4X4 Destination: Clarence to The Lost City
The sun is out, the mercury is rising, and ice cream scoops are slumping out of waffle cones and onto blistering cement. It’s hot. But it’s a nice change from last week’s rain, so it’s time to head outdoors. NSW’s Blue Mountains offers no shortage of things to do along the tourist trail: cafes, gift shops, lookouts, waterfalls. Wentworth Falls, Leura and Katoomba are undeniably pleasant places to spend the day – the amount of tourists on the streets will be a testament to that – but take the Bells Line of Road up the mountain instead of the Great Western Highway, and you’ll find yourself driving towards a very different destination: The Lost City.
The Lost City is a relatively easy four-wheel drive destination less than two hours from Sydney. Join the Bells Line of Road in Richmond and along the winding road pass apple and stone fruit orchards in the towns of Bilpin and Berambing. Rows of fruit trees, farmland and distant escarpments from the car window make for a scenic drive, and around 10 mins after passing Bell you’ll reach the small town of Clarence – home of the now defunct Zig Zag railway. It was built in the 1800s and the 2013 bushfires closed the tourist run down but they’re hoping to have it up and running again in the (hopefully not-too-distant) future.
Cross the railway line onto a gravel road that will take you past Clarence Sawmill and the Boral sand quarry. Old Bells Line of Road turns right onto Glowworm Tunnel Road and winds up at Bungleboori picnic ground. Forks in the road on this track pretty much mean you can choose your own adventure; taking the right track and continuing down Glowworm Tunnel Road will eventually lead to – you guessed it – the Glow Worm Tunnel. Take a break from driving and walk the last 100m to the tunnel to see the glow worms; if you’ve got kids in the back seat, this is definitely worth a look.
Turn left onto Beecroft Track leading on to Blackfellows Hand Track to see the centuries-old rock paintings. Low range is usually advised on this track, especially if the area has seen a lot of rain. Parts of the track are steep and slippery, which also make them an experience best shared with more than one vehicle…should one need to be winched out of an undesirable situation.
A power lines service trail offers an alternative route to the Lost City from Bungleboori campground, on which you will need to take the left hand track at the next three forks in the road and consider low range for the final 200m descent into the Lost City. The oil-shale mining ghost town of Newnes is an easier drive accessible from Wolgan Road and well worth a look, and has the lure of a cool beverage waiting for you at Newne’s Hotel.
If you’re not ready to head home after one day, it’s understandable. Luckily, the Blue Mountains has countless campgrounds, caravan parks, cabins, hotels, resorts and B&Bs to choose from. For more information on track reports, weather conditions and things to do in the Blue Mountains, check out the NSW National Parks and Wildlife website HERE. Lithgow Tourism’s list of tracks also has information on the 100’s of kilometres of 4WD tracks in the area and can be found HERE.