Looking for information about the best Warrumbungle walks? If your looking for new walks in NSW to discover, it has been said many a times that Warrumbungle National Park is home to some of the best walks in NSW!
Luckily, our expat writer Beck Piggott has explored the area so much, she’s sharing the ultimate guide for the best Warrumbungles walks you need to know about, a complete and utter hidden gem in NSW.
Beck is from Manchester and had an amazing nine months exploring the best hikes in Australia. She has literally just returned to UK and is always planning her next hiking experience. Make sure you follow her amazing blog called Travel Made Me Do It and her Instagram @travelmademedoit_.
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Why Is Warrumbungles So Popular?
Warrumbungle National Park, or more commonly known as simply, the Warrumbungles, is an amazing mountain range formed from an ancient shield volcano. The unusual peaks and rocky outcrops are remnants of millions of years of weathering and erosion. Another impressive reminder of just how old Australia really is. What is left, however, makes for some wonderful hiking and breathtaking sights.
Hiking the Warrumbungles is an extraordinary experience. It’s easily one of the best national parks in NSW. The adventurous trails, stunning landforms, jaw-dropping views and relatively quiet tracks, are a hikers dream. Throw in beautiful spring wildflowers, typical Aussie wildlife and incredible stargazing- which will take your breath away FYI, and you have yourself an amazingly adventurous hiking playground.
Recently, the Warrumbungles has received more airtime online. And rightly so. Its natural beauty deserves attention. But with that comes the crowds. So make sure you go and visit before it’s on everyone’s bucket list.
How To Get To Warrumbungles
Although the Warrumbungles is home to some of the best walks in NSW, at an almost 6 hour drive from Sydney, it’s not for the faint hearted.
You have two fantastic routes to decide upon to get to Warrumbungles. Either take the road to Blue Mountains and up through Mudgee or go through Central Coast and Newcasltle and drive inland.
If you go the Mudgee way, break up your journey up with a couple of days there exploring. It’s a decent half way stop and a little wine tasting and some short hikes to warm the legs up goes a long way. We’ve actually written all about the best things to do in Mudgee if you’re keen to find some hidden gems.
The nearest town to the Warrumbungles is Coonabarrabran. At just a 35 minute drive from the national park, it makes perfect sense as to why it’s known as ‘the gateway to the Warrumbungles’. It’s also a decent place to stock up on supplies should you need.
If you continue on further for another 3h30m north, you’ll come to the unique town of Lightning Ridge, jammed packed full of weird and wonderful things to do. Expect some of the best hot springs in Australia, followed by an underground sculpture park inside an old mine, houses made out of bottles and beer cans and also the largest black opal centre in the world.
You’ll be in need of a decent pair of hiking boots, the comfier the better as you’ll be using them a lot. I recommend SCARPA hiking boots, but always size up by half a size.
You’ll also need to carry at least 2 litres of water with you a day per person, and layers to take on and off- it can be windy on those mountain peaks yet hard work reaching them. Pack your camera, a picnic and plenty of energy rich snacks. Then simply, enjoy!
Camp Blackman is THE place to stay in the Warrumbungles. The campground has 3 main sites, one of which provides electricity should you need. It is camper, caravan and tent friendly, with plenty of patches to choose from.
The amenities block has hot showers and flushing toilets. There’s an indoor area for washing clothes and dishes too. In here you’ll find a few wall sockets should you have an unpowered site and be in need of recharging devices- but remember, it’s a communal area, so leave valuables at your own risk.
The views across to the Breadknife, Bluff Mountain and Belougery Split Rock are phenomenal. Choose your camp spot wisely to get the best view. There’s also an outdoor cinema space, just ‘cos, I suppose!
However, if you thought hot showers and cracking views were the best part of Camp Blackman, you’re in for a real treat when the sun sets and the stars come out.
In 2016, the International Dark-Sky Association declared the Warrumbungle National Park Australia’s first International Dark Sky Park because of it’s exceptional starry night skies. There’s a world class astronomy research facility at nearby called Siding Spring Observatory because it is that good. And boy does it deliver.
The Milky Way is the clearest we’ve ever seen throughout our travels and camping experiences in NSW.
To sleep under such a work of art is mesmerizing. Here’s hoping for clear skies when you visit. Wrap up warm and prepare to be up all night enjoying the light show.
Other notable campgrounds are Camp Pincham, Walaay and Wambelong. For those wanting to multi-day hike in the mountains, check out Ogma Gap, Dows Camp, Balor Hut and Burbie Camp. Now, onto the fantastic hikes and lookouts on offer.
Best Warrumbungle Walks
Hopefully we’ve won you over just because of the night skies in Warrumbungles. Now, wait til you hear all about the best Warrumbungle walks.
1. The Breadknife & Grand High Tops Walk / 14.5km return / 5 hours
The Grand High Tops Circuit, known as the Breadknife & Grand High Tops walk is a well established and well walked loop. It’s also regarded as one of the best hikes in NSW! If you find you only have enough time, or inclination, to complete one hike in the Warrumbungles, make sure it’s the Breadknife walk!
Beginning from Pincham car park, the hike up to the summit of Grand High Tops is something else. With views of the iconic Breadknife, Belougery Spire and Bluff Mountain, it’s a feast for the eyes every step of the way. And the distractions are more than welcome.
The climb is steep and tough. There are stepped sections as well as steeply paved pathways. You’ll find benches along the way should you need a quick rest. Pack plenty of water for this one.
Once you’ve made it up Lugh’s Throne to the top, the rewarding views suddenly come into focus. With clear vantage points down over the Breadknife and Belougery Spire, take a moment to rest and admire the beauty of mother nature in all her glory. This place is sure to take your breath away. To return, continue along the trail and join up with West Spirey track back to the car park.
2. Macha Tor & Febar Tor (Goulds Circuit) / 8km Loop / 3 hours / Grade 3
Again, beginning from Pincham car park, the track follows along Spirey Creek before you turn off left for Goulds Circuit. The track then becomes a little rougher and we found it to be a bit more overgrown. The trail soon gains in steepness until you come to the rock scrambles of Febar Tor followed by the near vertical scramble of Macha Tor.
Both lookouts offer utterly splendid views of the mountain range. Most notable are the fantastic views out to the Breadknife and Crater Bluff, making it one of the best Warrumbungles walks you need to do.
To return, continue following the track around until you meet back up with the main track along Spirey Creek and head back towards the car park or via Grand High Tops.
You’ll find Spirey View Lookout around 100m off the Grand High Tops Walking Track, on the way up to the Breadknife. It’s definitely worth the short detour, after all, what’s an extra few hundred metres, right?
And for more fabulous views of the Breadknife, Belougery Spire and Grand High Tops, it’s totally worth it. Enjoy a new and different vantage point again as you gradually become more and more immersed within these wonderfully shaped and ever looming rock formations.
4. Bluff Mountain / 17km Loop / 7 hours / Grade 4
To conquer Bluff Mountain, you’ll most likely have already walked Grand High Tops and so, it’s definitely worth considering the added 3km detour to your hike. It’s a 200m climb to the top, and feels hard after the efforts of summiting Grand High Tops, but the views justify your efforts, believe me.
The windy summit affords 360 views of the Warrumbungles and beyond. Stop for a rest and enjoy the views to neighbouring Mount Exmouth and across to Bluff Pyramid, and soak up one of the most beautiful Warrumbungle walks.
Beginning from Belougery Split Rock car park, this exciting out and back brings you to the summit of Mount Exmouth, sitting at 1206m above sea level. It’s hard graft to the top, but the summit is a beautiful flat expanse of hardy vegetation and interesting rock formations, with an invitation to explore.
It feels a little like reaching a secret garden in the sky.
Less walked than neighbouring Bluff Mountain and Grand High Tops, you may well have this mountain top to yourselves. The only other people we saw on this trail were a couple of park rangers on their way back down.
This is a truly delightful, not to mention easy, stroll through an awesome sandstone canyon. The trail squeezes between the towering walls and along a small creek. We visited in spring and so the abundance of wild flowers made this walk all the more enjoyable.
Look out for Kangaroos along the trail too, as well as the local birdlife including peregrine falcons and the rare turquoise parrot.
7. Extended Grand High Tops Circuit with Gould’s Circuit / 38.8km / Hard / 9 hours
This Warrumbungles walk is for Machor Tor, Febar Tor & Spirey View Lookout, Bluff Mountain, Cathedral & Arch, Mount Exmouth and Burbie Canyon.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, or just aren’t quite ready to leave the volcanic surrounds that are holding you captivated, then you can walk a modified Grand High Tops Loop.
Use a map to work out which parts you want to add on, but this is the version we did. Obviously, a hike like this isn’t for the faint hearted, and hiking 3 mountains plus numerous other lookouts on one hike is going to hurt. I should know!
But believe me when I say, this hike is SO good! Just pack plenty of water, food and make sure you hike with enough hours of daylight! The accomplishment of completing this hike was a stand out as one of the best Warrumbungle walks which we did.
Begin the hike as described in the Grand High Tops Circuit above. However, en route you’ll notice an offshoot for Goulds Circuit. Complete this section before reconnecting with the main trail and continue the climb to Lugh’s Throne.
Once descended from Grand High Tops, instead of following West Spirey Track back to the car park, as mentioned above, it’s instead on to Bluff Mountain and Mount Exmouth before finishing with Burbie Canyon.
After Burbie Canyon, the last 4km are, admittedly, back on the road to Pincham car park. Although the scenery around you is still worth marvelling at, especially as you near and then round Belougery Split Rock, it is less inspiring and hard going with very tired legs.
However, by the end of this hike you’ll have ticked off SIX worthwhile trails in the park. Perfect if you’re short on time or up for something really challenging.
This is a great walking option for those just passing through the Warrumbungles without the time to spend on some of the longer hikes.
From Pincham car park, follow the purpose built staircase up to Fans Horizon Lookout. It’s a quick uphill walk that brings you out to yet another beautiful vantage point of the epic Warrumbungle National Park.
The lookout is exposed and unfenced, so take care. There is a sign warning not to get too close to the edge, you’d be wise to take notice. Don’t worry, the views are still excellent a safe distance back from the edge.
This quaint little loop trail can be started from Camp Blackman and is the perfect start to the day after a night marvelling under the Milky Way. Admittedly we only came across this walk after being in touch with Warrumbungle National Park about drone usage- this was the only location in which they would allow us to fly.
It turned out to be an unbelievably picturesque walk along a wide dirt track, with an abundance of wild flowers in yellows, purples and whites guiding our path.
In the early morning there were plenty of ‘roo’s out enjoying their breakfast, and to the right is the magical Warrumbungle range. We couldn’t get over what a gem we had found, go and explore one of the most beautiful Warrumbungles walks right here.
As always, you must get permission from national parks in order to use your drone.
If you’ve spent the night at Camp Blackman, you’ll have been drooling over this looming structure, it’s clear reddish-orange tinge in the day and its distinct silhouette at night. The rock is, in fact, an ancient lava dome.
Commencing from Belougery Split Rock car park, the trail is best walked in a clockwise direction. Here it winds around the outside of the dome as it climbs ever higher and closer towards the summit. Walked in this direction, you gain the excitement of the iconic Breadknife, Belougery Spire and Bluff Mountain come into view as you round the mountain’s curves.
The final part of the trail involves a bit more of an exposed scramble to the top. It’s an off shoot from the main track and so is also optional should you decide the scramble isn’t for you.
Follow the markers and rock carved steps, use the drilled in poles for stability if needed and enjoy this last push to the top. The views are outstanding. We could even spy our tiny little tent set up from the top.
Walk a little further along the summit ridge to see the ‘split’ in the rock and where it rises up on the other side. To return, follow the same way back down from the summit section, and then pick up the original loop trail and continue clockwise.
Beginning from the Old Woolshed picnic area, the trail to Tara Caves is a straightforward and very pretty walk through wild flowers meadow. There’s a smallish creek to cross near the start, which I imagine may get quite deep after heavy periods of rain. However, it shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
On arrival at the caves is a specially constructed boardwalk. This also helps to elevate the vantage point back across to the mountain range. Again, another fantastic spot in which to view the Warrumbungles from.
However, it’s the caves here which will really spark your interest. The Tara Caves give an insight into the life and culture of the Gamilaraay people. The narrow split entrance to the cave is caged off to protect and preserve the contents.
We enjoyed the Whitegum lookout for sunset. It rounded off a day of hiking perfectly. Parking is available at the lookout itself, and then it is just a short and easy 500m walk to the view point. It’s a popular spot for sunset, and so if photography is your thing, be sure to arrive early enough to bag your spot.
You’ll be sure to reminisce about all the wonders of the day as the sun begins to fade over the awesome mountain range ahead. You can’t really ask for more. What a place.
Best Warrumbungle Walks
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