The Box Vale Mine track follows the formation of a historic railway line and passes through cuttings, along embankments and through a tunnel 84 metres in length. Although much of the surrounding terrain is steep and rocky, the four point four kilometre walking track has easy grades and the return walk takes about three hours. There is also a one point eight kilometre side track through bush land to 40 foot falls.
Address: Box Vale Road Mittagong. (or Bowral or Woodlands)
4.4 km one way for the Mine walk, very flat and easy 1.8 km side track to the Falls. 1.5 km on an easy trail and then some rather steep steps to the bottom of the falls. I completed the both walks and spent a little time exploring some tracks around the dam at the beginning of the track and still spent less then 4 hours here. There is also a 12km Loop track which takes you through the cuttings and tunnel before descending into the gorge and following Box vale creek, The Nattai River and then Nattai creek back to the 40 foot falls.
The descent into Nattai Gorge is called the Boxvale incline. It is a 300 metre, very, very steep, steel cable assisted descent to the bottom of the cliffs. I would recomment a decent level of fitness for the loop track, partly because of this steep and rough track and partly because the trail is quite over grown and hard to manage. I slowed to a crawl through most of the 2km that followed the Nattai river. Most of it was spent climbing over, around or under fallen trees or collapsing trail. Make sure you have a map with you also as it is not always obvious where the trail goes, especially when river crossings are involved. Of course if you feel like challenging and/or punishing yourself you can also do it in reverse. This means after a nice 4 hour walk you can do the Incline as a steep climb up! This option took me about 5 hours to complete.
The tranquil view down Nattai Creek, the first crossing on our walk today.
With all the train tracks removed all that is left is the carvings through the mountains. Beautiful and a little bit eerie to walk through.
If I’m honest this is the main reason this walk got my attention. There is something very cool about an abandoned and deserted train tunnel out in the middle of no where!
The view from Nattai Gorge lookout. There are a couple of tables set up here if you wanted to enjoy your lunch in this stunning setting.
(When I was here in summer I backtracked from the lookout and back through the cuttings to the fire trail where I took a left and found my way to 40 foot falls that way. I came back the following winter to do the complete loop trail. Some more information for that at the bottom)
At the bottom of the falls its time for a swim! and why not? We done this walk on new years eve and it was very hot!
The climb back up was a little torturous in the summer heat though and it was almost tempting to go right back down to the water.
Once you get back up the steps, keep an eye out for a small scrub path where you can find your way to the top of the waterfall. A nice little side trip with an interesting outlook.
Well its Australia in the summer in the bush after all. We all know to be careful of the danger noodle critters. This one had no intention of moving even after Buffy had jumped right over it. So i took the long way around while she waited there…
Back near the start of the walk we found this pretty little bush path that led on a nice walk around the beautiful dam. A perfect place to cool down after a long hot summer hike.
Also a great place for chasing ducks!
Part 2: The loop
I came back in july of 2019, six months later to finally finish the walk properly. I started by going through the first of the cuttings on the boxvale track and then taking a right on to the fire trail. I followed this and took the straightest and widest pathway each time I had to choose. When I reached the picnic table I also continued straight, this turned out to be wrong and added a lovely little half hour loop to my day. When I reached the picnic table a second time I took a right where the signs have been removed from the signpost and descended the steps to the 40 foot falls.
The fire trail that leads towards 40 foot falls.
The steps down to 40 foot falls.
You can walk behind the waterfalls into a lovely cave, something I had not realized on my previous visit here.
So after a very bad flood some years ago, a good amount of the trail looks somewhat like this. Because of this it took me nearly 2 hours to cover about two kms of track. There was a lot of ducking and weaving and navigating around fallen trees and other obstacles. Pay close attention to the map and where you should be crossing the creeks and rivers. If you lose the path, you may have missed a crossing.
It is not all about the challenges though. There are some truly beautiful things to see, like the changing scenery along the Nattai River.
This amazing natural sandstone arch that the track goes underneath.
and also some very pretty rainforest to walk through.
And then there are these cliffs. We are on our way to find our way up these cliffs.
It’s pretty hard to show in a picture just how steep and horrid this was to walk up. There is a steel cable there to help haul yourself up safely and there are places when it is certainly a necessity. The incline is 300 metres and took me around 25 minutes to climb up. The Mines used to be down here and the full mining carts would be hauled up this incline before being dragged back out the vale through what are now the cuttings.. Once you make it up its an easy hour walk back through the tunnel and then the cuttings to return to the carpark. I done it and I am glad I did but I don’t think I would be rushing to do it again soon 🙂