Time:2 days
Distance:26 km
Ascent:1230 m
Maps: LPI Coonabarabran 8735-S 1:50000
LPI Tooraweenah 8635-S 1:50000
Notes:Print-friendly notes (opens in new window)
Please note that while the maps on this web site are useful and generally contain more, and more accurate, information on trails, the relevant topographic maps should be carried on most walks. These are available from the Lands Information Centre, map shops, and most outdoor stores.


Looking down on the Breadknife from the Grand High Tops

Most visitors to the Warrumbungles content themselves with day walks. If you decide to head out overnight, you will probably not have too much competition. While the lack of water makes overnight walks challenging, this one takes advantage of the tank at Balor Hut to take in most of the tracks in the High Tops, and is a great way to visit Mt Exmouth without having to do the climb up on to the High Tops multiple times. The best time to visit is in the cooler months, between April and September.

Unless you are using Balor Hut, camping fees don't apply. However, you will need to got the visitor centre to pay park entry fees, as well as register for overnight walking.

Make sure that you confirm at the visitor centre that there will be water available at Balor Hut before you go. Otherwise you will need to carry a significant amount of water up the hill for your overnight camp. It is worth carrying a collapsible daypack to carry water in, and also to take on some of the side trips so you don't need to take your overnight pack. Also, you will need to carry a fuel stove for cooking.


On the summit ridge of Bluff Mountain, with Tonduron Spire in the background

The walk starts and finishes at the Pincham Car Park. From the Visitor Centre at Camp Blackman, return to the main road (Timor Road), turn left and immediately right after 150m. The car park is 800m further along at the end of the road.

Track notes

From 05 Oct 2014, last checked 05 Oct 2014

Day 1: Pincham Car Park to Dows Camp (11km, 820m ascent)

From the Pincham Car Park, head along the easy walking track along Spirey Creek. Only a short way in, you pass Camp Pincham, which is a walk-in camp site for those looking to get away from the car but not walk far.

After crossing Spirey Creek, the track shortly reaches the junction with West Spirey Creek, which is the return route on the following day. Continue along the main track, which is mostly paved. It's worthwhile taking the side loop to Macha Tor and Febar Tor, and possibly also the short side track to Spirey View.

Past the Spirey View turnoff, the track climbs steeply on a long switchback up to Sreng Boss, and you start getting views of the Breadknife and Belougery Spire. At the top of the main climb, you hit a set of metal stairs. Turn left to continue up to the Grand High Tops, where there are excellent views both of Belougery Spire and the Breadknife to the north, and Crater Bluff to the south towering over the ridge.

The Western High Tops with Mt Exmouth in the distance

Continue down the track to Dagda Saddle. At this point you need to make some decisions. It's about 15 minutes back along the Dagda Short Cut track to Balor Hut to collect water. Alternatively you can leave water collection until later in the day. It's about an hour round trip from Dows Camp to Balor Hut. If you've decided to camp further along than Dows, then now is the time to go for water.

Decision made and water possibly collected, continue west along the track towards Dows Camp. Dows Camp is a pleasant spot at the junction of the main track with that up to Bluff Mountain. At this point, you can drop your overnight pack and make a late afternoon bid for the summit. The track up to Bluff Mountain starts off clearly, climbing steadily up past the masses of grass trees growing on the slopes. Once on the summit ridge, it becomes harder to follow, as it crosses rocky outcrops. This section of the path is not marked. Generally speaking keep to the top of the ridge, as you head north. There are a couple of places where you may need to scramble using hands and feet. Note any tricky sections for your return trip. Soon you reach the rocky summit, with great views over the northern part of the park.

View from the summit of Mt Exmouth

After enjoying the vista, return to Dows Camp for the night.

Day 2: Dows Camp to Pincham Car Park (15km, 410m ascent)

The next day, continue along the main track along Dows High Tops. It is a bit under an hour's walk to Ogma Saddle, though just before Ogma is an unmarked saddle. Both of these would be alternative options for camping if you wanted to push on the day before. There are plenty of views of the impressive face of Bluff Mountain as you proceed along this section of track. At Ogma Saddle, you can leave your overnight packs, and put lunch, snacks and water into a little daypack for the side trips to Mt Exmouth and Cathedral and Arch.

Set off along the Western High Tops track, and at the top of a steep climb up a gully, you reach the side track to Cathedral and Arch. The Cathedral is fairly obvious, but the Arch is hard to find. Best bet is to try and pick up a faint track that heads in a south-east direction from the rocky slabs below Cathedral. Make sure you can find your way back to the main track as they are not marked.

Easy walking along West Spirey Creek

Back at the main track, continue across a scree slope and down to Danu Gap. While Danu Gap is marked as a camp site on some maps, it's not the most pleasant spot for a camp, being pretty much on the Burbie Fire Trail. Across the saddle is the start of the climb up to Mt Exmouth. This is on a good track that switchbacks up to Lucas Terrace, where it flattens out. Then there is a slow but steady climb up the southern side of Mt Exmouth, before finally reaching a saddle on the summit ridge. Make a note of where you come up, as the track is not marked along the summit. The summit ridge is mostly a case of heading east, with the odd spot of scrambling. The views are superb from the cliffs at the end of the ridge, and it is well worth the 300m+ climb from Danu Gap. After a break (and possibly lunch!) retrace your steps to Danu Gap, and back to your packs at Ogma Gap.

From Ogma Gap, take the track to the north that leads down into the top of West Spirey Creek. This descends steeply at first, and then more easily. About an hour's walk brings you back to the bridge at the main Spirey Creek track, and it is only about 15 minutes back to the car.

Related walks

Bluff Mountain Circuit

Time: 6 hrs Distance: 16 km Fitness: MH Skill: EM Ascent: 700 m

A challenging day walk with spectacular views of most of the Warrumbungles landmarks.

Belougery Split Rock

Time: 3 hrs Distance: 7 km Fitness: E Skill: EM Ascent: 350 m

A short but interesting walk, with some scrambling and great views of the Grand High Tops from the summit

Personal reports

04-05/10/2014 - High Tops Circuit: Pincham Car Park - Spirey Creek - Balor Hut - Dagda Saddle - Crater Bluff - Dagda Saddle - Grand High Tops - Dagda Saddle - Balor Hut - Dows Camp (C) - Bluff Mountain - Dows Camp - Ogma Gap - Cathedral and Arch - Danu Gap - Mt Exmouth - Danu Gap - Ogma Gap - West Spirey Creek - Pincham Car Park (photos)