TRIP: Red Rocks, 13-14 Nov 2010

PARTY: Renilde Becque, Jo Boyd, Melissa Freer, Lorrienne Lyte, Tony Ruzek, Nicole Van, Ashley Burke


The Red Rocks is a scenic region of plateaus, pagodas and cliffs near the Wolgan Valley in Wollemi National Park.

Travelling separately in two cars, the party drove out to Newnes on the Friday night of 12 November and on Saturday morning we all met around our breakfast fire. It was shaping up to be a warm weekend so we chose a route into the Red Rocks that incorporated a cool but dry canyon. There had been plenty of recent rain so there was fresh rainwater water to be found high in the Wolgan Capertee divide.

It was a hot and humid climb into a high gully where we knew a canyon was to be found, and as we walked further upstream the cliffs closed in on either side. Scrub gave way to tree ferns against a backdrop of orange rocks, and a little further upstream, the only way forward was through a narrow sandstone corridor – canyon! Upstream we continued and at times our overnight packs had to be shed and passed through the narrow ravine one by one. We lingered in the cool air of the canyon, taking photos. Eventually we emerged at the top of the canyon and after a stiff climb through some scrub, reached a high plateau above the Wolgan Valley. With great views to be had from nearby pagodas we enjoyed a hearty lunch in the shade.

During the afternoon we walked steadily towards Mt Dawson, passing through some scrubby patches, alternating with open heath and scenic views. Everywhere there were intricate rock formations and interesting scenery. The warm weather had brought out reptiles, and we came upon (or rather, nearly stepped on) a healthy goanna, who unlike most of his species wasn’t too camera shy.

We reached Mt Dawson by mid-afternoon. This is such a fantastic place with commanding 360 degree views of the vast Capertee Valley, Wolgan Valley, and the ruggedly dissected plateau dividing these two catchments, that we decided we would camp here on the summit of Mt Dawson. Some of us ventured out on a 30 minute sortie to find water, and returned with bottles full and water bags bulging. This water complemented our supply of wine and other refreshments that we enjoyed while watching the shadows lengthen on this warm Spring evening. There was plenty of time for rest on this long evening after what had been a fairly full day of walking. Our tents and fly had to be setup using rocks not pegs, as this summit is famous more for its views than its soft ground for camping. The sunset and evening were beautiful, with stars out, and we enjoyed a great evening on this summit by the fireside.

During the night a fierce wind picked up, and this blew at the tents and fly enough to make it hard to sleep. So we were up early in the morning. The lighting for the sunrise was soft and hazy. In the wind we breakfasted, and then fought the windblown tents until they submitted themselves into their carry bags. Once we had packed up and descended off Mt Dawson the wind dropped and we enjoyed a superbly scenic walk along the Red Rocks. More reptiles were out, this time a Copperhead snake, and then a large Diamond python. We reached the “Pagoda of Death”, the rock where you descend steeply off its northern side, and this took us down to a saddle in the ridge. It was at this point that we left the plateau and headed down a tributary of the Wolgan on our way back to Newnes. This small valley was very pleasant, and at around 11am we stopped for a rest in a pleasant grassy glade surrounded by amazing cliffs. Then it was only another 40 minutes or so of further walking into an even larger grassy glade which was a very peaceful place for a nice long lunch. From here it was an easy walk back to Newnes and our waiting vehicles.

A great weekend with a nice group of people in a particularly scenic part of the Blue Mountains.

Here are some photos from the weekend:

Ashley Burke

Email: aburke at