Newnes Glow Worm Tunnel

Useful Information

Location: Wolgan Valley, Putty, 2330.
Near Newnes. From Lighgow east on B55, turn left to Lidsdale, follow Wogan Valley Road 25 km to the car park and trailhead. 1 km walk.
(-33.2389218, 150.2253201)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaTunnel BiologyGlowworm
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=402.3 m.
Guided tours: self guided, L=3 km, D=1 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Blue Mountains Heritage Centre and Blackheath office, 270 Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath NSW 2785, Tel: +61-2-4787-8877.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1907 railroad line to Newnes oil shale works opened.
1932 railroad line closed.
1940 railroad line dismantled.


This site is generally known as Newnes Glow Worm Tunnel or simply Glow Worm Tunnel, although it actually has no name. This nameless tunnel is a former railroad tunnel of the Newnes railroad, officially named Tunnel No 2. It was built as a railway line to Newnes oil shale works, where oil shale was mined for its bitumen content since 1906. The oil shale was heated in kilns and the oil distilled. For some time, it was a large scale operation. But it was complicated and not very profitable, and so the mining and the railroad were closed in 1932. The rails were removed, but the 400 m long tunnel through sandstone remained almost unchanged.

Today it is located in the Wollemi National Park, the tunnel was left to offer an almost natural hideout for various animals. Normally abandoned tunnels and mines are used by bats and insects, but in Australia there are the so-called glowworms. The name is a colloquial term for bioluminescent larvae of various species. The tunnel has become the home of thousands and thousands of glowworms named Arachnocampa richardsae. The fungus gnat larvae live along the walls and the ceiling of the tunnel. They have strings of sticky mucus for catching their prey, other insects, and with their luminescence they try to lure them into their trap.

To see the glowing gnats, you must be careful. Use a torch to find the middle of the tunnel without injuries, but then turn it off and wait silently for some time. The gnats are disturbed by light and sound, so it will take at least a minute of silence and darkness until they start to glow again. One by one they start to shine, and after some time it looks like stars in the night sky.

The railway was a standard gauge railway, connecting the works at Newnes with the nearest main railway to Sydney. From the Newnes Plateau into the Wolgan valley, there are some geographical obstacles, sandstone cliffs and the narrow gorge of Tunnel Creek. The railway had to be built with steep grades and sharp curves and squeeze through the narrow gorge. There are actually two tunnels, but this tunnel is preferred by the glowworms, because it is darker due to a series of bends, and it is damp because of a small creek, which flows through it. So be careful and wear good walking shoes, there is water on the floor, and it is slippery.

This site is actually a little tricky to reach. This is a good thing, as glowworms are disturbed by too many visitors, and this reduces the number of visitors. There is Wolgan Valley road, which is paved at the beginning, later gravel, but quite good. There is a trailhead and a short walk. But the park actually recommends walking the former railroad line, which is definitely quite interesting, but requires 22 km walking. In any case, walking attire and good shoes as well as a torch are essential.