Deua National Park
Inland from Batemans Bay and Moruya, Deua National Park is a wilderness of densely forested mountains, limestone caves, deep valleys and fast-flowing pristine rivers. This largely untouched landscape is a wild and beautiful place.
From Moruya via Araluen–Moruya Rd; from west via Krawarree–Snowball Rd (unsealed so check conditions before travelling); south-east of park is 4WD access only
Spring to end of autumn
316 km south-west of Sydney; 100 km south-east of Canberra; 12 km west of Moruya
- NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
- NPWS Narooma (02) 4476 0800
Permit required for caving; contact NPWS Narooma
122 032 ha
Braidwood (02) 4842 1144
Moruya/Narooma 1800 240 003
Queanbeyan (02) 6285 6307
Featured Activities in the National Park
Camp beside pristine mountain rivers
Head off on a 4WD tour to explore remote areas
Explore intriguing limestone caves formed by subterranean lakes
A look at the past
European explorers first ventured into the area in the 1820s but settlement did not take place until the 1860s, when Joseph George discovered the Bendethera Valley. He took up a lease in 1863, settling with his wife and their 15 children. A few years earlier, gold had been discovered around Nerigundah, just south of the park, and attracted not only miners but also bushrangers. The infamous Clarke brothers terrorised the area for several years from 1865 before being captured and hanged in 1867. A stock route was pushed through from the Monaro plains to the ports at Bega and Eden in the mid-1800s, but the region’s rugged terrain ensured that the landscape remained largely unscathed. The national park was established in 1979 and two wilderness areas within it were declared in 1994: Burra–Oulla and Woila–Deua.
The park encompasses a remote tract of country cut by the Deua River, which winds, switchback fashion, through the hills and valleys. A small separate area of the park, in the north-west, is a karst featuring 400-million-year-old cave systems. The Shoalhaven River forms the western border of this northern section. In the main park section, the Bendethera Valley is a secluded grassy plain stretching for about 4 kilometres and surrounded by wilderness.
Native plants and wildlife
A complex pattern of eucalypt forests, heathland, swamps and bogs spreads across the park, the vegetation depending on the altitude and rainfall. The countryside supports eastern grey kangaroos and swamp wallabies and, in rocky areas, brush-tailed rock-wallabies. Less prevalent are the parma wallaby and spotted-tailed quoll. You might also see a wombat or an echidna lumbering by, and at night possums and the vulnerable greater glider come out to feed. Frogs are prolific in the wetter areas, and species include the Blue Mountains tree frog, Lesueur’s frog, green stream frog and the common eastern froglet.
More than 90 species of bird have been identified in the national park, with ground-dwelling superb lyrebirds among the more distinctive species. Night birds are well represented and, although difficult to spot, there are recorded sightings of powerful, masked and sooty owls.
Apart from the ample opportunities for wildlife-watching, Deua offers a great wilderness experience for bushwalkers, four-wheel drivers and adventure-sports enthusiasts.
The park’s limestone caves attract caving and canyoning enthusiasts (permits required) and the rugged landscape is suitable for rock-climbing and abseiling. The vast caverns of the 250-metre-long Bendethera Cave are open to the public. Public access to the first 200 metres of Wyanbene Cave is allowed, but a permit is required for more extensive exploration of this strikingly decorated environment with underground lakes. Canyoning is possible on Reedy Creek (permit required), which flows through a 3-metre-wide, 25-metre-high canyon at Marble Arch.
For bushwalkers, a pleasurable walk from Berlang camping area (4 km return, 1.5 hours, easy) in the park’s northern section leads to the viewing platform for the Big Hole, a dramatic 110-metre-deep and 35-metre-wide crater, created by the roof collapse of a limestone cave. More challenging is the Marble Arch walk (13 km return, 5.5 hours, medium difficulty), which leads on from Big Hole for a short distance before a very steep 150-metre descent into the Marble Arch.
In the main section of the park, Bendethera Cave walk (10 km return, 2.5–3 hours, medium difficulty) leads to the large cave, with interesting stalactite formations, on the side of a hill – the last part leading to the cave entrance is quite demanding. In other areas of the park, experienced bushwalkers who choose to get off the beaten track will find some magnificent scenery.
Despite its unspoiled nature, the park has sufficient tracks (some 2WD, some 4WD only) and basic facilities to make it accessible to visitors. Drive with care on all roads and avoid driving on, and damaging, wet roads. There are excellent opportunities for 4WD touring with some secluded and peaceful camping along the way (Bendethera Valley is particularly special). Dampier Mountain Trail and Merricumbene Fire Trail are 4WD tracks that lead through the rugged wilderness of the park’s central areas.
In the Bendethera Valley there are poignant reminders of the Georges’ old homestead, with remains of a bread oven, horse yards, a race built to divert creek water to the paddocks, and the grave of one of the Georges’ sons.
Fishing, canoeing, swimming or relaxing on a li-lo in the clear river waters are popular pursuits. Depending on the water levels, small non-powered craft can be used on the Shoalhaven and Deua rivers.
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