11 May 2014

Glow Worm Tunnel via Lithgow

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, glow worm tunnel, cave, tunnel, worm, nature, Lithgow, Newnes, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia

Worms that glow in the dark... interesting isn't it?  But they do exist!  I got photos :)



A friend of mine invited me to go on an adventure in Lithgow.  One of his destination was a Glow Worm Tunnel.  It wasn't interesting at first.  But the more I researched, the more I became interested.  I wanted to see the worms glow, and take photos of it.


Preparation

Before going, make sure you have a headlamp or flashlight.  This gadget is imperative to finish the tunnel safely.  The tunnel is not lit (unlike a subway).  Bring your own light.  I suggest to grab a flashlight or headlight with different light levels.  If you can bring two (2) lights, the better as you have redundancy.  You don't need spare batteries, especially if you're batteries are fresh.  The walk inside the tunnel will only take several minutes.

You're going to walk in a damp environment.  There might be mosquitoes.  If so, bring mosquito / insect repellant to avoid bites.  The tunnel is watery.  If you don't want water on your toes, you better take close shoes.  There are no strenuous hikes.  The road is flat.  There are no 'knee-breakers'.

If you're taking photos, you need a tripod.  You can't take long exposure photos without it.  Keep your items close to you as possible.  No loose gears.  If it drops, you won't know where it lands.


Getting There

We went to Lithgow.  This is where we entered the tunnel.  I believe the other side of the tunnel can be accessed through Newnes.  I don't know about the track from Newnes.  But the track from Lithgow is pretty straighforward.  From Lithgow proper, it took 40-50 minutes driving to the parking lot where the track starts.  The road was straightforward, but rough.  Cars are possible, but I'd rather use an SUV to minimise vibration when driving.  There is a parking lot at the end of the road.  Steel bars barricade the start of the track.  You'll see the 'Glow Worm Tunnel Track' to make sure you're at the right route.  As seen below, Glow Worm Tunnel is 1 hour walk return:

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, glow worm tunnel, Lithgow, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, places to visit, busk walk, trekking, forest, nature
Glow Worm Tunnel Starts Here

There is also a board full of information, photos and maps.  You're free to read it but the walk towards the tunnel is straightforward as well.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, glow worm tunnel, Lithgow, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, information board, maps, tips, World Heritage
Information Board to Glow Worm Tunnel 1

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, glow worm tunnel, Lithgow, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, information board, maps, tips, World Heritage
Information to Glow Worm Tunnel 2

As I was walking straight, I saw a waterfall.  It's not a waterfall, it's just water pouring down a rock.  This is the first 'landmark' I can recognise.  If you see this scene, you're at the right track.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, landmark
As the Rock Weeps

Just past this rock, you'll see bushes on both sides of the road.  The path is straight as seen below:

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, bushes, track
The bushes will guide you
Just a bit further is a bridge.  This is a good indication if you're at the right track or not.  Remember that Glow Worm Tunnel is just 1 hour return.  If you did not see this bridge after walking for 30 minutes, then you're lost.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, bridge
Bridge to Glow Worm Tunnel (Lithgow)

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, bridge
Bridge Walk
After the bridge, this is the first signage you'll see.  This will definitely tell you that you're at the right track.  The path here forks so make sure you walk at the right track.  Again, if you don't see this sign in 30 minutes of walking, turn back.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, signage, direction
Signage at the Fork

After the signage, you'll come across this scene.  A trunk rests on the right side of the road on a high rock.  It's safe to walk under.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, fallen trunk
Sleeping Trunk on the Road

You're near when the atmosphere dampens.  The track is wet and watery.  The bushes are closer together and almost hides the path. I saw another trunk that rests across the road.  There's no drama, it's just a small trunk.  Be careful when walking over it.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, trunk, watery, damp
Walk Over the Trunk

First sight of the entrance to Glow Worm Tunnel.  Bushes might be hiding the entrance but if you move closer, you'll see one big hole.  The area is damp and water is flowing.  I did not see any leeches but it's safe to take caution.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, entrance, damp
The Big Hole
Once you're in front of the tunnel, you'll see a sign

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, entrance, damp
Jump to the Hole

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, entrance, damp, signage
Heed the Warning!

Just to emphasize the signage:

Give the worms a go
Keep the lights and noise low
Please don't touch glow worms

It's like a riddle, but it's not.  It's a guide when entering the Glow Worm Tunnel.  I've read over the internet that touching the glow worms would kill it.  So even if the worms are at eye level, please don't touch them - just admire how these worms give off light.  I kept my noise levels low.  The only noise I do is when I walk or when I click the shutter.

Once you're inside the tunnel, it's a different ambience.  The atmosphere here is the most damp.  You can hear water flowing - the water that is flowing outside.  You will need a headlamp, flashlight, torch etc.  Celphone light isn't good enough.  Below is a photo that shows how dark the insides of the tunnel is.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, entrance, dark
Dark Eater

It's hard to walk inside the tunnel without a light.  My headlamp (flashlight) is always 'on' as I walk the stretch of the tunnel.  The insides of the tunnel is composed of running water, soil and pebbles.  It is not flat pavement and walking in an uneven path is hard.  Thus, my light is always on.  The uneven pavement and the rocks are trip hazards.  The rocks that have water flowing to them are slippery.  Just be cautious if you're trying to step on the rocks to avoid the water.

Whatever you do inside the tunnel, it's best to keep the lights on.  To help the worms, keep your lights at minimum power (if selectable) and keep your head down.

As you go deeper and deeper in the tunnel, the outside light vanishes.  I believe that it's impossible to move around the tunnel without a light especially if you're at the deepest part.  Since the tunnel is curved, you can't see the end of the tunnel from the other end.

The deeper you are at the tunnel, the more outside light disappears.  This is where the glow of the worms are the strongest.  I've noticed that the glow could not be seen if you can still see outside light.  But if you go on a location where you can't see outside light, the glow worms emit the strongest.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, dark
Galaxy In the Tunnel

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, track, dark
Nebula

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, Lithgow, World Heritage, worms, glow in the dark
Mini Milky Way

The worms emit a blue light - this is what I saw, as with my camera.  They are like blue stars at night!  It's amazing and interesting how they can emit light.  I wish I could take more photos but the more I stood still, the more dangerous I felt.  I don't know what to expect.  I might bumped with another trekker walking the tunnel.  There maybe snakes, insects or spiders that would approach me if I stood still without a light for several seconds.  I might drop something and would not be able to recover it again.

If you're going to take photos of the glow worms, make sure you're at the safest location.  Make sure that there are no trekkers walking in your way.  Trekkers usually have their lights on so most probably, you won't bump them.  You can also position yourself away from the path that most people walk to.  The most dangerous would be spiders, inspects or snakes that might come on your way if you stood there for too long.  Having to work at pitch black is really tough.

Philip Avellana, Australian Landscape Photographer, Wollemi National Park, NSW, New South Wales, Australia, Glow Worm Tunnel, World Heritage, track, entrance, Newnes, signage
Other Side

Walking even further will take you to the other side of the tunnel.  This is the entrance if you walk to Glow Worm Tunnel from Newnes.  There is also a signage at the front of the entrance (the same sign as the one before).


Final Thoughts

This is an easy 1 hour return day walk.  The grounds are level with no steep slopes to climb.  When I was walking, I saw people of different groups and ages.  The first people I saw are an old couple.  They look satisfied at what they saw.  As I was walking further, I saw groups of friends in a mixture of males and females.   As I was walking at the entrance of the tunnel, I saw a family of 5 (with 3 kids).

You will be very curious before you go.  You'll find it very interesting once you see it.  I'd recommend visiting this place.

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