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A forest trail
Photograph: Supplied

A new 4-day hike with forest gullies and huts is slated for this Blue Mountains NSW conservation area

The proposal includes the development of little cabins along the 100km-plus multi-day hike

Alice Ellis
Caitlyn Todoroski
Written by
Alice Ellis
&
Caitlyn Todoroski
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The NSW Government recently revealed plans to lease out part of the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area and Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains to a private company for up to 20 years, for the construction of 18 cabins along a four-day walking track. Development is underway on a number of new walking experiences within the Conservation Area, including a 5-kilometre, family-friendly Lost City walking track, and a 100-kilometre-plus walking track that will be a moderate-grade walking experience in remote landscape.

The big Gardens of Stone Walk track covers a huge range of terrain, featuring panoramic views of a waterway called Carne Creek, as well as clifftop views, sandstone escarpments, forested gullies, canyons and stone pagoda formations.

The idea is for it to cater to both independent as well as supported, guided walkers, and it should establish Lithgow (140km from Sydney, and running all the way to the Widden Valley) as a premier walking destination, potentially drawing in visitors from around the world. It will improve access to the existing Glow Worm Tunnel precinct and other visitor experiences within the Conservation Area, including cycling, short walks, camping and 4WD and motorcycle touring.

People standing on a cliff in the bush.
Photograph: Supplied

As mentioned, the Government is proposing engaging a private company, Wild Bush Luxury (part of Experience Co), to develop the new walking experience. Wild Bush Luxury is known for its thousands-of-dollar expeditions in different hiking areas around Australia. Their plan is to set up three sites along the Gardens of Stone Walk, each with a site containing six two-people cabins, a communal kitchen area and bathroom amenities. (With a hopeful operation target of summer 2025.)

Sounds fun, though not everyone is stoked about the idea of the lease and the cabins – with critics worried the project is prioritising money over the environment, and that the "natural and cultural heritage" of the landscape will be impacted.

Huts on a bush trail
Photograph: Supplied | Artists impression of Experience Co Gardens of Stone Walk Accomodation

Although non-paying walkers would still also be able to hike the four-day route by pitching tents in public campsites, Blue Mountains-based Keith Muir from Wilderness Australia told the ABC he's unhappy about the "privatisation" of a public space.

"Everybody should be treated the same in a park. We're all Australians, we come together in a campground and we share things, we share experiences," he said. 

He's concerned the proposal would set an "appalling precedent" by allowing development in the pagoda landscape – though the Blue Mountains branch of the National Parks and Wildlife Service has come back saying they wouldn't want to build on pagodas.

As part of the proposal, Wild Bush Luxury is seeking input from community members, over here.

Part of the proposed plan includes building timber boardwalks, similar to the newly constructed multi-day hike in neighbouring Katoomba. The new Grand Cliff Top Walk is part of the NSW Government’s plan to implement new hikes all around the state. You can find out a lot more about it over here.

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