Monolith Valley and The Castle: The Budawangs

The Castle is a spectacular and challenging peak in The Budawangs, New South Wales. The views from its summit are said to be outstanding. Although the walk can be done in a day, those wishing to visit Monolith Valley as well as The Castle should organise for an overnight camp at Cooyoyo Creek Campground. Hikers need a reasonable level of fitness and the final rock scrambles onto The Castle require a good head for heights. Here is an account of a walk to Monolith Valley and The Castle done by Alex B.  in early spring.

Text and Photos by Alex B.

Day One:

The walk up to The Castle is one of the most rewarding in South Eastern Australia. Beginning at Long Gully (a couple of hours drive from Canberra), the track crosses Yadboro River before climbing out of the creek bed and onto a ridgeline.

Cool waters of the Yadboro River
Cool waters of the Yadboro River

It passes around the side of The Castle on some fairly steep, rough ground and then ascends towards the saddle at Castle Gap. We covered this over a couple of hours on a hot September afternoon – a couple of litres of water is recommended. There are some excellent views back down the valley on the climb up.

Clifflines of conglomerates and sandstones.

Our campsite was  a few hundred metres below the saddle at Cooyoyo Creek campground, arriving on dusk (albeit with a fairly late start), just in time to see a stunning sunset over the massive clifflines of the Morton and Budawang National Parks.

Sunset over the Budawangs.
Sunset over the Budawangs.

Day Two:

Before climbing The Castle the following day we spent a few hours in Monolith Valley, which is accessed from the saddle. An unexpected delight, it features outstanding rock formations , cool forested gorges, and a natural arch. It’s a great side trip and well worth the effort. There is a small section of scrambling required early on but chains are bolted to the rocks to help those who require it.

Photo Gallery: Monolith Valley:

We ate lunch in the sunshine above the gorge before returning to the saddle to climb the castle in the afternoon.

It’s mostly scrambling with some exposed sections and a bit of squeeze through a narrow crack in the rock, however all the steepest sections have fixed ropes that can be used (most of which looked solid..) to gain the summit. However, those with a serious fear of heights may want to give it a miss.

Rock scrambles on The Castle.
Rock scrambles on The Castle.

Photo Gallery: views from The Castle:

The upper sections have brilliant views across the south coast, with the Pigeon House prominent. The total climb is around 800 metres vertically, which for coastal areas in Australia is quite a lot, and allows for some of the best views in New South Wales – personally I thought more spectacular than the Blue Mountains, which feature similar terrain.

Views east acrosss the Budawangs to The Pigeon House
Views east across the Budawangs to The Pigeon House

We descended after a few glorious hours on the summit, and spent another night below the saddle, before returning to the car park the next morning. A quick (and quite cold) swim was had in Yadboro creek before we headed back to the ACT.

More Info:

Best website notes: Bushwalking NSW, Tom Brennan:

Map: Corang 1:25000

The Budawang Committee: Pigeon House and Beyond 1987

David Bayliss: The Budawangs Heybob Vol14, 1972


Map of Monolith Valley and The Castle

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