Narrabri is hiding a magical place, a little piece of heaven – Mt Kaputar National Park, just 52 kilometres east of the town. They call it the window in the sky, for on a clear day the view stretches for miles, over 10% of the state from the top of Mt Kaputar itself. At 1512 metres this mountain was formed when two volcanoes erupted over 17 million years ago, creating the Nandewar Range. Erosion has left lava terraces and rocky slopes to be explored.
My husband Graeme and I drove in to the southern end of the park on a hot dry day. It was an easy road, bitumen for the most, winding in and up from the surrounding agricultural country. Through semi-arid woodlands and eucalypt trees we glimpsed spectacular rock formations towering overhead, or gazed out on the seemingly endless plains. The National Park offers a number of walking tracks, something for every fitness or interest level, from a steep climb to a crater to the sorts of walks a wheelchair can access.
Our first destination – the Doug Sky lookout, named in honour of the engineer who designed the road to Mt Kaputar. This lookout was accessible easily for someone like me who has severe rheumatoid arthritis. We parked next to it! Usually lookouts require long walks that are outside my capabilities. There was an excellent view to Euglah Rock, an impressive volcanic outcrop, rolling hills behind and the country to the south. A number of other lava formations could be seen too. This National Park was ticking all the right boxes – views and accessibility!
Continuing we came across the West Kaputar Rock lookout, with a very short boardwalk to a massive rock face some 50 metres above us, dropping to forested slopes below. My jaw was dropping and staying that way. The volcanic activity from all that time ago had left behind incredible scenery.
Finally we reached the summit of Mt Kaputar, well as far as I could go anyway. Graeme climbed quite a few steps to the viewing platform and was rewarded with 360° views, not 10% as it wasn’t a clear day but still impressive. I enjoyed the stillness and peace of the surrounding bush as we were the only people there. This was a good place for a cuppa as there were picnic tables. I find that even a cuppa and biscuits tastes better when eaten out in the bush with only the birds for company.
At the Bark Hut camping area Graeme walked down to the Euglah Rock lookout. This was too steep for me, I occupied myself watching the colourful parrots flitting in and out of the leaves above me. The bird life was prolific, I saw kites, cockatoos, magpies, currawongs, galahs and a kookaburra amongst others I didn’t recognise.
Returning to Narrabri for lunch we then headed to the northern end of the park, following the picturesque Killarney Gap Road for about 30 kilometres, to a car park for the Sawn Rocks lookout. A 750 metre walk along a tarred surface then a metal boardwalk, meandering through eucalypts, figs and ferns, meant that I could make it to the base of this formation with the aid of my walking frame. Jutting from the dry bed of a creek some 40 metres into the air, the sun shining on the surface, molten rock had cooled into columns aligned with each other, forming organ pipes. Geologists reckon there is far more beneath the ground. More jaw dropping.
Mt Kaputar National Park was quiet, peaceful and most of all, accessible. It was remote enough to feel that we left civilisation behind. It had history in that bushrangers had hidden out here in the past. Geologically ancient the volcanic activity and subsequent erosion meant unusual formations. What more can one ask?
Narrabri’s hidden gem – well worth a visit.