Monday, October 5, 2015

Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle NP, NSW, Australia

2015 October: Half-day trip
                        Climb Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia


Warrumbungle National Park is in the middle of NSW, and hence should be perfectly sunny most of the time. However, rainy weather caused the cancellation of the trip to there a few times ... why so much rain these day???

But today, DH and I make it there ... leave Sydney at 6am; arrive at the National Park at 2pm and able to squeeze in a short walk to Grand High Tops.

At the Grand High Tops lookout, there is an amazing view of The Breadknife which is a 90-metre high dyke that stretches for half a kilometre. It was formed when volcanic processes and subsequent erosion sculpted an amazing rock formation that is like the blade of a knife ... see photos #10, #17, #21 ... especially #17.

If you have a full day

By the way, if you have a full day, you can go to more places:
    - Febar Tor
    - Macha Tor
    - Bress Peak
    - Spirey View
    - Breadknife
    - Grand High Tops
which is what I'll do 5 and a half years later in 2021 April.
Trip report is in this link:

Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungle National Park was once a huge volcano. By the time it uttered its last gasps 13 million years ago, the volcano had built up a vast shield that was 50 kilometres across and rose 1000 metres above the surrounding countryside. Millions of years of erosion have since stripped away successive layers of ash and lava, and the volcano's broad flanks have given way to the rugged landscape of today's Warrumbungle Range.

The impressive jumble of spires, dyke, and domes represent parts of the volcano's internal plumbing that, were it not for erosion, would otherwise be hidden from view. We are therefore presented with a rare opportunity to see the insides of a volcano.


•  1:50,000 scaled 8635-S Tooraweenah

Here is the 1:50,000 scale map of part of the Warrumbungle National Park.
(Warning: Some place labels are incorrectly placed.)
4 red arrows, left to right:
       1  Mt Exmouth
       2  Bluff Mountain
       3  Grand High Tops lookout (bottom right hand corner)
       4  Spirey View lookout

Here is a non-topographic map which is given out at the visitor centre at Camp Blackman. It is more accurate; and the names are better placed.

GPS tracklog file & Route

Our GPX tracklog file can be downloaded from:

Here is our tracklog (brown colour) in the 1:50,000 map.
(Warning: Some place labels are incorrectly placed.)
4 red arrows, left to right:
       1  Mt Exmouth
       2  Bluff Mountain
       3  Grand High Tops lookout (bottom right hand corner)
       4  Spirey View lookout

A summary of our route is:
- Start at Pincham carpark.  In the above map, it is where Pincham road ends.
- To Spirey View lookout.
- To Grand High Tops lookout, via east side of The Breadknife.
- Return is via west side of The Breadknife, called Dagda Short Cut. This track is shown on the 1:50,000 scaled map, but not named there.

Timeline & Distance

14:04   0.0 km  Start at Pincham carpark
14:46   3.1 km  At Spirey View lookout

14:52   3.2 km  Leave Spirey View lookout
15:18   4.6 km  At junction of main track & Dagda Shour Cut track
15:49   5.4 km  At Grand High Tops lookout

16:12   5.4 km  Leave Grand High Tops Lookout
16:47   7.0 km  At Balor Hut

16:50   7.1 km  Leave Balor Hut
16:53   7.2 km  At junction of Dagda Shour Cut track & main track
17:58  11.6 km  Finish at Pincham carpark


Total:  3 hrs 54 mins  at leisurely pace
           11.6 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           12.4 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS

Pictures - to Spirey Views lookout

1)  At Pincham Carpark, trailhead to Grand High Tops ~~~
The plaque on the monument on the left says:
To the memory of Alfred J. Pincham
Who donated much of the land in the park to the people.
The Pincham Trail commences at this monument."

2)  The trail is well formed. Whenever there is creek to cross, there is foot bridge.

3)  A large part of the trail is paved, even suitable for wheelchair. I have the feeling the National Parks authorities would like to pave the trail for most of the way.

4)  I would like to know the name of these 2 hills.

5)  At a lookout called Spirey View where I snap this pic (click on the pic to enlarge it.) ~~~
The arrows point to, from left to right:
- Belougery Spire
- Grand High Tops lookout. We are going there next.
- The Breadknife. We'll get a good view of it from Grand High Tops lookout.
- unnamed peak
- Balor Peak

To Grand High Tops

6)  Back on the main trail ~~~
When closer to The Breadknife and Grand High Tops, there are stairs to help you. The stairs are quite long, almost half a kilometer.

7)  On the way is this view of Belougery Spire.
Belougery Spire is a volcanic plug that illustrates a trachyte column of a volcano.

8)  Now at the start of The Breadknife ~~~
The Breatknife is a thin blade of dyke (see Photo #17) and stretches for half a kilometer.
In this pic, the neatly packed rocks remind one of the way the South American Incas built their monuments.

9)  On the trail and looking towards the north-east ~~~
- Left arrow points to Mt Woorut.
- Right arrow points to Siding Spring Observatory.

10)  The cliffs of The Breadknife

11)  The cliff of The Breadknife ~~~
We have been walking along the east side of The Breadknife.

12)  Grand High Tops lookout is in front.

13)  Grand High Tops

14)  The pillars form a gate to the lookout

At Grand High Tops lookout

15)  David and I at the Grand High Tops lookout ~~~
Belougery Spire is behind us.

This lookout is not the highest point of Grand High Tops. But the track goes through it; and it has a 360 degree panoramic view of the country side ... See the next 4 photos ... The sceneries are fantastic !

16)  This pic is towards the north-west. Bluff Mountain is on the left; and Mt Exmouth is on the right. We'll climb them both tomorrow.  ( Photos and an account of the Mt Exmouth & Bluff Mountain climbs are in my blog: ).
- Bluff Mountain is the largest lava dome (a trachyte dome) of the Warrumbungle volcano. It has a near-vertical 250-meter tall face.
- Mt Exmouth is supposed to be the highest mountain in the Warrumbungle at 1206 meters. Bluff Mountain is supposed to the 2nd highest at 1200 meters.
- But from my Garmin GPS: Bluff Mountain is higher at 1197 m; Mt Exmouth 1187 m.
- From DH's GPS: Bluff Mountain is also higher at 1189 m; Mt Exmouth 1181 m.
- And in Google Earth, if you hover the mouse over the 2 mountains: Bluff Mountain is higher at 1184 m; Mt Exmouth 1166 m.

The GPS figures can be inaccurate, but more importantly: Which mountain is actually higher ???

17)  Directly north is this magnificent view.
- Camp Blackman, where we'll camp out for tonight, is pointed to by the red arrow on the right.
- Pincham carpark, where our car is parked, is behind the hill pointed to by the red arrow on the left.
- The Breadknife is the paper thin vertical blades in the middle of the pic.
- The yellow arrows are our trail to Grand High Tops. The route passes on the right (east) side of The Breadknife.
- The return route is indicated by the lone yellow arrow on the left which is on the west side of the Breadknife.
I also think that on the left side of the above pic:
- The close by big dark hill near the left edge is Balor Peak.
- The far away small pyramid-shaped peak on the horizon, just to the right of Balor Peak is Mt Bullaway.

18)  Panning to the north-east ~~~
From left to right:
- 1st arrow: Mt Scabilon
- 2nd arrow: Mt Woorut
- 3rd arrow: Siding Spring Observatory
- 4th arrow: Belougery Spire, a volcanic plug that illustrates a trachyte column of a volcano.
- 5th arrow: Burrumbuckle Mountain

19)  Still at the Grand High Tops lookout, and directly due south ~~~
The arrows point to, from left to right:
- Rocky Mountain
- Crater Bluff, a classic trachyte volcanic plug approximately 250m tall
- Tonduron Spire

Descending the lookout

20)  We are now descending from the lookout.
Near the lookout is this rock tower, an easy one for the rock climbers.

On Dagda Short Cut track

21)  The Breadknife ~~~
We are now on Dagda Short Cut track - at the west side of The Breadknife. (We climbed up to Grand High Tops from the east side.)

22)  I saw this Crimson Rosella sitting on a tree. But by the time I take my camera out, it flies away.

23)  Still on the Dagda Short Cut track ... Passing Balor Hut ~~~
It was built by Carl Down in 1967 and was used by workers during the construction of the walking track. Now it is used as a shelter for park visitors.

24) Near Balor Hut, looking towards the north-east ~~~
The arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Scabilon
- Mt Woorut
- Siding Spring Observatory
- Unnamed peak
- Burrumbuckle Mountain

25)  This is where Dagda Short Cut track joins the main track (the staircase) to Grand High Tops. We now retrace our steps back to the car.


The following photos are taken today along the trail.

26)  Mushrooms on dead wood

27)  Swainsona - plenty of them along the trail

28)  Pinkish purplish daisy

29)  From Wikipedia, quote:
"Clematis glycinoides, commonly known as Headache Vine, is a climbing shrub of the family Ranunculaceae, found in eastern Australia and New Caledonia.
The species gains its common name from a folk use as a supposed remedy for headaches. The aroma from the crushed leaves is inhaled, appearing to relieve headaches as a result of the highly irritant properties of the resulting fumes."

30)  Perhaps Wahlenbergia stricta (Australian Bluebell)? Please let me know. All species of Wahlenbergia look similar to me  :-)

31)  If you know the name of this small yellow flower, please let me know.

32)  I wonder if this is the same flower as the previous pic.

Post Script

We stay at Camp Blackman for the night.
The next day, we go on to climb Mt Exmouth & Bluff Mountain.
Photos and trip report are in my blog:

5 and a half years later, in 2021 April, I'll have a full day for Grand High Tops. Hence I'll be able to visit more places:
    - Febar Tor
    - Macha Tor
    - Bress Peak
    - Spirey View
    - Breadknife
    - Grand High Tops
Photos and trip report are in my blog:


  1. The white flowers in 29) are Clematis (old man's beard)

  2. Clematis glycinoides (headache vine)

    1. Thank you!
      I've updated the trip report accordingly.


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