Dargan Arch

Topographic Maps: LITHGOW(1st Edition), WOLLANGAMBE (2nd Edition), MT WILSON (2nd Edition) 1:25000 Second Edition

The best way I can think of to explore this area is to join The Bush Club and go on the mid-week walks led by Michael Keats, Brian Fox and Yuri Bolotin. Failing that you can purchase Michael and Brian's books on the Gardens of Stone National Park volumes 1-3, available at the National Parks and Wildlife Heritage Centre, Govetts Leap Rd, Blackheath. It's much more fun to go on the walks though.

1. DARGAN ARCH. Very Easy (1hour return). Wollangambe GR459920
At Mt Victoria turn right at the lights and drive along the Darling Causeway till you come to the intersection with the Bells Line of Road at Bell. Turn right (east)as if heading towards Mt Wilson and take the first turn on your left into Sandham Road. Drive along Sandham Rd for the next 3.5km or so until you get GR4559122. On your right there should be a turnoff/firetrail with a Electricity Commission of NSW white power-pole indicator "384" nailed to a tree. Turn off here and park your cars 30m down the firetrail at a clearing under the power lines. Continue walking NNE down the firetrail for about 500metres and then continue along the vague foot track till you reach the bend in the ravine/canyon section of the side creek on your left. The arch is on this bend. You can scramble down to the left(west) side of the arch and get into the ravine for a view from under the arch. Note the rock climbers bolts here and on the opposite cliff face. It's worth having an explore of the pagodas, ravines and cave/overhangs in this area if you have the time.

2. GOOCHS CRATER .Easy/Medium. Wollangambe GR459950
Take the Bells Line of Road towards Lithgow and turn right at the Clarence Zig-Zag railway (Lithgow GR418921). Follow the dirt road going off to your right and you soon cross the old rail line. Continue along the road for the next 3.5km till you reach a fork/intersection at GR427962. Turn right here and follow the firetrail as it heads southeast for about 1km before heading in a NEast direction at GR436956. Continue along this rough firetrail for the next 2.5km, including a steep rough ascent section, until you come to a faint firetrail going off to your right at Wollangambe GR459966. Park your car at the beginning of this firetrail and follow it south for about 1.5km till it brings you to the head of Goochs Crater. You could easily spend a day exploring around here. Descend down into the 'crater' and just around to your left there is a huge amphitheatre/cave/rock overhang area to explore. You can climb out at the head of this amphitheatre via a small slot and back up to the top of Gooches Crater or make your way east for a short distance into a mainly dry creek which suddenly drops into a small canyon (Billabong Canyon). There are seemingly endless pagodas to explore in this area. Goochs Crater was named after Nick Gooch while he was a member of the Kameruka bushwalking club (back in the early 1970's I think). He told me that it had another name but people who enquired as to it's whereabouts would be directed to ask Nick who at the time was working for Paddy Pallin in Kent Street, Sydney. Over time bushwalkers started calling it Gooches Crater (misspelling intentional)and the name stuck. When I met Nick he was an active member of Springwood Bushwalkers but was sadly killed at Penrith around 2003 whilst riding his bicycle.

3. DUMBANO CREEK (W470975), CAVE (W479972), SUBOIR(SUBW) CANYON (W482973). Medium.
The Wollangambe top map will indicate the old overgrown access firetrails. I like to walk to spot height 1032 (W466974) for views over the Bungleboori Ck Pagoda country before walking down upper Dumbano Creek to the cave and then on to the amazing Suboir canyon. It can get a bit rough and scrubby though. The canyon only involves ankle to mid-calf deep water. A more direct route to the canyon is to park your vehicle at W474954 and walk the overgrown firetrail which begins at W480958 before navigating your way into the creek.