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Walk: Watagans Forest


The Watagans are the high, forested ridges you see off to the left when approaching the Cessnock (Freemans Waterhole) turnoff on the M1. They catch the rain and mist, and hugely diverse forest ecosystems flourish there ranging from full rainforest to tall eucalypt forest and ridgetop woodland. The midweek timing is because the area is busy with campers and 4WDers on summer weekends, and the latter sometimes think they own the roads.

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Date: Wednesday 5 December
Time: 10 for 10.15 am start
Length: short walks totalling about 2 km – lots to look at, including Gap Creek waterfall if there's been decent rain
Grade: medium – rather rough descent to the waterfall and rocky on Monkey Mountain (see photo on the right), otherwise easy walking on good but narrow tracks
Meet: Gap Creek Campground – there is plenty of parking (see below for how to get there)
Bring: lunch snack, camera, plant i.d. books especially if you have Gwen Harden's Rainforest Trees and Shrubs
Weather issues: sheltered forest in deep valleys so light rain, drizzle or showers aren't a major problem

How to get there

Follow the M1 north turning off at the Freemans Waterhole interchange, which is the Hunter vineyards access road, turning right at the T onto Freemans Drive and heading south towards Cooranbong.  Immediately after crossing back over the motorway, turn right onto Mt Faulk Rd (small signpost to Watagans Nat Park). Follow bitumen, turning to gravel, and climb a long hill. Take the signposted left turn onto Bangalow Rd leading to Gap Creek camping area. Meet at the car park well past the camping ground at the end.


  • The walk is timed to coincide with the somewhat unreliable flowering of the Illawarra flame trees – 2017 was a poor year so this year should be better
  • Many juvenile to middle aged red cedars
  • Massive turpentines and Sydney and Mountain blue gums
  • Monkey Face Lookout tracks pass through diverse eucalypt forest with white mahoganies, blue-leaved stringybarks, grey gums and winged ironbarks, plus masses of rock orchids and trees bearing Cymbidium orchids (snake flower) which could be in flower


Illawarra flame tree in the rainforest


Mighty mountain blue gum Eucalyptus deanei


Red cedar with Bangalow palm

Event Properties

Event Date 05-12-2018 10:00 am
Gap Creek campground
Gap Creek campground, Bangalow Road, Martinsville NSW 2265, Australia
Gap Creek campground