Nature in the Lithgow Area
Many people assume the Blue Mountains – and the spectacular World Heritage-listed sights it harbours – end at the western ridgeline at Mount Victoria. But travel over the lip of the escarpment into the unsung Lithgow region and the natural wonders continue to astound, from magical caverns to record-making canyons. For adventurers and nature lovers, that means even more pristine wilderness to explore on foot, by 4WD, or by other adrenaline-pumping means.
National parks galore
Much of the area surrounding the town of Lithgow is protected by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. The vast and remote Wollemi National Park is known for its ancient “dinosaur tree”, the Jurassic-age, highly endangered Wollemi Pine that was thought to be extinct before it was discovered in a secret canyon in 1994.
Measuring more than 5,000 square kilometres, Wollemi is the largest national park in the state, and an incredible maze of canyons, cliffs and dense forest. You can explore the area on a guided tour with Wolgan Valley Eco Tours, learning about the history, ecology, flora and fauna of the park.
Bordering this wilderness, just 40km from Lithgow, is an amazing landscape of weathered pagodas evocatively named the Gardens of Stone. You can walk among the exquisite formations, sandstone cliffs and canyons, and also visit the Glow Worm Tunnel, a disused railway tunnel near the old shale-mining ghost town of Newnes that is now home to thousands of twinkling glow worms. Other highlights of the park include the Bicentennial Trail, the Ben Bullen Trail, Baal Bone Gap and the awesome views of the Newnes Plateau.
World’s widest canyon
Capertee Valley is the second largest canyon in the world, wider than the Grand Canyon but not as long or as deep. Centred by flat-topped Pantoney’s Crown, this National Park lures keen bushwalkers and campers. It is also recognised internationally as a top bird watching area, follow the between ancient escarpments of sandstone cliff. Here you’ll also find one of NSW’s most unique accommodations, Bubbletent Australia, where you can sleep under the stars in a transparent dome.
The Lithgow region is also the gateway to the world-famous Jenolan Caves, a magnificent labyrinth of limestone caverns carved by water into astounding natural formations. It also makes a great place to stop on your way to the beautiful surrounds and vineyards of Mudgee or Orange.