Probably one of the best known walks in the area and for valid reasons.
Access: Easy walk though, there is some uneven ground to negotiate and you may get your shoes wet. Oh and you will need a torch
Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward
Time: You could probably get through and back in 1.5hrs or so but why hurry? Give yourself a few hours to enjoy the experience.
Back in the early 1900s the Wolgan Valley Railway was built to haul shale oil out of Newnes to the main line near Clarence. To negotiate the steep cliff line at the rim of the valley 2 tunnels were needed. The railway was abandoned after just a few years operation and a lot of the infrastructure was pulled up and sent over seas for the war efforts.
With the trains no longer using the tunnels the glowworms moved in. This has since become a great tourist attraction
The first tunnel is dry and you drive through it on the way to the car park.
Getting there: From Lithgow head up State Mine Gully from Atkinson st, up Dobbs Drift rd and follow the Glowworm Tunnel road across the Newnes plateau to it’s end (Approx 35km). The road is rough at times (very rough at the moment), the pine plantation is a working forest and road conditions can vary greatly.
From the car park a 1km walk on a well defined trail will bring you to the mouth of the main tunnel where the trail deteriorates somewhat as a small water course flows down it.
You will need a torch for the tunnel. It is approximately 300m long and curved in such a way that the ends are completely obscured from the middle.
Note: Glowworms are faint. If you want to see them in all their glory find a spot to sit down in the middle of the tunnel, turn the lights off and give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. So many people march through with lights fully blazing and then say they didn’t see many worms. Just like stars the darker it gets the more you will see.
Also keep the noise down and don’t go swiping hands all over the walls.
The far end of the tunnel emerges in to a scene out of the lost world or something. Big tree ferns have you feeling like you have stepped back in time.
From here there are a few things to explore.
Following the cliff line up to the left will take you up in to the bottom of Bells Grotto, a small canyon that can be used to bypass the tunnel (apparently an option taken by train passengers wishing to avoid the smoke in the tunnel)
Alternatively continue along the rail easement (some creek crossing and a slight scramble) around the corner to stunning views over the Wolgan valley. You can continue down the rail easement to Newnes (11km – 3hr one way) or do a loop walk down to the coach rd junction then up the Coach rd and back across the Pagoda trail which brings you back to the entrance track just before the Tunnel (7.5km.)
Note 1: Taking care While reasonably well known these spots are still wild places and care needs to be taken around cliff edges and on the steep trails. Carrying the right gear as well as having adequate food, water and clothing is important. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back.
Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police for very little.
Note 2: First aid A basic first aid kit is essential bit of kit whenever heading into the Aussie bush. A basic first aid is highly recommended
Note 3: Maps and Navigation Having the right map, a compass and knowing how to read them is very important when heading into the bush. If you are new to bush walking joining a club or accompanying more experienced walker for you first few outing is a very good idea. I found practicing map reading on well defined trails was helpful when I started out.
The Maps mentioned are the 1:25000 series. They can be purchase at Lithgow tourism information center, from outdoors shops or online for around $10 each.
Note 4: These are wild and beautiful places, respect them. If you are able to carry something in you can carry it out. Don’ be a tosser. Leaving your rubbish behind is a sure way to ruin it for every one else.