Discover the secrets of Burning Mountain

Exercise, views, a slice of history and geological phenomenon are all part of the Burning Mountain Walk.

NESTLED between Scone and Murrurundi is the only burning underground coal seam in Australia.

The walk to the viewing platform of Burning Mountain, although only 4km return, has some steep enough sections to get the heart rate up if you are after exercise, or if you want a more leisurely stroll, there are four opportunities for relaxing at benches and picnic tables along the way.  The walk is family friendly in that there are no steep cliffs nearby or scrambling required.  Due to the number of steps, it’s not suitable for strollers, prams, wheelchairs, scooters and bikes.  In fact, climbing over 130 meters in just 2km, you may just find that this walk is the perfect way to ensure an afternoon nap from the munchkins!

The information panels along the walk give some interesting insights into Aboriginal history, telling the dreamtime story of Burning Mountain and the Wingen Maid.  Other panels will inform about colonial explorers, flora and fauna and of course scientific explanations of what is happening thirty metres below your feet.   

It was back in 1828 that a farmhand first noticed the heat coming out of Burning Mountain, and incorrectly thought that it was an active volcano.  Over the next few years this phenomenon attracted many notable people interested in its origins.  The slow combustion of the coal seam means that it is constantly, nevertheless slowly moving at a rate of about 1 metre a year with estimates that it has been slowly burning for about 5500 years. 

The head of the coal seam is believed to have started around Pages Creek, approximately 6ks north of where it is currently burning.  The flora has learned to adapt to the changing conditions once the coal seam has finished burning.  Winding your way up the incline, you’ll notice some vast changes in the natural environment from sparse scrub to stands of eucalypt, grey gums, stringy bark and tea trees.  At this time of year, you can expect to spot some of the usual suspects for our area animal wise like kangaroos, wallaroos, skinks and if you’re lucky echidnas.

Winding up the mountain you’ll have the chance to take in sweeping views of the surrounding area particularly the Liverpool Range and Wingen Maid rockface.  Nearing the top of burning mountain you’ll track through on the last stand of fairly thick scrub only to smell a strong distinctly sulphur fumes as you approach the viewing platform.  To the right of the platform, is the small amount of the geological phenomenon that we can actually see on the surface with some disturbed rubble and incredibly bright ground.    According to National Parks and Wildlife Service, the colours you see on top of the ground are “cooling sinter white alum, red iron oxide (ochre) and yellow sulphur.”   

Even from the safety of the fenced viewing platform you can feel the intense heat emitting from the brightly coloured pile of rubble.  While the view at the top is unlikely to be described as breathtaking, the thought of what is happening so deep below the surface of the earth is definitively worthy of entertaining active enquiring minds and with the help of the information panels Burning Mountain walk can certainly be enjoyable for both mind and body.