When it comes to classic outdoor experiences in Queanbeyan-Palerang, a visit to The Big Hole in Deua National Parks is a must. Traversing through Kings Highway, this road trip will take you to the beautiful heritage town of Braidwood and one of the largest national parks in the area, Deua National Park, before showcasing the gold mining past of the region with a visit to the villages of Majors Creek and Araluen.
Please note that due to the impact of the 19/20 bushfires, Covid-19, and recent weather conditions, some areas and tracks might be closed at the time of your visit. Additionally, to ensure Covid-safe travel, all camping in NSW national parks requires a booking through NSW NPWS. Always check the NSW National Parks website for the latest information.
Kings Highway from Queanbeyan to Braidwood
Before you head out onto the Kings Highway, start by grabbing a coffee and some breakfast at one of Queanbeyan’s cosy cafes, such as 4th Seed or Thirty4 Cafe and Restaurant. You’ll find cafes to suit any taste along Queanbeyan CBD, so take some time to stroll along the main streets of town to find your favourite spot. Don’t forget to also stop by the local shops to grab any last minute road trip essentials before hitting the road towards Braidwood.
If you are looking to stop along the way to Braidwood, there’s no better place to do so than in Bungendore. Explore the town’s unique boutiques and renowned galleries before getting back on the road.
Once you reach Braidwood, stretch your legs at the popular Ryrie Park to soak up some sun before continuing to explore the heritage town on foot. If you are looking for more information on the town and the surrounding areas, make sure to pop by the Braidwood Visitor Information Centre for a wide range of maps and brochures. The centre is run by local volunteers with plenty of first-hand knowledge of the area, including the surrounding national parks.
Braidwood is also filled with a plethora of boutiques brimming with jewellery, fashion, antiques and homewares, and everything in between. In addition, the colonial buildings lining the streets of the town are home to numerous cafes, restaurants and bakeries serving beautiful local food.
On a nice sunny day, you can also head out to the popular local swimming hole, Bombay Reserve, which lies on the banks of the Shoalhaven River.
Deua National Park
Next, you will be in for a real treat with a visit to the enormous Deua National Park. From Braidwood, drive south along Cooma Road for about 30 minutes before turning left at the sign to Berlang and The Big Hole, where you’ll find the Berlang campground carpark. As this campground is accessible by 2WD vehicles, it’s a very popular campground in high season, so get in early if you’d like to spend the night.
While Deua National Park is known for its vast landscapes of valleys and rivers, high plateaus and rugged mountains and deep gorges and dry ridges, its most famous feature is The Big Hole. The region’s major natural attraction is a 96m deep and 50m wide pit which can be safely observed from a lookout. The Big Hole is accessed from Berlang campground and the walk is about a 4km roundtrip. If you are looking for a longer bushwalk, take on the 11km Marble Arch Track, which continues further from the Big Hole track and takes you to a cave with a car sized boulder over its entrance.
When visiting the national parks, please keep in mind that the weather can be extreme and unpredictable, so you should ensure you are well prepared for your visit.
From Deua National Park, take a break in the charming and relaxed old mining village of Majors Creek, a 30-minute drive from Berlang campground. First starting off as a retired soldier’s farm and then becoming a prosperous gold mining town, Majors Creek has gone through many changes over the years. Today, the idyllic village is a thriving community with a big heart, nestled at the top of Araluen Valley, a stone’s throw from the historic town of Braidwood. Take a step back in time by paying a visit to the iconic St Stephen’s Anglican Church, which was built of hand cut local stone in the early 1870s, and grab a bite to eat after a long day of exploring at the historic Elrington Hotel, or simply take some time to relax in the great outdoors.
When heading towards your next destination, Araluen, please note that you should avoid Majors Creek Mountain Road. Recent adverse weather events have impacted the condition of the road.
Finish your road trip by heading down to Araluen, also knows as the Valley of Peace. In its heyday, the valley used to be one of the most famous gold mining towns in New South Wales. Now, the village is known for its picturesque scenery and calm, country atmosphere. Set up camp at the large and open Araluen Creek Camping Area, nestled at the foot of a mountain. Although your chances of finding any traces of gold are slim to none, gold panning at the picnic area beside the Araluen River is a great pathway to living the history of the village.