In the first ‘Walk Mudgee’ blog post, I encouraged you to explore Mudgee and its fringes on foot. Now, I want to encourage you to jump in your car, take a little drive through gorgeous countryside, and then do a little more exploring on foot.
If you imagine Mudgee as the hub in the centre of the wheel for a weekend, it is possible to drive in any direction on the ‘spokes’ and discover something special.
Goulburn River National Park
The Goulburn River National Park is located about 50km north-east of Mudgee. It can be accessed from a number of different directions – from the south-east via the Wollar Road, from the south from the Bylong Valley Way, from the north via the Ringwood Road (off the Golden Highway), and north-east via the Denman Road. Yes, all roads lead to the Goulburn River National Park!
This national park conserves approximately 70 000ha of sandstone escarpment country bordering the Goulburn River. The river is the main feature of the park as it meanders along through cliffs and welcoming grassy riverbanks. The park is an essential refuge for all sorts of native flora and fauna, as much of the area surrounding the park has been systematically cleared for all-important agriculture.
In general, the park is relatively undeveloped with a few sites for bush camping and simple long-drop toilets. National Parks and Wildlife Service recommends that you bring all your own drinking water as the quality, and quantity, of water in the creeks and rivers varies significantly depending on the season.
The park features a diverse range of walking tracks of different length and difficulty. The short Lees Pinch walking track makes the most of the spectacular views over the park. As an alternative, take a stroll along the flat, sandy riverbed, and if the season has been a good one, refreshing water holes are plentiful – just perfect for canoeing and liloing.
For wildlife lovers, over 150 species of birdlife have been recorded and the park is home to large populations of kangaroos, wombats, wallaroos, goannas, and water-loving species such as water dragons, turtles and platypus.
Heading a little further south on the Bylong Valley Way, drop into…
Ferntree Gully Environmental Reserve
Ferntree Gully, about 17km north of Rylstone, is an amazing mix of rare rainforest and drier natural bushland.
The walking tracks in this reserve require a decent level of mobility and fitness as the tracks scramble up and down rocky gullies. Tackling these ascents and descents is more than worthwhile though, as on the gully floor it is possible to stroll under cool, age-old tree ferns and past delicate orchids. Don’t miss it.
Back in the car again, keep heading south, onto the unmissable…
Wollemi National Park
The Wollemi National Park covers a massive 487 500ha across the Blue Mountains and is the second largest park in NSW. Although this park is often associated with the more heavily populated towns in the Blue Mountains, we like to claim it as our own too!
This park is gigantic and yet, there are relatively few access roads. This may have been done on purpose to preserve the 200 000ha within the park that are in absolute pristine condition. With such an urbanised society that we live in, it is nice to know that there are parts of our country that are untouched and the domain of the natural flora and fauna alone.
What is not to be missed, is the very special section of the park called Dunns Swamp. While that name is not particularly appealing or attractive, this picnic and camping area is an absolute gem.
Located 30km east of Rylstone, on the western edge of the Wollemi National Park, Dunns Swamp, also known by its traditional name ‘Ganguddy’, is a peaceful oasis. This sanctuary is a combination of breathtaking natural beauty and man-made necessity. In the 1920s, the Cudgegong River was dammed to form a weir to supply the newly constructed Kandos Cement Works, operating over 25km away. While the cement works are now defunct, the weir remains to provide a glorious waterway for swimming and canoeing.
Ganguddy is sprinkled with walking paths that give glimpses of grand pagoda rock formations and sparkling waterways. Some paths are suitable for wheel chairs and strollers, but most require solid footwear and a reasonable level of fitness.
Camping at Ganguddy is both possible and popular. If you can avoid school holiday periods then do so, as it can get crazy busy. The upside of school holidays is that there are more organised activities on offer such as kayak hire to explore the waterways, and often National Parks and Wildlife Service conduct day and night walks. Camping fees do apply at this location.
If I had to pick my favourite natural spot around Mudgee, then Dunns Swamp/Ganguddy would be way up at the top of the list. It has a interesting range of walks (from between 500m to 5.5km in length), beautiful waters to swim in, good, basic camping facilities, and friendly wildlife that sometimes wander up to say ‘hello’.
But let’s just keep this between you and me, OK? It would be terrible if everyone found out about this perfect patch of paradise.
Where are your favourite walks?
What: All the walks are free and suitable for walkers of all ages and levels of fitness. Stay safe and carry plenty of water and your mobile phone in case of emergency. Mobile phone coverage may be pretty patchy though. Wear a good hat, solid footwear and plenty of sunscreen.
Where: The walks mentioned in this blog are located approximately one hour’s drive from Mudgee.
When: All the walks are accessible seven days a week. Try to avoid school holidays if you can so your glorious silence is not shattered.
Why: To feel virtuous and pure, and to know you are doing something great for your body, just before you devour some delicious cheese, paté, crunchy artisan-made sour dough bread, tangy organic olives, and wash it all down with a hearty Mudgee red.
How: You will need a car to drive to all the parks and reserves mentioned in this post. Most are accessed by ‘good’ dirt roads but the condition of the roads may vary depending on the season/weather.
Who: All the walks are suitable for walkers of all ages and levels of fitness. The fitter you are, the easier it will be. Check with National Parks and Wildlife Service for specific details about wheelchair accessible paths.
Related Posts: For information about walks closer to Mudgee, have a look at my Part 1 post about Walking Mudgee.
Related Blogs: For a fresh take on bushwalking, especially for women, have a look at https://lotsafreshair.com/blog