Regional NSW

The Castle Track, Morton NP

Introduction to Bushwalking in NSW

Although there’s still much to do, we’ve done excellent walks in regional NSW from the coast all the way to the outback. The Great Dividing Range runs down the east coast of Australia, and there many walks amongst these mountains, valleys and escarpments. The coast is dominated by sandy beaches. West of the Great Dividing Range is a mostly flat plateau that is used largely for agriculture, but there are still great walking destinations inland, like Warrumbungle National Park. Read on for more info, or go straight to a list of the walks. And if you want to learn about walking near Sydney, then go to the Around Sydney page.

Sophia climbing The Castle, with the tail of the Tadpole in the background, Morton National Park, NSW
Sophia climbing The Castle, with the tail of the Tadpole in the background, Morton National Park, NSW

It’s difficult to summarise walks in NSW because its a big and varied place, but many of our walks have been in areas that are similar to Sydney and surrounds: grand sandstone cliffs, thick Eucalypt forests, and sandy beaches. The main exceptions are the alpine walks in Kosciuszko National Park, which are described in more detail below, a few walks around the spectacular gorges of the New England Tablelands, and the walks we did on our first road trip to the outback. 

High point of the Pipeline Track, overlooking Wolgan Valley, NSW
High point of the Pipeline Track, overlooking Wolgan Valley, NSW

Finding Track Notes

There are guide books for various regions in NSW, and we used  Take a Walk in Southern NSW & the ACT by John and Lyn Daly, and Best Walks of the Southern Highlands and also of the Shoalhaven, both by John and Gillian Souter, for a number of walks in southern NSW. We’ve also used the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website, and the website Trail Hiking Australia is good for walks across the country.

The coast off Durras Mountain, Murramarang National Park, on the South Coast of NSW
The coast off Durras Mountain, Murramarang National Park, on the South Coast of NSW

Weather in NSW

The weather in NSW varies less between seasons than many places on Earth, but there are quite large variations between regions. The coastal areas are generally a bit milder and wetter; it can be humid up north. It drys out further inland to the west of the Great Dividing Range, and eventually becomes desert on the western edge of the state. There’ll be days in summer which are too hot for comfortable hiking, and this is particularly so in the west: definitely leave walking in the outback for autumn through to spring. Winter makes for pleasant walking in all but the alpine regions, although if you have the gear then get out in the snow too.

Kosciuszko National Park

Australia’s tallest mountains, including Mt Kosciuszko at 2228m, are situated in southern NSW bordering the state of Victoria, and offer alpine scenes that are pretty rare in Australia. The northern end of the park has some excellent walks at lower elevations.

Club Lake on the Main Range Track, Kosciuszko National Park
Club Lake on the Main Range Track, Kosciuszko National Park

One thing to note about walking in Kosciuszko National Park is that despite the high ground there are not really many big ascents. On the eastern side the land rises quite gradually, and it’s only the western side of the mountains-the Western Ranges-that are steep. It is possible to climb from about 400m of elevation to the top of Mt Kosciuszko, but the track is overgrown and it’s not a day return walk (Hannel’s Spur Track – I’ve never done it myself, just read about it). Instead you get a selection of walks through the vegetation of the high country, including attractive snow gums. Views off the western edge of the park are extensive, and can be seen on the classic Main Range Track, but not so much from the summit of Mt Kosciuszko itself. The ski town of  Jindabyne is a good base for these walks.

View from near Carruthers Peak (2145m) on the Main Range Track, Kosciuszko National Park
View from near Carruthers Peak (2145m) on the Main Range Track, Kosciuszko National Park

The northern end of the park is less famous, probably because of its lower elevation, but there is some unique scenery, not to mention a number of wild horses (known as brumbies). Tumut is a good place to stay for accessing the northern end of the park.

Nicole Gorge, Kosciuszko National Park
Nicole Gorge, Kosciuszko National Park

Kosciuszko National Park Track Notes

There are a number of guide books for this area, but we don’t go there enough to justify purchasing them, and found the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service resources were enough. Wildwalks describes some walks at the southern end of the park, and I have used a very old edition of the Geehi Bushwalking Club walking guide for a couple of the lesser known routes. 

Clarke Gorge, Kosciuszko National Park, NSW, Australia.
Clarke Gorge, Kosciuszko National Park

The Weather in Kosciuszko National Park

Summers are a bit cooler up high but you might be exposed in the alpine areas with little or no tree cover, so take a hat and sunscreen. The flies seem to go a bit ape in the high country summer, so be prepared for them too. They have proper winters in Kosciuszko National Park so definitely prepare for sub-zero temperatures and snowy conditions. They’re not called the Snowy Mountains for nothing.

The Walks in Regional NSW

You can browse through a list of the walks I’ve posted on so far…

Kosciuszko National Park

Mt Tate Circuit, Kosciuszko National Park

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.

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

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

Nichols Gorge Track, Kosciuszko NP

A very atmospheric walk through Nichols Gorge in Kosciuszko National Park. The gorge is lined by large rocky crags, and then the track emerges from the gorge onto wide treeless plains.

Old Mountain Road Track, Kosciuszko NP

A shortish but steep walk up a historic disused road in Kosciuszko NP near Talbingo. There are partial views near the end of high peaks in the Bogong Peaks Wilderness Area.

Perisher to Blue Cow, Kosciuszko National Park

A road walk from Perisher to Blue Cow that was nevertheless very scenic when we did it in wintery conditions in 2009. We also made a snowman and snowcat.

South Coast

Rusden Head Track, Morton NP

This is a flat walk along a fire trail to Rusden Head, where there are good views of the Budawangs. There’s a lot of bird life in the area.

Snapper Point & Durras Mountain, Murramarang NP

Snapper Point is a headland with impressive cliffs and rock platforms. We then returned to Merry Beach and set off up Durras Mountain for partial views over the coast.

The Castle Track, Morton NP

Surely one of the best walks in NSW, summiting The Castle (847m) in Morton National Park provides spectacular views of the surrounding cliffs and plateaus in the Budawang Range. It’s only for fit walkers, and those willing to do a fair bit of scrambling, and also those with a reasonable head for heights.

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West of the Blue Mountains

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New England

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Far Western NSW

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