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Gardens of Stone National Park
Close up detail of hardened bands of rock resulting from invasion of softer rock by harder minerals in solution. These minerals have settled in bands and resisted weathering.

Gardens of Stone National Park

Latitude -33.126195, Longitude 150.015564

Located on the Blue Mountains Western Slopes, nearest large town Lithgow

Source: National Parks Wildlife Service

Link to Detailed Map

The park is within the Sydney Basin geological region on the Blue Mountains Plateau, and is comprised primarily of sandstone. It is well known for the unusual pagoda rock formations produced by erosion of sandstone outcrops.

Although the cliff-forming Triassic sedimentary rocks dominate the park and are preserved as imposing sandstone plateaus and mesas, the landscape is also influenced by the less resistant sedimentary rocks of the Devonian and Permian periods.

Devonian rocks form the basement to the region. They comprise a folded sequence of shale, siltstone, quartzite, tuff and limestone, and are exposed in the floor of the valleys containing Coco, Airly and Crown Creeks located to the east of Capertee.

Permian and Triassic cover rocks that overlie the Devonian basement belong to the western edge of the geological and geomorphological feature known as the Sydney Basin. The tilt of the strata in this section of the Sydney Basin is shallowly downward in easterly to south-easterly directions. The Permian sequence contains the Illawarra Coal Measures that are visible beneath cliff lines along the Capertee and Wolgan river valleys and many of the bigger creeks. The coal seams and the shale, siltstone and sandstone strata weather to rich deep clay loams that form steep densely vegetated slopes.

The Triassic sequence within the mesas, plateaus and cliffs consists of thick sandstone beds with intervening shale and claystone horizons and resistant 'ironstone' layers and bands. These rocks, which are underlain by the more thinly bedded and softer sandstones, siltstones and shales of the transitional Caley Formation, mainly belong to units of the Narrabeen Group (principally the Grose Sandstone and Burralow Formation).

The highly resistant layers of flat or coiled ironstone within relatively easily crumbled sandstone allow weathering of one layer of rock at a different rate to other layers of rock (called differential weathering). This results in the beehive, dome, castellated and elaborate platform shaped features commonly called Pagodas.

The aerially extensive Narrabeen Group has given rise to the park's characteristically dissected landscape, dominated by deep valleys, slot canyons, waterfalls, and towering cliffs and pagodas, as in the Wolgan and Capertee valleys.

Getting There

Gardens of Stone National Park is located on the western side of the Blue Mountains. The park is approximately 160 kilometres north-west of Sydney and 30 kilometres north of Lithgow on the Central Tablelands of NSW. From Sydney drive west through the Blue Mountains past Lithgow, and take the Mudgee Road to Capertee then turn right to Glen Davis. Gravel roads in this area can become slippery and dangerous after rain.

Other access to the pagoda formations can be gained by travelling north from Lithgow on the State Mine Gully Road. The Lost City is a well known and spectacular collection of pagodas with easy 4WD access and a parking site. The Glow Worm Tunnel road leads off the State Mine Gully Road follow it and towards the end of the pine plantation (Lat -33.403900 Long 150.198401) there is a camp site on the right, turn off to the direct left here, do not follow the Old Bells Line of Road leading North West. Travel west for approximately 418 metres where you will cross an intersection continue straight ahead for another 538m to a fork in the road (lat -33.406972 Long 150.189420) take the left fork and travel approximately 537m to another fork (lat 33.409122 Long 150.185110) turn left and travel another 497m to the next fork and turn left. Follow this road approximately 1 km to see The Lost City formation.

You can get a good view of Pantoneys Crown, from Pearsons lookout, 2.75km south of Capertee and 6.5km north of Ben Bullen on the Castlereagh Highway leading to Mudgee.

Hassans Walls is another spectacular easy accessed site to view the results of weathering of sandstone. To get to there from Lithgow take Browns Gap Road or Hassans Walls Road to get to the plateau. Hassans Walls Lookout and Braceys Lookout have picnic shelters and toilets.

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