Not heard of Mount Kaputar National Park? Famous for the beautiful Sawn Rocks, it’s a good 6h30m drive from Sydney and a 2 hour drive from Moree in NSW.
In this post written by hiking expert, Beck Vipond from Travel Made Me Do It, she is no stranger to sharing her guides on Londoner In Sydney. Beck and her partner Dan spent nine months hiking all over NSW before they returned back to Manchester UK a few months ago. Discover why you need to visit this hidden gem in NSW, perfect for a long weekend getaway or holiday.
If I told you Mount Kaputar National Park was a 7 hour drive from Sydney and a 7.5 hour drive from Brisbane, would you be put off? The answer is probably, yes. But seriously, don’t switch off yet! You’ll be missing out on a true hidden gem within NSW and one of the best national parks I’ve ever visited, and I’ve visited a lot.
By the time you get to the end of this article you’ll be busy figuring out how to get yourself there- because it really is that good! Of course, the ideal scenario is to make a visit here part of a wider road trip. That’s what we did and my word was it was worth it.
With a little careful planning and eagerness to discover new places, you’ll soon have the car packed and be on your way. Given the distance, a car is definitely what you’ll be needing too. Our 2WD fared perfectly within the national park, so breathe a sigh of relief.
However, no caravans allowed as the roads within the national park are narrow and windy. You’ll be in need of a good pair of hiking boots, a functional day pack and lots of layers- you never know what the weather will throw at you.
Why You Need To Visit Mount Kaputar National Park
Mount Kaputar National Park is an absolutely stunning part of the northern tablelands of NSW. This volcanically carved landscape of brilliant rock formations, sweeping craters and green carpeted mountainside is truly breathtaking. If you love hiking, like we do, then this place is for you. There are trails and lookouts galore.
Plus, if you’re really lucky, you might just catch sight of the Mount Kaputar Pink Slug. Only found in this small part of the world, you’ll be wishing for rain to coax them out. So without further ado, here is my pick of the best hikes in Mount Kaputar National Park.
Where To Stay
To really enjoy every inch of Mount Kaputar, I highly recommend camping. Bark Hut Campground is right in the heart of this national park and an absolute dream. There’s a small outdoor amenities block with flushing toilets and, believe it or not, hot showers. The campsite is delightfully small and peaceful, with just 9 unmarked sites to choose from. Dan and I had a wonderful stay here, it’s a shame we only had one night really.
The other campsite within the national park is Dawsons Spring. Similarly to Bark Hut, the campground has an amenities block with hot showers and plenty of BBQ and picnic spots. This campground is the larger of the two, although still not so big that it ever feels overcrowded.
If camping isn’t for you, there’s always Dawsons Spring cabins. Here you can expect to enjoy the delights of Mount Kaputar from the comfort of a cosy cabin complete with roaring fire. Bliss.
1. Sawn Rocks Walking Track
1.5km return // 0.5-1 hour // Easy
The Sawn Rocks track is an easy trail leading to one of the most jaw-dropping examples of ‘organ-piping’ in Australia. So called because, well, the huge stone columns resemble those of an organ pipe.
NSW National Parks recommend arriving around midday when the full sun hits the surface of the wall and I couldn’t agree more. They are truly magnificent and have to be seen to be believed.
Due to the ease of reaching them, Sawn Rocks can be a busy little stop, but even with the crowds it’s well worth it. At the end of the trail is a small viewing platform, however, it is possible to walk beyond this and get a little more up close and personal to these incredible feats of nature.
2. Mount Yulludunida Walk
3km return // 1-2 hours // Hard
Mount Yulludunida walk is a short but steep hike that takes you to the rim of an extinct volcano. The views are breathtaking! The 350m elevation gain, beginning from Green Camp, is a leg burner. However, the trail is easy to follow and the surrounding woodland very picturesque, making your efforts a little less painful.
Along the way are various points where the trees open up for fantastic views across Mount Kaputar. The end of the trail culminates in a superb panoramic vista of the crater and surrounding landscape. Realising when you’ve reached the top is a little ambiguous though. You’ll be greeted by a sign on an open stone platform, where the trail abruptly stops. This is technically the end of the track, though it lacks the usual ‘summit’ finish line.
You can scramble around the rocks a little for different vantage points if you wish. We did, within reason. Then, enjoy the breeze of flying back down having left the strenuous efforts behind you.
3. Mount Coryah
4km return // 2-3 hours // Hard
Another uphill slog, but Mount Coryah was a firm favorite for us within Mount Kaputar National Park. Ticking so many boxes, this hike is exhilarating, picturesque, rewarding and actually pretty quiet.
Beginning from Coryah Gap picnic area, the trail begins to wind up through the forested mountainside. We visited in spring and the wild flowers were beautiful. The hike is easy to follow and so all efforts are free to be concentrated on the uphill climb. The views from the top across the rolling green carpet of hills is mesmerizing. Stretching across in all directions the views are truly beautiful. Prepare to be wowed!
We know you’ll love this hike as much as we did. There’s a lovely flat expanse at the top, so pack a snack and a flask and stay and enjoy for a while.
4. Doug Sky Lookout
No walking required!
Head to this lookout for sunset, you won’t regret it! Stretched out in front of you are sweeping views of the Nandewar Range. The impressive Euglah Rock, standing proudly like a ruined castle, sits in the foreground.
As the sun sets and those pinks and oranges begin to dance across the sky, you’ll forget all about any sore legs from the days hiking, and just relax into a complete appreciation for just how vast, diverse and downright beautiful NSW really is.
Parking is available at the lookout and it is wheelchair accessible, with a ramp up to the wooden platform.
5. Mount Kaputar Summit
Short but steep walk
After an epic sunset, surely you’ll be keen for an equally amazing sunrise too? Look no further than Mount Kaputar Summit. With the summit accessible by car and with parking just a short walk from the peak, it means the early morning wake up call isn’t too much of a struggle.
From the car park there is a short but slightly steep boardwalk climb to the summit. From here, you may need to collect your jaw off the floor as the sun begins to poke above the horizon. We had a slightly overcast morning but in all honesty, I think it just added to the beauty. Wrap up warm though, at 1500m above sea level and fairly exposed, it is likely to be a little chilly.
6. Euglah Rock Walking Track
1.2km return // 0.5 hours // Easy
The Euglah Rock walking track is a short and easy trail beginning from Bark Hut Campground- perfect for those camping here. The path is wide and well maintained. Similar to Doug Sky Lookout, the end of the trail offers fantastic views to the mightily impressive Euglah Rock. Having said that, we preferred the vantage point from Doug Sky, but the Euglah walking track is still worth the trip.
7. Governor Lookout & Summit
2km return // 1 hour // Hard
A common theme of Mount Kaputar National Park is the steepness of the hikes, but it’s little wonder when the trails, campgrounds and scenic drives are all nestled neatly within the upper reaches of this magnificent volcanic range.
The Governor Lookout is no different. Shorter than others, it still has a steepness requiring some effort. To aid with the rocky terrain are some beautifully built wooden boardwalks, sympathetically erected to sit unimposingly in the landscape.
Also known as the Corrunbral Borawah, the trail continues beyond the Governors Lookout to a wide rock expanse with phenomenal views back across to Euglah Rock and the surrounding Nundewah Ranges. Access to this part of the walk is a little harder going, requiring some rock scramble and a few ladders here and there. Stick with it, the payoff is phenomenal.
8. Dawson’s Spring Nature Trail
1.4km loop // 0.5 hours // Easy
Beginning from Dawson’s Spring Campground, this gentle walk meanders calmly through snow gum woodland. It’s on this trail you should keep a look out for the famed giant pink slug. We had dry weather, which we are usually thankful for, but to see these rare creatures you’ll be needing some rain.
Further along our road trip we met a fellow camper who showed us seriously impressive pictures of the pink slugs. He swore they were one of the highlights of his whole stay in Mount Kaputar. So, hopefully you’ll have better luck catching sight of them than we did.
9. Mount Lindesay Rock Tops
2km return // 1 hour // Easy
This short hike through snowgum forest is fairly easy, though perhaps a little less exciting than many of the other hikes in Kaputar. The trail leads out onto a large rock platform which is clear evidence of the ancient lava flow. Explore the barren landscape a little and enjoy the extensive views around.
Often you’ll find groups rock climbing down the side. Many liken this landscape to being on Mars and we can see why. Start from Lindesay Rock Tops car park and enjoy the scenery as you go. If the steep hikes have worn you out a little, this trail is a good one just to recharge the batteries.
10. Sandstone Caves Walking Track
1.7km loop // 1 hour // Easy
Right next door to Mount Kaputar National Park is Pilliga. I’m including this because it’s another natural wonder that would be a shame to miss out on whilst in this part of NSW.
At about a 1.5 hour drive from Kaputar, it’s within easy reaching distance too. The trail is essentially a self-guided tour of the ancient rock art of the Gamilaroi people. The weather eroded caves are mind blowing and itching to be explored. However, be mindful to always be respectful when visiting the site and refrain from touching any of the rock art. Even better still, you can book a guided tour with an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger to really get the most out of your visit.
More Mount Kaputar National Park Walks
Dan and I had 2 days in Mount Kaputar National Park, and boy did we pack in as much as we could. However, due to track closures and bushfire damage, there were some trails we were unable to complete during our visit. Here’s a little overview of them;
So, as you can see, Mount Kaputar really is worth the effort of getting to. If you like your national parks a little quieter, off the beaten track, full of awesome hikes, bursting with nature and with amazing lookouts at every turn, then Mount Kaputar is ready and waiting for you to explore.
A big thanks to Beck for sharing her epic Mount Kaputer guide! If you would like to share your favourite places in Australia, simply fill out our Write For Us form and we’ll get back to you asap!