Carl doesn’t like to rise early on a Sunday morning so he wasn’t very pleased when I told him we had to be up at six to take a three-hour drive to go and see some glowworms.
‘What for?’ he asked. ‘Scouts. It’s a scout activity we were supposed to do a year ago but couldn’t because of the bush fires so it’s on tomorrow’. He actually replied, ‘Do you want to go on your own?’
I couldn’t understand the reluctance. I thought it would be lovely to be up early and attacking the day with a trip to see something I’d never seen before then head to a pub or cafe for lunch. Sounded perfect to me.
Unfortunately, we slept in and then there was a terrible scramble to get out the door because we had to meet everyone else at a fast-food outlet on the other side of the Blue Mountains in Lithgow by 9am. As I ran around trying to get everyone ready I tried to remember what the email stated we needed to bring. I remembered a backpack, a bottle of water and a jacket in case it gets cold.
We headed off in the car only to discover it had but a whiff of petrol (uni students). We detoured to the closest petrol station but arrived to find it hadn’t yet opened. We scratched our heads trying to think of where there was another one (because service stations seem to be disappearing), and then had to take another 15-minute detour to the next closest bowser.
By now Carl was grumpy. He hadn’t had his lovely sleep-in, he hadn’t had a coffee and we were running nearly an hour late.
We made up for some lost time on the M4 but then I announced I needed a toilet break and Carl couldn’t understand why I couldn’t hold on for another hour or so. Anyway, at the convenience store where they had bathroom facilities they also had a coffee machine and so Mr Grumpy cheered up – just a little.
We arrived at the meeting place and settled in to a dire breakfast where I didn’t really eat much but it didn’t bother me because I knew we were near the glow-worms and after that I could step into the nearest cafe.
From Lithgow we continued on through the very picturesque Wolgan Valley and it was then that I remembered the email had said, ‘Don’t forget your torch for the tunnel’. Whoops. Never mind, we had our mobile phones.
When we arrived at the sign that pointed us in the direction of the Wollomi Glow Worm Tunnel, I noticed all the other adults had things on their feet like hiking boots. Carl said, ‘Do we have to walk to the tunnel?’ And apparently I hadn’t seen that bit of the email that said it was an 11km round trip across varying types of terrain.
And we noticed the other adults had large packs filled with drinks and edibles to make a wonderful picnic lunch and that was when I remembered the email said, ‘Take some water, drinks and food with you’.
Carl asked, ‘Did you pack any food?’ And then I was really annoyed because I hate the way I’m the one who apparently has to think of everything. So we started the walk not even speaking. Except when Carl mentioned he was ‘starving already’ and he’d had several McMuffins less than an hour ago and we hadn’t even crossed the creek at the start of the hike.
That’s the other thing. At the start of this hike, there is a creek you have to cross and you will need waterproof hiking boots as it’s not that shallow. We didn’t have any of those luxuries so we had to take off our shoes and socks and walk across in bare feet then try to put our socks back on, on wet dirty feet. I could feel grating grits for the next 11kms.
When you don’t have other people around annoying you, it’s actually a very lovely walk. It’s not that difficult although there were some ‘thrills and spills’ and a few of the younger children had some tears. But you’re in a very picturesque environment with ever-changing scenery and you’re out in the fresh air and there’s hardly any people around and I found it really enjoyable.
At a certain point the track heads off in two different directions and you can choose between the walking track or the railway track. It’s hard to believe there was ever a railway in this environment but apparently, back in the 1970′s there was a plan to mine coal in the area. The tunnel we were walking towards is man-made and was excavated as part of the coal works that never went ahead.
Taking the railway track, it took us a couple of hours to reach the entrance of the tunnel. This is where everyone sat down and opened up their picnic hampers for a few snacks. We just watched. Carl cheered up when a benevolent man offered him a Danish.
It takes about 15-minutes to walk through the tunnel. Once you go around the bend, it’s pitch-black so don’t forget to bring your torch! Carl and I shared the light from my mobile phone while Alfie had run ahead with Carl’s phone. It’s not smooth underfoot and there is a stream running through it so you do need to watch where you’re going to avoid soggy footwear and/or a twisted ankle.
There are plenty of glow worms to see and they are spectacular. I’d never seen glow worms before. They light up the tunnel like stars in a distant sky. The best thing to do is stop, switch off your torch/phone, then allow the worms to glow. The effect will be the prettiest tunnel you’ve ever been in.
Once through the other side, our group sat down and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Except we didn’t have a picnic lunch. There was another member of the scouts who took pity on the disorganised few and gave us a trail bar each. It was enough to get us back down the mountain – just. After that it was straight to the nearest cafe that wasn’t near enough.
Verdict: The Wollemi Glow Worm Tunnel is definitely worth a visit. It is a little far from Sydney for a day trip but it can be done if you are organised. The surroundings are a spectacular example of the Australian landscape and you will see many beautiful and amazing glimpses of Australian fauna and fauna.
Wollemi Glow Worm Tunnel: Wollemi National Park, Blue Mountains, Australia
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