New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory

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General information

New South Wales is bordered on the north by Queensland, on the west by South Australia, on the south by Victoria and on the east by the Tasman Sea.

A narrow coastal strip extends from cool temperate areas on the far south coast to subtropical areas near the Queensland border.

The Great Dividing Range extends from Victoria in the south through New South Wales to Queensland, parallel to the narrow coastal plain. This area includes the Snowy Mountains, the Northern, Central and Southern Tablelands, the Southern Highlands and the South West Slopes.

There are numerous forests in New South Wales on and close to the Great Dividing Range.

The western slopes and plains fill a significant portion of the state’s area and have a much sparser population than areas nearer the coast. The western slopes descend slowly to the western plains that comprise almost two-thirds of the state and are largely arid or semi-arid.

The Australian Capital Territory is wholly within southern New South Wales.

Notable bushwalks – NSW

The spine of the Great Dividing Range provides most of the walking and skiing venues in New South Wales. Sandstone is the dominant rock type, and plateaux, cliffs and gorges are common features on many walks. There are a huge number of trips which can be done.

Bald Rock National Park. Granite dominates this park located on the border with Queensland. There are many short walks to viewpoints and the Border Walk, a 13km walk that takes in part of the NSW/Queensland border. Visit any time, but  spring is the wildflower season.

New England Tablelands. A series of gorges and plateaux in the north east. There are many small parks and reserves scattered across the area. Gibraltar Range, Washpool, Guy Fawkes and New England are the major national parks. The area provides many one-day walks and a wide variety of overnight walks.

Warrumbungles and Mt Kaputar. Inland from New England, these two parks in the north of the state have spectacular volcanic scenery. Both have extensive track systems providing both one-day and overnight walks, but often it is necessary to carry water. Walks are suitable in most seasons except summer.

Barrington Tops. An elevated plateau north of Newcastle that includes World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforests. It has both one-day walks and a range of overnight bushwalks. While it does snow here, it is not a suitable ski touring area.

Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The Blue Mountains National Park is a sandstone plateau west of Sydney, with deep river valleys and numerous gorges. Both short and long walks abound. Popular destinations include the tracks at Katoomba and Blackheath, Blue Gum Forest, the Grose Gorge, Mt Solitary, Kanangra-Boyd National Park, the Kowmung River, as well as the numerous canyons and the wilderness walking in Wollemi National Park. Suitable all year round, although the most popular seasons are autumn and spring.

Great North Walk. A marked track that runs from Sydney north to Newcastle through low ranges and river valleys. The 250 km track takes about 14 days to walk. One-day walks and shorter overnight trips are possible. Suitable all year round.

Royal National Park. A coastal park just south of Sydney with many one-day walks and some overnight walking along its coast.

Budawangs. A rugged series of sandstone mountains located between Canberra and the coast. There are some day walks to Pigeon House Mountain and The Castle. Most walks here are long multi-day trips following rough tracks. Best times to visit are autumn and spring.

Kosciuszko National Park. Contains the highest peaks in Australia. It is a large and very diverse park. The most popular region is the Main Range, but the Byadbo, Cascades, Jagungal, Kiandra, Cooleman, Bimberi and Bogong Peaks areas are all worth visiting. In winter, the park contains the best and largest ski touring region in Australia. In summer, there is an infinite variety of walks ranging from one-day strolls across meadows to trips of several weeks duration.

Hume and Hovell Track. Created as an historical trail, this 372 km track runs from Gunning to near Albury. It passes mainly through state forests and avoids the high ranges of the Kosciuszko region. It provides many one-day walks and easy, overnight walks too.

Notable bushwalks – ACT

Namadgi National Park. This park covers almost half of the Territory, with 160 kms of marked walking tracks along river valleys or to high granite peaks (e.g. Booroomba Rocks, Mt Tennant, Orroral Valley). The start or finish of the Australian Alps Walking Track is at the Namadgi visitor centre. It abuts the Kosciuszko National Park and the Bimberi Wilderness Area.

Safety considerations

Snakes are common in New South Wales and most of them are poisonous although snakebites are rare. Take care to avoid stepping on them when they are warming up in the morning sun.  Carry a snakebite bandage.

Water sources may not be available in the hotter regions of the state and some alpine areas during summer, check the status of water sources before you go.

Insects and ticks. Wear long, loose clothing to prevent bites, spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellent and reapply as directed.  Close the tent insect screens at night. More information on tick bites is available at NSW Health.

Funnel web spiders live in the ground and found around the Sydney Basin, Blue Mountains, Hunter region, Central Coast and south coast. It is one of the best known and most dangerous spiders in Australia. Funnel web spider venom is highly toxic and considered potentially dangerous.

Statewide emergency services information

Dial 000 and ask for Police to report a bushwalking emergency.

New South Wales Police is the agency responsible for land search and rescue, assisted by organisations including:

NSW Ambulance can provide medical evacuations by land or air.  Ensure you have appropriate ambulance insurance .

Interstate visitors should check reciprocal arrangements with their state or territory ambulance organisation.

International visitors should confirm they have travel insurance that covers rescue operations in New South Wales.

Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) for remote area trips can be hired from:

  • NPWS Blue Mountains Heritage Centre at Blackheath
  • Katoomba or Springwood Police Stations
  • NPWS offices at Tumut, Khancoban and Jindabyne
  • Wilderness Sports – Jindabyne