New England National Park is easily one of the most underrated national parks in New South Wales (NSW). Located on the stunning Northern Tablelands, New England National Park is a beautiful area with amazing walks. There are eight fantastic walking tracks in the national park, featuring epic lookouts, glorious rainforest and serene cascades. In this article, you’ll find details about the most popular walks in New England National Park, such as the Wrights Lookout, Point Lookout and Eagles Nest Walking Tracks.
So, if you’re up for brilliant walks in one of the best national parks in NSW, you’ve made the right choice to hike in New England National Park! Read our article to learn more about the most breathtaking trails and how to fit them into your hiking itinerary.
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New England National Park, NSW, Australia
New England National Park is one of the best national parks in northern NSW. Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, this national park is packed full of natural beauty. By doing all or at least some of the walks in New England National Park, you’ll experience the best that this area has to offer. With the longest walk only being around three hours or so, it’s even possible to pack all of these walks into one or two glorious days of hiking. Alternatively, these walks could be very comfortably spread over a few days!
New England National Park Walks
Undoubtedly, one of the best things to do in New England National Park is do the stunning walks on offer. That way, you can explore and soak in the gorgeous scenic landscape. With this said, let’s talk about the best eight walking tracks in the national park. Personally, Beck and I combined many of the walking tracks, meaning we completed three epic walks in New England National Park. This is reflected in our descriptions of the walks below.
Check for walking track closures on the local alerts page for New England National Park on the NSW National Parks website. In 2022, long-term walking track closures were announced for Eagles Nest Walking Track, access to Weeping Rock and the lower eastern section of the Lyrebird Walking Track.
Wrights Lookout and Cascades Walking Tracks
- Type: Out & Back (Wrights Lookout) with Loop (Cascades Walking Track)
- Distance: 8km
- Time: 2.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 340m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Thungutti Campground
By combining the Wrights Lookout and Cascades Walking Tracks, you’ll have yourself the best walk in New England National Park. Not only is Wrights Lookout one of the best places to see the sunrise in NSW, but the Cascades Walking Track is an incredibly serene hike in its own right.
Keep in mind, that the Wrights Lookout is best kept for a sunrise walk. Beck and I were absolutely blown away by the sunrise there, so it’s certainly worth planning your trip around this!
So if you’re keen on heading to Wrights Lookout for sunrise, you’ll be setting off in the dark, starting your hike on the flat and wide Robinson’s Knoll Trail from Thungutti Campground. After around 1.5km, you’ll arrive at the Robinson’s Knoll Trail three-way junction.
Keeping left follows the Robinson’s Knoll Trail, which is for those completing the multi-day New England Wilderness Walk (maybe we’ll do this one day!) The trailhead sharply to the right is for the Cascades Walking Track, which you’ll do afterwards. The middle trail, which begins to veer to the right is the trail to follow for Wrights Lookout.
This trail begins to steeply climb, and as you gain more elevation, your surroundings begin to reveal with the emerging sunlight. After 500 metres or so, you’ll arrive at a flattened plateau with patches of heathland, signalling your arrival at Wrights Lookout.
1. Wrights Lookout Walking Track
There are plenty of options for watching the sunrise at Wrights Lookout. Feel free to explore the flat and exposed plateau for your optimal viewing location! After arriving at Wrights Lookout, we ventured slightly left and forward nearing the edge of the lookout and found some rocks to sit and enjoy the sensational sunrise.
We also found other great views further to the right, when exploring after sunrise. Either way, you’re bound to experience one of the best sunrises in NSW!
2. Cascades Walking Track
After a glorious sunrise at Wrights Lookout, head back to Robinson’s Knoll Junction because it’s time for the amazing Cascades Walking Track. If you’re a keen speed hiker, you’ll be able to walk back to the junction much quicker, now that you can actually see the trail post-sunrise!
Once you begin the Cascades Walking Track, you’ll be surrounded by dense rainforest, which is quite dissimilar to the more exposed Wrights Lookout Walking Track. Being golden hour, the light will begin to penetrate the forest, revealing the vivid green of the forest floor. The narrow, flat and winding path eventually takes a left turn, descending more sharply down to Five Day Creek, where you’ll have a feast of cascades to enjoy.
Take care as you follow the side of the creek – Beck and I found this part of the track quite challenging with a few slippery edges and unstable terrain. Despite the difficulty, walking by the many cascades was truly stunning. The Antarctic Beech Forest landscape is breathtaking, making this one of the best walks in New England National Park.
Once you’ve finished this part of the track, you’ll have a steep climb when departing the creek. You’ll then rejoin the drier forest trail and soon enough, you’ll arrive back at the trailhead. From there, you’ll finish the walk by completing the return journey of the Wrights Lookout Walking Track.
Snow Gum, Eagles Nest & Point Lookout Walking Tracks
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 2.5km
- Time: 1 hour
- Accumulated elevation gain: 160m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Point Lookout Car Park
The Snow Gum, Point Lookout and Eagles Nest Walking Tracks are again, a combination of trails, which form an excellent hiking route. Albeit, the Point Lookout Walking Track is a mere 500 metres. So, the majority of the walk takes place on the fantastic Eagles Nest Walking Track. Yet, the highlight of this walk is perhaps the incredible Point Lookout.
Similar to our sunrise recommendation for Wrights Lookout, we urge you to time your visit to the Point Lookout for sunset – you won’t be disappointed! There was a bit of cloud cover when we visited Point Lookout. So, we didn’t experience the most spectacular of sunsets. But even so, the rolling mist and improving visibility made for epic views. Given that you want to visit Point Lookout for sunset, it makes sense to start with the Snow Gum walking tracks. You’ll then complete the Eagles Nest Walking Track and then finish with Point Lookout.
The Snow Gum and Eagles Nest walking tracks are superb trails that enter the luscious Antarctic Beech forest and have many great lookouts. We chose to walk this combined trail loop in an anti-clockwise direction, but it doesn’t really matter which direction you choose!
3. Snow Gum Walking Track
If you follow in our footsteps and choose to walk anti-clockwise, the windy path, starting from the end of Point Lookout Road, soon takes you to a couple of lookouts along the Snow Gum Walking Track. First, the Platypus Valley Lookout and then another unnamed viewpoint. The light drizzle and low mist meant we didn’t have exceptional views from these lookouts.
4. Snow Gum Link Track
From the Snow Gum Walking Track, you’ll join the Eagles Nest Walking Track. At this junction, there is a short walking track called the Snow Gum Link Track that leads to a parking area along Point Lookout Road. We highly recommend doing this walk as a short out and back walk. The short and easy trail brilliantly showcases the beautiful rainforest in the area.
5. Eagles Nest Walking Track
Thereafter, you’ll join Eagles Nest Walking Track and find yourself immersed in a beautiful mossy forest. The waking track then leads you to the Weeping Rock – a green-faced cliff wall that dribbles water. With the grey skies above, our photos could not do this place justice with the poor lighting. But, the Weeping Rock and surrounding forest were nevertheless, really special.
Following Weeping Rock, the trail winds its way to another viewpoint – this time, it’s the official Eagles Nest Lookout. Fingers crossed you have better visibility than when we visited. Even so, we managed to enjoy a decent view of the vast array of mountain ranges.
6. Point Lookout Walking Track
After Eagles Nest Lookout, you’ll begin to wind up an ascending trail that quickly arrives back at Point Lookout. There are actually two lookouts at Point Lookout – one unnamed and the other, the official Point Lookout.
Truth be told, the unnamed lookout is probably the better of the two lookouts as fewer trees are impeding your views. We enjoyed the sweeping Northern Tablelands from this lookout even more than from Point Lookout.
Still, the views from Point Lookout were quite remarkable.
Tea Tree Falls and Lyrebird Walking Tracks
- Type: Out & Back (Tea Tree Falls) with Loop (Lyrebird Walking Tracks)
- Distance: 10km
- Time: 3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 405m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Thungutti Campground
For the third and final walk in New England National Park, you’ll again, combine multiple walking tracks – Tea Tree Falls and Lyrebird Walking Tracks. Although this combined trail isn’t quite as epic as the two other New England National Park walks, both tracks offer something a little different.
The Tea Tree Falls Walking Track is a much more relaxed and gentle trail with a luscious forest to enjoy. On the other hand, the Lyrebird Walking Track is more physically demanding, with an undulating trail that meanders through thick forest and also cuts through exposed landscapes. When combined together, you have an enjoyable but challenging trail with mixed difficulty and varied natural attractions.
7. Tea Tree Falls Walking Track
To begin, walk the initial 2km of the Tea Tree Falls Walking Track from the Thungutti Campground. If there aren’t any other hikers around, you’ll at least have the noisy black cockatoos as a company in nature. When we visited, we didn’t see Tea Tree Falls, which is found with some off-trail exploration.
After 2km, you’ll meet a trail intersection that joins the Lyrebird Walking Track. We decided to continue straight, which connects you to the other side of the Lyrebird Walking Track. This short section steeply descends into the forest before ascending sharply. From there, we turned left and completed the Lyrebird Walking Track in an anti-clockwise direction.
8. Lyrebird Walking Track
The upper loop of the Lyrebird Walking Track (think of this trail like a figure of eight), is probably the most beautiful part of the walk. If following anti-clockwise, as shown above, the trail gradually descends as you approach the outskirts of the Eagles Nest Walking Track, and then continues to descend as you complete the upper loop of the figure eight. Along the way, you’ll find luscious forest terrain, including large boulders that form a cool little split rock formation.
You’ll have a sense of déjà vu as you complete the upper loop of the Lyrebird Waking Track and return to the same junction you arrived at when you completed the first 2km of the Tea Tree Falls Walking Track. But youe walk isn’t over yet, so continue straight! The trail continues to descend, passing through the incredible forest.
Eventually, you’ll leave the forest and enter much more exposed terrain. The transition from lush forest to dry heathland is fairly swift. It feels like you’ve transcended onto a completely new walking trail! The exposed track provides sweeping views of the Northern Tablelands for the first time on this walk.
Soon enough, you’ll wind around the bottom loop of the figure eight that makes the Lyrebird Track, touching the outskirts of the Robinsons Knoll Trail. As the trail sends you back northwards towards Point Lookout, you’ll be surrounded once more by thick forest. Completing this walk anti-clockwise means the home stretch is quite steep and a good workout! Eventually, you’ll cross back over to the Tea Trees Falls Track and retrace your steps back to the Thungutti Campground.
New England National Park Walks Recap
These New England National Park walks are some of the best hiking you can experience in northern NSW. There are mindblowing lookouts, spectacular rainforests and challenging hiking trails – what more could you want? Better yet, New England National Park walks never seem to get too busy. So, whenever you choose to visit, you’re guaranteed a peaceful national park, mostly filled with noise from the local wildlife.
Below, we’ll look at some logistics to help you plan your trip to the national park.
How to Get to New England National Park
From Sydney, New England National Park is around 7 hours away; and from Brisbane, around 8.5 hours. So realistically, a weekend trip to New England National Park might not be on the cards from these destinations. You may have to smash out the best New England National Park walks as part of a long weekend trip or even as part of a longer trip.
FYI – if you’re completing the magnificent Waterfall Way, you’ll find the time to get from Armidale to New England National Park is around 75–90 minutes.
There are no public transport options for getting to or around the national park. Indeed, you’ll need to drive there. Personally, Beck and I drove in a 2WD and managed fine.
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
New England National Park Walks Parking
Thankfully, there is plenty of parking at the trailheads for all of the walks in New England National Park. Both the Wrights Lookout and Cascades Walking Tracks, as well as the Tea Tree Falls and Lyrebird Walking Tracks, start from Thungutti Campground, where there is ample space to park. For the Snow Gum, Point Lookout and Eagles Nest Walking Tracks, there is a large car park at Point Lookout.
Camping at New England National Park
When it comes to New England National Park camping, there is one option – Thungutti Campground.
Given New England National Park is a little out of the way, it’s best to camp in the national park to make the most of your time there. Admittedly, the Thungutti Campground is one of our favourite NSW National Park campgrounds.
Beck and I camped at Thungutti Campground, which is very conveniently located if you’re keen to tackle these New England National Park walks. Not only that, but this campground is absolutely superb. Sure, there are only basic facilities (such as one cold shower), but there is free firewood, picnic tables, BBQs and toilets – all of these things are a luxury when compared to some other remote NSW National Park campsites.
Camping there is relatively cheap (usually around $12), which when you think about it, is an absolute steal considering how beautiful this campground is!
We camped for just one night, before heading to the nearby Cathedral Rock National Park, where we camped at Barokee Campground.
New England National Park Accommodation
Hiking Gear Essentials For New England National Park
Here are some gear essentials to ensure enjoyable and memorable hiking in New England National Park.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Camping Gear Essentials for New England National Park
Here are some camping gear essentials to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable time camping in the national park.
Nearby Shops and Facilities
Being located around the halfway point of the stunning Waterfall Way, New England National Park and the Thungutti Campground are somewhat remote. So, it’s best to stock up on some supplies at either Armidale, Coffs Harbour or Dorrigo (depending on where you’re visiting from) before you head to New England National Park. Ebor would be the closest town, but there are no supermarkets there.
- Head to Wrights Lookout for sunrise, even in unideal weather: despite a poor weather forecast, we still decided to hike to Wright Lookout for sunrise. Honestly speaking, we hesitated when our alarm went off early because of the rain and howling winds we could hear from inside our tent. But even without a completely clear sky, the sunrise was absolutely amazing!
- Follow the mantra – each to their own: if you want to do some shorter walks in New England National Park, no problemo! Simply break up the combined walks we described above into their respective individual walking tracks.
- Visit any time of year: New England National Park is stunning all year round, so visit whenever! Of course, check the New England National Park weather before you go.
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