The Needles walking track

Gibraltar Range National Park

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Overview

The Needles walking track offers jaw-dropping views of granite rock formations in Gibraltar Range National Park, near Glen Innes. Part of the Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk, it’s a great shorter walk option.

Where
Gibraltar Range National Park
Accessibility
No wheelchair access
Distance
6km return
Time suggested
2 - 3hrs
Grade
Grade 3
Price
Free
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
What to
bring
Drinking water, sturdy shoes, suitable clothing, first aid kit, hat, sunscreen, snacks
Please note

Allow an additional 3hrs if you plan to combine The Needles walking track with the Tree Fern Forest walk to loop back to Mulligans campground. Approx 12km combined walk.

Starting near Mulligans campground and picnic area, The Needles walking track is a great family outing and a chance to walk part of the popular Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk

Follow signs from the picnic area to the historic Mulligans Hut, about 50m, where the walk begins. Keep an eye out for resident wallabies around the hut, before crossing Little Dandahra Creek near one of the weirs built by Bill Mulligan in the 1920s. 

Immerse yourself in sights and sounds of the open blackbutt forest, with its undergrowth of banksias and grass trees. At the junction with Pidcocks trail follow The Needles walking track to the right. As you climb higher, the landscape changes to dense rainforest.

The lookout at the end of the track is the perfect place to rest and soak up stunning views of The Needles. Here 6 granite columns, each about 80m high, tower over the deep, steep-sided valley below. You may even see wedge-tailed eagles riding the thermals above the ridge.

On your way back down, cool off with a refreshing dip in the creek near the hut. If you’re feeling energetic, why not try Tree Fern Forest walk through majestic fern trees, grass trees and rock formations. 

Visit in spring, when the landscape comes alive with blossoms including the Gibraltar Range waratah, the queen of all NSW wildflowers.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Also see

  • Car park and picnic areas, Mulligans campground, Gibraltar Range National Park. Photo: D Hayden/OEH

    Mulligans campground

    A popular starting point for the Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk, Mulligans campground has an idyllic creek for swimming and lush picnic spots with barbecues.

  • World Heritage Walk, Gibraltar-Range National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

    Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk

    Keep an eye out for birds and wildflowers on the 45km Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk through eucalypt forests, rainforests, wetlands and granite tors in the rugged Northern Tablelands.

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/the-needles-walking-track/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about The Needles walking track.

Track grading

Grade 3

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

    2 - 3hrs

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Gentle hills

  • Distance

    6km return

  • Steps

    Occasional steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track, some obstacles

  • Experience required

    Some bushwalking experience recommended

Getting there and parking

Mulligans campground, where The Needles walking track begins, is in Gibraltar Range National Park. To get there:

From Glen Innes:

  • Drive 68km east towards Grafton along the Gwydir Highway
  • Turn right on to unsealed Mulligans Drive and continue 10km to Mulligans campground, where this walk begins.

From Grafton:

  • Drive 92km west towards Glen Innes along the Gwydir Highway
  • Turn left onto unsealed Mulligans Drive and continue 10km to Mulligans campground, where this walk begins.

Road quality

  • Mixture of sealed and unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • All weather

Parking

Parking is available at Mulligans campground’s picnic area.

By bike

Check the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

By public transport

You can travel by bus from Glen Innes or Grafton to Gibraltar Range National Park. To plan your trip, visit the Transport NSW website.

Facilities

  • Toilets, picnic tables, barbecues, showers, and car parking are available at Mulligans campground, near the start of this walk.
  • You’ll need to bring your own drinking water.
  • There are no bins so you’ll need to take all rubbish away with you.

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.

Cycling safety

Hundreds of cyclists head to our national parks for fun and adventure. If you're riding your bike through a national park, read these mountain biking and cycling safety tips.

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus 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.

Accessibility

Disability access level - no wheelchair access

Permitted

Cycling

Mountain biking is permitted on public roads, management trails and the World Heritage walk. Cycling is permitted on The Needles walking track between Mulligans Hut picnic area and Pidcocks trail only.

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.

Learn more

The Needles walking track is in Gibraltar Range National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

Lands of plenty

Mulligans Hut, Gibraltar Range National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

The European heritage of the park may be shorter, but look around and you'll find its traces clearly etched in the natural environment. Living around the range are direct descendants of graziers, lumberers and miners who made their livings here. Bullock teams and horses once struggled through the bush and granite tors, attempting to tame a landscape that today inspires for its wild ruggedness. Evidence of their work can be glimpsed at Mulligans campground, where an aborted hydro-electric scheme from the 1900s is memoralised by a remaining hut and several weirs. Hikers on the wide-reaching Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk might also notice relics of pre-WWII tin and gold-mining operations in the Grassy Creek area.

  • Dandahra Crags walking track Dandahra Crags walking track, in Gibraltar Range National Park, is a hiking route with scenic views and birdwatching opportunities.
  • Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk Keep an eye out for birds and wildflowers on the 45km Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk through eucalypt forests, rainforests, wetlands and granite tors in the rugged Northern Tablelands.

World Heritage Area

A couple looking out over the mountain range, Gibraltar Range National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

Part of the Gondwana Rainforests Reserves of Australia, Gibraltar Range is listed on the World Heritage register for rainforest plants that have existed since Australia was part of the Gondwana super-continent. Gibraltar Range National Park is home to several threatened species of animal: the endangered giant barred frog, which can grow to the size of a small adult's hand; and glossy black cockatoos, under threat from a loss of breeding habitat. Feeding locations are very important to the continuing survival of the cockatoo.

  • Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk Keep an eye out for birds and wildflowers on the 45km Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk through eucalypt forests, rainforests, wetlands and granite tors in the rugged Northern Tablelands.
  • The Needles walking track The Needles walking track offers jaw-dropping views of granite rock formations in Gibraltar Range National Park, near Glen Innes. Part of the Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk, it’s a great shorter walk option.

Years in the making

Little Dandahra Creek, Gilbraltar Range National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

Long stewarded through history by Aboriginal people in the area, the Gibraltar Range continues to hold significance for contemporary descendants. The Range is rich in cultural sites and sacred places, with Aboriginal groups having moved regularly between the tablelands and coastal plains, conducting ceremonies and gathering food along the way.

  • Dandahra Crags walking track Dandahra Crags walking track, in Gibraltar Range National Park, is a hiking route with scenic views and birdwatching opportunities.

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