Olney State Forest is a part of the beautiful State Forests of the Watagan Mountains. Located west of Lake Macquarie, Olney is bordered by Wyong State Forest, Watagan State Forest and Watagan National Park. Forests in this area have been harvested for timber for many decades, more than 100 years. The forests you see today are regrowth forests, having been harvested many times over and grown back. Today’s forest management practices protect biodiversity, soil and water quality and cultural heritage sites while also allowing for sustainable timber production.
Address: The Pines Camping grounds, Watagan Forest Road Martinsville.
Distance: Pines walking trail is a short and pretty trail following Dora creek. It should take half hour max and is of a rather Easy grade. Abbots Fall walking trail is a 7.3km Hard graded walk that will take you roughly 3 hours to complete. It also covers much of the Pines Trail along the way. (Some in depth track notes.. although they don’t mention the falls descent!) Rock Lily Walking trailis a 1.5 km track that will take less then an hour to complete. Because of some steep inclines up the escarpment I would consider this one Hard grade also. Please note that the Rock Lily track is a 30 minute drive from the other walks.
After a rather long drive down some pretty terribly pothole filled dirt roads (I have been in enough state forests now that I would be pretty surprised if a horrible pothole filled road was not part of the journey) this is what you see as you follow the signs to The Pines picnic area.
The massive pines looming up into the sky create an otherworldly atmosphere. It is incredibly peaceful.. and maybe a little spooky.
From The Pines picnic area you descend down to the lovely Dora creek dotted with old hand made dams and pools.
This part of the walk is The Pines walk. Its a nice, short and easy walk with some well made steps and bridges.
Some gorgeous little waterfalls and cascades can be spotted all along the creek especially after a little wet weather.
Some really nice parts of this walk go through huge tall pines and eucalypts with some lovely views glimpsed through the trees in places.
Eventually we descent back down through some more moist forest toward the sound of running water.
This is the top of Abbots Falls and as close to seeing the falls on my first visit. Unless you know what you are looking for the way down is not something you are going to stumble across. If like me you started out at the picnic area, walked past the toilets and headed downhill then you would have came to the creek from the right of the picture and cross over to the left side. Once you cross the creek, the main trail quite quickly heads away from the waterfall but keep an eye out for a secondary track only about ten metres after crossing the creek. You follow this track back about 100 metres and eventually come to an end of the track. Here you can climb down the cliff with the help of a couple of ropes attached to a tree. Its only about 3-4 metres high, daunting but not overly difficult.
Once down follow the track the 100 metres back to the bottom of the waterfall.
The waterfall is in this stunning amphitheatre. Absolutely gorgeous. Would have been nice to sit for a little longer and enjoy it but Buffy got tied to a tree up the top since she refused to come down the cliff with me 😡 So just long enough for a few very rushed photos and a run back.
On our drive to The Basin camp ground (which is roughly 30 minutes from The Pines on some rather horrid pothole filled dirt road… So normal state forest roads.) One of the uglier sides of any State forest. Seems so bleak and unexpected in such a beautiful place.
The Rock Lily walk is a short loop walk, starting and ending at The Basin camp area that I would have considered Easy grade except for the rather steep and slippery ascent and descent of the escarpment. I nearly ended up on my backside a couple of times.
This is a nice walk for people who like caves and surely that’s most people and even some border collies.
The track spends a lot of time winding around Wollombi Brook as well. Very picturesque and peaceful.
It is a long drive in to Olney Forest on some pretty bad roads. But the peace and the tranquility once you are here is unbeatable. It really does feel like another world. It is rare to hear a car or run in to another person.. and isn’t that why we head into the forest?