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: Camping and accommodation closed due to COVID-19 restrictions
NPWS campgrounds and accommodation are closed in this area until further notice as a result of the NSW Government’s stay-at-home restrictions. Find out more on our COVID-19 update webpage.

Closed areas: Road Closures
Some roads in this park are closed from Tuesday 6 April to Wednesday 30 September 2021 due to storm and flood damage. The closed roads are:

  • California trail
  • Martindale trail
  • Hunter Main trail - Between Three Ways Junction to Raspberry Junction only.
If you're travelling to Sheepskin Hut, please enter via Commission Road. Gates that are in place have been locked and signs are in place on closed roads. Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the NPWS Bulga area office.

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 pest control program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting an aerial baiting program from Monday 30 August 2021 to Sunday 12 September 2021. The operation will involve the use of meat baits, and meat bait products containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes in the following parks, reserves and state conservation areas:
  • Bargo State Conservation Area
  • Blue Mountains National Park
  • Guula Ngurra National Park
  • Nattai National Park
  • Wollemi National Park.
This program is designed to minimise the impact of foxes on wildlife, especially after the recent extensive bushfires, and to minimise the impact of wild dogs and foxes on neighbouring stock.
Baits may remain active in the environment for up to a month after delivery.
All baiting locations will be identified 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 locations. In the event of accidental poisoning seek immediate veterinary assistance.
Penalties apply for non-compliance. Please contact the Hawkesbury-Nattai Area Glenbrook Office on (02) 4720 6200 for more information.

Closed areas: Campgrounds closed due to damage
The following campgrounds are closed due to fire and/or flood damage:
  • Heartbreak Hill campground
  • Colo Meroo campground
  • Dingo Dell
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, please contact the local office.

Closed areas: Camping and accommodation in Greater Sydney closed due to COVID restrictions
Due to the developing COVID-19 situation in NSW, please consult the latest NSW Government news and updates about COVID-19 for advice on required safety measures before visiting a park.
A number of NPWS campgrounds have been closed due to the COVID restrictions. 
Penalties apply for non-compliance. Please check alerts for closures or call 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS).

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 ground baiting program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will be conducting a strategic ground baiting program for the control of wild dogs and foxes.
The operations will involve the use of meat products containing Poison 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate). The ground baiting program will be ongoing from Monday 16 August for four weeks, then continuing to Tuesday 30 November 2021 in the following parks, reserves and state conservation areas:
  • Abercrombie National Park and State Conservation Area
  • Gardens of Stone National Park
  • Wollemi National Park
  • Blue Mountains National Park
  • Turon National Park
  • Marrangaroo National Park
  • Mares Forest National Park
  • Kanangra-Boyd National Park
  • Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve
  • Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve
These programs have been designed to meet NPWS priority conservation and state focused biosecurity issues. All baiting locations will be signposted.
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, call the NPWS Kanangra area on 02 6336 6200.

Other planned events: Coorongooba campground partial closure
There is no vehicle access or camping in the eastern half of Coorongooba campground. The closure is to allow the area to settle and regenerate after major earthworks. This area has been substantially upgraded as a part of the NSW Government's Improving Access to National Parks Program.
Campground capacity has been reduced to reflect the area closed. New picnic tables and barbeques will be installed during this closure.
For more information please call the NPWS Mudgee area office on 02 6370 900.

Other planned events: 1080 fox baiting program
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 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 Monday 8 February 2021 and Friday 31 December 2021 in Wollemi National Park. This program is to protect the endangered Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby.
The following trails will be used as a part of this program:
  • Capertee River trail, downstream 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, call the NPWS Mudgee area office on 02 6370 9000.

Other planned events: Poison 1080 wild dog and fox control program notice
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will be conducting a strategic ground and aerial baiting program for the control of wild dogs and foxes.
The operations will involve the use of meat, manufactured products and Canid Pest Ejectors (CPE’s) containing Poison 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate). The program will be continuous and ongoing from  Saturday 26 June 2021 to Thursday 30 November 2021 in the following parks, reserves and state conservation areas:
  • Abercrombie National Park and State Conservation Area
  • Gardens of Stone National Park
  • Wollemi National Park
  • Blue Mountains National Park
  • Turon National Park
  • Marrangaroo National Park
  • Mares Forest National Park
  • Kanangra-Boyd National Park
  • Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve
These programs have been designed to meet NPWS priority conservation and state focused biosecurity issues. All baiting locations will be signposted.
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, call the NPWS Kanangra area on 02 6336 6200.

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 Baiting
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will be conducting an ongoing aerial and ground baiting program in this park from Monday 17 May to Wednesday 17 November 2021. The operation will involve the use of meat baits, meat bait products and ejectors containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes.
This program is designed to minimise the impact of foxes on wildlife, especially after the recent extensive bushfires, and to minimise the impact of wild dogs and foxes on neighbouring stock. This program is carried out as part of the following Blue Mountains Branch Pest Management Strategies: Western Hunter Wild Dog Management Plan, Central Hunter Wild Dog Management Plan & Post Fire Aerial Baiting Program.
All baiting locations will be identified 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 locations. In the event of accidental poisoning seek immediate veterinary assistance.
For further information please email or call the NPWS Bulga Office on (02) 6574 5555

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 Baiting
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is conducting ongoing aerial and ground baiting programs in this park from Monday 17 May to Wednesday 17 November 2021. The operation will involve the use of meat baits, meat bait products and ejectors containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes.
This program is designed to minimise the impact of foxes on wildlife, especially after the recent extensive bushfires, and to minimise the impact of wild dogs and foxes on neighbouring stock.
All baiting locations will be identified 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 locations. In the event of accidental poisoning seek immediate veterinary assistance.
For further information please call the NPWS Mudgee Office on (02) 6370 9000

Safety alerts: Coorongooba campground - river access
Access to the Coorongooba campground is via a causeway through the Capertee River. This causeway is subject to flooding. The Capertee River can rise unexpectedly with heavy rains falling upstream, making the causeway impassable. Please check the weather forecast before leaving home.
For more information please call the NPWS Mudgee area office on 02 6370 9000 or visit the NSW National Parks safety page for park safety guidelines.

Wollemi State Conservation Area

Closed areas: Road Closures
Some roads in this park are closed from Tuesday 6 April to Wednesday 30 September 2021 due to storm and flood damage. The closed roads are:

  • California trail
  • Martindale trail
  • Hunter Main trail - Between Three Ways Junction to Raspberry Junction only.
If you're travelling to Sheepskin Hut, please enter via Commission Road. Gates that are in place have been locked and signs are in place on closed roads. Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the NPWS Bulga area office.

Closed areas: Campgrounds closed due to damage
The following campgrounds are closed due to fire and/or flood damage:
  • Heartbreak Hill campground
  • Colo Meroo campground
  • Dingo Dell
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, please contact the local office.

Other planned events: Notice of 1080 Baiting
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will be conducting an ongoing aerial and ground baiting program in this park from Monday 17 May to Wednesday 17 November 2021. The operation will involve the use of meat baits, meat bait products and ejectors containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison for the control of wild dogs and foxes.
This program is designed to minimise the impact of foxes on wildlife, especially after the recent extensive bushfires, and to minimise the impact of wild dogs and foxes on neighbouring stock. This program is carried out as part of the following Blue Mountains Branch Pest Management Strategies: Western Hunter Wild Dog Management Plan, Central Hunter Wild Dog Management Plan & Post Fire Aerial Baiting Program.
All baiting locations will be identified 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 locations. In the event of accidental poisoning seek immediate veterinary assistance.
For further information please email or call the NPWS Bulga Office on (02) 6574 5555

Wollemi Flora Reserve

Closed areas: Road Closures
Some roads in this park are closed from Tuesday 6 April to Wednesday 30 September 2021 due to storm and flood damage. The closed roads are:

  • California trail
  • Martindale trail
  • Hunter Main trail - Between Three Ways Junction to Raspberry Junction only.
If you're travelling to Sheepskin Hut, please enter via Commission Road. Gates that are in place have been locked and signs are in place on closed roads. Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the NPWS Bulga area office.



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