Burning Mountain walk

Burning Mountain Nature Reserve

Overview

Burning Mountain walk is the best way to discover this unusual nature reserve, with information panels along an accessible 4km return track that has some steep sections.

Where
Burning Mountain Nature Reserve
Distance
4km return
Time suggested
1 - 2hrs
Grade
Grade 3
Price
Free
What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen
Please note
Remember to take your binoculars if you want to birdwatch

You would expect a fire sizzling below ground for 5,500 years to have some fairly dramatic effects on the vegetation, and the remarkable phenomenon of Burning Mountain is reflected in the plants and animals adapted to life around it. As you set out from the carpark on a moderate walk to the head of the coal seam, expect to pass through eucalypt groves and other types of Upper Hunter woodland. Plenty of dead trees and hollow logs provide homes for lots of wildlife.

As the fire moves one metre every year, the landscape changes: red gums grow along subsidence cracks, and later you’ll come across narrow-leaved stringy bark, tea trees, and stunted grey gums. There are loads of birds in the area, too, so bring the binoculars if birdwatching is an interest.

Anybody interested in the story of what’s going on below ground won’t be disappointed either: information panels along the track unpack the story of Burning Mountain, including its science and fascinating Aboriginal heritage. A viewing platform is located at the climax of Burning Mountain walk, providing a safe vantage point to view the exhaust vents and rocks transformed by extreme temperatures.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/burning-mountain-walk/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Burning Mountain walk.

Track grading

Grade 3

Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
  • Time

    1 - 2hrs

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Short steep hills

  • Distance

    4km return

  • Steps

    Many steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track, some obstacles

  • Experience required

    No experience required

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    From Scone:

    • Follow New England Highway towards Tamworth
    • Burning Mountain Nature Reserve is 20km north of Scone, on the right-hand side of the highway.
    • The walking track begins from the carpark

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Parking is available, including several designated disabled spots.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Burning Mountain Nature Reserve. Here are some of the highlights.

    Autumn

    Hike Burning Mountain walk and get up close to the remarkable geological event happening right beneath your feet.

    Spring

    Take the kids and a picnic and keep an eye out for eastern grey kangaroos, wallaroos and echidnas that share the area with copper-tailed skinks and other reptiles.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    14°C and 30.1°C

    Highest recorded

    40.6°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    2.6°C and 15.9°C

    Lowest recorded

    -6.5°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    January

    Driest month

    April

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    227.3mm

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    If you bring young children, keep them with you at all times.

    Bushwalking safety

    If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

    Take extra care around the rocky areas and tiger pear plants

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Prohibited

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Nearby towns

    Murrurundi (12 km)

    Murrurundi has remained faithful to its pastoral roots and enjoys a fine legacy of historic houses and public buildings. In fact, the National Trust has declared the main street of Murrurundi an Urban Con servation Area. Today, you can explore the history of Murrurundi on a heritage walk that takes in churches, hotels and the original telegraph office.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Muswellbrook (40 km)

    Muswellbrook is a vibrant country town surrounded by vineyards and horse studs. It straddles the Hunter River in the fertile wine-growing region of the Upper Hunter. Enjoy the local produce while you take in the natural beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Burning Mountain walk is in Burning Mountain Nature Reserve. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    Aboriginal legend

    Burning Mountain Nature Reserve. Photo: OEH

    Traditionally, Burning Mountain was part of a vast territory owned by the Wanaruah people, which stretched from Broke to the Liverpool Range. Wanaruah mythology, passed through generations, tells the story of Burning Mountain like this: one day, the Gumaroi people, north of the Liverpool Range, sent a raiding party south to steal Wanaruah women. The Wiradjuri people to the west warned the Wanaruah, who sent their best warriors out for a great battle. One of the Wanaruah wives decided to wait for her husband to return, settling down near the Liverpool Range. When he didn’t come back, she was devastated. Crying, she asked Biami, the sky god, to take her life. Instead, he turned her into stone, and as she did so, her tears became fire and set the mountain alight for all eternity.

    An unusual geological event

    Burning Mountain Nature Reserve. Photo: OEH

    The scientific explanation for Burning Mountain is a slowly combusting coal seam. At the moment, the exact location of the fire is a mystery, though we know it’s about 30m below the ground and heading south – meaning Burning Mountain actually moves at about 1m a year. It’s estimated the fire has been burning for as much as 5,500 years, and as it eats through the coal, rocks slip into the gap, causing fissures and slumping at the surface level. Be sure to wear sturdy footwear and stay on the formed track. Not only that, but watch out for fossils, too: 200 million years ago, this entire area was covered by ocean.

    The colonial story

    Burning Mountain Nature Reserve. Photo: OEH

    The Liverpool Range was always a difficult barrier to the sweeping plains beyond, which colonial settlers coveted for their potential as rich grazing land. Throughout the 1800s, many explorers tried different routes across the area, from ‘Pandora’s Pass’, first crossed by Allan Cunningham in 1823, to the Hanging Rock area, first crossed by Henry Dangar. As you visit the reserve and follow Burning Mountain walk, imagine tackling the landscape without the contemporary luxuries of cars and highways.

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (1)

    Burning Mountain walk, Burning Mountain Nature Reserve. Photo: R Wilcher/NSW Government