Bluff Mountain & Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park NSW

The must do circuit walk in the Warrumbungles, taking in famous views of the Breadknife from Grand High Tops, and a visit to Bluff Mountain (1200m) where there are more great views.

The Grand High Tops Circuit with an added side trip to Bluff Mountain (1200m) is arguably the best walk in the Warrumbungles, especially for views. From Grand High Tops there are classic views of the pleasingly named rock formation, The Breadknife, which is a tall, thin and sheer slice of rock that you pass on the way up. There are also great views of nearby Crater Bluff, and of Belougery Spire, both prominent and striking hunks of rock. Continue reading “Bluff Mountain & Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park NSW”

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungle National Park NSW

A long walk with excellent views from the summit over the whole of the Warrumbungles, although you might find the highlight are the huge numbers of fabulous grass trees in the final 200 vertical metres.

Mt Exmouth (1206m) is the highest point in Warrumbungle National Park, and I’ll admit to a spot of peak bagging in doing this walk. Nevertheless, I’d read that the views from the summit were excellent, and they were, although a bit hazy on an overcast day. Unexpectedly though, another feature of this walk stole the show, and that was the preponderance of fabulous grass trees on the final ascent to the summit. I’ve never seen so many in my life, and they were fine specimens indeed. So I’d recommend this walk even just for these, but the views will be an added bonus.

Track notes at the end. And if you haven’t already you should consider doing the park’s classic walk, the Bluff Mountain and Grand High Tops Circuit

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon: The Scenery

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Burbie Canyon
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Not as many wildflowers out as I’d expected, but these ones were quite nice.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Burbie Canyon
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Burbie Canyon
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Much of the walk was along Burbie Fire Trail so I thought I would take a picture of this just so you know what you are up for. Not so exciting but then the lower section of the alternative West Spirey Creek Track were not all that exciting either. It made for fast walking at least.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
One of three new wildflowers I saw on the walk, (as in, new to me).
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
An interesting aesthetic walking through native pine trees of some sort. Not many of these further east.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
A prickly pear cactus. These have become a serious weed in Australia in the past. Not sure about nowadays. We saw just this one.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Wildflowers I’ve not seen before.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
The first of many grass trees on the final ascent to the summit.

Prepare for an overwhelming number of grass tree photos…

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Nice shades of green here.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Lots of grass trees.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
So many grass trees!
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
And still more grass trees.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
I particularly liked this grass tree, which looks like it is wearing a fur coat.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
One of my favourite grass tree shots with Sophia demonstrating scale, and hence the advanced age of these wonderful plants.

Up onto the summit area here…

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
I liked this long line of grass trees as we approached the summit.

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
A very bushy grass tree.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Note sure what what that distant mountain is, but it looked a little volcanic, and could have been in this area given that it was moulder by volcanic forces many centuries ago.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Approaching the summit.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
A panorama from the summit.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Grass tree ‘spears’ on the summit.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Possibly my favourite shot from the summit of Mt Exmouth (1206m), combining the views with many grass trees in flower, the signature characteristics of this walk, at least in 2019.

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
A noisy friarbird.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
A noisy friarbird.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
A noisy friarbird on grass tree flower spears.

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Lots of grass trees at the summit.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
I may have darkened this photo a bit too much, but a number of my shots turned out very hazy so I’ve tried to adjust for that. Split Rock to the left.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
View from the summit.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
The view from the summit of Mt Exmouth (1206m). Bluff Mountain in the centre, which we climbed the next day.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Sophia sometimes needs to lie down to let the blood back to her head. Of course, this doesn’t explain why she does so much lying down at home also. Pictured here on the summit of Mt Exmouth (1206m).
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
Not sure what these flowers are, but I liked the aesthetic.
Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungles NSW
This is Belougery Split Rock, which is actually not on the walk, but you can start from this car park along Burbie Fire Trail, missing out Burbie Canyon. Not recommended, but I just wanted to include this picture. There’s a walk around the base of this small mountain and you can visit the summit also. One for next time.


Track Notes

We started the walk at Burbie Canyon, which is a nice 1km section of the ephemeral Burbie Creek, although we then had a long slog up Burbie Fire Trail to where the track begins the final ascent to the summit. NPWS info on the walk actuals refers to a start at Split Rock Car Park, but you’re better off walking through the canyon as it’s (probably) more scenic than the start of Burbie Fire Trail, and also 1km shorter each way.

An alternative is to leave from Pincham Car Park, also the start of the Grand High Tops Circuit, which we did the following day. You walk up a section of West Spirey Creek, and there are eventually views of the big cliff face on Bluff Mountain. (We descended down this track, and I think descending is better for the Grand High Tops Circuit). There’s then a link track to join the Mt Exmouth route at (kind of) the end of Burbie Fire Trail.  I can’t tell you what this section is like.

Here are some maps and basic info on the walking options in the park. Ignore the ‘you are here’ marker on the map, as we took this photo at the Split Rock Car Park. 

Map of walks in Warrumbungle National Park
The sign at Split Rock car park, which is not where we started from.

Walks in Warrumbungle National Park

Cloudy Peak ascent, Central Otago NZ

A great sample of Central Otago’s unique scenery on this long and relatively unknown walk to the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m), north-east of Cromwell.

Quintessential Central Otago scenery on this long walk to the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m), not far from Cromwell. Once you begin the ascent onto higher ground there are great views of golden tussocked and wrinkly hills and valleys, contrasted with flat-as-a-pancake plains in the distance, and from the summit you have partial views of the attractive St Bathans Range. Continue reading “Cloudy Peak ascent, Central Otago NZ”

Crown Peak ascent, near Arrowtown NZ

Excellent winter scenery on the ascent up Crown Peak (1735m) from in Arrowtown, near Queenstown. 360 degree views from the summit are a highlight.

The walk up Crown Peak (1735m) from Arrowtown is yet another underrated hike near Queenstown. There were excellent 360 degree views from the summit rocks, and a variety of scenery with Central Otago’s roly-poly mountains and wrinkly ridgelines, some pointy peaks, valleys, the Wakatipu Basin, and a nice angle on Lake Wakatipu itself. Continue reading “Crown Peak ascent, near Arrowtown NZ”

Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m (winter), Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

The 360 degree views from point 1290m just above Sugarloaf Pass, near the start of the Routeburn Track, are amongst the best we’ve seen in New Zealand. So on our trip to Queenstown in winter 2019 we decided to do this walk again, hoping that the rather modest snowfall in the first weeks of winter would nevertheless add to the already fabulous views, and we weren’t disappointed.  Mt Earnslaw/ Pikirakatahi is a highlight, as are the Humboldt Mountains. And the beech forest on the ascent and descent was even prettier than I remembered, with some friendly birds adding to the experience. Continue reading “Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m (winter), Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), near Arrowtown NZ

The wrinkly mountains and valleys at the back of Arrowtown are a highlight of this walk up Brow Peak (1456m).

This walk up Brow Peak (1456m) was a real find for me when I first did it in the summer of 2018/19. A really high quality walk that I hadn’t done yet, just out the back of Arrowtown, and so only about 25 minutes drive from Queenstown. At that time I started the walk in the afternoon, finishing not much before dusk. The fading light cast shadows over numerous wrinkly mountains and valleys, which made for excellent views on the way back in particular. In winter you pretty much get this lighting all day, plus some snow to top it all off (literally). Continue reading “Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), near Arrowtown NZ”

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

An ascent of Mt Alaska (1965m) in winter. This walk was an instant favourite when I first did it in summer 2018/2019, and winter added a whole new dimension.

I did this walk for the first time in the summer of 2018/19 and it became an instant favourite. When Sophia and I came back to Queenstown the following winter it was first choice to kick off the holiday, and it did not disappoint. Much of the scenery was unsurprisingly enhanced by snow, although I just went back to see my photos from summer and realised the colours were very nice then, so you can’t lose really. Continue reading “Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ”

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

This is one of the classic circuit walks in the Blue Mountains, with great valley views, various attractive waterfalls, tall cliffs, rainforest and moody creeks.

You can sample some of the best of the upper Blue Mountains on this harder than average circuit walk near Blackheath. You get the usual grand valley and cliff views, but also numerous waterfalls, rainforest, and creek scenery. And you can combine the Rodriguez Pass with the Grand Canyon Circuit (as we did) to make a full and varied day of it.

Track notes at the end.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit: The Scenery

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
The Grose Valley from Govetts leap Lookout, which is where we started.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Grose Valley panorama from a little below Govetts Leap Lookout, on the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap to the right.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap (falls) on the right, and further right still, a hanging swamp.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Dropping down the cliff line.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap from below.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A section of rainforest as we dropped down deeper into the Grose Valley.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Sophia in front of one of many small waterfalls along the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A birds nest fern.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Lots of dark and moody sections of creek.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
On the valley floor by this stage.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Very lush in places.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
At Junction Rock, looking up at cliffs lining the Grose Valley.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A panorama of some cliffs viewed from the valley floor at Junction Rock.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Cliffs lining the Grose Valley.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A cascade as we climbed higher up towards the Grand Canyon.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A cascade on Greaves Creek.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A very atmospheric spot on the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Maiden hair Ferns I think.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Beauchamp Falls

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A cliff near Beauchamp Falls.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Beauchamp Falls

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
An injured yabby that was not very long for this world, but still photogenic.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
You get up close and personal with cliffs on this walk.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Looking back as we climbed higher up the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Looking back as we climbed higher up the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

Track Notes

The NPWS has information on the Rodriguez Pass. Starting at Govetts Leap Lookout on the edge of Blackheath, we dropped steeply down the cliff face into the Grose Valley via the bottom of Govetts Leap itself (apparently the largest single drop waterfall in the Blue Mountains). Continuing on through mostly lush rainforest along Govetts Leap Brook (beware leeches in hot and wet weather!) we eventually reached Junction Rock. From there we set off towards the cliff line again, initially along Govetts Creek, then Greaves Creek, stopping to look at the attractive Beauchamp Falls on the way up (very short side trip – you should hear the falls). About 650 metres ascent and descent.

You can return to Govetts Leap Lookout directly via a small section of the Grand Canyon Circuit to Evans Lookout, then along the Cliff Top Track. But we went the long way around the rest of the Grand Canyon Circuit to make it a full and varied day walk (6-7 hours with lunch and photos). (You can see my pictures of the Grand Canyon Circuit here).

Mt Twynam, Little Twynam, Blue Lake & Hedley Tarn, Kosciuszko National Park NSW

Excellent scenery on this walk taking in two of Australia’s highest peaks, and two of its alpine lakes, including the spectacular Blue Lake.

On this walk high up on the Main Range I visited Australia’s third highest peak for the first time, Mt Twynam at 2196m of elevation, it’s sibling Little Twynam (2130m), the spectacular Blue Lake, and nearby Hedley Tarn. There’s excellent alpine scenery the whole way, and with the exception of the justifiably popular Blue Lake, you’ll avoid the worst of the crowds that frequent the southern area of the range near Mt Kosciuszko. Continue reading “Mt Twynam, Little Twynam, Blue Lake & Hedley Tarn, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”

Mt Tate Circuit, Kosciuszko National Park NSW

Excellent and remote feeling alpine scenery on this sometimes off-track circuit walk up to the summit of Mt Tate (2068m), in Kosciuszko National Park near Guthega.

I didn’t really know what to expect on this circuit walk up Mt Tate (2068m) in Kosciuszko National Park, but it turned out to be one of the better walks I’ve done on mainland Australia. The views from the summit of Mt Tate are particularly good, and include looking over the rocky plateau of the Main Range towards some of Australia’s other highest peaks. The route through colourful and varied alpine scenery is unmarked, and for much of the time there’s no track, but navigation is easy in good weather, and you might have the place to yourself, as I did even on Easter Saturday. Continue reading “Mt Tate Circuit, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”