NOTE: In 2015, the Mt Warning National Park, previously known as Wollumbin, was declared an Aboriginal Place belonging to the Bundjalung People. It is a sacred place of great spiritual significance to the people of the Bundjalung Nation, as such, visitors are now asked to refrain from climbing Mt Warning out of the respect for the culture of Bundjalung people.
Mt. Warning is an 1157 meter (3796 feet) high mountain in the northeast corner of New South Wales, Australia. Located only about 35 km (21.75 miles) inland from the coast, this mountain is the highlight of Wollumbin National Park. It is a part of the much larger Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, a collection of nearly fifty natural reserves protected by UNESCO.
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Most visitors come to Wollumbin National Park with one goal in mind – to complete the Mr. Warning climb, a day hike that offers spectacular views of Australia’s rugged landscape and sprawling eastern coastline.
We completed the Mt. Warning climb in 2014 before the mountain was declared an Aboriginal Place and really enjoyed our experience. However, today, we opt to side with the wishes of the local people and do not recommend that you proceed with the experience.
However, those that choose to undertake the climb nevertheless, will find some additional information about the mountain below.
About Mt. Warning
Mt. Warning was originally called Wollumbin by the Bundjalung people, an aboriginal group in New South Wales. To these people, the mountain is a sacred place where a number of rituals and ceremonies are still performed to this day.
In 1770, the mountain was renamed Mt. Warning by captain James Cook when he sailed along the coast on an expedition. In 1967, the reserve was proclaimed a national park and today, Mt. Warning is destination loved by tourists and locals alike.
Mt. Warning itself is quite a unique geological feature. A volcano called the Tweed Volcano used to stand in its place and erupted some 23 million years ago.
At the time, it was nearly double the height of the current day Mt. Warning.
After the eruption, the volcano shrank and cooled, completely reforming to become what we now know as Mt. Warning. The volcanic plug is still visible today in the shape of the mountain, adding a unique landscape to this beautiful hike.
What to Know Before the Mt. Warning Climb
How Long Does It Take to Climb Mt. Warning?
The hike up to Mt. Warning is 8.8 kilometres (5.4 miles) round trip. For most people, this means the Mt. Warning hike takes between 4 and 5 hours to complete.
Mt. Warning Climb Difficulty Level
In general, the Mt. Warning climb difficulty is high. Since it is so strenuous, you’ll need a good level of physical fitness to complete the journey. No matter your experience on the trail, make sure to watch your footing as the path gets very steep and rocky in parts.
Towards the very top of the trail, you’ll need to scramble and crawl over loose gravel paths. In bad weather, the Mt. Warning walk should not be attempted even by the most experienced hikers as tree roots and rocks can get very slippery.
How to Get to Mt. Warning
In order to access the Mt. Warning trail, you’ll need to turn off of highway 32 (Kyogle Road) onto Mt. Warning Road. There is no public transportation in the national park, so you’ll need to rent a car to get there.
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How to Prepare for the Mt. Warning Climb
Start Before Sunrise
While it might be difficult to complete the hike in the low light before dawn, it’s worth the challenge to get to be the first people to see the sunrise in Australia.
The mountain faces east over the water, offering a perfect view of the ocean with the sun coming up. If you plan on doing the Mt. Warning sunrise hike, make sure to bring a headlamp and wear some warm layers – it will be chilly at the top!
If you’re not planning to do a Mt. Warning sunrise hike, we’d still recommend you go early in the day to get the best light and beat the crowds. We chose to climb Mt Warning midday and were absolutely exhausted from the heat, so don’t make our mistake!
Where to Stay Near Mt. Warning
We visited Mt Warning as a day trip from Brisbane, while living there back in 2014. While we have not personally experienced the suggested accommodation options below, they seem like great choices for anyone looking to stay close to Mt Warning.
Mt. Warning Rainforest Park
The Mt. Warning Rainforest Park offers three kinds of accommodations: rainforest cabins, riverside cabins, and camping sites. It’s close to Wollumbin National Park, has a commitment to sustainability, offers excellent facilities make it one of the best options for a Mt. Warning accommodation.
Mt. Warning Bed & Breakfast Retreat
If you’re interested in a simple, yet homey hotel, then book your stay at the Mt. Warning Bed & Breakfast Retreat. This Mt. Warning accommodation features a mixture of rooms in the guest house and stand-alone ensuite cabins.
Mt. Warning Rainforest Retreat
Mt. Warning Rainforest Retreat is a quirky and peaceful rainforest hideaway right near the entrance of Wollumbin National Park. Here, you’ll have your own private jungle cottage to relax in after a long day on the trail.
How Much Does it Cost to do the Mt. Warning Climb?
Luckily for tourists, the Mt. Warning climb is free! There is no cost to complete the hike itself or to park your car at the trailhead. It is worth noting, however, that the parking is limited, so come early to beat the crowds.
What to Pack for the Mt. Warning Hike
Since the Mt. Warning walk is a day hike, you won’t need to pack any overnight gear but you will need to be well prepared. Make sure you have some good quality, broken in hiking shoes (we’re a big fan of our Underarmour boots) and wear socks that will not cause blistering.
Sweat resistant clothing is your best choice in order to absorb moisture and keep you cool during the hike. Depending on the temperature, layers may also be a good idea as well. Our favourite hiking gear is from a sustainable clothing brand, prAna.
The Australian sun is infamously strong, so make sure you have a hat, sunblock, and sunglasses with you. In addition, it’s definitely a good idea to pack rain gear in case the weather doesn’t work out in your favour.
Last but not least, don’t forget a first aid kit just to be on the safe side. In general, be prepared, exercise caution, and know your limits. If you’re in doubt, it’s better to turn around than take any risks. As with any trip, especially an active and adventurous one, we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance.
Do you think you’re up for the challenge of Mount Warning?
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