Known for its dramatic mountain vistas and lush valleys, Kanangra-Boyd National Park is an easily accessible off-road destination close to Sydney.
|Grading||Some sections may require low range|
|Time||Day trip or overnight|
|Distance||94km, Jenolan Caves return|
|152km, Oberon return|
|Best time of year||All year|
|Warnings||Ice and snow are a hazard in winter; The Park may be closed during periods of high fire danger; Maximum of 10 vehicles in one group in the Park; No caravans or camper trailers at Dingo Dell camping area.|
|Permits and fees||Park entry fees apply for Kanangra-Boyd National Park|
|Camping||Boyd River Camping Area, Dingo Dell Camping Area, Jenolan Camping Area|
NPWS Oberon Ph (02) 6336 1972
Lithgow Ph 1300 760 276 tourism.lithgow.com
Oberon Ph (02) 6329 8211 www.oberonaustralia.com.au
A natural wonderland
The Kanangra-Boyd National Park topography is split into gently undulating plateaus and a labyrinth of creeks, rivers, deep gorges and sharp ridges. Its wilderness status means that it’s an ideal catchment for Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s principal water supply.
Before European settlement the Gundangarra people inhabited the Kanangra-Boyd region, leaving a legacy of rock art, campsites and sharpening grooves in rock faces. White settlement began in the early 1800s and graziers ran stock in the Kowmung River valley until the Burragorang Valley was flooded by the rising waters of the Warragamba Dam in the 1950s. Kanangra’s stunning scenery was recognised in the 1890s, when the Kanangra Tourist Resort was established.
Myles and Margaret Dunphy, recognised as pioneers of the bushwalking movement, are irrevocably linked with the area and their son Milo’s middle name was ‘Kanangra’. In 1931, Milo made his initial visit to Kanangra in a modified pram pushed from Oberon by his parents!
Describing the Kowmung River, below Kanangra Walls, Myles Dunphy wrote: “It is beyond description the most interesting, wonderful, wild beautiful and weird place I ever saw”.
After legal battles that restricted mining, logging and pine plantations, the majority of Kanangra-Boyd National Park was declared a wilderness in 1997. In 2000, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO inscribed the Greater Blue Mountains Area on the World Heritage List. The conservation values recognised by the listing include the globally outstanding diversity of its animal and plant communities.
Image credit: Turtletime13
The drive from Lithgow to Kanangra Walls is on a well-graded gravel road that AWDs can manage easily. (It is also possible to travel from Oberon to Kanangra-Boyd NP.) However, the side trip down to Dingo Dell requires low range gearing.
It’s possible to drive via Jenolan Caves to Kanangra Walls, either on the winding bitumen road, or on a mixture of dirt and bitumen, via Lake Lyell and Cheetham Flats. Both routes pass through the hamlet of Hampton and the entrance to the Six Foot Track that connects Jenolan Caves with Katoomba.
The turnoff to Kanangra Walls is about 6km from Jenolan and is well signposted. The road winds through dense woodland with ferny undergrowth for the most part, broken by an unexpected clear area of swampland at about 10km from the turnoff.
Boyd River camping area is 20km from the turnoff and has composting toilets and wood-fired barbecues. Beyond the camping area the vegetation changes to typical sandstone escarpment flora and is quite scrubby around the Kanangra Walls car park. There’s a large shelter shed, plus toilets, picnic tables and a freshwater tank at the car park.
From there it’s simply a matter of retracing your tyre tracks to the Jenolan-Edith Rd and travelling northwards back to Lithgow or west towards Oberon.
The side trip to Dingo Dell is via the Kowmung Fire Trail turnoff, near Boyd River camping area. It’s possible at present to follow the trail through to Porters Retreat, or to Yerranderie.
Things to do
It’s essential to walk out onto the plateau above Kanangra Walls, to gain a true impression of this World Heritage-listed area. There’s a short 5min stroll to the Lookout as well as the longer Plateau Walk and Kalang Falls Walk. However, experienced bushwalkers will find plenty of opportunity for extended walks and backpack camping. Weather conditions can change rapidly in this remote area, so it’s important to carry bushwalking essentials, even on short walks.
Situated between the Jenolan State Forest and the Kanangra-Boyd National Park, the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve is home to the famous Jenolan Caves. Both guided and self-guided tours of the caves are available. At 42km the Six Foot Track from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves, via the Megalong Valley and Coxs River, is for serious bushwalkers.