Lake Lyell, Newnes and the Glow Worm Tunnel

Lake Lyell, Newnes and the Glow Worm Tunnel

With a new ute parked in the garage, we were itching get out and put some dirt on it. We eventually settled on a trip to the glow worm tunnel, nestled in the Wollemi National Park, followed by a little camping at Lake Lyell.

We headed out early on Saturday morning, stopping off at the Pines Orchard in Bilpin for fresh apple pies, and a cup of coffee. For anyone travelling through this area, I can highly recommend this convenient roadside stop – the apple pies are to die for.

Our next planned stop was at Hillbilly Cider, which was unfortunately not yet open. On the upside, it meant we had an hour to kill, which meant we could explore some of the local trails. We opted for the Burralow Firetrail so that we could also check out the Burralow Creek Camping Ground (for potential future trips).

The trail itself was easy, with only a few short, steep, rocky climbs that posed no problem for the stock Triton. For those interested in the tough stuff, there were some great looking side trails with far more difficult obstacles.

Driving the Burralow Firetrail
Driving the Burralow Firetrail

But it’s not only about the difficulty, but also the beauty. And it was certainly a scenic, 10km, drive into the Burralow Creek Campground. I was truely amazed by how well the campsite was maintained, considering it’s free. The toilets (long drops) were clean and odour free, the grass was short, and there were plenty of BBQ areas scattered around.

Back on the mail road we stopped off at Hillbilly Cider, where Sharon enjoyed the tasting (and bought far too much alcohol). The kids meanwhile played on the lawns, while enjoying the fresh, free apples they were given.

With our drink supply sorted we continued on to the Glow Worm Tunnel. We left the main road at the Zig Zag Railway, and drove the 30km Glow Worm Trail. It was an easy route which any vehicle with decent ground clearance could tackle (in dry weather). That said, it was heavily potholed, which meant we had to drive both slowly and carefully. The highlight of the trail was definitely driving through a pitch black tunnel, barely wide enough for the ute.

On route to the Glow Worm Tunnel
On route to the Glow Worm Tunnel

Two other cars were already parked at the Glow Worm Tunnel parking when we arrived. Again, I was impressed by how well it was maintained, including great informational boards on the walk and the tunnel.

The 1.4km walk was flat and easy, with just a single short staircase to contend with. The scenery was incredible, and not unlike a scene from Jurassic Park with gorgeous ferns and small canyons.

We were lucky that the tunnel was empty when we arrived, as the other visitors had already left. We entered slowly, taking advantage of our torches, to help guide us along the rocky bottom, covered by trickling streams. The tunnel curved slowly to the left, so we walked until we could no longer see the light from the entrance. I was truly amazed that when we turned off our torches it was literally, pitch black. I couldn’t see any light bleed at all.

One by one, the glow worms began to light up, showing off their blight, blue sheen. The view was not dissimilar to looking up at a stary sky on a clear night. Truely amazing! The worms were far smaller than I’d expected, and I battled to find them on the walls, even when I knew where they were.

The glow worm tunnel is 400 meters long, and was built in the early 1900s as part of a railway line, for the Newnes’ mining industry. You can walk entirely through it, but we turned around when we were done, and headed back the way we’d come.

Back at the car we enjoyed a few pies for lunch, while a lyrebird wandered though the brush, imitating dripping water.

It was getting late in the day, and I was not looking forward to the 30km, pothole filled drive, back to the main road. Amazingly, it went by quickly, and seemed far less potholed than I’d remembered. Even better, we took a wrong turn and accidentally ended up driving straight into Lithgow, cutting precious time off our journey.

We arrived at Lake Lyall in the early afternoon, and quickly setup camp. I was hoping to get in some fly fishing, but decided to spend some time with the kids, at the playground, instead.

Dinner consisted of curry and naan, heated on our new portable camping stove. For you campers out there, these portable stoves are a great addition to your camping inventory, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rest of the chilly evening was spent around a roaring fire, drinking apple cider, and laughing with the kids who were wrapped up in their sleeping bags.

After a chilly night we arose to a mist covered Lake Lyall. After a quick walk along a busy shoreline, I decided to skip the fishing, which I decided would’ve been better from a boat.

Instead we made egg and bacon rolls, and picnicked at the playground. When the sun had finally burned the dew off our tent, we dropped camp, and slowly made our way back home.

Welcome to the family Triton! Here’s to many more adventures…

Panoramic view of Lake Lyall
Panoramic view of Lake Lyall