Nattai National Park

Nattai National Park is a wild park with limited vehicle access and minimal visitor facilities. Of its 50,000 hectares, two thirds are declared wilderness. In a historic move, it was the first wilderness declared under Australia’s first Wilderness Act, in 1991. The park owes its natural condition to rugged sandstone terrain with numerous clifflines, and its earlier protection as part of the Warragamba Catchment Area.

The park occupies the south-eastern corner of the Blue Mountains plateau, between Lake Burragorang and the settled areas of the Southern Highlands. The park is open to self-contained bushwalkers, except for a three kilometre exclusion zone around the water storage. Other visitors can look into part of the area from Wollondilly Lookout on Wombeyan Caves Road.

Before Warragamba Dam was completed in 1960, Burragorang Valley on the beautiful Wollondilly River was a rich farming area, and had long been a productive part of the Gundungurra and Dharawal homelands. Almost completely surrounded by high cliffs backed by less fertile sandstone plateaus, the valley was often referred to as a Shangri-la. It was a crossroads for early bushwalkers, who would often walk in from the train at Thirlmere, following the easy ‘Couridjah Corridor’ through Thirlmere Lakes, the tall forests of Blue Gum Creek and Little River.

Pioneer conservationist Myles Dunphy was one who passed that way. With some friends, it was he who in the 1930s developed the original and visionary proposal for a vast Blue Mountains national park stretching from Nattai towards the Hunter Valley. His great legacy was only achieved after nearly 70 years of effort by later generations of conservationists.

Myles Dunphy, Roy Rudder and Herb Gallop had formed the Mountain Trails Club, one of the earliest bushwalking clubs, in 1914. The club’s certificate of membership said: You were not the first over the trail: leave the pleasant places along the way just as pleasant for those who will follow you.