Newnes and the Wolgan Valley

View from Donkey Mountain
Geoff Fox on Donkey Mountain.

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." ISAIAH 40:29.

Topo Maps: BEN BULLEN, 1:25000 Second Edition

The Wolgan Valley is a bushwalkers paradise full of wonderful pagodas, canyons, caves and stupendous views. What more can I say! To get there from Sydney take the Great Western Highway to Lithgow and continue through the traffic lights for another 6km or so, taking the turnoff road to Mudgee (on your left) (Lithgow 310973). Continue for approximately 5km to Lidsdale till you reach the turnoff road to Newnes, on your right, indicated by a petrol station near the intersection (Lithgow 287016). Take the road to Newnes for the next 21km or so till you get to Donkey Mountain. .

To view some great photos and maps by Geoff Fox, dubbed by some of his Bush Club mates as "The King of Donkey Mountain", click here: Geoff Fox's Albums

1. Donkey Mountain/Wolgan Mountain (Ben Bullen 380185). Medium to Hard, depending on how much you want to do.
This is an absolutely amazing place full of pagodas, caves, canyon slots etc. Keep an eye out for a small carpark with a fence stile on your right. Park here, go over the stile, climb up to the cliffs and go explore for yourself.
Check out Peter Medbury's photos here: Dingo Gap Gallery

2. Minotaurs Lair/Bell Miner. Ben Bullen 431231
Medium/Hard. Experienced walkers only
The highlight of this walk is an amazing, long, dry canyon running for approximately 300metres. The walk also includes a lovely forest of what appears to be huge Blue Mountains Ash (eucalyptus oreades) as well as plenty of pagodas and great views over the Wolgan Valley. Park your vehicle beside the road at the above grid reference, indicated by a small creek on your left running under a road culvert. Cross over the barbed wire fence on your left(west) and climb up the steep talus slope to the base of the cliffs. Staying up high wend your way north and around into the mouth of the huge gully/valley and continue west, remaining high on the south side for a while to avoid any large waterfalls at creek level. Eventually you are forced to descend to the creek bed which is dry but has a fair amount of dead fallen timber to negotiate at times. It's not too bad though and the surrounding forest is simply beautiful. At around 410230 you enter the amazing canyon section which has a couple of reasonably easy 2metre log jams to negotiate along it's length. Keep following the creek, ignoring the northwest branch at 414230, till it heads south and forks again. Take the left(southeast) fork for a while before climbing out on the creek's left bank and heading for the 920m spot height at 419223. Enjoy the pagodas and views up the Wolgan before retracing your steps. Named by Steve Murray on a Bush Club trip in 2010 Dave Noble just recently told me Minotaurs Lair had been named Bell Miner (after the numerous Bell birds the party had come across) by Andrew Valja some years ago. These things happen, especially when it comes to naming canyons.

View from Donkey Mountain
Michael Keats in Minotaurs canyon.

3. Mystery Mountain. Ben Bullen 429252
Drive past the old Newnes Hotel as far as the ford at 422256 and park somewhere around here or a bit further on at the camp ground. Only attempt to cross this ford using a four-wheel drive vehicle, otherwise just walk across using the 'stepping stones' on the right hand side. After you cross the ford head north along the firetrail and you'll very shortly see a small stone cairn on your right (east) side marking the beginning of the tourist track which takes you on the steep climb to the top of Mystery Mountain. Here you will obtain fantastic views of the Wolgan Valley. There are lots of pagodas, caves, slots, clifflines etc to explore on top but do take extra care for your safety, especially if you have young children in the group. Return the same way. On an SBW trip (led by Ian Thorpe) here in October 2009, our small party was swooped upon by an irate Wedge-tailed Eagle. It must have had a nest nearby. I'll never forget it!

Cairn for tourist track
Rock cairn at start of Mystery Mountain track


Mystery Mountain
On top of Mystery Mountain