AUTHOR: SUE KANG
If you have the trifecta of nature, hiking and food, you know you’re going to have an amazing road trip. Here are the three best hikes to do if you’re planning to drive around NSW:
1. THE CASTLE HIKE – SOUTH COAST
Hands down the best hike in NSW. See the hike information notes.
First, we parked at Long Gully. You can decide to do the hike as an overnight or a camping hike but if you have a campervan, you can camp at Long Gully and enjoy camping facilities and then do the Castle as a day hike.
After we parked, we walked with purpose and a sense of adventure. Then, barely five minutes passed when we encountered our first obstacle: a huge creek. I was wearing my hiking tights and since this was July there was no way I was going to get my tights wet – I would have frozen to death. So I took them off and walked across the creek with my pack looking like a silly chicken.
Then, there was a significant amount of uphill climbing which in itself wasn’t hard, but since we all had big packs we struggled a bit as the path isn’t completely clear – there’s a lot of branches and things where you have to duck and if you have a 15kg+ pack it’s hard to duck and scramble across nimbly. So we encountered a lot of: scrambling, stairs, one narrow tunnel, two caves and then you reach the rock-climbing stage.
After you rock-climb your way upwards, the summit is beautiful with stunning sweeping views of Pigeon House mountain and Byangee Walls. If you do the Castle Hike as a day walk it should take you around 8-10 hours.
We camped at the Cooyoyo Creek campsite (which is 1.5 hours down from the summit) and the views there were even more epic than at the summit. The sunsets were beautiful and it was the best view I’ve EVER had at a campsite (and it’s free!).
2. DONKEY MOUNTAIN – WOLGAN VALLEY
This one is for the hiking experience that’s different to the norm. Go bush-bashing. Try a hike without a path. You’ll never forget this experience. The good thing about Donkey Mountain is that even though it’s obviously more difficult than the clearly marked trails, as long as you just walk downwards, you will meet the road. There’s no saying you’re going to come out of the mountain at the exactly the same spot you parked at, but the road winds around the edges of the mountain. So, if you get lost just walk down and towards the ground level. Then, you’ll at least end up on the road and can walk back to your car.
The highlights of this hike are the impressive canyons, caves and views of Wolgan Valley. Also you’ll see lots of fat wombats on your drive in and that’s always a cute bonus.
3. PIGEON HOUSE MOUNTAIN – AND STAY IN MILTON, NSW
I’m including this one not because this is the best hike (it’s a good one though) but because the area of Milton is just absolutely beautiful. I recommend going for a morning run up Pigeon House Mountain and then staying maybe on a farm or a campsite inside Milton. Or better still, get a JUCY van and then you can sleep under the stars and fully enjoy the tranquility of the country.
Pigeon House Mountain takes around 2.5 hours-3 hours return and it’s beautiful in spring.
And PS best places to eat in Milton are:
Heritage Bakery Milton (for their baked goods)
197/201 Princes Hwy, Milton NSW 2538, Australia
And Flour, Water, Salt (for their pies)
87 Princes Hwy, Milton NSW 2538, Australia
Enjoy your road trip!