Cycle Sydney, Mountain Bike Ride, The Glow Worm Tunnel Trail
The aim of this ride is to reach the Glow Worm Tunnel which is one of two abandoned train tunnels and now a popular tourist attraction. These tunnels were once part of a train line into the Wolgan Valley and get their name from a colony of glow worms that now call the 400m tunnel home. Technically simple this ride follows the well graded Glow Worm Tunnel Road along the Newnes Plateau before a gradual descent down to the tunnels. At around 50km in length this ride makes for a decent day in the saddle and is recommended for the reasonably fit.
Well graded dirt road and fire trail.
Vehicle traffic on Glow Worm Tunnel Road.
From Lithgow follow Inch Street, then turn left into Atkinson Street which soon turns into Glow Worm Tunnel Road and becomes unsealed. After 7-8km the Bungleboori picnic area will be reached where there is ample parking.
Food and Drink
No food or drink at trail head but shops located at nearby Lithgow.
Return leg via Old Coach Road. This option involves pushing your bike along a section of the Pagoda Track until its meeting with Old Coach Road. Fire Trail No. 7 at 16.7kms has some great views if you have the time.
Firstly a bit of history on the Glow Worm Tunnel; this is one of two abandoned tunnels which were once part of a railway line linking the Newnes shale-oil industrial development with the nearest main railway to Sydney. In the early 1900s the Newnes operation was large enough to warrant the construction of a railway. The line opened in 1906 but was eventually closed in 1930s and part of the railway track was dismantled and sent to Europe to fortify beaches in WW2.
The Glow Worm Tunnel itself is around 400m in length and curves through 180 degrees making it pitch black in the middle. The tunnel also has a small creek which flows through it and the dark damp conditions create the ideal habitat for the glow worms which cover the walls and roof of the tunnel. For the nature buffs the glow worms are the larvae of insects belonging to the order of Diptera (flie) and their scientific name is Arachnocampa richardsae. The glow is the result of bioluminescence and is the reaction of body products and oxygen in the insect’s execratory tubes.
A torch or some sort of light is essential for this ride and will be needed to ride through the first tunnel and if you intend to enter the glow worm tunnel itself. You can ride your bike through the first tunnel but make sure to keep an ear out for cars coming the other way. To view the glow worms, enter the Glow Worm Tunnel using your torch. Find a good possie and turn the torch off, shortly your eyes will adjust and thousands of little pin pricks of light become visible. Trail conditions for this ride are excellent, following a well graded dirt road suitable for 2wd vehicles for the duration of the ride.
The tunnels are popular especially on the weekends so keep an eye out for vehicle traffic and be sure to keep to the left. Once the Glow Worm Tunnel car park is reached a gate blocks vehicle traffic. Bikes can be ridden for another 2km to a locked gate but should be walked from here to the tunnel itself. Adventurous riders can return via a section of the Old Coach Road. This involves a short backtrack from the Glow Worm Tunnel to the Pagoda Track. Bikes must be wheeled / pushed along this section of track until the Old Coach Road is reached. From here you can ride back to the junction with the Glow Worm Tunnel Road up a steepish fire trail climb. Along the way enjoy the fantastic views of rock pagodas as you pedal your way back to the start.
Optional side trip returning via Old Coach Road:
This option should only be attempted by those confident with navigation and a map and compass should be carried at a minimum.
For this option back track from the Glow Worm Tunnel to the junction with the Pagoda Track approximately 0.5km. Turn left into the Pagoda Track and walk your bike to the end of this trail which is around one km until you reach an intersection with the Old Coach Rd. Turning left here and heading downhill will lead down to a crossing on the Wolgan River and Newnes. Turn right and follow the fire trail uphill. This is the start of some steep climbing. Note the views on your right-hand side as you climb and the interesting rock pagoda formations. After 5.5km you will reach an intersection with the Glow Worm Tunnel Road. Simply turn left into this and follow back to the camping area.
44.113 km / 27.41 mi
434 m / 1,425 ft
434 m / 1,425 ft
1,171 m / 3,843 ft