Hidden in the heart of the Watagans is the Boarding House Dam picnic area and walk, a magical and enchanting little place. Filled with waterfalls, creeks, and natural wildlife, it is a beautiful escape from the busy world.
Listen to the cicadas singing and immerse yourself in nature as you weave your way through the rainforest.
Located 55km from Newcastle and just over an hour’s drive, it is perfect for a day trip with family or friends. There are also places to camp throughout the Watagans region if you would prefer to stay overnight.
Plan ahead by having the directions saved prior as there is very limited to no reception once you enter the Watagans. Also, be mindful of the weather conditions and the type of car you are driving. It is recommended that you use a 4WD in wet conditions and a 2WD in dry conditions only. Please note – current safety alert indicates that Watagan Road is not suitable for 2WD vehicles. We went after a lot of rain and it was a very muddy and slippery drive in.
We met some friends in the car park and first took some photos standing on the enormous tree stump- make sure you look for the hidden face that has been carved out of it.
We then entered the rainforest following the dirt path until we got to a split in the path.
We chose to turn right onto the timber boardwalk that crosses straight over the dam itself.
We followed the very muddy and leafy path as it winded deep into the rainforest… up and down rocky stairs, climbing moss green trees, and hiding in tree stumps until we reached the creek.
Here we decided to go off-track and followed the creek along the water’s edge to explore a bit more, finding lots of hidden treasures on our way.
We then headed back, crossing over a beautiful wooden bridge to an amazing 120m green moss wall that overlooks and leads you back around to the other side of Boarding House creek.
You really need to see the moss wall in person as the photos just don’t do it justice.
It is magnificent and the perfect place to stop for a photo!
On our way back, we stopped to look at a large waterfall and the view of the creek leading back to the dam wall, then followed the path back to the car park.
The entire circuit spans only 700m in total, making it a perfect nature walk for all ages, particularly the little ones.
Our 3-year-old walked the entire track independently and our 20-month-old enjoyed exploring a lot of it on foot also.
We took our time to let the little ones explore, but overall it took us about 1 hour to complete the circuit.
Please ensure that you dress appropriately for a bush walk and wear enclosed walking shoes as there are a lot of rough and slippery surfaces, and there were also leaches around.
There are no eating facilities in the Watagans, however, you will find some picnic tables and BBQ areas where you can stop for lunch or to simply rest your legs.
We chose to take a packed lunch which we enjoyed together at the end of our walk. There are also toilet and handwashing facilities adjacent to the car park, but make sure you take plenty of drinking water with you.
Whether your goal is to get active or to simply immerse yourself in nature, this is a wonderful place to get outside and enjoy a family day out in the Watagans National Park. Why not start planning your trip today?
Want a more challenging walk in the Watagans? Explore Gap Creek Falls at Watagans National Park. If you have adventuresome kids, they will love the fun hike down to the waterfall.
Good to Know
Park Fees: No charge to enter Watagans National Park
Address: Boarding House Dam Track, Olney NSW 2325
Getting There: Boarding House Dam picnic area and walk is in northeastern section of Watagans National Park. Here are specific directions to get to this area on the National Parks & Service website. Note that there is a current safety alert that Watagan Road is not suitable for 2WD vehicles.
Ideal Age: All ages with parent supervision
Bring: Hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, drinking water and snacks
Facilities: Toilets, shaded picnic tables and barbecue facilities
Download: Install the NSW Parks App on your smartphone. You can download information and a park map and refer to it in the National Park. Note, there’s no phone coverage in this area.
Camping: Want to stay the night? Stay at the nearby Gap Creek Camping Area. There are no camping fees at this campground but a $6 booking fee applies. Bookings are required. Book online or call the National Parks Contact Centre on 1300 072 757.
Bianca grew up in Newcastle and loves everything about this wonderful city. A mum of two under 2 1/2, she cherishes the crazy and challenging, yet beautiful days that she gets to share with her children. On her days off she enjoys exploring new places together and creating fun and engaging play experiences, which she shares on her instagram account @mila.and.micah. When Bianca isn’t being Mum to her two, she is busy managing a local community-based childcare centre. She has 10 years experience as an Early Childhood Teacher and Director, and is passionate about play-based learning for the early years.