For the Australia Day long weekend I went up to historic Newnes camping with a group of family and friends. My goal was to take a few first timers through canyons and explore some of the Newnes region. I arrived early Friday morning before most people had arrived, but Carmen and Mark had arrived the night before, so were kind enough to offer to put up our tent while Jake, Josh, Jamie and I went up and did Firefly canyon. It was at about this time that I realised that I had a flat tyre - which is impressive because the road into Newnes is actually pretty good, so I can’t blame the road.
Anyway, it took us about 8 hours to return from the Canyon, then Jake, Josh and Jamie left for the Central coast again and I spent the remaining sunlight running around trying to make sure my campsite was set up, my tyre was replaced with the spare, and all that sort of stuff. I met our neighbours who ended up very kindly providing me Chicken Madras for dinner (camping in style! - better than the continental pasta instant meals I had brought with me) and we all sat around the fire for much of the night chatting.
The next morning we waited for the next group of our party to arrive, then helped them set up tents etc before I stole Nick, Mark and Carmen and drove all the way back down the Wolgen valley, back to Lithgow, Zig Zag, then all the way along the Newnes Plateau to the car park for Rocky Creek so that we could do Twister Canyon. Twister canyon was over before we knew it, and we were back in the car repeating that long drive back to Newnes.
The problem with the Newnes Plateau and historic Newnes down in the Wolgan Valley is that Newnes actual is a GREAT campsite. Easily my favourite camp site that I have ever stayed at - there is a river with flowing water, open grassy area well maintained, spectacular cliffs all around, great people (everyone was so nice all weekend) and plenty of stuff for kids and families to do (we had kids with us). But there are no easy canyons in the valley. All of the easy canyons are up on the Plateau, which is a 2 hour drive to get to. So either you camp in the family friendly camping ground and have no family friendly canyons, or you camp on the plateau at Barcoo Swamp, Bunglebori Camp ground, or Deep Pass and have family friendly canyons but less family friendly camp sites.
Anyway, back that night and there was a lot of drinking and sitting up around the fire playing Scategories with our neighbours. The next morning I got up at 7am and drove back down to ZigZag with Carmen and Ben to meet Penny (someone I just met through the OzCanyons group). We then drove out to River Caves canyon. That was far shorter than I expected, and I feel really bad that we did such a short canyon with Penny, but I had to keep the canyon relatively easy for Carmen and Ben (Carmen has very limited motion and strength in her arms thanks to rheumatoid arthritis since she was a teenager, and Ben is 10). Nonetheless the short bit of canyon that there was was still pretty spectacular. We were back at the car in a few hours and started the drive back to Zig Zag, then back around to Newnes.
The plan was to then do Glow Worm Tunnel Canyon, and I expected to just walk up from the valley to the Tunnel up on the edge of the Plateau, but someone in our party knew another way around to it via 4wd road. We decided to drive to it, but instead of it being a shortcut, it involved several hours of 4wd driving along Blackfellow Hand Road in two 4wds jam packed full of adults and children (almost 10 bodies per car because we thought it was going to be a short drive!). Anyway, if you are camping at Newnes and want to do the Glow Worm Tunnel, I highly recommend just walking the 5km up the hill from the Wolgan River - it really isn’t that hard and is much nicer than driving around.
Since we had all spent so long in the car, I was keen to walk back down to the valley rather than drive back around, besides one of the 4wds was getting low on petrol and so had to go back into town and couldn’t do that with 9 or so people in it. So most of us walked back down to the valley, meeting up with the road about 8km out from the camp site. Normally if you took this route you would have a car left here, but as we drove around, we didn’t, so the plan was to basically hitch hike. Better than that though, an amazing group of campers did the most incredible thing and went back to their campsite to get the rest of their cars, then come back and pick everyone up and drive us back to the camp ground. Like I said, everyone was just so incredibly nice, helpful and generous all weekend.
I really like camping at Newnes, and will definitely be returning. Next time I will have to go with a group of canyoners though, so I can get through all of the grade 3, 4 and 5 canyons in the area.
- Newnes Camping Guidebook Article
- Firefly Canyon Guidebook Article
- Twister Canyon Guidebook Article
- River Caves Canyon Guidebook Article
- Glow Worm Tunnel Guidebook Article
- Firefly Canyon Photos
- Twister Canyon Photos
- River Caves Canyon Photos
- Glow Worm Tunnel Photos
Trip reports from each canyon will follow shortly.