Plan: Blue Mountains - Katoomba to Mittagong

summary: A long hard slog through some amazing wilderness areas including a vertical clif climb over Beloon Pass.
duration: seven days
distance: 120kms
views: 9623

Getting There

Departing from Wollongong or Sydney, head to the Blue Mountains using your favourite route. The start of this hike is along Glenraphael Drive which is the fire trail along Narrow Neck Plateau. If not driving, you can catch a train to the Katoomba station, and take a taxi or start walking to the trail head from here.

The trail starts from the locked gate along the track, just after the turn off to the Golden Stairs [GR 56H 2487* 62644*]. You will want to start walking relatively early as there is a bit of distance to cover, or you can start in the evening and pick one of the camp sites along the Narrow Neck Plateau.

Much of the walking on this hike is along fire trail, so you can make good time. But due to this plan being written for a mid-winter hike, short days mean less distance travelled per day.

DAY 1 – Katoomba to Medlow Gap (12 1/2 kms, 6 hours) [12 1/2 kms]

The first days walk will provide some stunning views to the East and the West as you make your way along the Narrow Neck Plateau. There is not a lot of water along this trail, so you should take as much as you think you will need for the days walk.

There is a tough section as you travel down Tarros Ladder to Medlow Gap which utillizes some steel pegs in the rock face to aid the climb down through a small chimney in the rock.

Narrow Neck[GR 56H 2487* 62644*]10:00am0 km
Bushwalkers Hill[GR 56H 2464* 62579*]12:00pm6 1/2 km
Tarros Ladder[GR 56H 2467* 62549*]1:30pm9 1/2 km
Medlow Gap[GR 56H 2457* 62534*]4:00pm12 1/2 km
Lake Birrell[GR 56H 2457* 62530*]4:10pm1/4 km

Camp for the night is just a little South of Medlow Gap along the Black Dog Ridge trail at a location known as Lake Birrell. There should be water at this campsite.

DAY 2 – Medlow Gap to New Yards (16 1/2 kms, 7 hours) [29 kms]

The second day of walk starts by dropping down to the Cox’s River, and then a short steep climb up Mount Cookem. Take this section slowly as the trail is uneven, loose rock and very steep.

After the top of the range is reached, the rest of the day is spent walking along Scotts Main Range. There are many spots along the way that look out over the expansive views of this area, so take your time to admire, and take photos.

Once again, there is little water on the top of the range, so make sure you fill up when you cross the Cox’s River.

Medlow Gap[GR 56H 2457* 62534*]8:30am0 km
Cox’s River[GR 56H 2469* 62501*]10:30am6 km
Mount Cookem[GR 56H 2477* 62492*]11:30am7 km
Kowmung Lookout[GR 56H 2494* 62477*]12:30pm10 km
Cedar Road[GR 56H 2510* 62441*]2:30pm14 km
New Yards[GR 56H 2503* 62421*]3:00pm16 1/2 km

The camp for the night is in the area of New Yards. There is private property around this area, so care should be taken to not trespass, or cause any disturbance of the residents! There are ample clearings along the main trail that are adequate campsites. There are a number of waterholes along the range, but many of these are dry.

DAY 3 – New Yards to Butchers Creek (21 kms, 7 1/2 hours) [ 50 kms]

Day three is the longest day of the hike, and takes us to the end of Scotts Main Range.

There are still plenty of places that you will want to stop and admire on this day, so an early start is essential. First of all the trail leads up to the top of Bran Jan Hill, were there is some good camping, and old homestead ruins to investigate. There is a long section then on to Mount Feld before losing some height as you head towards Kowmung Mountain.

At the base of Kowmung Mountain, the trail turns to the East where the day will end at the crossing of Butchers Creek.

There will be plenty of water here to refill after days of water rations across the main range.

New Yards[GR 56H 2503* 62421*]8:30am0 km
Bran Jan Hill[GR 56H 2472* 62384*]10:00am4 1/2 km
Mount Feld[GR 56H 2410* 62300*]2:00pm15 1/2 km
Kowmung Mountain[GR 56H 2388* 62254*]3:30pm19 1/2 km
Butchers Creek[GR 56H 2401* 62255*]4:00pm21 km

DAY 4 – Butchers Creek to Centre Ridge (16 1/2 kms, 6 1/2 hours) [66 1/2 kms]

Day four starts off by heading South East to pass through Byrnes Gap. From there, the trail continues down hill to a nice spot for Morning tea on the Tonali River.

After a short break, the trail takes you on to the old mining town of Yerranderrie. Take some time out here to explore some of the old mining tracks and buildings.

After exploring Yerranderie, the trail continues to the East along the old Yerranderie mining track, and across Basin Creek. Shortly after the creek crossing, the trail branches off in two directions. Take the trail to the South which heads towards Byrne Creek. Once you have crossed the creek, locate a lesser trail that again branches to the South, where the main trail turns South West. This is the Centre Ridge Management Trail which we stay on for the rest of the day.

There may be water in the creek, and if not then there is a water hole a little way along the trail on the East to fill up your water containers.

Butchers Creek[GR 56H 2401* 62255*]8:30am0 km
Byrnes Gap[GR 56H 2416* 62244*]9:00am2 km
Tonali River[GR 56H 2419* 62217*]10:00am5 km
(1 hour in Yerranderie)
[GR 56H 2435* 62211*]11:00am7 km
Basin Creek[GR 56H 2450* 62203*]1:00pm9 km
Stock Route Junction[GR 56H 2456* 62191*]1:30pm10 1/2 km
Center Ridge Junction[GR 56H 2454* 62186*]1:45pm11 km
Center Ridge Camp[GR 56H 2488* 62170*]4:00pm16 1/2 km

The day comes to an end just before the Warragamba catchment area. Remember there is no camping allowed in the restricted catchment area, so make sure you pick a clearing that is outside this region.

DAY 5 – Centre Ridge to Colley’s Flat (15 kms, 7 hours) [ 81 1/2 kms]

Day five takes you back into the Warragamba catchment area, and South along The Sheepwalk Road. Early in the morning, you cross the Jooriland River, and then turn to the East and across the Wollondilly River. This river can sometimes hold a lot of water so make sure you are careful crossing. The river bed is also very rough so it is a good idea to have some wet weather footwear to cross here.

After crossing the Wollondilly River, the trail turns to the South, then the North, and then we take a turn to the East that is marked Beloon Pass.

The pass is about 3 kilometers along this track and is another difficult section of the hike. Take care climbing through the pass, as the footing is very loose. There are a number of trails marked in this section, so make sure you select the correct one.

At the top of Beloon Pass, admire the views of the surrounding areas before heading back down the other side towards the Nattai River.

Center Ridge[GR 56H 2488* 62170*]8:30am0km
Jooriland River[GR 56H 2493* 62142*]10:00am3 km
Wollondilly River[GR 56H 2511* 62137*]11:00am5 1/2 km
Beloon Pass Junction[GR 56H 2529* 62133*]1:00pm8 1/2 km
Beloon Pass[GR 56H 2550* 62133*]2:00pm11 km
Nattai River[GR 56H 2573* 62123*]3:15pm14 1/2 km
Colley’s Flat[GR 56H 2569* 62123*]3:30pm15 km

Before reaching the river, the track intersects with Nattai Road, turn to the South at this point and follow this track to the river. Once at the river, cross to the Southern side, and then follow the trail around to the West a short distance before finding a spot for the nights camp at Colley’s Flat.

DAY 6 – Colley’s Flat to Emmetts Flat (15 1/2 kms, 6 1/2 hours) [ 97 kms]

Today the trail winds its way along the Nattai River. We start off by following the Nattai Road to the South as it crosses back and forth across the Nattai River. There are some amazing views to the West of the Wanganderry Escarpment.

The Nattai Road turns to the South East a few kilometres along the trail as we pass the junction with the Allum River. Shortly after, we leave the Nattai Road and follow the trail along the banks of the Nattai as we follow the trail markers kindly left by other hikers

The trail takes you across Round Flat before the undergrowth starts to take over the trail a little. Remember to keep looking for the markers, as the trail is well marked when you can find them. There are some great spots to camp along here, as well as a number of locations that if you are quiet you may spot a Platypus in the still waters.

Shortly after lunch, you will pass through the Cathedral Forest, and associated camping area, followed by the junction with Wanganderry Creek.

Colley’s Flat[GR 56H 2569* 62123*]9:00am0 km
Allum River[GR 56H 2561* 62093*]10:30am3 1/2 km
Trail Junction[GR 56H 2566* 62080*]11:00am5 1/2 km
Round Flat[GR 56H 2560* 62070*]11:30am7 km
Cathedral Forest[GR 56H 2557* 62026*]2:00pm12 1/2 km
Wanganderry Creek[GR 56H 2559* 62023*]2:15pm13 km
McArthurs Flat[GR 56H 2586* 62019*]3:30pm15 1/2 km

The trail turns to the East here, and continues until you arrive at Emmetts flat which can be used for the nights camp, or cross to the other side of the Nattai to camp at McArthurs flat.

DAY 7 – McArthurs Flat to Hill Top (7 kms, 4 hours) [ 104 kms]

The final day is short, but steep. Take the trail to the East of Emmetts Flat that leads you along The Starlight’s Trail to the top of The Nattai Tableland.

There are a number of spots of interest along the way including Ahearn’s Lookup, Holy Rock, and if you have time, a diversion to Rocky Waterhole Creek Lookout is definitely worth the effort.

McArthurs Flat[GR 56H 2586* 62019*]9:30am0 km
Ahearn Lookup[GR 56H 2592* 62017*]10:30am1 km
Holy Rock[GR 56H 2609* 62013*]11:30am3 km
Point Hill[GR 56H 2616* 62010*]12:30pm4 1/2 km
Nattai Road Junction[GR 56H 2620* 62013*]1:00pm5 km
National Park Entry Gate[GR 56H 2633* 62018*]1:30pm7 km

The walk completes at the Nattai National Park entry gate. There is a car park here that you can coordinate for a pickup, or call a Taxi from the local town of Hill Top. Or you can continue the walk along the Nattai Road for another 7 or 8 kilometres to the centre of the Hill Top Township.

Google Maps

  • waypoints 
If this text does not disappear quickly, then your browser does not support Google Maps, or Google changed their MAPS API without telling me


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