These pics are from our second time up The Castle (847m), one of NSW’s most challenging and spectacular day walks, situated in Morton National Park on the South Coast of NSW near Ulladulla. The views are probably the best I’ve seen in NSW, and with just enough exposure near the top to get the adrenaline flowing, it makes a memorable walk for any fit bushwalker.
You don’t walk all that far (11 or 12 kms) but the terrain slows you down in some sections, and there’s a decent change in elevation of about 800m. Starting in rainforest, you’ll soon ascend into dryer forest, then skirt the western edge of the Castle’s lower walls with views of Mt Nibelung and Mt Owen. It’s then up through cliffs with progressively more expansive views of the Budawangs, until you reach the summit plateau. Make sure you walk to the southern end for the best views of Byangee Walls. There’s a box for a log book there, but I think the better views are a few minutes to the left (east) of this.
The drive from Ulladulla or Milton takes a bit over an hour on mostly dirt roads, (or faster if you have AWD and some clearance).
The Castle Track: The Scenery
This video is from our first time up the Castle, when the wind was blowing a gale! Sophia almost gets blown off her feet at one point.
You’ll need good track notes for this walk as it’s easy to get lost and waste time if you’ve not done it before. There are decent notes in two books we own – Take a Walk in Southern NSW & the ACT and Best Bush, Coast and Village Walks of The Shoalhaven, but I think we used notes from the Bushwalking NSW website when we did it the first time. It helps to go with someone who’s done the walk before. We did it 90 minutes quicker the second time around, partially due to increased confidence with route finding. I’d allocate at least 10 hours for the return walk if it’s your first time.
There are sections to the west of the Castle that can take time, climbing over tree routes and big boulders. It’s also possible to lose the track a bit but you won’t get seriously lost (I hope!) The hardest section is finding the way up onto the Castle – one wrong turn takes you to a more challenging rock climb using ropes. I’ve never been there (only read about it) but the easier route is possible to climb up without ropes, but there were a couple of fixed ropes in place which definitely made it easier. You can see some of these sections in my photos. Note you are advised not to use the ropes without someone checking their condition first, but like most people you might like to live on the edge a bit 😉
If you are interested in other walks on the NSW South Coast then have a browse through some that I’ve done below. Many have been in the Budawangs and a few along the nearby coastline. The walk into Monolith Valley from the same start as the Castle is another absolute classic that I highly recommend (and there’s no scary exposure on this walk).
The Budawangs Range in Morton National Park offers some of the NSW’s best hiking, and Byangee Walls is one of the classic day walks. There are spectacular sections as you walk along the base of the walls, and also under the most significant landmark in the area, the Castle. (Climbing the Castle is an even more spectacular walk, partially because of the views of Byangee Mountain itself, which is very attractive from above). The views from the top are extensive, and include nearby Pigeon House Mountain, the Clyde Valley, and looking up at the 840m high Castle. (more…)
Drawing Room Rocks are furniture shaped rock formations 600m up on the escarpment west of Berry on the NSW South Coast. The approximately 30 minute walk to the top is worth it for extensive views to the coast, only when we did it an odd sea mist closed in just as we ascended, so at the top we could see nothing. But it made for atmospheric walking nevertheless. A good option for stretching your legs on a drive further down the South Coast. (more…)
This short and easy walk in Morton National Park, inland from Sussex Inlet on the NSW South Coast, ends at a rather unique copper coloured waterfall called Granite Falls. There wasn’t much water falling on the day we went, but it’s the rock colours that make it interesting. If you are driving down or up the coast then it’s worth making the side trip and stretching your legs to check this out. There were also wildflowers in abundance when we visited in mid spring. (more…)
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve is situated at the southern end of the Illawarra Escarpment, inland from Kiama. There’s a few easy to moderate walking options that we’d done in the past (based on the Griffiths Track loop), but the route depicted here is a longish (19km) walk along the Kangaroo Ridge Trail, which continues to the edge of the escarpment for views over the NSW South Coast. The area is notable for its bird life, and contains a combination of heath and forest vegetation. (more…)