7 days in the Warrumbungle National Park

 7 days in the Warrumbungle National Park 

And Beyond

Recently we took the plunge and headed out west to do some exploring. And much to our delight, the Warrumbungle National Park was the perfect spot for us to do some exploring, hiking and a good base for us to see a bit further out.

The Warrumbungle National Park is in Australia’s first dark sky park, which means everyone in the area is expected to do what they can to limit their light pollution. This is one of the many reasons that we stayed here so long. Seeing the night sky, and I mean really seeing it is something that needs to be seen to be believed. We’ve never seen so many stars before.

In this post we’re going to be sharing our 7 days in the Warrumbungle National Park. Hopefully you’ll find some handy hints and ideas for your trip!


If you’re looking on information about camping in the Warrumbungle National Park make sure you check out our national park guide.


Day 1

Camp Blackman has a view of split rock
view from camp


Camp Blackman

For obvious reasons, day 1 was all about the travel. We left the Central Coast at 8am and thanks to a dog we found on the side of the road past Merriwa we didn’t arrive at the park until after 3pm. Driving into the park for the first time is an experience in itself. Seeing the Warrumbungles, or ‘crooked mountains’ is something special. We sat in awe and in silence for the entire trip in to the Warrumbungle National Park visitors centre which was the first thing on our itinerary. Odd choice? Not at all! We decided since we’re in the middle of nowhere we wanted to hire a gps emergency beacon in case of the worst case scenario for our entire trip. so we needed to register our travel intent and then we were able to hire one for free. Thank you NSW National Parks!

From here we headed to Camp Blackman which was our base for the next 7 days. After a little bit of bickering about the best way to set up the tent to have a view. We finally set up the tent and… Yes! we had an amazing view from our tent!

best campsite warrumbungle national park


Our set up at camp blackman

We set up, cracked a beer and settled in. Thankfully Kayla pre cooked a lot of our meals so it was only a matter of reheating our food and enjoying each others company. Once the sun went down it started pouring rain, so the plans of watching the night sky went out the window we opened a bottle of wine and watched some TV on the ipad while we planned our next day. The mammoth hike at Grand High Tops!


Day 2

view of breadknife and grand high tops on the grand high tops walk


Breadknife. The view we came for.

You never realise how much travelling takes it out of you until you wake up the next day. We were planning on getting up early, but we didn’t end up getting up until close to 9, so after a mad scramble of trying to get organised for our hike, we cooked a big breakfast and headed to camp Pincham to start the hike. Naturally we were unorganised and ended up being at the car for another half hour before we started.

We decided to do this hike on day 2 for many reasons, mostly because we had planned on doing this trip 6 months later, which meant we had 6 months to get fitter, but the floods on the coast ruined our plans and we ended up being out west a lot earlier than planned and we were not fit enough to climb a mountain or two… So we wanted as much energy as possible for this hike.

dying on the Grand high tops walk


4.5kms in a we were dead.

We did the Grand High Tops Circuit, which is a 14.5km hike and the recommended time for the hike is 4-5 hours. The hike is also graded as hard. So needless to say, we were a little worried. Based on the research we had done before hand, we decided to do the hike anti clockwise. This meant that we went down the man made stairs, which there is close to 1000 by the way…. and also meant that by the time we summited, we were past the half way mark. This was easily the best decision we made. The stairs are long and tedious so we are glad that they were a means to the end of the hike and not the main part of it.

summiting grand high tops


Nicole hiking the Summit

On the hike itself we only ran into a total of 4 people. 2 men who were both hiking solo, and another young couple we met at the summit. It was lovely being the only ones on the hike. It meant we could do it at our own pace without feeling like we were in competition with others.

Upon completion of this hike, We can easily say the hike definitely deserves the hype it receives. It was hard. Don’t get us wrong, but it was worth every single ounce of sweat that went into it, and the view of the Warrumbungle National Park is indescribable.

rock formations in Warrumbungle national park


At the Grand High Tops Summit

The hike ended up taking us 7 hours, including the 1.5 hours that we spent at the summit for lunch and to take everything in as well as stopping at some other amazing lookouts along the way. Could we have done it quicker? Probably, but that would of meant we wouldn’t have enjoyed the view the way that we did.


Day 3

To say we were exhausted after yesterday is an understatement. Our feet were aching, our legs were tight and overall we were just tired. So we decided to head to Pilliga instead of what we had planned. We had a quick breakfast which didn’t hit the spot and hit the road.

pilliga sandstone caves walk


The first cave

By the time that we reached Coonabarbran we were starving, so we called in at a small café for a coffee and ended up having one of the best toasties we’ve ever had. Back on the road and we headed to the Pilliga Sandstone Caves. At only 1.8kms we decided to lace up the boots anyway and good thing we did, because to our surprise we could explore the caves themselves. 2 caves had been vandalised and closed, but the rest are open to the public to explore. Seeing the caves is something special. The indigenous Australians used these caves in the past for shelters and the local council has worked with indigenous elders to create an informative and interactive hike for everyone to understand the area. We definitely recommend heading to the caves, they are very impressive and are a nice easy walk for everyone.

pilliga sandstone caves hike

From here we headed to the Pilliga Artisanal Bore Baths. From the Caves the Baths were another hour away, this wasn’t ideal. We were tempted not to go, as it was a long way but our aching muscles were begging us to go. So on we went! When we finally arrived, we were surprised next to nobody was there, a few people camping and one young family also camping. By the time we were ready to get in though, we were the only ones there. The baths are basic. To put it bluntly, it looks like a public pool, and doesn’t smell any better.

The pool sits at a balmy 37 degrees and is constantly being topped up. We spent a little under an hour in the baths, and when we left it got busy (were we the issue lol). We dried off, and then headed back to the Warrumbungle National Park along a dirt road.

Kayla was skeptical about the baths but we can’t deny, it did help. The aching feet disappeared, although our calves were still very tight afterwards.

Day 4

On day 4 we did nothing! And let me tell you it was great! We felt like swimming, so we decided to go for a little drive around and look for somewhere to swim. Thankfully it had been raining a fair bit lately so the creeks had a fair bit of flow to them, we followed one of the creeks along some small walking tracks for about 5 minutes and found our selves a little billabong to swim in. The water was chilly but also nice and was great for our sore muscles.

swimming warrumbungle national park


Chilling a billabong we found

We spent the rest of the day organising our self for the next few days, and enjoying each others company.

We went to bed by 9pm to be ready for our sunrise hike.


Day 5


3am wakeup

We woke up at 3am. Ouch. This morning we summited Belougery Split Rock for sunrise. At only 4.9kms total the hike is hard and we wanted to guarantee we were making it to the summit before first light. We gave ourselves two hours to get there. Thank god we did because it was a tough hike.

We spoke to our camp neighbours about the hike a few days earlier, and what they said to us was that it was harder than Grand High Tops. He then paused and was said, ”technically its harder but you need to do it to understand.” We were a little confused because its either harder or its not. Once we were on the track though we understood exactly what he meant. There’s little to no signage, so you need to navigate the trail off sporadically placed road reflectors, and close to the entire track is rock scrambling/climbing. This isn’t the hike for the faint hearted. Doing the entire ascent in the dark, probably didn’t help.


Warning sign guarding the summit

Once you reach the summit trail there is an ominous sign about the dangers ahead before you head up a stair case. The dangers were fair, you climb up a near vertical rock surface with little grip points. There are however some metal handles to grab onto. To make it worse the nights in the valley are incredibly windy. So imagine summiting a mountain in the dark with gale force winds with nothing to grip onto. Looking back on it we cannot believe that we did this. are we crazy? maybe. But we’re also incredibly proud.

sunrise in warrumbungle national park


We made it for sunrise

The wind didn’t die off the entire time we were at the summit and the temperature had dropped about 15 degrees from the base. We took our gas burner, and thank god we did because a cup of tea hits different in that temperature.

The view from the summit gives you a 360′ view of the Warrumbungle mountain range and you can see for hundreds of kilometres in every direction. The sunrise was spectacular, and seeing it from the summit is definitely something we recommend doing at least once. Here you’ll find one of the best views of breadknife and grand high tops in the park.

Once the sun was out we were also delighted to see an enormous eagle flying very close to us, using the winds to glide. His wing span was easily 2m so seeing him so close was surreal.

grand high tops at sunrise


Grand High Tops at sunrise

Once we got sick of the cold, we headed back down and ran into a total of 6 people who were on their way up. We got back to camp at 9am, made our self a hot chocolate, and a sandwich and accidentally fell asleep until lunch time.

hiking split rock warrumbungles


The view of grand high tops just after sunrise

Not much happened for the rest of the day other than us looking at the split rock in awe thinking ‘I can’t believe we did that.’ We had a few beers, and ended up falling asleep before 8pm. We were exhausted.


Sunrise at the summit


Day 6

Upon realising our trip was almost over we decided to do the Wambelong Wilderness track. This track is graded as easy and is a great little trail taking you through the gulley’s and underneath split rock. We crossed a few creeks, almost fell in all of them. Had a lot of laughs and it was great doing a hike that didn’t have a goal, we could just enjoy it all and take it all in. If you choose to you can also climb a rock face which will take you to a great view of Split Rock. This is the hardest part of the trail. The view though is worth it. On this rock face there is also a fair few informative signs if you’re interested in breaking up the hike.


The view of Split Rock, Also we climbed that!

From here we headed straight to Siding Spring Observatory, which is nestled right outside the Warrumbungle National Park. To our surprise it was actually free. They have some great interactive exhibits, which are probably for kids, but who doesn’t want to know what you weigh on mars? You can also feel what 1L of milk weighs on each planet which is a lot of fun, spoiler alert it’s a lot! For the adults, they have a lot of information about the observatory itself, what they’re currently working on, light pollution, and dark matter. We don’t know a lot about it that stuff but it was easy to read and was pretty interesting! Once you’re done with the visitors centre you can head up to the telescope itself and see it in the flesh, when I tell you its big, we mean it!

This telescope is the reason that the dark sky park exists, and the reason that the sky is so spectacular at night. It is the largest optical telescope in Australia and is an incredibly important part of Australia’s contributions to astronomy and astrophysics.

siding springs observatory


Telescope at Siding Springs

We had lunch here as well, this is the only place we found in the park where you could buy anything to eat. We knew before we got there that you could buy food, but we weren’t expecting much. However, there were so many options! From burgers, schnittys and pastas it felt endless. And we’ll tell you what, it was pretty good. Kayla opted for the lasagne and chips and Nicole got a schnitty burger. Both were fantastic, and well priced and a definite nice change from camp food.

After we finished eating we got one of the best hot chocolates we’ve ever had and kept looking around. While we were at the observatory a huge storm came out of nowhere. We checked the radar numerous times before we left and there was nothing, the storm was enormous, and we could barely see, goes to show how easily the weather changes our there.

We got back to the camp sight and it had flooded. Goes to show you always need to be prepared out there.


Day 7

Our last day! And the day we’ve been looking forward to the most. Off to find a waterfall! We did a lot of research before we left and finding somewhere to swim was near impossible. Luckily we found this waterfall by chance right before we left.

The Waterfall was only a 40 minute drive from the Warrumbungle National Park, so it felt like we struck gold. The waterfall is called Hickeys Falls and when we say blink and you’ll miss it, we mean it. It is right off the Newell Highway and there is no signage for it. We parked our car on the Hickeys Falls road rest area and walked 5 minutes and there she was, in all her glory. We did run into a small issue along the way. A huge red belly black snack was on the rocks, after a stare down, he realised we weren’t a threat and moved away from us and we could make it to the falls.

long exposure of hickeys falls


Long exposure of Hickey Falls

It felt like we had found our own personal oasis. We spent a few hours here, swam and sun-baked and we were the only ones here. The water was brisk but needed. After a few hard hikes the cold water did wonders for our muscles. Plus it was also just great to be somewhere cool for once. We haven’t chased too many waterfalls, but this is definitely one of our favourites in New South Wales. 

Country NSW waterfalls

After lunch we headed back to camp and started to pack up and get ready to leave the next day.


Day 8

Home day! Naturally we slept in. But we packed up and quickly stopped at the White Gum Lookout on our way out. We had planned on doing this for sunset, but the rain had ruined this for us. This lookout had the best view of the valley, and is super accessible! We didn’t stay long, took it all in for the last time and headed home.


The view from white gum lookout

The trip home took a lot longer than planned, there was a lot of road work, so it look us over 6 hours to get home.

In the end did we need 7 nights in the Warrumbungles? No, We think 5 would of been enough. Although it was nice to have down time and relax. We definitely think this trip needs to be on everyone’s bucket list. and hopefully we’ve been helpful in planning your trip!


Check out the Best Hikes in the Warrumbungles 

Thinking of planning a trip to the Central Coast? Check out the best hikes around




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