2015 June: Day trip to 2 lookouts over Wolgan River in Newnes State Forest, NSW, Australia
This trip to two lookouts over the Wolgan River in the Newnes State Forest is organized by Yuri Bolotin of Colong Foundation http://www.colongwilderness.org.au/
The Newnes State Forest, like its adjoining Gardens of Stone National Park, has some amazing pristine wilderness area with spectacular landscapes and much biodiversity. Yet, it is not a National Park. At any time, the land can be mined, grazed, and its trees chopped.
At the first lookout, we explore a ledge along a cliff face under the lookout.
The 2nd lookout is over a gorge of the Wolgan River. It is located 1.7 km from where we park the cars. Initially there is a disused track. Then it is off-track and involves some bushbashing.
This lookout has many amazing rock pagodas. Rock pagodas are rock formations consist of layers of soft sandstones, siltstones and shales with intervening resistant ironstone layers. The relatively easily weathered sandstone means weathering of the sandstone layers are at a different rate to the ironstone layers. (This process is called differential weathering.) The end result is what we see today - the beehive, dome, castellated and elaborate layered platforms of the rock pagodas.
In this blog, you will find many pictures of these pagodas.
The pagodas are unique to the Newnes State Forest and nearby national parks ... in that you won't find them anywhere else in the world. As the Colong Foundation's main objective is to protect wilderness areas, we all hope they can successfully lobby the politicians to turn the Newnes area into a national park !
There are 14 of us:
- Geoff Fox, leader
- Emanuel Conomos, co-leader
- Yuri Bolotin, of the Colong Foundation; and organizer of this trip
- Alex C
- Allan C
- Brian G
- Carol C
- Catherine C
- Larry W
- Ralph P
- Sybil P
- Richard Green (comes by helicopter)
- Carolyn Green (comes by helicopter)
- and me (nah, I don't have a helicopter)
- 1:100,000 scaled 8931 Wallerawang
- 1:25,000 scaled 8931-3N Cullen Bullen
The below map is from the Cullen Bullen map:
- Red circle is where we park our cars at the end of Sunnyside Ridge Road for the 1st lookout.
- Blue circle is where we park our cars for the 2nds lookout.
GPS tracklog files & Routes
- Driving in: The GPX tracklog file (for car) from Zig Zag Railway Station at Clarence to where we park our cars at the 1st lookout in the Newnes State Forest can be downloaded from:
- Walk - at 1st lookout:
The GPX tracklog file for the walk at the 1st lookout can be downloaded from:
- Walk - to 2nd lookout:
The GPX tracklog file for the walk to the 2nd lookout can be downloaded from:
In the below map, our walking tracklogs are in brown:
- At 1st lookout (top left quadrant of above map)
• Park cars at the end of Sunnyside Ridge Road.
• Walk north-east a bit to find a gap between 2 rock (Photo #2).
• Climb down the gap.
• Walk along a ledge in the cliff face towards south-west, to as far as we can go.
• Retrace steps back to the cars.
- To 2nd lookout (bottom half of above map)
• Drive cars to another spot on the Sunnyside Ridge Road.
• Walk on a disused track which peters out at some point.
• When track peters out, go off-track to a cliff overlooking the gorge through which Wolgan River flows.
• Return trip is by re-tracing the steps; and also climb up some rock pagodas.
Timeline & Distance
10:21 0.0 km Start walking
10:27 0.2 km At top of gap between 2 rocks
10:30 0.2 km Start descending the gap, then walk along a ledge cut into the cliff face.
11:08 0.7 km At end of ledge
11:10 0.7 km Turn around
11:34 1.2 km At top of gap between 2 rocks
11:37 1.2 km Start walking towards our cars
11:42 1.3 km Finish
Total: 1 hrs 21 mins at leisurely pace
1.3 km Distance is from Google Earth
1.7 km Distance is from Garmin GPS
11:59 0.0 km Start walking
12:44 1.3 km At top of a rock pagoda
13:04 1.3 km Leave top of rock pagoda
13:31 1.7 km At tip of a platform
13:39 1.7 km Start to re-trace steps
13:43 1.8 km Admire scenery
14:04 1.8 km Start walking
14:19 2.0 km At base of rock pagoda where earlier on we had lunch
14:24 2.1 km Start returning to cars, and also climb some rock pagodas on the way back
15:06 3.3 km Finish
Total: 3 hrs 7 mins at leisurely pace
3.3 km Distance is from Google Earth
4.0 km Distance is from Garmin GPS
Pictures - 1st lookout
1) At the first lookout at the end of Sunnyside Ridge Road ~~~
- The Blue Mountains Range is on the other side of the valley in which the Wolgan River flows.
- Soon, we'll explore a ledge cut into the cliff on the left side of the photo (along the blue arrow) - almost all the way to the end.
2) The cliffs here are on the right side of the previous photo. (The lower photo is zooming in on a cliff face of the upper photo.)
3) Sybil climbing down a gap ~~~
As explained in photo #1, we are going to explore a ledge cut into a cliff face.
4) Yuri leading us to explore along the ledge cut into the cliff
5) Ralph leading, then Brian & Sybil, exploring along the ledge
6) Along the ledge, there are some Acacia terminalis (Sunshine Wattle), an Australian native plant that likes sunny areas.
7) Leptospermum arachnoides (Spidery Tea Tree), another Australian native plant - this species grows mainly in NSW.
Pictures - 2nd lookout
After morning tea, we drive to a nearby spot also on Sunnyside Ridge Road, park the cars, then walk to a lookout over a gorge of the Wolgan River.
8) First, we walk on a disused track. At some point, it peters out. In this photo, we are off-track with some bushbashing. (Brian is the guy in this pic.)
9) We won't climb this rock pagoda, we'll go around it.
10) Closer look at the face of a rock pagoda ~~~
The rock pagodas are unique to the Newnes State Forest and the nearby Gardens of Stone National Park and Wollemi National Park - you won't find them anywhere else in the world !
11) Another rock pagoda
12) More rock pagodas - we will climb this one.
Yuri is on the left. Alex is on the right.
13) Geoff and Alex are the first to climb to the top.
14) We have lunch at the top of the rock pagoda.
Here is a panoramic view from the top.
15) Zooming in at the centre of the previous photo
16) Zooming in at the centre of the previous photo
17) The cliffs you see in the below pic are on the other side of the gorge through which the Wolgan River flows.
Brian is taking photos of ...
18) ... of a waterfall on the Wolgan river (bottom of the photo).
19) After lunch, some of us go further down a platform that is like a tongue sticking out into the gorge.
- Walking along the blue arrow is like walking on the edge of a razor blade; it is fun.
- Destination is the end of the platform pointed to by the red arrow.
20) Same scene as the previous photo, but from a different angle.
- We walk along where the blue arrow is.
- Emanuel (pointed to by the red arrow) has already reached the tip of the platform. Soon I'll be there too ... next photo ...
21) ... At the tip of the platform where Emanuel was in the previous pic
The next 11 photos (Photo #22 to #32) are taken from roughly where I am now standing.
22) View of the cliffs on the other side of the gorge through which the Wolgan River flows
23) (This is the right side of the previous pic) ~~~ The red arrows from left to right point to:
- 1st arrow points to a rock pillar on our side of the Wolgan River. It is tempting to climb to the flat area on the top ... which should give us a good view of the gorge and the cliffs on the other side. Off-hand, we can't see a way up and hence didn't try to climb it. Next time, we should explore it to see if there is way up.
- 2nd arrow points to a nearer rock pillar. It is climbable - not hard.
- 3rd arrow points to the tip of the ledge where I am now standing ... see Photo #21.
24) View of the cliffs on the other side of the gorge through which the Wolgan River flows
25) Weathered rock formation
26) Cliff on the other side of the gorge through which the Wolgan River flows
27) The gorge through which the Wolgan River flows - I am still at where I was standing in Photo #21.
28) Weathered rock formation of a nearby rock pagoda
29) Around where the platform is (Photo #21) are some Epacris reclinata (Fuchsia Heath), native to NSW.
30) Leucochrysum graminifolium (Pagoda Rock Daisy) - they only grow on the rocks of the pagodas. You won't find them anywhere else in the world !
31) Leucochrysum graminifolium (Pagoda Rock Daisy)
32) Leucochrysum graminifolium (Pagoda Rock Daisy) - this one hasn't opened up yet.
33) Returning to the rock pagoda where we had lunch at the top not too long ago.
34) This tree which had grown on a rock surface, had fallen down. Note the thinness of its root system ... not much thicker than a pancake !
35) On the way back to our cars, we detour to climb more rock pagodas.
36) Weathered rock formation of a pagoda
37) Weathered rock formation of a pagoda
38) Weathered rock formation of a pagoda
39) Weathered rock formation on a pagoda
40) Brian on top of a rock pagoda
41) Geoff on top of a higher one
42) I climb to the top of where Geoff was in the previous pic and take a photo of this view.
43) Zooming in
44) Enough of the rock pagodas :-)
Now climbing down
45) Geoff climbing down the rock pagodas
46) A final look at the rock pagodas - aren't they magnificent !!!
Richard & Carolyn Green
47) Amongst our group is a couple, Richard & Carolyn, who are photographers. This morning, they came by their helicopter to join us for the walk. Now in the later afternoon, they are going to flying home - surely beats the traffic jam on the roads :-)
Richard and Carolyn Green died in their helicopter crash 5 months later on 2015-11-09. A passenger, John Davis also died. Rest in Peace.