Grand High Tops Loop + additional detours

Tuesday 19th January – Thursday 21st of January 2021

Start Point: Camp Wambelong Parking (4:00pm) – Tueday 19th of January
End Point: Warrumbungles Information Centre (11:00am) – Thursday 21st of January

Alltrails Stats:
Distance: 34.70 km completed
Elevation: 1,714 m
Moving Time: 10:59:48 hrs
Total Time: Tuesday evening till Thursday morning
Calories Burnt: 4,642
Weather: Tops of 30’C during the day, Sunny. Windy at night. Cloudless at night. Varies.

Difficulty: 6/10 -> Taking distance/elevation/terrain into account. Not a difficult walk since done over 2.5 days. The only thing difficult about it was my pack weight. I carried a tripod and my camera gear with me.

It takes about 5 hour drive from Sydney. On a weekday, you will get the highway up to yourself most of the time.
Useful Note: If you’re camping in the park, chances are  you’re also here to stargaze at night, a good app to find out where the sweet spot the milky way will be and when it will show up is Photopills. We stargaze around 3:30am-5am both nights. I used this to find out where and when to take my photos of the sky/stars (just an amateur). The best time to visit is September to November.

Day 1
Camp Wambelong Parking to Danu Camp (6.7km , elev: 450m)
Mostly on firetrail, pretty easy going with a gradual incline. You’ll see a few wallabies casually hanging around on the way here, especially near the start at Camp Wambelong. We got here around 5:30pm, listen to the cricket on the radio (last 10 overs of Aus vs India Day 5), and then setup our tents and had dinner shortly after. Pitch black after 9:30pm for us to star gaze a bit.

If you have time, the Belougery Split Rock is a nice additional loop you should take (4.6km, 2hrs approx). Having done this in the past and us starting quite late, we skipped this one this time.

Useful Note: You’ll walk past Burbie Camp, there is opportunity to refill  your water here (relatively clean but best to still treat it with tablets, filters or boil it).

Day 2:
Danu Camp to Mount Exmouth and back for Sunrise (5.2km return (2.6km one way), elev: 350m)
Sunrise is at 6:19am, we set off around 5:30am. The climb up will take about 40 minutes (without packs). This is an amazing spot to catch the sunrise. Stayed up here for about an hour, was fairly windy. After coming down, we had our breakfast and then walked down to Burbie Camp (2km from Danu camp) to refill our waters.

Mt Exmouth over sunrise
Mt Exmouth over sunrise
Mt Exmouth over sunrise
Mt Exmouth over sunrise
Mt Exmouth over sunrise
Mt Exmouth over sunrise

Danu Camp to Dow’s Camp with a detour to Cathedral Arch (5.2km, elev: 350m)
Pretty straight forward walk to Dow’s Camp from Danu Camp, will take around 2 hours with the Cathedral Arch detour and breaks. We had our lunch here before climbing up to Bluff Mountain.

Dow’s Camp to Bluff Mountain and back (2.6km return, elev: 250m)
A 250m climb from Dow’s Camp, the lookout at the top provides one of the best views in Warrumbungles, quite similar to the view up in Mount Exmouth. Definitely worth a detour, we just left our packs at Dow’s Camp to climb up here, about 20 mins up, sat up here for 20 mins and then 15 mins down.

bluff mountain
Summit of Bluff Mountain

Dow’s Camp to Balor Hut via Grand High Tops Track  (3km, elev: 150m)
A small climb up to Lugh’s Throne, where you’ll get the best view of the grand high tops track.

Lugh’s Throne, top of Grand High Tops Track

We stayed up here for about 45 mins, met a fellow hiker and had a good chat. We initially booked our campsite at Hurleys Camp for the second night, but I called the park to check if we could camp at Balor Hut instead so I could do some night photos nearby with the hiker we met and they said all good. (They wasn’t anyone else camping there). If you’re camping at Balor Hut, there is a nice lookout spot nearby, only 5 minutes from camp (see no 5 waypoint on the alltrails link). This is where we did our star gazing and photos from 9pm-10pm and at 3:40am – 5am in the morning. After the first light starts to appear, we went back down and slept till the morning.

The photos above are 5 mins from Balor Hut.

Useful Note: There is rainwater tank here at Balor Hut, water is relatively clean, but best to still treat it with tablets, filters or boil it).

Day 3
Balor Hut to Warrumbungle Visitor Centre (6.5km, mostly descent)
If you have time, take a longer way back through Macha Tor and Febar Tor (Gould’s Circuit, this will add additional 3.5km and 200m of elevation. Worth a detour, have done this in the past and due to time, we used the shortcut back. At the Information Centre, the hiker we met gave me a lift back to Camp Wambelong to pick my car up. Otherwise it would be another 5km walk on the road.

Its a 5 hr drive back to Sydney, worth doing a stopover or have another driver so you can nap halfway, especially if you have been staying up to star gaze over the night!

Did you know:
In 2028, Warrumbungle National Park will fall inside the path of totality as a solar eclipse passes across Australia. Mark your calendars, the park will definitely sell our camping spots and accomodations in the nearby towns up to a year in advance! 

Interested in doing this? Here’s the alltrails recording I recorded:

Strava Details here:

Check out some photos here of what to expect:

Check out the Relive video here: