Exploring The World’s Widest Canyon – Capertee Valley
by Bonita Grima
The Blue Mountains and surrounding areas suffered greatly during recent bushfires but slowly the National Parks in New South Wales are reopening, with some ready to welcome visitors back.
The Capertee area of the Greater Blue Mountains might be one of the state’s most overlooked, but offering some of the best stargazing, historical sites and world heritage listed wilderness close to Sydney it won’t stay that way for long.
While some more serious hiking trails like the Bicentennial National Trail remain closed, some favourite day walking trails like the Weir Walk and Pagoda Lookout walking track have reopened. Accessing the track from the Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp campground, the steep hillside scramble rewards with views of the Cudgegong River and pagoda rock formations from the Triassic period. Southern Cross Kayaking run guided tours of the Cudgegong River and kayak and SUP board hire from the campground.
For lovers of history, the old shale mining town of Glen Davis in the Capertee Valley is a must, with tours of the eerie oil shale ruins in the shadow of the valley’s sandstone cliffs on every Saturday.
Watch for wildlife
The Greater Blue Mountains, containing high numbers of endemic species were considered a haven for native flora and fauna, and while NSW NationalParks and Wildlife Service are still assessing numbers, some local operators are reporting the return of animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, reptiles and birdlife.
Capertee Valley is recognised internationally as an Important Bird Area (IBA) containing good numbers of Regent Honeyeaters, Swift Parrots and Glossy-Black Cockatoos, among other highly endangered birds. It remains an excellent place for birdwatching.
Rest and regenerate
With a focus on sustainability, Bubbletents Australia offers guests outdoor bathing and glamping with dramatic views over the valley. Each see-through bubble also comes equipped with telescope, iPad and stargazing apps, as the area, known for its dark skies, makes for some of the best stargazing close to Sydney.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley provides luxury accommodation in addition to adventure activities like wildlife safaris, 4WD tours, horse-riding and hiking. They’re encouraging guests to take part in conservation projects at the moment, like tree planting, wildlife surveys and water quality testing, to aid the area’s regeneration.
Eco-retreat Turon Gates has a selection of rustic log cabins, glamping and camping options spread over 6000 acres. Here you’ll find kayaking, walking and horse-riding trails along the Turon River in which gold discovered in 1851, prompted the area’s gold rush. Excellent, affordable campsites can also be found in Wollemi National Park. ■