South East Forests National Park

Landscape and Geology

How the park's landscape formed

Most of the park lies on Devonian (405-345 million years ago) or Silurian (425-405 million years ago) granitoids of the Bega Batholith, a large-scale igneous intrusion. The Bega Batholith extends from Bungendore in the north to the Victorian border and comprises three major igneous rock types: granite-adamellite, adamellite and quartz diorite-granodiorite, with at least 66 separate intrusions.

A large area of Tertiary (65-1 million years ago) volcanics (flows of basalt and similar rocks) overlays the granite near Brown Mountain and there are smaller patches in the Big Jack area and parts of Tantawangalo.

In eastern Coolangubra and parts of the Yowaka section there are metasediments of the Ordovician (500-425 million years ago) Adaminaby Group. These are the basement or oldest rocks of the park and include sandstones, greywackes, shales, quartzite, phyllites and slates. The metasediments are a mixture of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that have undergone further contact metamorphism adjacent to granitoid bodies. Due to their greater resistance to erosion many of the higher landscape features in the Bega Batholith area are Ordovician metasediment rock types.

Upper Devonian sediments outcrop as sub-horizontal strata in the Genoa, Yurammie and Bemboka areas and often form prominent topographic features such as the Nungatta Plateau and Wolumla Peak.

Igneous extrusive Upper Devonian rhyolites and basalts of the Boyd Volcanic Complex are found in small areas. Eden Rhyolite occurs as welded ash-flow tuffs and domes of rhyolite lava, predominantly in the eastern Yowaka section of the park with small extrusions also in parts of Tantawangalo and Coolangubra.

An unusual feature is the Jingera Complex found at Jingera Rock and Burragate Peak in the Yowaka section. This elliptically shaped Jurassic (180-135 million years ago) intrusion of nepheline syenite is 7 square kilometres in area, has a restricted occurrence and is the first reported complex of this type in Australia.

Minerals such as gold, silver, copper and molybdenite occur in a number of localities and have been mined in the past, particularly in the Boyd Volcanic Complex and the Bega Batholith.

Interesting features in the park

The geology of the park is quite complex, consisting of extensive areas of granitic intrusions plus basalt and rhyolite flows, narrow bands of metamorphic rocks and outcropping Ordovician metasediments and Upper Devonian sediments.

Significant geological and geomorphological features include:

  • granite tors at Pheasants Peak;
  • the elliptical Jingera Rock syenite complex;
  • peak, upland swamps such as Nunnock Swamp in the Tantawangalo section;
  • gorges on Stockyard Creek, Myanba Creek, Cow Bail Creek, Wog Wog River and the Genoa River;
  • Wolumla Peak;
  • rugged mountain landscapes, plateaus and scenic gorges of the Genoa section, dominated by the relatively inaccessible slopes, high peaks and plateau of Wog Wog, White Rock and Nungatta mountains;
  • gorges of the Coolangubra section, including Myanba Creek Falls, Stockyard Creek, Cow Bail Creek and the Wog Wog River;
  • magnificent granite tors of the Bold Granite and the South Coast ranges in the Coolangubra section;
  • rugged landscape, high peaks and ridges of the Bemboka Section, particularly Pigeon Box, Bemboka Peak and Numbugga Walls; and
  • Nunnock Swamp and associated swamp communities in the Tantawangalo section, on the geological border between the Tablelands and the coastal escarpment.

 

Where to see some of the park's landscapes and features

Goodenia Rainforest picnic area

Grab a picnic table and cook up a tasty lunch on the barbecue at Goodenia Rainforest picnic area.

Sheltered by mighty old-growth eucalypts in a patch of cool temperate rainforest, this picnic spot is the gateway to the exquisite Goodenia Rainforest walking track, an easy walk through a lush understorey of lilly pilly. The picnic area is a great spot to stop and relax before or after completing the 40-minute return walk.

If you’re lucky, you’ll spy some of the numerous birds living in the area, including lyrebirds and satin bowerbirds. See if you can spot the marvellous striped tail of the fan-tailed cuckoo.

Activities: walking, birdwatching, picnicking, playing and socialising

Location:  shown on park map

Getting there: Goodenia Rainforest picnic area is in the eastern part of South East Forests National Park. To get there, turn right into Mount Darragh Road (just after Pambula). Drive for about 15 minutes and then turn right onto Chalkhills Road, following signs for the Goodenia Rainforest walk.

Road access: Unsealed road/trail - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: picnic tables, non-flush toilets, gas/electric barbecues (free), trackhead/access point

Myanba Gorge lookout

Wheelchair access: medium

  • Assistance may be required to access this area.

Set in mighty old-growth forest and comprising three lookouts, a picnic area, a boardwalk and walking track, this part of the park is a must for nature-lovers.

Start with lunch at the well-equipped picnic area before taking the easy and accessible boardwalk stroll. At the first lookout you’re treated to picture-perfect views of fast-flowing Myanba Creek. Here, it surges over the escarpment across a huge granite slab, so visit after rain, if you can, to see a stronger, more spectacular flow.

Follow the creek if you choose to keep on walking – it’s a moderate walk that's well worth the effort. See the numerous torrents burble through the rocks or snake off into rivulets and stunning cascades. Take a quick dip if you like, and look for streaked rock orchids and the gorgeous purple-spotted flowers of the Victorian Christmas Bush.

The third lookout rewards your efforts with views of the remarkable geology of Myanba Gorge and Bega’s pretty Towamba Valley. Return to the picnic area the way you came, listening out for distinctive ‘creaky gate’ calls of gang gang cockatoos.

Activities: walking, swimming, birdwatching, picnics and barbecues

Natural setting: dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Nunnock to Myanba Gorge map

Getting there: Myanba Gorge lookout is in the Coolangubra precinct of South East Forests National Park. To get there:

  • Access to Myanba Gorge is via Coolangubra Forest Way and Kanoonah Road (both unsealed) or along Bucky Springs Road south-east from Bombala.

Road access: Unsealed road/trail - 2WD vehicles.

Opening hours: Myanba Gorge lookout is always open, but access may be limited during snowfall events and pedestrian bridges on the walk may be closed at times of flooding.

Facilities: amenities block, wood barbecues (bring your own firewood), carpark, lookout, trackhead/access point, picnic tables

Myrtle Mountain lookout

Wheelchair access: hard

  • Wheelchairs can access this area with some difficulty

You may think driving through the park’s lush wet-fern forest is as stunning as it gets, but then you arrive at Myrtle Mountain lookout.

Located on Myrtle Mountain Road, this hidden gem offers a sweeping northern vista across Bega Valley farmland. You’re also treated to eastern views of scenic Candelo and Wolumla, as well as the fringing escarpment and rolling hills surrounding the valley.

The ideal place to stretch your legs, take a tea break and soak up some views while driving from Eden or Bega, this lookout is popular with travellers and locals alike.

Relax at a picnic table and feel the crisp NSW south coastal breeze. Listen out and scan the undergrowth for lyrebirds or, if you’re stopping by at night, look out for possums and gliders in the area.

Activities: sightseeing, picnics and barbecues

Location:  shown on park map

Getting there: Myrtle Mountain lookout is on Myrtle Mountain Road, 35km south-west of Bega and about halfway between Candelo to Wyndham Road.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: picnic tables, wood barbecues (bring your own firewood), non-flush toilets, lookout

Pipers lookout

Wheelchair access: easy

This area is fully wheelchair accessible

  • Toilet facilities are wheelchair accessible
  • The boardwalk to the lookout is wheelchair accessible

Take a break from your journey over Brown Mountain at Pipers lookout. This series of lookouts offers spellbinding views over the Bemboka escarpment and Bega Valley.

After checking out the main lookout near the picnic area, follow the 500m boardwalk to a further two lookouts. While this isn’t quite a canopy walk, the descending slope beneath the boardwalk gives you the feeling of floating amongst the eucalypts and lush ferns. You can use the stairs to make a loop of the three lookouts.

Whatever you do, be sure to bring your camera – the surrounding old-growth forest and rainforest create excellent photo opportunities. If you have time, take the road opposite Pipers lookout to Rutherford Creek picnic area; you'll find a great walking track that takes you through a towering old-growth forest.

Activities: walking, birdwatching, picnicking, playing and socialising

Location:  shown on park map

Getting there: Pipers lookout is in the northern part of South East Forests National Park, about 15km from Bemboka and not far from Nimmitabel. To get there drive along the Snowy Mountains Highway west from Bega or south-east from Cooma.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: picnic tables, non-flush toilets, lookout, trackhead/access point

Rutherfords picnic area

Situated between Nimmitabel and Bemboka, this tranquil picnic area is an ideal spot for a break on a car tour of the beautiful the South Coast region. Just off the Snowy Mountains Highway road in South East Forests National Park, it’s the perfect pit stop on a holiday road trip offering the chance for some wildlife spotting and birdwatching.

Unpack the picnic hamper and enjoy a leisurely lunch as you listen to the chatter of whipbirds, cockatoos and bellbirds. Explore the nearby creek and you’ll discover towering tree ferns that line the banks. You might be lucky and spot a wallaby or lyrebird darting through the bush.

If you fancy stretching your legs, nearby Rutherfords Creek loop walking track offers a boardwalk through the surrounding tall forest.

Activities: picnics and barbecues, birdwatching

Getting there: Rutherfords Creek picnic area is in South East Forest National Park. To get there:

  • The entrance is on the northern side of Snowy Mountains Highway, opposite Pipers lookout on Brown Mountain between Nimmitabel and Bemboka.

Road access: Unsealed road/trail - 2WD (no long vehicle access). Dry weather only.

Facilities: picnic tables, trackhead/access point, carpark, non-flush toilets

Water supply: Water not supplied.

Six Mile Creek campground

Six Mile Creek campground is on the smaller side, featuring four campsites nestled amongst wet eucalypt forest. You can camp out in your tent or bring a camper trailer, there’s room for both at this free campground.

Follow the 300m Six Mile Creek walk – it leads you to a viewing platform overlooking cascading waters on their way to Tantawangalo Creek. Take a barbecue pack if you'd like to stop for lunch.

If you’re camping out on the first Sunday of the month, why not pop over to the riverside Candelo Market? You’ll find something fascinating or flavourful among the many stalls.

When you’re on the road to or from Six Mile Creek campground, take in the history of the area – the original Tantawangalo Mountain Road leading to this site was forged around 1860.

Activities: day walking, picnics and barbecues, birdwatching, swimming, motor vehicle use

Natural setting: wet eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Nunnock to Myanba Gorge map

Getting there: From Bega, drive south along the Princes Highway and turn right onto Bega Candelo Road. After about 9km you'll reach Candelo - cross the bridge, turn left and then turn right into Tantawangalo Mountain Road.

Road access: Unsealed road/trail - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: picnic tables, wood barbecues (bring your own firewood), non-flush toilets, trackhead/access point

Water supply: Tank water is provided (though it is not recommended for drinking).

Contact: Bombala, Phone: 02 6458 4080

Waalimma picnic area

 The beautifully secluded Waalimma picnic area is a fantastic place to pause before or after completing a walk into the Genoa wilderness.

Located near the Waalimma campground, fringed by red box eucalyptus, this great picnic spot is equipped with fire rings, picnic tables and an education and visitor centre.

This remote part of South East Forests National Park, characterised by impressive Devonian geology with sheer cliffs, large waterholes and sandy beaches, is beloved by experienced, self-reliant bushwalkers.

Venture down here with some goodies to munch and be immersed in the beauty and tranquillity of your surroundings. As well as picnicking and beginning a hike from this serene vantage point, you can head out for a river swim, go exploring or rock-hopping, or indulge in a spot of birdwatching.

Listen at night to the conversation of nocturnal birds, including sooty owls and southern boobooks, known as ‘mopokes’, and keep an eye out for more emblematic Aussie wildlife. Wallabies, dingoes, emus and wombats are part of this bush neighbourhood, along with lizards, snakes and possums.

Many walks to and from Waalimma picnic area involve on-foot river crossings, so visit in the warmer weather of summer, early autumn or late spring to avoid an icy-cold dip.

Activities: walking, birdwatching, swimming, picnics and barbecues

Location:  shown on park map

Getting there: Waalimma picnic area is in the Waalimma precinct of the South East Forest National Park. To get there from Nungatta:

  • Take the Imlay Road, then turn south onto Nungatta Creek Road
  • Follow this for 8.5km until you reach a T-intersection
  • Turn right onto Poole Road and follow for 16.4km
  • Finally, turn right at Waalimma Road and follow it to the end, approximately 11.8km, and park at the campground.

Road access: Unsealed road/trail - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: picnic tables, fire rings (bring your own firewood), non-flush toilets, carpark, trackhead/access point, venue, education centre, visitor centre

Waratah Gully campground

Head to Waratah Gully campground to camp among towering eucalyptus trees – some of the last remaining pockets of old-growth forest in NSW.

This peaceful bush campground sits adjacent to the picturesque Waratah Gully in the Coolangubra section of the park. Bring your tent, caravan or camper trailer to enjoy free camping surrounded by some of the state’s most magnificent flora and fauna.

From the campground, you can access the Pheasants Peak and Myanba Gorge walking tracks. And if you need to pick up some supplies, the town of Bombala is conveniently close by.

Activities: walking, picnicking, playing and socialising, birdwatching

Location:  shown on Nunnock to Myanba Gorge map

Getting there: Waratah Gully campground is in the Coolangubra section of South East Forests National Park. To get there, head east from Bombala on Bucky Springs Road, follow it through to Coolangubra Forest Way and turn right. Continue along and turn left at Wog Way, you'll find the campground on the right.

Road access: Unsealed road/trail - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: wood barbecues (bring your own firewood), non-flush toilets, carpark, trackhead/access point

Water supply: Tank water is available, though this is not recommended for drinking.

Contact: Bombala, Phone: 02 6458 4080

White Rock River picnic area

The waterfalls, forest giants and ancient granite tors car touring route will take you right past White Rock River picnic area.

Located in the south western side of the park, this great picnic spot features picnic tables and wood barbecues set beneath a towering canopy of ribbon gums; it’s a great place to stop to stretch your legs.

As well as being easy on the eyes, this part of the park is especially important. It provides the habitat for the endangered long-footed potoroo. While you’re unlikely to see one of these nocturnal marsupials yourself, you may well spot their tiny tracks, newly-dug holes or even some of their favourite snack; fungi.

The waterfalls, forest giants and ancient granite tors car touring route will take you right past White Rock River picnic area.

Located in the south western side of the park, this great picnic spot features picnic tables and wood barbecues and is set beneath a towering canopy of ribbon gums; it’s a great place to stop to stretch your legs.

As well as being easy on the eyes, this part of the park is especially important. It provides the habitat for the endangered long-footed potoroo. While you’re unlikely to see one of these nocturnal marsupials yourself, you may well spot their tiny tracks, newly-dug holes or even some of their favourite snack; fungi.

Activities: walking, birdwatching, picnicking, playing and socialising

Location:  shown on park map

Getting there: White Rock River picnic area is in the south western part of South East Forests National Park. It is located 3km along Imlay Road, just off the Monaro Highway.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: picnic tables, wood barbecues (bring your own firewood), non-flush toilets