Ancient Volcano with Panoramic Views
The distinctive curved silhouette of Wollumbin Mount Warning represents the last defiant stand of an ancient volcano that once utterly dominated this landscape.
Today’s landscape was carved by the activity and destruction of the enormous Tweed Shield Volcano. Beyond the mountain, the bowl-shaped coastline and rich soils of Northern NSW also hint at this region’s fiery history.
After the volcano’s collapse, the largest caldera in the southern hemisphere—The Tweed Valley—was formed. It’s centrepiece, the majestic Wollumbin Mount Warning, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Byron hinterland and coastline and one of the best walks near Byron Bay.
Let’s discover Wollumbin Mount Warning and the dramatic landscape it rises above.
A Brief History of Wollumbin Mount Warning
Wollumbin Mount Warning is the pinnacle of Northern NSW’s luscious coastal landscape.
It was once part of the crater rim of the enormous Tweed shield volcano that poured lava over an area in excess of 7,000km2. The volcano collapsed 23 million years ago, forming one of the world’s largest calderas – a huge crater 40km in diameter.
The peak’s tilted summit, which gives it an almost teardrop appearance, is a ubiquitous feature of the skyline as far south as Byron Bay. Captain Cook named the peak Mount Warning in 1770. Visible from the ocean, the peak warned mariners of the treacherous offshore reefs along this stretch of coastline.
Its Aboriginal name, Wollumbin, was added in 2009. This Bundjalung word gives a sense of how this peak dominates the surrounding landscape, meaning ‘fighting chief of the mountains’. When you stand at the summit with Byron Bay’s nature stretching out beneath you, it’s hard to disagree with this powerful name.
Breath-taking Scenery at Every Turn
The luscious rainforests of Bundjalung country reach across the hinterland of Northern NSW. Everything here grows in rich volcanic soil, carpeting the region in stunning green forests and colourful flora.
Immediately surrounding the peak is the Wollumbin National Park.
One notable inhabitant of this World Heritage-listed area is the rare Antarctic Beech Nothofagus moorei, found here in significant number.
The Green Caldera and our Richly Abundant Foodbowl
Among the rainforest stretches the abundant farmland known as the Green Cauldron –the Northern Rivers’ sumptuous food bowl. The mineral-rich volcanic soils and favourable subtropical climate deliver fresh, flavoursome produce year-round.
Sustainably-grown fruit, vegetables and other bush foods grow here in abundance along with delicious grass-fed wagyu beef.
This provides endless culinary inspiration for the region’s gourmets. That includes Simon Jones, chef at Azure Bar and Grill, who provides a truly provincial paddock-to-plate experience with his breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
To sample local produce direct from the growers of the Green Cauldron, visit the weekly Byron Farmer’s Market. Stallholders include Nimbin Valley Dairy, Wiccawood Farm Products and Mount Warning Honey.
Climbing Wollumbin Mt Warning
Hiking to the summit of Mount Warning is one of this region’s talked-about experiences*.
Only an hour’s drive from the Elements resort, the summit can be reached in around two hours from the Breakfast Creek Car Park.
You’ll spot the peak towering above the trees as you arrive in the car park. Once you begin the walk, however, the summit disappears as the walking track gets swallowed into the lush subtropical and temperate rainforest.
As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for the abundant bird species that call this rainforest home. These include the rare and endangered rufous scrub-bird, wompoo pigeon, marbled frogmouth and Albert’s lyrebird.
The trek is a leisurely uphill walk along well-maintained paths. There are several moments along the way where you emerge from the forest and can gaze out over this stunning landscape.
Just before the summit, there is a more challenging section. This final summit ascent is a scramble over large sections of rock. There are even parts where you’ll need to use the chains provided or a sturdy tree branch for help in getting up and down.
This rock scramble may prove too much for some hikers. Before taking it on, assess if you’ll feel as confident coming back down as well as up. For those who choose not to take this part on, you’ll still be able to enjoy incredible views from a lookout at this point.
All who reach the summit are rewarded with a panoramic view that is nothing short of spectacular. With the Pacific Ocean stretching out to the east and the hinterland of Byron Bay and Northern NSW all around, you’ll want to take your time, enjoy a picnic and snap a few selfies before heading back down.
For safety reasons, it’s best to embark on the 8.8km walk in the morning and certainly before 1 pm. This will give you plenty of time to hike up to the top, enjoy the view and descend before dark.
For early risers keen to catch the sunrise, make sure you’re beginning the hike at least two hours before dawn.
Wear sensible footwear and have plenty of food and water for the return trip. If you’re considering making the trek to the summit, check out these additional valuable tips.
If you are feeling less adventurous or are travelling with young children, the Lyrebird Track is a shorter walk that leads to the beautiful Korrumbyn Creek Picnic Area.
Tweed Valley Daytrip
To make even more of a day trip out of this hike, pop into Mavis’s Kitchen in Uki for a refreshing beverage or bite to eat. The Tweed River Art Gallery is another local attraction with visiting, including the extraordinary Margaret Olley exhibition.
The helpful Wollumbin National Park visitor guide also contains further information on what to see and do in the area.
Image Credit: Adventure in Growing
Wollumbin is a traditional place of spiritual education, cultural law and initiation to the people of the Bundjalung Nation and has long been considered a sacred place of great spiritual significance.
Under Bundjalung law, only specifically appointed people are permitted to climb Wollumbin. Out of respect for their law and culture the Bundjalung ask that you consider choosing not to climb.
Want more inspiration for things to do in Byron Bay? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Byron Bay.