Pigeon House Mountains trail guide

By Tony Rabbitte June 3, 2015
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A staircase at the top of Pigeon House Mountain, NSW leads walkers to magnificent views

THERE IS NO QUESTION about it – Pigeon House Mountain, west of Milton on the South Coast of New South Wales, is one of the region’s most valuable tourist attractions. Each year thousands of bushwalkers and tourists make the pilgrimage to the summit of one of the Morton National Park’s most striking landmarks.

In a bid to cater for the climb’s popularity, the original ladder system once used to gain access to the summit has been replaced with a much safer, tourist-friendly steel staircase.

If you were privileged enough to have climbed this peak via the infamous ladders you will be either relieved or horrified to learn of the new system, depending on whether or not hanging from the side of a mountain without a safety net is your cup of tea.

Nonetheless, Pigeon House Mountain is still a remarkable walk and one that should not be missed if venturing to the South Coast of NSW. The walk offers outstanding views throughout the ascent and during spring a variety of wildflower species are in abundance.

Once on the summit, clear views of the Budawangs Range’s more famous landmarks such as The Castle, Shrouded Gods Mountain and Byangee Mountain are clearly visible.

Track facts:

Distance: 4.8 km return

Ascent/descent: 980m

Time: 3-4 hours

Start/finish: Pigeon House car park

Nearest town: Milton

Terrain: Mostly steep with some flat walking. Steel staircase/ladders near the summit

Best season: spring/summer/autumn

Maps: Milton 1:25000

Accommodation: Motels and a caravan park with good camping facilities in Milton; bush camping on the Clyde River near Yadboro

Food/drink: Pubs, restaurants and cafes at Milton and nearby Ulladulla

Getting there: From Sydney it’s about
220 km or a three-hour and 15 minute drive to Milton. Turn right into Croobyar Rd. At the junction follow Woodburn Rd. Turn right into Clyde Ridge Rd. Turn Right into Yadboro Rd. Then 4.4 km along Yadboro Rd is the turn-off to Pigeon House Mountain.

More info: Tourist Information Centre, Ulladulla (02) 4455 1269;

Track notes

1. Start/finish, From the Pigeon House Mountain car park, where you will probably be greeted by several large resident goannas, the walk commences near the information panel. The track is steep from the outset as it heads northeast for about 500 m. The track becomes even steeper just before the ridge where a bit of rock scrambling may be necessary.

2. At the top of the rock scramble the track instantly levels out to make for some very flat walking. The track now follows through open heath country where banksias, wattles and epacrids dominate the surrounding vegetation. When at its peak, the wildflower display in spring is sensational. Glimpses of the unmistakable summit dome – the reason behind the name Pigeon House – can be seen briefly through the trees.

3. Flat, easy walking soon gives way to a progressively steeper trail as the lower flanks of the mountain are negotiated. The surrounding vegetation is now dominated by woollybutts and yellow stringybarks which overshadow the swamp sedge near the track. Wooden steps help control soil erosion and assist walkers in their ascent.

4. A set of steel steps is reached just below the summit dome itself. The track turns left here but a detour to the right at this point will lead around to a large camping cave used by bushwalkers, known as The Balcony.

5. Following around to the left you arrive at the controversial new staircase system. Two of the original ladders are still used as part of the new system, the first of which is still in its original position, however, the largest and most adventurous was removed altogether, presumably for safety reasons. While ascending, look for the remains of some bolts and anchors that run up between two large sections of rock, to get an indication of where the infamous big ladder once reigned supreme.

6. Topping out on the final section you will cross a small steel bridge and follow the track around to the left. Continue along the track between some boulders to eventually arrive at the main lookout. It is here that the best views of the Budawangs can be had. A brass disc mounted at this lookout serves as an indicator to where the main natural landmarks are along with their distances in relation to Pigeon House Mountain.