Day walking the Red Rocks

Living in the Wolgan Valley, one can easily make a worthwhile day-trip out of the Red Rocks area on the Capertee-Wolgan divide. I had also heard many great things about the complexity of the landscape here and wanted to stretch my legs before embarking on another 10-day stretch of work days.

I set out on the morning of July 28th, with a backpack full of food and overnight gear just in case I felt the need to spend a night under stars. The distance to Newnes was rough and slow, as the dirt road was in dire need of regrading after the heavy rain of the past few weeks. I took the left turn off onto Little Capertee Trail, just before the main grassy campground, and parked my car at the end of the public road. I then made my way up Little Capertee creek, along an old grassy vehicle trail that quickly thinned to a well-trodden single track. The trail was generally distinct, however I came across a number of newly felled trees that blocked the path – again, a result of the recent heavy rain and gale-force winds experienced.


After a little under a kilometer, I left the trail and headed north, off-track up a steep but relatively clear gully to the ridge line between Little Capertee creek and Canobla creek. Again, the vegetation was fairly open here, and I followed a series of rocky platforms west, towards Point Nicholson. A few scrambles were required to descend and ascend the small rises on the ridge, but it was fairly easy going. At Point Nicholson, I meandered north-east, towards the point marked “Red Rocks” on the topo map. Along the way, I explored the interesting rock formations and fissures that characterise this area, and which are not unlike those seen up on the nearby Donkey Mountain, in the Wolgan Valley.

Pantoneys Crown in the setting sun

The short distance across the ridge led me down a couple of steep ironstone scrambles, but the rock had a beautiful friction to it and even with an overnight pack the going was relatively fast and incredibly enjoyable. I was eventually stopped by a steep drop off and an imposing head wall, which I decided that I must return to tackle with a belay, and longer rope. I rested on the edge of that cliff for a while, watching as a wedge-tailed eagle soared across the wide blue sky, and marveled at the vibrancy of colours expressed on the sheer sandstone cliffs surrounding.

Views over the Capertee valley, aspect south

As the day was still young, I decided to slowly make the distance back towards my car. I retraced my steps to Point Nicholson and then skirted the cliff line above the beginnings of the northern branch of Little Capertee creek, until I found a weakness in the cliff line. I carried with me a sling, carabiner and short length of static rope and put them to good use as I dropped off the cliff and into the gully below. Before descending, I took a few moments to watch as the sun began to paint the trees and cliffs in orange hues.  There is no finer time than golden hour in the Wolgan valley.

I picked up a trail on the northern side of Little Capertee creek, which I followed all the way back to my Subaru. As I strolled east through the growing dusk, I watched as lyre birds danced and sung on their castles of dirt and as solitary swamp wallabies stood quietly, in curious appraisal of my progress over the sweet-smelling debris of fallen eucalyptus trees.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 10.50.13 AM
Approximate route taken

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