Dawsons Spring nature trail

Mount Kaputar National Park

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Overview

Dawsons Spring nature trail is an easy walk from Dawsons Spring campground in Mount Kaputar National Park, near Narrabri. Great for families, you'll enjoy seasonal waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife spotting.

Accessibility
Medium
Distance
1.4km loop
Time suggested
30min - 1hr
Grade
Grade 2
What to
bring
Hat, sunscreen, drinking water, clothes for all weather conditions
Please note
  • Weather can be unpredictable and extreme on the high Kaputar Plateau. Always check weather conditions before your journey, and never set out if bad weather is approaching.
  • For a longer or more challenging walk, Dawsons Spring nature trail connects with Mount Kaputar summit walk and Bundabulla Circuit walking track.

This easy walking track starts and ends at Dawsons Spring campground and picnic area. A marked track and raised timber boardwalks loop through sub-alpine snow gum woodland and heath, over the headwaters of Horsearm Creek and a seasonal waterfall.

Signs along the way will help you spot the many plants and animals that call the alpine plateau home. Passionate birdwatchers can see some of the 185 bird species here, including peregrine falcons. Keep an eye out on rocks and trees for Mount Kaputar’s famous giant pink slug, which comes out after rain. In spring, there’s an abundance of wildflowers, including the nodding chocolate lily.

After your walk, enjoy a barbecue lunch back at the picnic area. If you’re camping or staying at Dawsons Spring cabins, why not try a torchlight walk along the nature trail? You might spot possums and greater gliders.

If you’re after a longer walk, the nature trail is easily combined with Mount Kaputar summit walk for a bird’s eye view of the dramatic mountain range. It’s especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset. In winter there may even be a dusting of snow at this high altitude. You can also connect with Bundabulla Circuit walking track for more of a challenge.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Map


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Current alerts in this area

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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/dawsons-spring-nature-trail/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Dawsons Spring nature trail.

Track grading

Features of this track

Distance

1.4km loop

Time

30min - 1hr

Quality of markings

Clearly sign posted

Experience required

No experience required

Steps

No steps

Gradient

Gentle hills: The walk is mostly flat with some sloping sections.

Quality of path

Formed track: The walk is 1.2m-wide and mostly bitumen with some sections where there are wooden platforms and bridges. Two of the pedestrian bridges have handrails and 1 does not.

Other barriers

Other barriers: There are raised wooden water bars throughout the walk for drainage.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Dawsons Spring nature trail is in the Kaputar Plateau area of Mount Kaputar National Park. To get there:

    • From Narrabri, travel southeast on Old Gunnedah Road for 2.5km
    • Turn left onto Kaputar Road and continue around 31km to the park entrance
    • Continue on Kaputar Road for 20km of steep, single-lane road until you reach the T-junction
    • Turn right to stay on Kaputar Road and drive 400m
    • Turn right onto Dawsons Spring Road
    • Dawsons Spring picnic area is on your right, with the campground at the end of the road.

    Road conditions and access

    • Kaputar Road is a steep, narrow road for most of its length in the park. It’s not suitable for caravans or motorhomes.
    • Check weather conditions before setting out. Snow, severe weather or fire danger on Mount Kaputar may close access to the park.

    • Mixture of sealed and unsealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles (no long vehicle access)

    Weather restrictions

    • All weather

    Parking

    Parking is available in bitumen carparks at Dawsons Spring picnic area and campground where this walk begins.

    Facilities

    • Accessible toilets, accessible showers, picnic tables and barbecue facilities are available at Dawsons Spring picnic area, near the start of the nature trail.
    • You’ll need to bring your own supply of water for drinking.

    Seats and resting points

    There are 5 benches with backrests along the loop walk. 

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    • Please ensure you're well-prepared, bring appropriate clothing and equipment and advise a family member or friend of your travel plans.
    • Weather can be unpredictable and extreme on the Kaputar plateau. Always check weather conditions before your journey, and never set out if bad weather is approaching.
    • Eastern grey kangaroos live in this area of the park. They’re powerful animals, so please appreciate them from a distance.

    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.

    Fire safety

    During periods of fire weather, the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service may declare a total fire ban for particular NSW fire areas, or statewide. Learn more about total fire bans and fire safety.

    Accessibility

    Disability access level - medium

    Dawsons Spring nature trail is a 1.2m-wide sealed bitumen path with around 300m of raised timber boardwalks, most of which have railings.

    It's suitable for wheelchair users, prams and people with reduced mobility, however assistance may be required in the following areas:

    • There are some sections where the boardwalk slopes.
    • From the carpark, you'll need to cross over the gravel surface of Dawsons Spring campground to reach the start of the walk.
    • Although the walk is step-free, there are raised wooden bars all the way along the track for drainage.

    There are bench seats along the walk where you can rest, and there are accessible toilets and showers at Dawsons Spring campground where this walk begins.

    Prohibited

    Cycling

    Cycling is not permitted on the nature trail. You can mountain bike on public roads and some management trails within the national park.

    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.

    Learn more

    Dawsons Spring nature trail is in Mount Kaputar National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    A harsh lifestyle

    Scutts Hutt, Mount Kaputar National Park. Photo: Ian Brown

    Several pioneering families lived in the Mount Kaputar area in extremely harsh conditions. Stockmen looked after sheep and cattle on the Kaputar Plateau, often going for months without seeing another person. Enjoy a walk to the historic Scutts Hut to experience the pioneers' harsh lifestyle. The Scutt family lived in the hut in the 1940s and 50s, and it has been carefully restored to its original condition. Most of the materials to build the hut and furniture were brought in by horse - even the rainwater tank.

    An ancient heritage

    Views from Eckfords lookout, Mount Kaputar National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

    Mount Kaputar National Park is the traditional Country of the Gamilaroi Aboriginal people. The park provided a rich resource for food, medicines, shelter and weapons and the landscape is part of Dreaming stories. Reminders of the Gamilaroi's connection to this ancient landscape are evident in Aboriginal rock carvings, campsites, marks on trees and axe grinding grooves throughout the park.

    Colourful locals

    Pink Slug (Triboniophorus aff. graeffei), Mount Kaputar National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

    Mount Kaputar is famous for a very unusual, colourful local - a bright pink slug. It can be seen after rain on rocks, trees and amongst the leaf litter. With birds from both the east and west meeting together at Mount Kaputar, the park is also a wonderful place to go bird watching. More than 185 bird species live in the park, so don't forget your binoculars. A torch will also come in handy for seeing some of the other locals that come out at night, including possums and greater gliders. And watch out for the many kangaroos and wallabies, too.

    • Dawsons Spring nature trail Dawsons Spring nature trail is an easy walk from Dawsons Spring campground in Mount Kaputar National Park, near Narrabri. Great for families, you'll enjoy seasonal waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife spotting.
    • Euglah Rock walking track Ideal for walking with kids, Euglah Rock walking track in Mount Kaputar National Park leads to a lookout offering stunning scenic views of Euglah Rock and beyond.

    Action or relaxation

    Verandah of Logan cabin, Mount Kaputar National Park. Photo: Simone Cottrell/OEH

    Mount Kaputar National Park is packed with walks, cycling and 4WD trails, plus plenty of scenic spots for camping and picnicking. Test your mountain bike legs up the steep Mount Kaputar Road to the Kaputar Plateau, or the challenging Barraba track. Enjoy a bite to eat at a serene picnic area before walking it off as you take in the stunning scenery. Don't miss the incredible Sawn Rocks formation. There's so much to see, why not book a cabin or set up camp for a few days to make the most of your country getaway.

    • Sawn Rocks picnic area Sawn Rocks picnic area is located at the start of Sawn Rocks walking track in Mount Kaputar National Park. It’s ideal for barbecues and picnics with scenic views of North West NSW.
    • Waa Gorge picnic area Waa Gorge is one of Mount Kaputar National Park’s most stunning attractions, and this picnic area offers enough sights to enjoy the show over a long lunch.

    Over 20 million years in the making

    Mount Kaputar, Mount Kaputar National Park. Photo: Ian Brown

    Two volcanos pushed Mount Kaputar high above the plains, and millions of years of erosion have carved a dramatic landscape of narrow valleys and steep ridges. Many of the mountains are ancient lava terraces. Experience ancient history for yourself by standing on Lindsay Rock Tops - an excellent example of a lava terrace. Or visit Sawn Rocks to see one of Australia's best examples of a spectacular rock formation called organ-piping - it really does look like a wall of giant organ pipes.

    • Bundabulla circuit walking track Bundabulla circuit walking track connects several walking tracks together. It offers a terrific bushwalking experience with places to picnic along the way and views of Mount Kaputar and surrounds.
    • Dawsons Spring nature trail Dawsons Spring nature trail is an easy walk from Dawsons Spring campground in Mount Kaputar National Park, near Narrabri. Great for families, you'll enjoy seasonal waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife spotting.
    • Doug Sky lookout Doug Sky lookout in Mount Kaputar National Park offers scenic views over north-west NSW and Warrumbungles.
    • Kaputar scenic drive Kaputar scenic drive is a 20km driving route through dramatic landscapes, with access to lookouts, picnic spots and walking tracks.
    • Sawn Rocks walking track This easy walk beside a shady creek bed leads you to a spectacular rock formation - the unique, organ-pipe cliff face of Sawn Rocks and scenic views.
    • The Governor lookout walking track Enjoy scenic mountain views over Grattai wilderness area from The Governor lookout walking track.
    • West Kaputar Rock lookout For scenic mountain views across the wilderness of Mount Kaputar National Park, enjoy West Kaputar Rock lookout on a scenic car tour, near Narrabri.
    Show more

    Plants and animals protected in this park

    Animals

    • A Mount Kaputar skink suns itself on rocks in Mount Kaputar National Park. Photo: Jodi Rowley © Jodi Rowley

      Kaputar rock skink (Egernia roomi)

      The critically endangered Kaputar rock skink is found only in the high rocky peaks of Mount Kaputar National Park. With one of the smallest ranges of any vertebrate in NSW, this rare reptile is at risk of extinction.

    • Southern boobook. Photo: David Cook

      Southern boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)

      The southern boobook, also known as the mopoke, is the smallest and most common native owl in Australia. With a musical 'boo-book' call that echoes through forests and woodlands, the southern boobook is a great one to look out for while bird watching.

    • Wedge-tailed eagle. Photo: Kelly Nowak

      Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax)

      With a wingspan of up to 2.5m, the wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey. These Australian animals are found in woodlands across NSW, and have the ability to soar to heights of over 2km. If you’re bird watching, look out for the distinctive diamond-shaped tail of the eagle.

    • Closeup of a laughing kookaburra's head and body. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

      Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

      Of the 2 species of kookaburra found in Australia, the laughing kookaburra is the best-known and the largest of the native kingfishers. With its distinctive riotous call, the laughing kookaburra is commonly heard in open woodlands and forests throughout NSW national parks, making these ideal spots for bird watching.

    Plants

    • Wonga Wonga vine. Photo: Barry Collier

      Wonga wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana)

      The wonga wonga vine is a widespread vigorous climber usually found along eastern Australia. A variation of the plant occurs in the central desert, where it resembles a sprawling shrub. One of the more common Australian native plants, the wonga wonga vine produces bell-shaped white or yellow flowers in the spring, followed by a large oblong-shaped seed pod.

    • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

      Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

      An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)