Tree Fern Forest walking track

Gibraltar Range National Park

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Overview

Tree Fern Forest walking track is an iconic 9.2km loop walk through World Heritage-listed rainforest and dramatic heathlands in Gibraltar Range National Park, between Glen Innes and Grafton.

Accessibility
No wheelchair access
Distance
9.2km loop
Time suggested
3 - 4hrs
Grade
Grade 3
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen, suitable clothing
Please note

The optional side track to The Needles is an extra 3.5km return walk.

Popular with bushwalkers and families with older children, Tree Fern Forest walking track is an invigorating day walk and a great way to get a little taste of everything Gibraltar Range National Park has to offer.

Starting from Mulligans campground and picnic area, you’ll pass through verdant rainforest and emerge into the wonderful 60m high blue gum forest with its tree fern understory. Continuing on, you’ll then ascend into open eucalypt forests and heathlands, passing rocky outcrops and spectacular cascades, before meeting Little Dandahra Creek and following its winding waters and natural pools back to Mulligans campground.

To make a powerful connection with nature, make sure to engage all your senses as you walk. Take in the lush scent of the rainforest when you set off, followed by rich eucalypt and tea-tree as your make your way into the heathlands. And keep an eye out for some of the threatened species that call the park home, including the scarlet robin and rufous scrub-bird.

Summer walks are a particular highlight, as you can escape the heat and immerse yourself in the track’s mild temperature high altitudes and refreshingly cool rainforest.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Nearby

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

    Mulligans campground and picnic area

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

  • Little Dandahra Creek walking track, Gilbraltar Range National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary  © OEH

    Little Dandahra Creek walking track

    Little Dandahra Creek walking track, in Gibraltar Range National Park, offers scenic views along the trail as well as birdwatching and swimming opportunities.

  • View across wooded slope to the rock spires of The Needles. Photo © Leah Pippos

    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.

Map


Map legend

Map legend

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/tree-fern-forest-walking-track/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Tree Fern Forest walking track.

Track grading

Grade 3

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

    3 - 4hrs

  • Quality of markings

    Sign posted

  • Gradient

    Short steep hills

  • Distance

    9.2km loop

  • Steps

    Many steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track, some obstacles

  • Experience required

    Some bushwalking experience recommended

Getting there and parking

Tree Fern Forest walking track starts from Mulligans campground in Gibraltar Range National Park. To get there:

  • From Glen Innes, drive 68km east towards Grafton along the Gwydir Highway.
  • From Grafton, drive 92km west towards Glen Innes along the Gwydir Highway.
  • Drive along Mulligans Drive for 9km to the campground. 9km of these roads are unsealed.

Road quality

  • Mixture of sealed and unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • All weather

Parking

Parking is available at Mulligans campground.

Best times to visit

There are lots of great things waiting for you in Gibraltar Range National Park. Here are some of the highlights.

Spring

The most popular time of the year to visit, spring sees the park erupt into a vibrant display of wildflowers, including the Gibraltar waratah.

Summer

Take in an early morning bushwalk before the day heats up, then cool down in one of the many waterways, like the Little Dandahra Creek.

Winter

It can be below freezing at night, but the daytime temperatures make this the best time of the year to take in some of the longer treks like the Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

13°C and 24.1°C

Highest recorded

35°C

Winter temperature

Average

1°C and 13.2°C

Lowest recorded

-8.9°C

Rainfall

Wettest month

January

Driest month

August

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

258.4mm

Facilities

  • Non-flush toilets, picnic tables, barbecues and car parking are available at Mulligans campground, near the start of this walk.
  • Drinking water is limited or not available in this area, so it's a good idea to bring your own.
  • There are no bins, 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.

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.

Water activities

Beaches, rivers and lakes in NSW national parks offer lots of opportunities for water activities. Please take care in the water and find out how to help your family and friends stay safe around water.

Accessibility

Disability access level - no wheelchair access

Prohibited

Cycling

Cycling is not permitted on this walk. If you’d like to cycle in the park, you can do so along World Heritage Walk and management trails.

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

Tree Fern Forest 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 and picnic area, 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.

  • Dandahra Falls walking track Suitable for fit and experienced bushwalkers only, Dandahra Falls walking track in Gibraltar Range National Park offers impressive waterfall views in stunning World Heritage surrounds.
  • Duffer Falls walking track Within easy reach of Glen Innes or Grafton and ideal for a day trip, Duffer Falls walking track offers waterfall views in the beautiful forest setting of Gibraltar Range National Park.
  • 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.
  • Junction Spur walking track For experienced bushwalkers only, Junction Spur walking track in Gibraltar Range National Park will suit adventure seekers who want to get off the beaten track and explore the 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.
  • Tree Fern Forest walking track Tree Fern Forest walking track is an iconic 9.2km loop walk through World Heritage-listed rainforest and dramatic heathlands in Gibraltar Range National Park, between Glen Innes and Grafton.
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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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