houses.
From the Hotel walk to the National Parks Campground and proceed across to the lowest end where you cross a gully next to the river. Continue on this track for about one kilometre as it winds up and along until it begins to loop around what was the Manager’s Residence. Just before the loop turn left off the main track where you see a white marker on a large Stringy Bark tree on the left hand side of the track. To help you find your way, there are white markers on rocks and trees at intervals along this walk. Pass the ruins of the Manager’s Residence and you will reach the former tennis court where you will see the wrecks of two ‘Zepher’ cars left by a former resident. Walk past the cars and you will come to a clear track which follows an old road. This will lead you through a beautiful rock garden and in winter the rock orchids come in bloom.
After another kilometre the track turns right and cross country to the chimneys of what once were the Company Guest Houses. You can turn right on the fire track and return via the Manager’s Residence. Tuning left will take you to the ‘ferny world’ of Petries Gully and going straight on will take you to a view point from where you can see up Petries Gully and across to the Newnes Ruins. If you have a bit more time you might want to proceed straight down the ridge for another 15 minutes, when you reach the point where Petries Gully joins the Wolgan River. From here the walk to Glen Davis begins. You can cross the Wolgan River here and return to the Hotel via the ruins or you can turn right and return via the Manager’s Residence passing the old fuel storage tank and brick pit.
The Ruins Walk
Grade: Easy. Time: 3 hrs (round trip).
This easy walk leads you through the Newnes industrial complex which was the basis of this township. The complex comprises a large refinery where shale oil was refined to an amazing number of different oil products. The extend of the structures is surprising and one wonders how they did all this with the tools they had at the time. The millions of bricks were all made here and the hundreds of men who worked here had families and children in the township. It is hard to imagine today that one hundred years ago this was such a busy place.
Downstream from the Newnes Hotel, cross the Wolgan River at the ford and then turn left and walk along the former railway line, for about 1.5 km, until you come to a gate car park and information board. If you have a 4 wheel drive car you can do this part by car. Beyond the gate, the walk through the ruins is sign posted. The track is easy to follow and brings you back to the car park. At the beginning, the path takes you uphill to the coke ovens – well worth seeing as they have a unique structure displaying impressive skills of the brick layers. The path follows a bush trail before coming to a large retaining wall from where the trail zig zags down through the former refinery.
Allan at the Newnes Kiosk is our local historian. Hew knows everything about the ruins and he is very happy to answer any questions you might have.
Mystery Mountain Climb
Grade: Difficult. Time: 4 hrs return.
This is a more challenging walk but once up top you are rewarded with a most breathtaking view over Newnes and the surrounding wilderness of Wollemi National Park. The track is steep and littered with loose stones and rocks which is more tricky on the way down. However, there is no rope or chain climbing involved and the average fit person is able to do this walk. Our daughter (7) has done it many times. Of course the length of the walk depends on how many rests you take. The Bantam Weight World Champion boxer, Jimmy Carruthers of Lithgow holds the record – he climbed to the top from Newnes Station in just 22 minutes back in 1955. If you can beat that we’ll serve you a beer at the pub.
1.5 hours allows for rests on the way up. The way down is actually more strenuous and you will certainly feel your muscles once you reach the river again. The top is 370 metres above the Hotel verandah at an elevation of 880 metres above sea level.
To get to the walk from the Hotel cross the Wolgan River at the ford and walk up to the former railway line. Turn left and walk towards the platform of Newnes Station for 20 metres only. On your right you will find a tree with a white marker and that’s the start of the walk. Follow the white markers over an ants nest and all the way to the top. Take a break whenever you feel like it – you will reach the top ! Just before the top you climb through a gully. Turn left at the top of the gully and you will get to a platform from where the view is most spectacular. It is well worth to explore the mountain top to the south along the cliff line. You will find yourself standing on top of 120 metre high cliffs with more spectacular views.
Echo Lookout Walk
Grade: Medium. Time: 4.5 hrs return
This is a medium walk which brings you through open bush and river landscapes with spectacular views of the Wolgan River gorge to a lookout above the river, downstream from the ruins of the refinery. From the lookout you get great views of the Wolgan River and the cliffs above the ruins. Also, there is an amazing quadruple echo as the sound bounces back from the surrounding cliff faces. You have to come down to the lowest level of the ridge that forms the lookout to enjoy the echo. It is amazing on a still day.
To get there from the Hotel, walk to Little Capertee Creek Campground and proceed on the track across the campground, keeping close to the river. After crossing a gully the track winds up and along for just over one kilometre and then loops around what was the Manager’s House (on your left). Continue on the main track for another 200 meters, and at the fork, take the right hand track going downhill (straight ahead goes up into Petries Gully). After about one kilometre, you will pass the old fuel storage tank and then you will come to where Petries Gully joins the Wolgan River. Cross Petries Gully and continue along the Wolgan River’s edge on a small track. You will come to some stone steps and the sign saying ‘Glen Davis – Pipeline Track’. Follow this sign and the track will take you uphill, climbing gradually for about one hour. At the top there is another sign for the lookout which is just 50 metres away. That’s where you want to go. The area you pass through was burned in January 2003 and it is slowly recovering.
Come back to the Hotel the same way or - if you are very energetic – keep going for another 2 hours all the way to Glen Davis – but that’s another story.
Pipeline Track to Glen Davis
Grade: Medium. Time: 8 hrs (round trip)
This is a long walk which leads you along the old pipeline which once connected the Shale Oil refinery at Glen Davis with Newnes Junction. The 3 inch pipeline was built in 1938/39 after the Newnes railway ceased to operate and it was used to pump ‘motorspirit’ from Glen Davis to Newnes Juntion where it was loaded onto the railway. You will find many relics of that time along the route.
The route leads you out of the Wolgan Valley over the escarpment and down to the CaperteeValley and Glen Davis. You walk through dense forest and ferns in the gullies and more open forest of iron bark and cypress in the Capertee Valley. This walk is for the walkers who like walking long distances. There is not really much to see along the way and there is very little at Glen Davis.
From the Hotel walk to the National Parks Camprground and proceed across to the lowest end where you cross a gully next to the river. The track winds up and along for just over one kilometer and then loops around what was the manager’s residence (on your left). Continue on the main track for another 200 metres and, at the fork take the right hand track going downhill. After passing the old fuel storage tank you will reach Petries Gully. Cross Petries Gully and you will come to a sign saying ‘Pipeline Track - Glen Davis 3 hrs’. The track goes uphill from here for one hour, the first half along the valley and then into a gully which leads you up to the top. You might want to check out the signposted lookout (Echo Lookout) to the right. Continuing on from the pass the track goes level for about 10 minutes to another pass. Once there, you can climb the rocks to your left where you get a view down the gully you are going to walk down, all the way to the Capertee Valley. Once out of the gully the track goes along the bottom of the escarpment for about 30 minutes through more open forest before you reach Glen Davis.
The Glen Davis end /start of the track is not signposted. If you want to be picked up you might want to know that it is the corner of Yarool and Tooral Streets where you come out into town. The return trip follows the same route.
Grade: Difficult. Time: 4 hrs (return).
This is a great walk for a hot day. The cool shade of the rainforest gully with pools and gurgling water is the best spot on a hot day. You will see giant Stringy Bark trees, rockorchids and ferns of all shapes and sizes. The walk follows a former logging track but because there are so many trees and rocks over the track we class this walk as difficult.
From the Hotel walk to the National Parks Camprground and proceed across to the lowest end where you cross a gully next to the river. Continue on this track for about one kilometre as it winds up and along until it begins to loop around what was the Manager’s Residence. Just before the loop turn left off the main track where you see a white marker on a large Stringy Bark tree on the left hand side of the track. You are following the ‘Manager’s House Walk’ here. Pass the ruins of the Manager’s Residence and you will reach the former tennis court where you will see the wrecks of two ‘Zepher’ cars left by a former resident. Walk past the cars and you will come to a clear track which follows an old road. This will lead you through a beautiful rock garden and in winter the rock orchids come in bloom.
After another kilometre the track turns right and cross country to the chimneys of what once were the Company Guest Houses. You are now on the former logging track and if you turn left it will lead you up into Petries Gully.
The track is confusing as it changes sides and is obstructed by fallen rocks and trees but it follows the gully all the way up. After about 45 minutes you reach the ‘Giant of Newnes’ a huge Stringy Bark tree and shortly after the gully splits into a western and a northern branch. From here you can explore the northern branch for another 15 minutes to where the gully becomes blocked by a wall of boulders. The western branch has not been explored yet. Tell us if you did.