river caves canyon

river caves canyon


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

Closed areas: Bob Turners fire trail and walking track closed for maintenance
Bob Turners fire trail and walking track will be closed for maintenance works from Monday 22 July - Friday 16 August 2024.

  • Please note: there will be no access to the walking track or fire trail during this time.
 
For more information, contact the local park office on (02) 4720 6200.

Closed areas: Wheeny Creek campground closed
Wheeny Creek campground will be closed until Monday 22 July 2024, due to wet weather and vandalism that has occurred.
Staff will assess conditions and reopen as soon as possible.
 
For more information, contact the local park office on (02) 4720 6200.

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 2024
  • Martindale trail - closed until August 2024
Visitor areas that are currently closed include:
  • California Hut - closed until late December 2024
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: Newnes Campground Closure
Newnes campground in Wollemi National Park is closed for maintenance from Wednesday 15 May to Wednesday 31 July 2024. 
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the local NPWS office on (02) 6336 6200.

Closed areas: Wheeny Creek campground - Boobook section permanently closed
The Boobook campground and picnic area within Wheeny Creek campground has permanently closed due to flood damage. 
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the local NPWS office on 4720-6200.

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 ground baiting program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting an ongoing ground baiting program from Monday 20th May 2024 to Sunday 6th October 2024.
The operation will use 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes. The program will take place in Dharug National Park (NP), Koolewong Flora Reserve (FR), Manobalai Nature Reserve (NR), Parr State Conservation Area (SCA), Wollemi FR, Wollemi NP, Wollemi SCA, Yengo NP.
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.
Please contact the Wollemi Yengo NPWS area office for more information on 02 6574 5555.

Other planned events: Notice of ongoing 1080 baiting program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting ongoing ground baiting program from Thursday 2 May 2024 to Friday 1 November 2024 in the following areas:
  • Abercrombie River National Park
  • Abercrombie River State Conservation Area
  • Kanangra-Boyd National Park
  • Blue Mountains National Park (southern section)
  • Wollemi National Park (Wolga
  • Gardens of Stone National Park
  • Jenolan Karst Conservation Area
  • Turon National Park
  • Marrangaroo National Park
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.
For more information, contact the NPWS Kanangra area office at Oberon on 02 6336 6200.

Wollemi Flora Reserve

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 ground baiting program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting an ongoing ground baiting program from Monday 20th May 2024 to Sunday 6th October 2024.
The operation will use 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes. The program will take place in Dharug National Park (NP), Koolewong Flora Reserve (FR), Manobalai Nature Reserve (NR), Parr State Conservation Area (SCA), Wollemi FR, Wollemi NP, Wollemi SCA, Yengo NP.
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.
Please contact the Wollemi Yengo NPWS area office for more information on 02 6574 5555.

Wollemi State Conservation Area

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 ground baiting program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting an ongoing ground baiting program from Monday 20th May 2024 to Sunday 6th October 2024.
The operation will use 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes. The program will take place in Dharug National Park (NP), Koolewong Flora Reserve (FR), Manobalai Nature Reserve (NR), Parr State Conservation Area (SCA), Wollemi FR, Wollemi NP, Wollemi SCA, Yengo NP.
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.
Please contact the Wollemi Yengo NPWS area office for more information on 02 6574 5555.



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