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Walk: Watagans


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
Length: short walks totalling about 4.5 km (approx 4 h with lots of stops) – 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
Leader: John Martyn (0425 830 260)

How to get there

Follow the M1 north turning off at the Freemans Waterhole interchange, which is the Hunter vineyards access road (brown tourist signs), and 27 km past the Warnervale Interchange (Sparks Rd). Turn right at the T junction onto Freemans Drive and head south for around 4 km 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. At around 5 km from the turnoff make the well signposted left turn onto Bangalow Rd, which is 3.5 km of good gravel leading to Gap Creek camping area. Meet at the car park and picnic area near the last camping site at the end of the road. Allow about 1 hour 20 minutes from Pearces Corner (10 min has been added to journey by two long stretches of roadwork speed limits). Don't get lost, because phone reception patchy and I can't talk you in!


  • 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
Location Gap Creek campground