Would you like to visit The Gardens of Stone?
No four wheel drive?
The Gardens of Stone National Park and State Conservation Area covers a huge area of incredible landscapes- stunning canyons, grassy woodlands, hanging swamps, massive caves and towering sandstone cliffs.
It’s world famous for its ancient pagoda rock formations, rich eucalypt forests and its diverse range of flora and fauna. There are more than 80 threatened species that make their home here- spotted quoll, koalas and regent honeyeaters just to name a few.
This area is of great importance to the Wiradjuri people- with scar trees, stencil art, grinding grooves and many other culturally significant artefacts hidden throughout the area.
Did you know that Newnes Plateau is the highest elevation sandstone plateau in the Blue Mountains Heritage Area ?
Accessibility can be an issue, but I’m going to show you some easy ways that anyone can enjoy this rugged but beautiful landscape !
A 4 wheel drive vehicle is going to enable you to reach more remote areas, but even with a 2 wheel drive the intriguingly named Gardens of Stone can be enjoyed by anyone with a sense of adventure!
Dobbs Drift Lookout on the State Mine Gully Road, is an easily reached informal viewing point of some great examples of the sandstone and ironstone pagoda rocks that the Gardens of Stone is famous for. With only 400 metres of unsealed road to negotiate, this lookout also marks one of the southern entry points into the Conservation Area.
Pagoda rocks are sculpted over many thousands of years. A globally significant geoheritage site, these rocks are formed from ironstone, mineral-rich hardened sandstone and regular sandstone. The regular sandstone erodes quickly, leaving the fantastically shaped stacked plates and tongues of ironstone that form a typical pagoda rock. Some look like beehives, shoes, and I’ve even seen a dragon-shaped rock or two !
Pagoda rocks are also home to an abundance of wildlife and many beautiful and rare plants- incredible pink flannel flowers, bright yellow Pagoda daisies, purple orchids, lyrebirds and lizards and many others.
Further to the West, and approached from the sealed Wolgan Road side, it’s a relatively short walk to some interesting canyons, caves and more pagoda rock formations with an abundance of ferns that is, well…… “fern-tastic”!!
For the more adventurous, further along Wolgan Road towards Newnes, you will find the imposing and majestic Donkey Mountain, which is in its own stand alone section of the Gardens of Stone. This mountain is a challenging hike for the experienced hiker, and requires pre-planning, or the expertise of a qualified and experienced guide.
It is certainly worth a look for those who simply want to view and appreciate the rugged beauty of Donkey Mountain.
Heading further north , towards Capertee, you will Pearson’s Lookout. This lookout showcases amazing views over the Gardens of Stone and Capertee Valley. Capertee Valley just happens to be the widest enclosed canyon on the world!
How amazing is that ?
Standing at the lookout you will enjoy an incredible vista, with Pantoneys Crown dominating the landscape. The Crown was formed over millions of years as creeks and rivers eroded the sandstone surrounding a 500 million year old limestone outcrop. William Lee Pantoney, the son of two ex convicts, established a sheep grazing in the area in 1823 and raised a family. Imagine William and his young family living in what would have been a very wild and remote area on the very fringes of the colony !
Henry Lawson, the iconic Australian poet immortalised the area when he penned “Song of the Old Bullock Driver” in 1891.
“Then slowly we crawled by the trees that kept tally of miles that were passed on the long journey down,
We saw the wild beauty of Capertee Valley as slowly we rounded the base of the Crown……”
I love that line of poetry. Standing at Pearsons Lookout, looking at the freestanding mesa that is Pantoneys Crown, you certainly feel very small compared to the expansive vista. It’s geology on the most grandest of scales!
Of course with a 4 wheel drive, a map and a pair of hiking boots, there is so much more to explore in the Gardens of Stone…but this should get you started.
We would love to see you at the Visitor Centre to help you plan your next adventure and show you how to see the very best of the incredible Gardens of Stone National Park and Conservation Area !