Red Hands Cave walking track - Blue Mountains National Park

Glenbrook area in Blue Mountains National Park

Overview

Red Hands Cave walking track, in Blue Mountains National Park, offers impressive Aboriginal stencil art with picnicking and birdwatching, near Glenbrook.

Where
Glenbrook area in Blue Mountains National Park
Distance
8km loop
Time suggested
1hr 30min - 2hrs 30min
Grade
Grade 3
Trip Intention Form

It's a good idea to let someone know where you're going. Fill in a trip intention form to send important details about your trip to your emergency contact.

If you're planning to loan a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) from one of these locations, wait and fill out your trip intention form in person.

Price
Free
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
Opening times

If you’re driving into the Glenbrook area, the gates are open:

  • First Sunday in October to first Sunday in April 8.30am to 7pm
  • Rest of year 8.30am to 6pm
What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen, compass, gps, topographic map
Please note
  • Please respect this precious site and help protect it by not touching the art and avoiding flash photography.
  • For a longer hike, you can walk from the Glenbrook park entry down to the causeway. Make sure you allow extra time for the steep walk there and back (around 3km one-way).
  • You can also drive 13km past the park entry to Red Hands carpark, along The Oaks trail and Red Hands trail, for a 1km return walk.

This track has most likely been used by the Darug people for thousands of years, and you too can walk in their footsteps. Red Hands Cave walking track, in the Glenbrook area of Blue Mountains National Park, winds through remote bushland to one of the best Aboriginal stencil galleries in the Sydney Basin.

From Glenbrook Causeway, follow the medium-difficulty track along Campfire Creek where you’ll see axe grinding grooves on the water’s edge. Keeping to the right at the track junction, you might see eastern water dragons sunning themselves. Climbing steadily through the gully, you’ll reach the sandstone overhang of Red Hands Cave.

Enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the unspoilt bush, as rainbow lorikeets and gang gangs chatter above. Retrace your steps or continue the longer loop walk. For a refreshing swim, detour via the swimming holes along Blue Pool walking track.

Take a virtual tour of Red Hands Cave walking track - Blue Mountains National Park captured with Google Street View Trekker.

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/red-hands-cave-walking-track-blue-mountains-national-park/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Red Hands Cave walking track - Blue Mountains National Park.

Track grading

Grade 3

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

    1hr 30min - 2hrs 30min

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Gentle hills

  • Distance

    8km loop

  • Steps

    Many steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track, some obstacles

  • Experience required

    Some bushwalking experience recommended

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Red Hands Cave walking track, starts at the causeway, in the Glenbrook area of Blue Mountains National Park. To get there:

    • Turn off Great Western Highway at Glenbrook on to Ross Street
    • Turn on to Burfitt Street, which becomes Bruce Road
    • Park at the national park entry station, or continue past the park entry gate to the carpark on the southern side of Glenbrook causeway. There's no parking at the causeway.
    • The track starts at the causeway.

    Park entry points

    Parking

    • Parking is available at Glenbrook entry station, the Blue Pools and Jellybean Pools carparks or south of the causeway.
    • It can be a busy place on the weekend, so parking might be limited.

    Facilities

    Toilets are located at Red Hands Cave carpark.

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    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.

    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).

    River and lake safety

    The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

    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

    Campbelltown (31 km)

    For nature lovers, the Macarthur region has plenty of natural attractions. Explore nature reserves and wildlife trails or see spectacular native flora and fauna at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, the largest botanic garden in Australia.

    www.sydney.com

    Katoomba (16 km)

    Katoomba is at the heart of most of the stunning natural attractions that make up the Blue Mountains National Park. You can admire deep valleys, sandstone plateaus, waterfalls and native animals from the many walking trails and lookouts near Katoomba.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Springwood (3 km)

    The Sassafras Gully Loop is one of a number of excellent walks in Springwood. The trail takes you from Springwood Station and past wonderful rock features, dense bushland and waterfalls. It's a nice cool walk in the shade and you're never too far from water.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Red Hands Cave walking track - Blue Mountains National Park is in Glenbrook area. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    Aboriginal rock art

    Red Hands Cave, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Steve Alton/NSW Government

    Red Hands Cave is one of the best Aboriginal stencil galleries in Sydney and its surrounds. Accessed via the 8km Red Hands Cave loop walk, it’s the most accessible Aboriginal culture in Blue Mountains National Park. The layers of earthy reds, yellows and whites of the hand prints are still vibrant. Among several applied techniques, the artists would chew a mix of ochre and water and blow it over a hand resting on the wall, forming a stencil.

    • Red Hands Cave Red Hands Cave in Blue Mountains National Park is one of the best showcases of Aboriginal rock art in the area. It's reached via Red Hands Cave loop walking track.
    • Red Hands Cave walking track - Blue Mountains National Park Red Hands Cave walking track, in Blue Mountains National Park, offers impressive Aboriginal stencil art with picnicking and birdwatching, near Glenbrook.

    Ancient landscapes

    Mount Portal lookout, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Steve Alton

    Lookouts like Mount Portal are a great place to see the layers of geology in the Blue Mountains. Around 60 to 80 million years ago, Hawkesbury sandstone from the Sydney Basin was uplifted to form a plateau 50 to 200m above the coastal plain. Past volcanic activity can also be seen at Euroka and Murphys Glen campgrounds. These sit on old volcanic pipes, called diatremes, that blasted molten lava to the surface over 200 million years ago. Erosion of the diatreme at Euroka has left saucer shaped depressions and rich soil, where tall trees thrive.

    • Glenbrook Gorge track Challenging Glenbrook Gorge track offers rock-hopping along a creek bed in beautiful bushland, past an historic railway tunnel, in Blue Mountains National Park.
    • Jack Evans walking track The challenging Jack Evans walking track offers swimming, rock-hopping, wildflowers in the Blue Labyrinth region of Blue Mountains National Park, near Glenbrook.
    • Mount Portal lookout Wheelchair-accessible Mount Portal lookout offers gorge and river views with abseiling and climbing options, near Western Sydney, in Blue Mountains National Park.

    Activities at your fingertips

    Woodford - Oaks trail, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Steve Alton/NSW Government

    You don’t have to go far from the carpark to find a walk, riding trail, scenic lookout or picnic spot. Most of the roads are suitable for 2WD vehicles, so enjoy the drive as you make your way to Nepean lookout or the wheelchair-accessible Mount Portal lookout. Glenbrook's well-maintained trails are favourites with mountain bikers and trail runners, who make a beeline for the Woodford-Oaks trail, Bennetts Ridge, and Murphys trail. If you prefer to relax, Euroka and Murphys Glen campgrounds provide low-key camping facilities without having to wander too far from Sydney.

    • Mount Portal lookout Wheelchair-accessible Mount Portal lookout offers gorge and river views with abseiling and climbing options, near Western Sydney, in Blue Mountains National Park.
    • Woodford – Oaks trail Cycling the Woodford – Oaks trail offers dazzling scenic views, heath and delightful picnicking near Glenbrook, in Blue Mountains National Park.

    Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage

    Tunnel View lookout, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Nick Cubbin

    Blue Mountains National Park is 1 of 8 national parks and reserves that make up the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA). In 2000, UNESCO recognised the area's outstanding geology, biodiversity, and Aboriginal significance. The GBMWHA lies within the Country of the Darug, Gundungurra, Wiradjuri, Darkinjung, Wanaruah and Dharawal People. With 1 million hectares of rugged plateaux, sheer cliffs and deep gorges, it protects unique ecosystems teeming with rare plants and animals. Over 95 species of eucalypt trees have evolved here over millions of years, making it the most diverse eucalypt forest in the world. Greater Blue Mountains driving route is a great way to see this ancient wilderness right on Sydney doorstep. Glenbrook is the eastern gateway to this ancient wilderness right on Sydney doorstep.

    • Jack Evans walking track The challenging Jack Evans walking track offers swimming, rock-hopping, wildflowers in the Blue Labyrinth region of Blue Mountains National Park, near Glenbrook.
    • Nepean lookout With great river views of Fairlight Gorge, Nepean lookout boasts birdwatching and scenic wildflowers on a sightseeing car tour in Glenbrook, Blue Mountains National Park.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Photo: Peter Sherratt

      Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus)

      The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is one of the largest species of parrot. With dusty-black plumage, they have a yellow tail and cheek patch. They’re easily spotted while bird watching, as they feed on seeds in native forests and pine plantations.

    • Brush tail possum. Photo: Ken Stepnell

      Common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

      One of the most widespread of Australian tree-dwelling marsupials, the common brushtail possum is found across most of NSW in woodlands, rainforests and urban areas. With strong claws, a prehensile tail and opposable digits, these native Australian animals are well-adapted for life amongst the trees.

    • Swamp wallaby in Murramarang National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

      Swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

      The swamp wallaby, also known as the black wallaby or black pademelon, lives in the dense understorey of rainforests, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forest along eastern Australia. This unique Australian macropod has a dark black-grey coat with a distinctive light-coloured cheek stripe.

    • Eastern water dragon. Photo: Rosie Nicolai

      Eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii)

      The eastern water dragon is a subaquatic lizard found in healthy waterways along eastern NSW, from Nowra to halfway up the Cape York Pensinsula. It’s believed to be one of the oldest of Australian reptiles, remaining virtually unchanged for over 20 million years.

    • Lace monitor, Daleys Point walking track, Bouddi National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

      Lace monitor (Varanus varius)

      One of Australia’s largest lizards, the carnivorous tree-dwelling lace monitor, or tree goanna, can grow to 2m in length and is found in forests and coastal tablelands across eastern Australia. These Australian animals are typically dark blue in colour with whitish spots or blotches.

    • 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.

    • Sugar glider. Photo: Jeff Betteridge

      Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)

      The sugar glider is a tree-dwelling Australian native marsupial, found in tall eucalypt forests and woodlands along eastern NSW. The nocturnal sugar glider feeds on insects and birds, and satisfies its sweet tooth with nectar and pollens.

    •  Superb lyrebird, Minnamurra Rainforest, Budderoo National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

      Superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae)

      With a complex mimicking call and an elaborate courtship dance to match, the superb lyrebird is one of the most spectacular Australian animals. A bird watching must-see, the superb lyrebird can be found in rainforests and wet woodlands across eastern NSW and Victoria.

    • Superb fairy wren. Photo: Ingo Oeland

      Superb fairy wren (Malurus cyaneus)

      The striking blue and black plumage of the adult male superb fairy wren makes for colourful bird watching across south-eastern Australia. The sociable superb fairy wrens, or blue wrens, are Australian birds living in groups consisting of a dominant male, mouse-brown female ‘jenny wrens’ and several tawny-brown juveniles.

    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.

    • Smooth-barked apple. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata)

      Smooth-barked apple gums, also known as Sydney red gum or rusty gum trees, are Australian native plants found along the NSW coast, and in the Sydney basin and parts of Queensland. Growing to heights of 15-30m, the russet-coloured angophoras shed their bark in spring to reveal spectacular new salmon-coloured bark.

    • Old man banksia, Moreton National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

      Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)

      Hardy Australian native plants, old man banksias can be found along the coast, and in the dry sclerophyll forests and sandstone mountain ranges of NSW. With roughened bark and gnarled limbs, they produce a distinctive cylindrical yellow-green banksia flower which blossoms from summer to early autumn.

    • Flannel flowers in Wollemi National Park. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

      Flannel flower (Actinotus helianthi)

      The delicate flannel flower is so named because of the soft woolly feel of the plant. Growing in the NSW south coast region, extending to Narrabri in the Central West and up to south-east Queensland, its white or pink flowers bloom all year long, with an extra burst of colour in the spring.

    • Coachwood flower. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

      Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum)

      Coachwood trees are Australian native plants that grow in warm temperate rainforests along coastal NSW. Also known as scented satinwood, the mottled grey bark of the coachwood has horizontal markings and a delicate fragrance.

    • Blueberry ash. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus)

      The blueberry ash is a rainforest shrub which produces blue olive-shaped berries and spectacular bell-shaped flowers, which often appear on the plant together. It is a tall slender shrub or small tree found in rainforest, tall eucalypt forest and coastal bushland in eastern NSW, south-east Queensland and Victoria.

    • 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.

    • Close up photo of a waratah flower, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Simone Cottrell/OEH.

      Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

      The beautiful waratah is not only the NSW floral emblem, it's also one of the best-known Australian native plants. This iconic Australian bush flower can be found on sandstone ridges around Sydney, in nearby mountain ranges and on the NSW South Coast. The waratah has a vibrant crimson flowerhead, measuring up to 15cm across, and blossoms in spring.

    Environments in this area

    Red Hands Cave, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Steve Alton/NSW Government