|Maps:||LPI Hilltop 8929-2N 1:25000|
Ahearn Lookout is a spectacular lookout at the end of a fairly flat ridge in the Middle Nattai, offering views of the Nattai Gorge, and of Mt Jellore and Russells Needle to the south. The lookout is over 350m above the river, and can be reached by a relatively easy walk on a mix of fire trail and unmarked foot track.
It can be combined with Starlights Track to make a longer day.
The walk starts from the car park at the end of Wattle Ridge Road, in Hill Top.
Coming from Sydney, take the Hume Highway (M31) south, and take Exit 10 (Church Ave) signposted to Colo Vale, Hill Top and Yerrinbool. Turn right at the roundabout to cross the freeway, and then right again on to Wilson Dr after 1.6km, just before crossing the abandoned railway. After 5.2km turn left on to Chalker Parade, and then follow the road around to the right after it crosses the old railway line, and becomes West Parade. This takes you into the village of Hill Top, which includes the Hilltop Village Bakery and Cafe, opening early on the weekends.
Continue along West Parade. As the road veers north-west, it becomes Wattle Ridge Road. Not far out of the village the bitumen ends, and it becomes a generally good quality dirt road, 2wd accessible under normal conditions. Follow this to the car park at a locked gate, opposite the private property of Wattle Ridge. There is parking for around 8-10 cars, and an information board at the car park.
The car park can be busy on weekends so consider car pooling from Hill Top.
From 10 Sep 2016, last checked 13 May 2017
Pass through the locked gate to the west, and follow the fire trail around the perimeter of the Wattle Ridge property for 1.7km (25 min) to an intersection with a less distinct fire trail, and a signboard. Take the left branch on to the less distinct track, signposted to Starlights Trail. This heads over a small rise. After 400m (5 min), note a turnoff to the right at 618011 (Hilltop) marked with S.T. painted on the ground on a rock, and continue on the fire trail for another 130m keeping a close eye out for another fainter (unmarked) track heading off to the right. If the fire trail is heading SE, you have probably missed the turnoff and gone too far.
Turn on to this track, which heads up an almost over the top of Point Hill, from where there are glimpses of views down to the valley. It then descents gently for the next 800m (15 min) into a small gully, to a track junction at 609009. The left hand branch, heading down the gully, is Slott Way. Take the right hand branch, which climbs back up to the ridge. From here on, some care is needed to stay on the track, as it can be hard to pick up when crossing rocky clearings. The track may be marked with tape, but this cannot be relied on.
The track generally keeps to the ridge top, but does wind around under some of the rocky outcrops. It is around 3km (45 min) to the cliff edge. About 500m before the end, a short (30m) side track leads out to an excellent lookout on the northern cliff edge at 556008, which is well worth the detour.
Then return to the main track which heads south-west to take you to Ahearn Lookout. Near the end of the ridge the track peters out, but you are so close to the end of the ridge you can pick your way to the edge for glorious 180° views of the Nattai Valley. To the SW you can see Mt Jellore and Russells Needle. Just to the north, right on the cliff edge under a small overhang, there is a memorial plaque to Leon Ahearn, a NPWS ranger, after whom the lookout is named.
Once you have had your fill of views, return the way you came.