Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

Barbecue Bike riding Campfire Disabled Drinking water Fishing Horse riding Park entry fee Swimming Toilets Watersports Wildlife Aboriginal site Accommodation Camping area Four-wheel drive touring Information Ranger Walking


Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, much of it World Heritage–listed, is a stunning environment of majestic gorges, deeply incised river valleys and powerful waterfalls plunging over formidable escarpments on the eastern side of the Great Divide. The park encompasses two wilderness areas: Macleay Gorges Wilderness (1996) and Kunderang Wilderness (1998).

Fact file


From Armidale via Waterfall Way to Wollomombi; from Armidale access roads to south-east lead to several gorges; from Walcha via Moona Plains Rd; from Walcha via Oxley Hwy then Kangaroo Flat Rd (walking access only); also other unpaved roads but some are 4WD only

Best season

All year


560 km from Sydney; 20 km east of Walcha; 18 km south-east of Armidale

Park information

  • NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
  • NPWS Armidale (02) 6738 9100
  • NPWS Walcha (02) 6777 4700


Permits required for access to Youdales Hut and Riverside: (02) 6777 2755 or (02) 6777 4700


145 223 ha

Visitor information

Armidale/Walcha (02) 6770 3888


Featured Activities in the National Park

  • See the spectacular 240-metre drop of Wollomombi Falls

    Canoe on one of the pristine rivers

    Enjoy the views of Apsley River at Budds Mare

See Also

A look at the past

Explorer John Oxley was the first European to traverse the area when he passed through in 1818 while looking for a route from the tablelands to the coast. The first half of the 19th century saw the park subjected to logging by cedar-getters but graziers took over later in the 1800s. The park’s European heritage includes relics of grazing and quarrying; the remnants of Australia’s first commercial hydro-electricity scheme along the Styx River and at Gara Gorge; and the isolated and historic homestead at Kunderang. Alan Youdale leased land along Kunderang Brook in 1930 and built the humble stringybark and messmate dwelling that now bears his name.

Aboriginal culture

The park covers an area once occupied by the Dunghutti (Dainggatti) people. Their lands centred on the food sources of the Macleay River, the swamps, rainforests and valley woodlands, and there were seasonal movements only between the tablelands and the coast. Archaeological research suggests occupation dating back 4200 years. Along the creeks and on the tablelands there are artefact scatters, scarred trees and axe-grinding grooves. Archaeological sites include burial sites at East Kunderang; mythological sites include the landscape of the upper Apsley Gorge; and contact sites encompass the rugged falls country where Aboriginal people staged their final fight against white settlers, as well as sites along Kunderang Brook where brutal massacres took place.

Natural features

Located in the New England Tablelands, the park encompasses the catchment of the Macleay River and large tracts of virgin bushland. The Great Dividing Range, which runs through the park, slopes gently to the west, while the steep, eastern escarpment is dissected by streams, spilling over the side. Waterfalls are a prominent feature, with the most impressive – and one of the country’s highest – the 240-metre drop of Wollomombi Falls. Not so high but still impressive, Tia Falls and Apsley Falls plummet into the gorges below after rain.

Native plants

The national park was given World Heritage status for its dry rainforest, a particularly rare vegetation type existing only in shaded gullies sheltered from fire. The biodiversity created by this dry rainforest provides a refuge for more than 180 plant species, including the rare gorge wattle (Acacia diphylla). Elsewhere in the park there are pockets of subtropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforests, and eucalypt woodlands on the valley floors. The eucalypt forests are dominated by species such as New England stringybark and blackbutt, along with the threatened Hillgrove spotted gum (Eucalyptus michaeliana). Heathland plants grow on the cliffs where soil is sparse and another rare species, Acacia ingramii, is found here.


The national park is a haven for native fauna and mammals include brushtail possums, swamp and red-necked wallabies and brush-tailed rock-wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos, red-legged pademelons, sugar and greater gliders and spotted-tailed quolls. There are also innumerable species of bats including the chocolate wattled bat, the lesser long-eared bat, the little forest bat, and the large forest bat. The large forest bat, with its particularly long fur, has adapted to cool climates and is able to hunt during winter nights when other species are hibernating.

Platypus swim in the clear waters as do 14 native fish species. Frogs seek refuge near the rocky streams: common species are Lesueur’s frog, the common eastern froglet, and the red-backed toadlet, easily recognisable by its brilliant red back. Birdlife is also prolific with 170 species sighted, including rainforest species such as the green catbird with its strange, cat-like call, and the white-headed pigeon. Thornbills are numerous – the brown, buff-rumped and the striated thornbill in particular – and white-browed scrubwrens, glossy black-cockatoos and white-throated treecreepers are regular sights in the bush.


Oxley Wild Rivers is extensive but has a range of relatively easily accessible areas as well as memorable lookouts and peaceful picnic spots. Swimming and fishing (fishing licence required and size and bag limits apply) are possible at East Kunderang and Riverside on the Macleay River. Four-wheel-driving skills can be tested if you opt for staying at Youdales Hut, Riverside or East Kunderang Homestead – access roads are 4WD only (permit and key required).


There are short walks, as well as challenging trails leading into quiet gullies and along pristine waterways, where native wildlife is plentiful. From East Kunderang Homestead there are easy, 15-minute walks to the river or a pioneer grave site. Apsley Gorge Rim Walk (1-km loop, 30 minutes, easy) takes in some spectacular lookouts, and Oxley Walk (2.7 km, 1.5 hours, easy) is a longer option, offering dramatic views of the gorge. More challenging walks extend between Budds Mare and Riverside camping areas, with one track (14 km return, 6 hours, difficult) passing through rainforests and heathlands and offering a steep climb on the return to Riverside.

Canoeing and boating

Access is limited but canoeing is possible on the Macleay River. The best launching points are at East Kunderang West (4WD access only), Riverside (permit required) and East Kunderang Homestead (house guests only).


Cyclists can use most park roads and management trails (permission from landowners is required in some cases), but not the walking tracks.

Horse riding

Explore the park on horseback along the signposted Bicentennial National Trail but do not venture to East Kunderang Homestead, as horses are not permitted there. Stay overnight en route in huts at Left Hand and Middle Yards, valued for their cultural heritage. Check conditions with the park office before departing; the trail can be hard yakka, or worse, impassable after rain.


Apsley Falls camping area

Follow the Oxley Hwy 19 km east of Walcha and you’ll find this camping ground, a short walk from the Apsley picnic area and 2 tracks: the easy Apsley Gorge Rim Walk (1 km, 30 min) and Oxley Walk (1 km, 45 min).... Find out more

Budds Mare camping area

The view of Apsley River at Budds Mare is one of the highlights of the national park; to get here, follow Moona Plains Rd off the Oxley Hwy. There’s a difficult 7 km walking track from the picnic shelter to the... Find out more

Dangars Gorge camping area

Located in the north-east of the park and accessed via Dangarsleigh, this popular 10-site spot delivers impressive views of the gorge; after rain, the falls are charged with water, and in springtime wildflowers carpet... Find out more

Green Gully camping area

Just off Waterfall Way in the north of the park, Green Gully has short walks to lookouts over Chandler and Wollomombi falls – the latter being the largest single-drop waterfall in Australia (240 m). It’s a... Find out more

Long Point camping area

Set amid forest in the north of the park, this camping ground is accessible via the old goldmining town of Hillgrove from Waterfall Way. The easy Cassinia Walk (1.5 km, 45 min) and medium Chandler View Circuit Walk (6... Find out more

Riverside camping area

Riverside campground is only accessible by 4WD – to get here, you’ll first need to get a key and permit from the parks office or Apsley Motors in Walcha, then head for Moona Plains Rd. It’s a short walk... Find out more

Tia Falls camping area

To reach this camping ground, follow the Oxley Hwy from Walcha; the turn-off is 19 km past the Apsley turn-off. There are 2 walks fanning out from here: the easy Tia Falls (1.5 km, 45 min) and moderate Tiara (5 km, 3... Find out more

Youdales Hut camping area

This camping area is 4WD only, accessed by key obtained from the parks office or Apsley Motors in Walcha. It’s in the east of the national park near Kunderang Brook – a beautiful place for a picnic, swim or... Find out more

See Also

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