Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs NSW

The long but interesting walk into Monolith Valley will reward the enthusiastic hiker with 360 degree views of large rocky outcrops and shear cliffs.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs

One of the classic NSW day walks, the trek into Monolith Valley is often overshadowed by an ascent of the Castle. For sure the Castle is a must-do walk, but Monolith Valley is an excellent alternative for a different kind of spectacular. The walk into the area along the Castle walls is already awesome, and the views of Monolith Valley are first seen by continuing just past a chained section of Nibelung Pass. There you can climb one of the smaller monoliths for 360 degree views of huge textured rock landforms and distant cliff faces.

Track notes at the end.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass: The Scenery

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Lush vegetation near the start.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
More lush vegetation at the start. It soon dries out as you climb up towards the Castle.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Typical forest on the approach to the Castle from Long Gully Car Park.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
A spider web of roots.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
A kind of Drumstick. A bit different than in the coastal areas around Sydney.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Interesting rock colours and patterns, possibly caused by water dripping across the rock face, although I could be wrong.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
You can see how the brown conglomerate changes to sandstone higher up the cliffs.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
One of a few new flowers I encountered on this walk. I very much liked these rather delicate blooms that I saw in just one spot. (It was a moist area).

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Sophia admiring the views towards Mt Owen.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Cliffs on the way up between Mt Nibelung and the Castle.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
The walls of the Castle (840m of elevation).

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
The Castle walls. You get some idea of the scale on this photo.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
At one point a grass tree spine poked my eyeball, but somehow the eyeball remained intact. This photo re-enacts that moment.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Interesting textures and colours of bark. The mottled one in the foreground is a Banksia I think.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Colourful rocks near the entrance to Monolith Valley.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
The entrance to Monolith Valley.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
An arty farty shot of a very unusual pool in Monolith Valley.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
That pool in wide angle.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
The rocky outcrops started appearing as we began to climb from the rainforest vegetation near the entrance to the valley, but the best views came after the chains up a steep section of rocks.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Sophia posing in front of Monolith Valley. We continued ahead for a while but the track eventually descended into thick vegetation.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
I occasionally coax Sophia to take a picture of me. This is her shot of me climbing one of the monoliths to take more pictures of more monoliths. It was pretty steep but the rocks were very ‘sticky’ so it wasn’t hard getting up.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Sophia down below, taking a picture of me taking a picture of her.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
This rock in the foreground looks quite big here, but on the next photo you can see it was dwarfed by some of the other rocks.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Sophia down in the valley, bottom centre.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
The cliff face on the left was pretty big.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Rocky outcrops galore.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Rocky outcrops a bit further down the track before it descended into thick vegetation.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
These flowers were all over, and i took a few too many pictures of them. They were quite vibrant.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Sophia fell into a bog further down in Monolith Valley, so here she is drying herself out at our lunch spot near the chained section of Nibelung Pass.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
The bark on rainforest trees is quite different to eucalypts.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Ferns

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
A new flower for me. We’ve not walked in this area at this time of year so I saw a few new wildflowers.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
The walls of the Castle on our return.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
The Castle walls to the left.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
I liked these plants growing on rock. I just saw a picture on Instagram actually, and I think they may be rock orchids.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Looking towards misty mountains on our way back down from the southern end of the Castle.

Monolith Valley to Nibelung Pass, Budawangs
Sophia and me tried to fill our water bottles at a kind of waterfall (just water dripping off the rock face really). It was a slow process.
You can go under or over the rocks at this point (on the outward leg): going over is a little easier I think.

Track Notes

Navigation along the tracks is reasonably straightforward. There are notes for the Castle ascent in two books we own – Take a Walk in Southern NSW & the ACT and Best Bush, Coast and Village Walks of The Shoalhaven – and you can follow these notes until you reach Castle Saddle. There are also notes for walks throughout the area in Bushwalking in the Budawangs by Ron Doughton.

Note that once you have walked the length of the Castle walls you will ascend to a fork in the track. Going right takes you to Meakins Pass, which is the tunnel through the Castle’s “tail”. Don’t go this way: take a left instead to go to Castle Saddle, and then another left to hug the south-eastern side of Mt Nibelung, and before long you’ll enter Monolith Valley. Continue until you reach the chained ascent of a short but steep rocky section: at the top of this is where the views open up. You can continue on into the valley amongst the rock formations and there are various adventures to be had around Mt Owen, Mt Cole and the Shrouded Gods, but as a day walk you could choose to have lunch here and return back to Long Gully Car Park. Plan for a full day’s walking. 

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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