2016 November: Day walk - Cape Horn & Lawler Point from the west, Wolgan State Forest, NSW, Australia
Wolgan State Forest & Cape Horn
About Wolgan State Forest:
- It is east of Ben Bullen State Forest
- South of Gardens of Stone National Park
- West of Wolgan Road
About Cape Horn:
- The Cape Horn plateau is a small plateau in Wolgan State Forest. It juts out eastward from the Great Dividing Range in the Wolgan area.
- On the map, Cape Horn refers to a lookout at the eastern tip of the plateau.
- Wolgan Road runs between Cape Horn and Donkey Mountain.
Previous trip - to Cape Horn from the south
I have been to the Cape Horn area earlier ... 5 months ago in 2016-06, from the south, from Bill Lawler's property. Photographs and trip report are in my blog:
Today's trip - to Cape Horn from the west
During the above mentioned 2016-06 trip, Michael Keats pointed out that Cape Horn can also be accessed from the west. And so here I am today with four other walkers from All Nations Bushwalking Club:
To reach Cape Horn by car
This is the way we reach Cape Horn by car: (Also refer to the map below.)
- From Lithgow, go north on the Great Western Highway
- Turn right into Castlereigh Highway
- At Lisdale, turn right into Wolgan Road
- Then turn left into the dirt track called Baal Bone Trail
- Then onto The Bicentennial National Trail
- And finally turn right into an unnamed dirt track to Cape Horn
The Baal Bone Trail is rough and full of pot holes. You'll need a decent 4-wheel drive car to get through. An all-wheel drive car is not adequate enough.
On the way back, we go on The Bicentennial National Trail, also a dirt track, all the way to Wolgan Road. For the most part, it is just as bad as Baal Bone Trail. Further more, near the junction with Wolgan Road, the trail deteriorates markedly from bad to worse. The damage seems to have been done by trail bikers who frequented the area.
So, if you are heading to Cape Horn, don't go on The Bicentennial National Trail. Take Baal Bone Trail, and take a 4-wheel-drive.
- 1:25,000 scaled 8931-4S Ben Bullen and 8931-3N Cullen Bullen
- 1:100,000 scaled 8931 Wallerawang
Here is the 1:25,000 scaled map of the relevant part of today's walk.
GPS tracklog file & Route
Our GPX tracklog file can be downloaded from:
The same tracklog, red colour, superimposed on the 1:25,000 scaled map:
(Scroll forward to the satellite image for information on the places we'll visit today.)
Satellite image of the tracklog in red:
6 turquoise dots, from top to bottom:
- Where we climb up the cliff on the return trip
- Red ochre shale
- Where we climb down the cliff in the morning
- Where CB's car is parked
- The Chain
- Lawler Point
3 yellow dots, from left to right:
- Lookout #2
- Lookout #1
- Cape Horn lookout
A summary of our route is:
- Start from the carpark (In the above satellite image, it is the 4th turquoise dot from the top.)
- Climb down the cliff (3rd turquoise dot from the top)
- Along base of the cliffs to the saddle between the main cliffs and Cape Horn plateau
- To bottom of the chain (5th turquoise dot from the top)
- To Lawler Point (turquoise dot at the bottom)
- To lookout #1 (Middle one of the 3 yellow dots)
- To Cape Horn lookout (Right most yellow dot)
- To Lookout #2 (Left most yellow dot)
- Back to saddle between the main cliffs and Cape Horn plateau
- To red ochre shale (2nd turquoise dot from the top)
- Climb up the cliff (top most turquoise dot)
- To top of the chain (5th turquoise dot from the top)
- Return to car
Timeline & Distance
11:18 0.0 km Explore around where the car, CB's car is parked
11:31 0.1 km Start walking
11:57 0.7 km Start to climb down the cliff
One by one we climb down
12:02 0.7 km Start walking south, along the base of the cliffs
12:14 1.0 km At wrecked car just below where CB's car is parked
12:24 1.3 km At chain at bottom of cliff
12:27 1.3 km Resume walking
12:43 1.7 km At top of Lawler Point
13:10 1.8 km Resume walking
13:36 2.4 km At lookout #1
13:38 2.4 km Resume walking
13:47 2.8 km At Cape Horn lookout
14:04 2.9 km Turn back
14:32 3.9 km At lookout #2
14:42 3.9 km Resume walking
14:57 4.4 km At wrecked car just below where CB's car is parked (same as at 12:14)
15:06 4.7 km At where we climb down the cliff this morning
15:25 5.1 km Explore to find a way to climb up the cliff
15:35 5.2 km Resume walking
15:37 5.3 km Start to climb up the cliff
15:47 5.4 km At top of the cliff
16:07 5.5 km Resume walking
16:35 6.5 km At chain at top of cliff
16:44 6.6 km Turn around to return to car
16:51 6.8 km End at CB's car
Total: 5 hrs 33 mins
6.8 km Distance is from Google Earth
8.8 km Distance is from Garmin GPS
Pictures - Carpark at cliff edge above Cape Horn plateau
1) This is where CB's car is parked ... almost at the edge of the cliff. (I'm standing at the cliff edge and looking back.)
To the right of the car, you can see a dirt track ... we came from there.
2) (At the same spot where I took the previous photo, but looking in the opposite direction.)
Of the 3 pics below:
- Upper pic: Towards north-east. The green valley is where Barton Creek flows.
- Middle Pic: Continuation to the right of upper pic
• Donkey Mountain (towards east) is on the right half of the pic.
• To the left of Donkey Mountain is Wolgan Valley. Wolgan Road goes through there.
- Lower pic: Donkey Mountain is in the middle.
3) Continuation to the right of previous pic ~~~
- The rounded dome is Cape Horn ... we'll be going there.
- Looking down the cliff, you can see a wrecked white car driven off the cliff and dumped down below. See photo #12 for a closer look at the car.
4) Continuation to the right of previous pic ~~~
A good looking pagoda-like rock formation
Search for a way to climb down the cliff
We now walk north-ish in search of a way down the cliff.
5) Tash is going to be a star in this blog post ... because she is scantily dressed :-)
Did no one tell her it is off-track walking for the whole day? Or did she ignore what was said to her?
Lessons learnt: Never take someone on an off-track walk if he is not wearing protective clothings.
Lucky for Tash, no one had the heart to stop her from coming with us. And lucky for her, the scrub in the Cape Horn area is so mild as to be almost non-existent. Nonetheless, she did suffer some nasty scratches.
By the way, if you are interested in climbing Mt Kelly ... well, perhaps don't ... unless you are a masochist :-) But almost 2 years ago in 2015-01, I did manage to climb it. Photos and trip report are in:
6) One of many wonderful views from the edge of the cliff (Photographer: CB) ~~~
This one gives an overview of what we'll do for the rest of the day:
- First, to Lawler Point, red arrow on the right.
- Then to Cape Horn, red arrow at the centre of the pic.
• The Cape Horn lookout is behind the hill and can't be seen from here.
• Cape Horn plateau is the ridge between Cape Horn and Lawler Point.
- Then to a lookout on north side of Cape Horn plateau, red oval
- Red circle is Donkey Mountain. No, we won't be climbing it today :-)
- The road in front of Donkey Mountain is Wolgan Road. It winds its way up Wolgan Valley to the left of Donkey Mountain.
7) We try to go down this narrow slot. But it is too steep. (Photographer: CB)
NC on the right descended a little too far down and almost can't climb back up !
8) After the unsuccessful attempt of the previous pic, we walk further north, and lo and behold, some kind soul had tied a pink ribbon to a tree branch.
This is where we can climb down the cliff !
As Cape Horn is rarely visited (I think), and so it is a real surprise to find a pink ribbon here !
Climb down the cliff
9) This is it ... where we can climb down the cliff to Cape Horn plateau below. (Photographer: NC)
10) Looking back at the steep ramp cut into cliff face ... we just climbed down there.
And there is another pink ribbon marking this spot. It just gives the impression that people climb up and down here regularly.
We now go to investigate a chain hanging down from the top of a cliff.
11) We hug along the base of the cliffs, walking in a southerly direction.
12) Back at where we started walking ... but now at the bottom of the cliff instead ~~~
Is this wrecked car a Mitsubishi Pajero or Toyota Prado? It is the same as the one in photo #3. For what it is worth, the number plate is BSW 22V. (Photographer: CB)
13) We keep walking toward the south.
Left to right: Tash, FM, CB, NC
I wonder whether the track here is natural or made by foresters years ago?
14) Rounding this bend ... the chain is just beyond the left edge.
- Tash is leading, followed by FM.
15) Here is the chain. I have been here before, 5 months ago in 2016-06. For another photograph of this cliff and the chain, see photo #37 in my blog:
Due to lack of footholds, it will be difficult to use the chain to climb up the cliff from here. So the question is: What is the purpose of the chain doing here?
- In the afternoon, photo #65, we'll be at the top the cliff looking down at the chain.
- Right pic: It is the red square of the left pic.
16) After the chain, we turn east, cross a saddle to Cape Horn plateau. The first place we visit is this sandstone rock called Lawler Point; the top of which is highest point on the plateau.
Michael Keats and his party have been to Cape Horn at least twice:
- Once in 2011-07-18 ... he called the rock by a generic name, great boss.
- And once in 2016-06-11. I was with him in that trip. He called it simply as a large pagoda.
Normally Michael Keats would give a name to any prominent geographic feature he has visited. So it is unusual that he hasn't given this rock a name.
It is left to Bill Lawler to name the rock. Bill owns a property south of Cape Horn plateau. He has explored Cape Horn extensively ... well, it is his backyard :-) And he named it "Lawler Point".
17) NC charging up Lawler Point.
It is a steep climb, but should be manageable for most people.
18) We have lunch at the top.
- Upper pic, left to right: FM, Tash, CB
- Lower pic, left to right: FM, NC, Tash, me (Photographer: CB)
360-degree panorama from Lawler Point
Being the highest point on the Cape Horn plateau, The top of Lawler Point has a fantastic 360-degree view of the surrounding country side.
19) From north to east (Click on the image to enlarge it.) ~~~
- Entire area in the foreground: Cape Horn plateau.
- Green valley stretching from left to middle of the pic: Where Barton Creek flows.
- Red arrow: Points to a lookout on top of a pagoda (lookout #1 in this report) ... our next destination.
- Larger red oval: An interesting rocky outcrop. We won't visit it today. Maybe next time when I'm here again.
- Smaller red oval: Donkey Mountain
- Cape Horn lookout: Just behind the round dome (the blunt end of the red arrow) and is not visible from here. (Directly east)
20) Panorama to the right of previous pic ~~~
Red arrow is due south and points to Wolgan Gap. Wolgan River & Wolgan Road go through there.
- Upper pic: South-east
- Lower pic: South-west
21) Continuation to the right of previous pic (Photographer: CB) ~~~
- Red arrow: Where the chain is, more or less directly west.
• Earlier on, we were at the bottom of the chain (photo #15).
• Towards the end of the trip, we'll be at the top of the cliff looking down at the chain (photos #65).
- Notice there are 2 tiers to the cliffs. 5 months ago, in 2016-06, In a party led by Bill Lawler, we walked on both the middle ledge and also along the bottom of the cliffs. See photo #21 in the this link:
22) Continuation to the right of previous pic (Click on the image to enlarge it.) ~~~
- Red arrow on the left: The chain, more or less directly west ... see commentary to the previous pic.
- Yellow arrows: The later part of the trip will be to climb up the cliffs and walk along the yellow arrows to where the top of the chain is.
- Turquoise dashes: We drove the car on the dirt track to here in the morning.
- Red arrow on the right: Where we climbed down the cliff earlier on. See photo #9.
- Continuation to the right of this pic is photo #19, thus completing a 360-degree panorama.
Climb down Lawler Point
23) It is quite steep, and Tash is the star :-)
On the way to Cape Horn lookout
After Lawler Point, we head for Cape Horn lookout.
24) CB walks through the forest floor, while ...
25) ... while the rest of us pass under an overhang ~~~
The 3 pics below are of the same overhang. The 2 red ovals circle the same slab of rock fallen off the ceiling.
- Upper pic, left to right: Me, Tash, NC, FM (Photographer: CB)
26) Typical forest scene in Cape Horn plateau ... an open forest, easy to walk through.
- Left to right: NC, FM, Tash, CB
27) We make a short detour to a lookout on top of this pagoda.
28) Scenery from the top of the pagoda ~~~
- Left arrow: Wolgan Gap (towards south) ... Wolgan River & Wolgan Road go through there.
- Right arrow: Lawler Point (towards east), we climbed to its top not long ago.
Cape Horn lookout
29) After lookout #1, we come to Cape Horn lookout ... this is as far east as we can go.
30) View from Cape Horn lookout, nice, but not the 360-degree panorama from Lawler Point ~~~
- Red circle: Donkey Mountain, east-north-east-ish
- Red arrow: Towards south, pointing at Wolgan Gap ... Wolgan River & Wolgan Road go through there.
- CB is at the left edge.
- Tash's leg is at the right edge :-)
(Click on the image to enlarge it.)
31) The 2 pics below are similar to the above:
- Upper pic: Donkey Mountain, towards east-north-east-ish
- Lower pic: Me and Wolgan Gap (red arrow, towards south) ... Photographer: CB
32) After Cape Horn lookout, we turn back and aim for a lookout on the north side of Cape Horn plateau.
- Upper pic: I wonder whether the grass on the ground is Lomandra confertifolia? By the way Wikipedia says it is a perennial herbs in the genus Lomandra. Although it appears grass-like, it is not in the grass family.
- Lower pic: Tash
Flowers on the Cape Horn plateau
33) Leptospermum, commonly known as Tea Trees
34) Either Stypandra glauca (Nodding Blue Lily) or Dianella caerulea (Blue Flax Lily, Paroo Lily) ~~~
Can someone please explain to me the difference between the two.
35) Platylobium obtusangulum (Common Flat-pea)
36) Calytrix tetragona (Fringe Myrtle)
37) Boronia algida (left), and Zieria (right) ~~~
Boronia and Zieria look similar to each other. From Wikipedia:
- Boronia: Each flower has 5 sepals, 5 petals, 8 stamens.
- Ziera: Each flower has 4 sepals, 4 petals, 4 stamens.
But the Boronia below has 4 petals and 8 stamens !
At lookout #2
38) We come to a lookout on the cliff edge on the north side of Cape Horn plateau ... NC is already there, standing on top of a rock.
39) As you can see, the lookout is a rocky outcrop. The 2 pics below are taken from the same spot.
- Upper pic: NC & Tash ... The rock in the red circle is the same rock where NC was standing on in the previous pic.
- Lower pic: Turning around and looking back at Cape Horn plateau ... the red arrow points to Lawler Point. (Photographer: CB)
40) Zooming onto Lawler Point of the previous pic ~~~
Lawler Point is like a lighthouse, you can see it from everywhere around Cape Horn plateau, and so not surprisingly, from here too.
41) We take turns to pose on the rock, red circle of photo #39 :-)
- Clockwise: Tash, FM, NC, CB
42) CB goes down a bit to get better pictures of Barton Creek and its valley.
43) From north-north-west to east (continuation to the right of previous pic) ~~~
The lookout has a nice view of the green valley where Barton Creek flows.
- Red circle: Donkey Mountain, east-north-east
44) View from west to north-north-west (continuation to the left of previous pic) ~~~
Looking at the cliffs where we were this morning:
- Left red arrow: Where the car is parked (west).
- Right red arrow: Where we climbed down the cliffs this morning (north-west) ... photo #9.
Return to saddle between Cape Horn and cliffs to its west
We now return to the cliffs where we came from this morning.
45) Passing by some interesting rocks
At saddle between Cape Horn and cliffs to its west
46) We are at the saddle, between Cape Horn plateau and the main cliffs to its west.
The 2 photos below are taken at the saddle, towards different directions.
The upper pic is the same scene as the lower pic of photo #11 in my 2016-06 trip to Cape Horn:
47) This is the same termite mound seen in the previous 2 photos.
It is also the same termite mound in photo #12 of my 2016-06 trip to Cape Horn:
Along base of cliffs
48) Now walking northward, along the base of the cliffs ... this morning we walked in the opposite direction (photo #11).
- Upper pic: Identical to photo #13
- Lower pic, left to right: NC, CB, Tash
At a small enclosure
49) Shortly after we pass the spot where we climbed down the cliff this morning (photo #10), we come to a small opening. So we go in to check it out.
It is a small enclosure inside.
50) Inside the enclosure, there is an arm on the right.
- Upper pic: We go into this arm.
- Lower pics: The arm terminates here. FM is posing ... An agile rock climber maybe able to climb up the tree trunk and up the cliff which is what we want to do. But it looks too difficult. (Photographer: NC)
We exit out of the enclosure and keep walking north.
A layer of red ochre shale
51) Then we come to a layer of red ochre shale.
52) Tash having fun playing with the red ochre (Photographer: NC)
Find a way up the cliffs
53) We keeping walking north to find a way to climb up the cliffs.
Ramps up the cliffs
54) CB finds a ramp up the cliffs. Tash follows.
There are 3 ramps leading to the top of the cliffs. The previous pic is the first one.
After climbing up the first ramp, we are on a level ledge. Walk along it for a little bit and ...
55) ... and we are here, at the second ramp.
- Left pic: CB
- Right pic, top to bottom: CB, FM, Tash
- I am behind Tash. But NC chooses another way up ... see photo #56.
56) Instead of climbing up the ramp of the previous pic, NC climbs up the cliff face instead. (This pic is continuation to the left of the previous one.)
57) Half way up the ramp of photo #55, I overtook Tash. And now I am at the top of the ramp watching Tash climbing up.
58) At where the 2nd ramp ends, here is the 3rd ramp.
- Left pic: Bottom of the 3rd ramp. FM is on the left; Tash on the right.
- Right pic: I'm half way up the 3rd ramp and looking down at Tash.
At top of the cliffs
59) Finally, we are at the top of the cliffs.
- Left to right: CB, Tash, NC
60) From the cliff edge, we have this view of of the green valley where Barton Creek flows.
- Lower pic: Continuation to the right of the upper pic ... The red oval is Donkey Mountain, directly east.
61) Still at the cliff edge ~~~
- Cape Horn is in the centre of the pic.
- The large pagoda on the right side of the pic is on top of the cliffs above Cape Horn plateau ... It is not Lawler Point.
To top of chain
In photo #15, we were at the bottom of the chain. Now we are going to check out the top of the cliff where the chain is anchored.
62) Walking in a roughly southerly direction ~~~
I am amazed to see the pink ribbons tied to tree trunks/branches (the red arrows). This is quite a remote place. Why would anyone take the trouble to tie the ribbons here, and for what purpose? Is it to guide bushwalkers back to the carpark after climbing up the ramps in photos #54 to #58? But any one willing to come here would know how to navigate in the bush and doesn't need these ribbons.
63) Passing through this interesting rocky area.
- Upper pic, left to right: NC, Tash, FM
- The rock pillar in the red oval is the same pillar where FM is standing on in the lower pics.
64) At another rocky area
At top of chain
65) In photo #15, we were at the bottom of the cliff looking up at the chain. Now we are at the top of the cliff looking down ... the chain is inside the red oval.
It is strange the chain is not anchored at the top of the cliff. It is anchored a bit down and not easy to access. Why? And what is the purpose of the chain doing here?
66) A fine panorama from where the chain is
- Upper pic: The prominent rocky hill is Lawler Point.
- Lower pic: Continuation to the right of upper pic ... Red arrow points to Wolgan Gap (due south). Wolgan River & Wolgan Road go through there.
67) Found this Leucochrysum graminifolium (Pagoda Rock Daisy) on the cliff edge ~~~
They only grow in the Lithgow/Newnes district and no where else in the world. And they only grow on exposed pagoda-like rock formations, and require hardly any soil.
Return to car
Time to call it a day and return to the car.
68) Passing a rock pillar ~~~
- Left to right: NC & CB ... whenever there is a rock pillar, you'll find NC in this pose :-)
69) Back at the carpark ~~~
- Left to right: NC, FM
The Bicentennial National Trail
70) Photographer: CB
On the drive back, CB stops the car here at a lookout by the side of The Bicentennial National Trail. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
- The green valley in the centre of the pic is Wolgan Valley.
- The 3 red arrows point to, from left to right:
• Lawler Point
• Cape Horn lookout
• Donkey Mountain
- Between Lawler Point and Cape Horn lookout is Cape Horn plateau. We can just barely see the top of the plateau ... most of it is blocked by a finger of land in the foreground jutting out from the main range.
71) After the lookout of the previous pic, I advise CB to take The Bicentennial National Trail all the way to Wolgan Road ... reasoning that it maybe less rough than Baal Bone Trail that we drove on to Cape Horn this morning. Well, it turns out to be a hairy ride ... just look at the 2 pics below (taken close to the junction with Wolgan Road)! NC and I bail out on the pretext of taking photos. Actually we are afraid that CB may roll his car down the slope :-)
- Upper pic: Me (Photographer: NC)
- Lower pic: NC taking photos
Today's walk is quite interesting. There are:
- Cliffs to climb
- Tall pagoda (Lawler Point) to scramble up
- Lookouts aplenty
- Red ochre shale to play with if you are so inclined
- A chain whose purpose is unknown ... and a challenge to the adventurous to climb it