Info

walking distance: 2.6 km
duration: 2:04 h
walking: 1:53 h
elevation diff: 146 m
location: wollemi
driving distance: 140 km
driving time: 2:30 h
water available: yes
parking: -33.3244,150.3065


gps tracks

Total distance: 2625 m
Max elevation: 973 m
Min elevation: 827 m
Total climbing: 161 m
Total time: 02:04:10
Download file: river_caves_canyon.gpx

Video


Track notes

Can be waist deep!
River Caves Canyon, east of Newnes State Forest on the Newnes Plateau, is a short spectacular canyon for beginners. Accessible to just about anyone of any age, River Caves is basically a bushwalk through incredibly high narrow sandstone cliffs. With a couple of sections where you have to walk through water you will unavoidably get wet feet, possibly even wet as high as your waist depending on water level, height and where you try to walk. Aside from that though, there is only a couple of ‘climbs’ required, and virtually no technical skill required.
To get there you have to drive to Zig Zag railway, then take the dirt track to Glow Worm Tunnel Road through the state forest, turn right, then second left, then immediately after a crossroads take the right hand fork onto Mount Cameron Trail. Follow that road to its end at the Natural Bridge.
We met up, then drove to the canyon, walked down the ‘Natural Bridge’ saddle into the gully. Walking along the gully (through the billion spiderwebs!) we actually managed to walk a short distance past the canyon before I stopped to check the maps and Jamieson directions, only to look up and notice the incredibly narrow crack in the cliff face covered up with bright green trees. So we walked back the 50m to the bottom end of the River Caves canyon, and upon walking into it, the change was just awesome. A ‘Canyon’ is a hard to define concept when it comes to deciding whether you are bushwalking, canyoning, or maybe you should be paddling – but instances like this make the difference oh so obvious. The difference between the gully we were walking in – a gully with cliffs on both sides of it, and a flowing creek in the middle – and the canyon that we just walked into – also with cliffs either side and a creek in the middle – left no doubt in your mind that one was really a gully, and the other was a canyon.

River Caves Canyon leaves no doubt in your mind where its name comes from either. The high walls are incredible, and the overhanging caves at water level are really quite awesome. We enjoyed the change from the hot open gully to the narrow, cool, dark canyon. Walking up the canyon (against the water flow) was very easy and the scenery was beautiful – if there was any complaint to be laid against this canyon, it is simply that it is over too soon. If you blink, you will miss it.

Entry
Park at the Natural Bridge car park. See Newnes Plateau & South Wolgan Fire Trails for information on how to drive to the starting point. From the locked gate at the Natural Bridge car park, walk along the fire trail to the Natural Bridge, which is just an obvious saddle. Head left down the hill and follow the creek. Just over a km of walking brings you to the main creek junction. Head left, and the canyon starts about 50m upstream.
Driving there
As with all canyons on the Newnes Plateau, driving there can be the hardest part of getting to the canyon. The Rock Hill (8931-2N), Cullen Bullen (8931-3N) and Lithgow (8931-3S) Topographical maps will make this drive much easier.
Drive to Zig Zag railway on Bells Line of Road. As you turn off the road into the dirt car park, follow the dirt road around to the right, then left over the train line instead of going towards the actual Zig Zag museum. Once on the dirt track follow that until its end at a T section with Glow Worm Tunnel Road. Turn right onto Glow Worm Tunnel Road and follow that through the State Forest (pine trees), to where the road divides (a 4WD track follows the main road on the right hand side), and then about 1km after that the Pine plantation will abruptly end and Eastern Boundary Road will turn off Glow Worm Tunnel Road to the right.
Turn onto Eastern Boundary Road , follow that for about 500m, taking the second left at a large open area. After 500m, immediately after a crossroad, take a road that forks off to the right (Mount Cameron Trail). Follow this past a left hand turn, then to a fork. Left will take you on a rougher road but shorter and more direct – Right will be a little longer, but less rugged road. If left, then simply go straight, passing one possible left turn. If right, then you will pass a right hand turn, the road will swing to the left and a second right hand turn will be passed. Keep left at a fork (which is just a small circuit which joins back up with the road 100m ahead), drive past the other end of the circuit as it joins up again, and then take the right hand turn at the end of the road. A little more than 1km down the road is the gate before the Natural Bridge, and the car park.
Google Map to the turn off from Glow Worm Tunnel Road onto Eastern Boundary Road.

[edit] Walking In
It is most popular to do this canyon upstream, although it could obviously be done in either direction. To complete the canyon upstream, walk about 200m down the path over the ‘Natural Bridge’ saddle, then turn left down the side of the saddle at a clear path. The path takes you down into a gully which you walk through until the canyon comes in from the left. It is very easy to miss the canyon because it is so narrow and covered in trees – also the path appears to keep going downstream past the canyon, so be careful to watch for the path heading off to the left (it happens at a creek crossing near a fallen tree) and also watch for the narrow slot in the left hand cliff wall.

[edit] The Canyon
Once at the bottom of the canyon, simply walk in and enjoy the spectacular scenery. There are a couple of wet spots and wades, there are 2 or 3 small, easy climbs, and the canyon will be finished before you know it.

[edit] Walking Out
Follow the path in the canyon, sticking to the left at any forks in the creek and you will inevitably find yourself climbing up a gully. Simply follow the path back to the road you drove in on, then turn left when you hit the road and walk back to the car park.

[edit] Example Timings
1hour 30min for a group of 4 at a leisurely pace.

30min from car to start of canyon
30min from start of canyon to bottom of gully at the end
30min from bottom of gully to car
Add your group time here

getting there:
0.0 From Bungleboori Picnic area continue straight ahead
3.1 Pass Waratah Ridge Rd (signposted) on your right
9.4 Turn right at the end of the pine plantation into Boundary East Forest Rd. This is just after the double road starts, and a large cleared area runs along side the road for the next 4km
10.0 Turn left at the second intersection at a large clearing
10.5 Veer right at a Y-intersection
12.6 Keep straight ahead as a fire trail turns off to the right
13.1 Turn right at a Y-intersection. A sign points left to Mt Cameron, right to Deep Pass. Note that while you can take the Mt Cameron trail at this point, it crosses Dinner Gully, a 60m descent and ascent, and it is better (particularly if you have a 2wd car) to take this detour.
14.0 Keep straight ahead as a fire trail turns to the right. A sign points straight ahead to Deep Pass.
14.1 Turn left on to a fire trail.
15.5 Turn right as you rejoin the Mt Cameron fire trail. This is just after a steep rocky downhill, the most difficult section of the route.
16.4 Pass the park boundary sign. A closed fire trail branches off to your right.
16.8 Reach the Natural Bridge car park. There are a couple of steep water bars in this last section, and 2wd cars are likely to bottom out on these. You can park in a number of places before the actual car park.
River Caves Canyon, east of Newnes State Forest on the Newnes Plateau, is a short spectacular canyon for beginners. Accessible to just about anyone of any age, River Caves is basically a bushwalk through incredibly high narrow sandstone cliffs. With a couple of sections where you have to walk through water you will unavoidably get wet feet, possibly even wet as high as your waist depending on water level, height and where you try to walk. Aside from that though, there is only a couple of ‘climbs’ required, and virtually no technical skill required.
To get there you have to drive to Zig Zag railway, then take the dirt track to Glow Worm Tunnel Road through the state forest, turn right, then second left, then immediately after a crossroads take the right hand fork onto Mount Cameron Trail. Follow that road to its end at the Natural Bridge.



Alerts

Wollemi National Park

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 aerial baiting program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting an aerial baiting program in Wollemi National Park from Monday 5 September 2022 to Friday 16 September 2022.
The operation will use meat baits containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes.
The program is designed to minimise predator impacts on wildlife, especially threatened species, and to minimise the impact of wild dogs on neighbouring stock.
Signs will be placed at the entry to the baiting location. Domestic pets are not permitted in NSW National Parks managed lands. Pets and working dogs may be affected (1080 is lethal to cats and dogs). Pets and working dogs must be restrained or muzzled in the vicinity and must not enter the baiting location. In the event of accidental poisoning seek immediate veterinary assistance.
For more information, please contact the following local area offices:

  • Kanangra Area- 02 6336 6200
  • Hawkesbury-Nattai Area - 02 4632 4500
  • Wollemi-Yengo Area - 02 6574 5555
  • Mudgee Area - 02 6370 9000

Closed areas: Dunns Swamp - Ganguddy campground closed - will reopen 15th of September 2022
Dunns Swamp - Ganguddy campground is closed for upgrades and will reopen Thursday 15th of September. 
The access road will be closed to all vehicle traffic.  All campsites and picnic areas will also be closed.
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, please contact the local office.

Closed areas: Glow Worm tunnel walking track closed
Access to Glow Worm Tunnel is currently closed from all track heads. Please note:
  • Glow Worm Tunnel walking track is closed from Wolgan Road, due to landslips and repair works on Old  Coach Road. The expected completion date is Wednesday 31 August 2022. However, the walking track to the tunnel from the Four Ways will remain closed after that date, until the track is safe. 
  • Glow Worm Tunnel Road is currently closed but will reopen by Saturday 20  August 2022, after repair works are completed. This will reopen access via the Newnes Plateau.
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the NPWS Oberon area office on 02 6336 6200.

Closed areas: Coorongooba campground closed due to roadworks
Coorongooba campground is closed from Monday 25 July 2022 until Friday 19 August 2022.
This is due to urgent roadworks required to repair several water crossings, which were damaged by recent flooding. 
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, please contact the local office.

Closed areas: Roads closed due to flood damage
The following roads in this park are closed due to storm and flood damage:
  • California trail - closed until late December 2022
  • Martindale trail - closed until late January 2022
  • Hunter Main trail:
    • Sheepskin Hut trail to Raspberry Junction - closed until late December 2022
    • Raspberry Junction to Three Ways - closed until late December 2022
  • Mellong Range trail - closed until late November 2022
  • Commission Road - Open
  • Bulga Trail - closed until late November 2022 
Visitor areas that are currently closed include:
  • California Hut - closed until late December 2022
  • Sheepskin Hut - closed until 1 November 2022.
Gates have been locked, and signs are in place on closed roads. Expected reopening times are subject to weather delays.
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the NPWS Bulga area office.

Closed areas: Sheepskin Hut campground and picnic area closed
Sheepskin Hut campground and picnic area are closed for toilet repairs from Tuesday 21 December 2021 to Monday 31 October 2022. 
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the NPWS Bulga office.

Closed areas: Glow Worm Tunnel road closed due to damage
Glow Worm Tunnel road is closed from the intersection of Waratah Ridge and Glow Worm Tunnel Road due to damage.
This road will re-open when safe to do so.
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the NPWS Kanangra area office on 02 6336 6200

Other planned events: 1080 Fox Baiting Program in the Capertee Valley
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will be conducting a baiting program using manufactured baits, fresh meat baits and/or Canid Pest Ejectors containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of foxes. The program will be continuous and ongoing between the 1st of April 2022 and the 30th September 2022 in Wollemi National Park.  The program is to protect the endangered Brush Tail Rock Wallaby.
The following trails will be used as a part of this program:
  • Capertee River Trail, downstream (East) of the Coorongooba Campground
  • Canobla Gap Fire Trail
  • Capertee River North Trail
 
All baiting locations will be identifiable by signs.
Domestic pets are not permitted in NSW national parks and reserves. Pets and working dogs may be affected (1080 is lethal to cats and dogs). Pets and working dogs must be restrained or muzzled in the vicinity and must not enter the baiting location. In the event of accidental poisoning seek immediate veterinary assistance.
 
For further information please call NPWS Mudgee area office on 02 6370 9000.

Other planned events: Notice of ongoing 1080 program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting ongoing ground baiting programs in Wollemi National Park on the following dates:
  • Wollemi-Yengo and Mudgee areas: Monday 9 May to Wednesday 9 November 2022
  • Kanangra area: Monday 2 May to Wednesday 2 November 2022
The operation will use meat baits, meat bait products and canid pest ejectors containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes.
The program is designed to minimise predator impacts on wildlife, especially threatened species, and to minimise impact of wild dogs on neighbouring stock.
Signs will be placed at the entry to the baiting location. Domestic pets are not permitted in NSW National Parks managed lands. Pets and working dogs may be affected (1080 is lethal to cats and dogs). Pets and working dogs must be restrained or muzzled in the vicinity and must not enter the baiting location. In the event of accidental poisoning seek immediate veterinary assistance.
Please contact the local NPWS Area office for more information:
  • Kanangra area at Oberon: 02 6336 6200
  • Wollemi-Yengo area at Bulga: 02 6574 5555
  • Mudgee area at Mudgee: 02 6370 9000

Safety alerts: River crossings to campgrounds
Vehicle access to the following camping areas is via natural river bed crossings that require 4WD capability, and are subject to flooding:
  • Wollemi National Park -  Newnes (Cricket Pitch camping area only)
  • Turon National Park - all camping areas
  • Marrangaroo National Park - main camping area
  • Abercrombie River National Park - all camping areas
  • Kanangra Boyd National Park - Kowmung river crossing 
River levels can rise rapidly with heavy rain falling upstream. Please check the weather forecast before leaving home.
 

Wollemi Flora Reserve

Closed areas: Roads closed due to flood damage
The following roads in this park are closed due to storm and flood damage:

  • California trail - closed until late December 2022
  • Martindale trail - closed until late January 2022
  • Hunter Main trail:
    • Sheepskin Hut trail to Raspberry Junction - closed until late December 2022
    • Raspberry Junction to Three Ways - closed until late December 2022
  • Mellong Range trail - closed until late November 2022
  • Commission Road - Open
  • Bulga Trail - closed until late November 2022 
Visitor areas that are currently closed include:
  • California Hut - closed until late December 2022
  • Sheepskin Hut - closed until 1 November 2022.
Gates have been locked, and signs are in place on closed roads. Expected reopening times are subject to weather delays.
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the NPWS Bulga area office.

Wollemi State Conservation Area

Other planned events: Notice of ongoing 1080 Program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting an ongoing ground baiting program in Dharug National Park, Manobalai Nature Reserve, Parr State Conservation Area, Wollemi State Conservation Area, and Yengo National Park from Monday 9th May 2022 to Wednesday 9th November 2022.
 
The operation will use 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes.
The program is designed to minimise predator impacts on wildlife, especially threatened species, and to minimise impact of wild dogs on neighbouring stock.
Signs will be placed at the entry to the baiting location. Domestic pets are not permitted in NSW National Parks managed lands. Pets and working dogs may be affected (1080 is lethal to cats and dogs). Pets and working dogs must be restrained or muzzled in the vicinity and must not enter the baiting location. In the event of accidental poisoning seek immediate veterinary assistance.
Please contact the local Bulga NPWS Office for more information on (020 6574 5555,
 



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