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TRACK NOTES > main menu

The Box Vale tunnel.TIME ESTIMATE: 3-4 hours


TRACK: Flat and easy walking most of the way as it follows the old railway system.


ATTRACTIONS: Historic tunnel, cuttings, loading area, magnificent views from the nearby lookout.

MAP/S: Lands, Mittagong 1:25000 and
Map 78.

GUIDE BOOK/S: 120 Walks in New South Wales by Tyrone Thomas.

Driving directions

CAUTION! These track notes are intended for evaluation purposes only and should not be relied upon as a sole guide to this walk/climb. They should be used in conjunction with the suggested topographical map/s and guide book/s listed above. Inexperienced trekkers/climbers are advised to read our getting started section.

The Box Vale Track, also referred to as "The Welby Coal Railway" is a uniquely different kind of walk as it is totally history based. Anyone with an interest in history will be sure to find this a fascinating walk, but it is the railway enthusiast that is likely to be the most appreciative.

The railway operated between 1888 and 1896 and serviced a coal mine that operated in the Nattai Gorge. The rail route includes an 85 metre long tunnel and a loading area. The loading area is situated at the top of a steep incline that was used to haul the coal in skips up from the gorge below. Various information panels and photographs of the time are displayed along the route.

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After following the driving instructions park at the carpark which is equipped with picnic tables and toilet facilities. Then follow the track to the west where it will join the original rail route. After you cross Nattai Creek you will need to ascend a set of steps to compensate for a wooden bridge that once stood here. The track is flat for the entire walk except for where several bridges are no longer in place. These places will be obvious as you suddenly find yourself walking steeply downhill then up and onto the flat again.

You will pass through three cuttings and several 4WD crossings. Approximately 1.5km from the start of the walk you will reach a right hand turn leading to the Forty Foot Falls. Take notice of this landmark if you plan on completing the Forty Foot Falls circuit which is outlined on an information board at the carpark. This is where the circuit track will bring you out. Continuing straight ahead you will soon come to the Casuarina Cutting. So named because of the Casuarina trees growing in it. You will encounter another five cuttings including boulder cutting and fern cutting before reaching the spectacular rail tunnel. This tunnel is impressive to say the least with it's arched roof cut through sandstone. A short distance beyond the tunnel is the similarly impressive loading area and incline ramp. A short detour to the right will bring you to the lookout area which displays views of the Nattai Gorge and views as far as Katoomba.

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From the loading area it is possible to continue down the incline aided by a steel cable which has been put in place for the purpose. The track then follows the river where it is crossed several times before making a right hand turn to Forty Foot Falls. This extension of the Box Vale Track is outlined on the information board at the carpark and we will be adding it to our Track Notes section in the near future.

The return route to your vehicle is the reverse of the walk in.


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