A short but somewhat undiscovered trail takes you to Dargans Arch, a natural sandstone arch in the Blue Mountains near the town of Dargan. Although you can drive to the trailhead, I park on the western side of the railway line (just off Chifley Road), crossing the railway and following the unsealed Sandham Road for a short distance to the start of the trail.
A sign marks the start of the trail near a large parking area; surprisingly, there is no locked gate – although the wide firetrail is pretty rough and descends fairly steeply.
The firetrail soon turns into a narrow bushwalking, which become less distinct as it gets closer to Dargans Arch. The arch soon come into view – it’s about 14m in length and five metres in width.
The arch is the remnant of a collapsed cave, and from the edge you can peer into down to what would have been the inside of a large cave.
Although you can walk across the arch, this is discouraged; instead, to get a different perspective, walk around the left-hand side of the arch, and find a route down to the base. Standing underneath and looking up gives you a better sense of the size of Dargans Arch.
It’s worth continuing a bit further along the rough bushwalking trail, which continues along the tall cliffs next to the arch.
To the right are a series of tall and deep shelters…
…while below, along a small creek, are dense ferns and moss-covered rocks.
It’s one of the shortest bushwalks you can do in the Blue Mountains that takes you into a canyon-like environment, where you feel a lot further away from civilisation than you really are. The bushwalking trail takes you to the end of the narrow gorge, where a “window” provides a view over a complettely different, dry sclerophyll forest landscape.
It’s back the same way: the total distance is about 2km return if you park at the trailhead, or 3km return if you start from Chifley Road and you can do this bushwalk in under an hour. If you’re after a full-day adventure, the bushwalk from Dargan to Goochs Crater starts very close by – this is a more challenging route that requires some navigation skills.
Getting to Dargans Arch
The best place to park is just off Sandham Road, an unsealed road (suitable for all vehicles), which you can access via Clarence Colliery Road (if coming from the west) or from Bells Line of Road just before Bell (if coming from the east). Alternatively, look for a small service road off Chifley Road (the main road between Bell and Lithgow) about 3.1km north of Bell that goes to a large parking area near a railway signal box. From here there’s a path across the railway tracks, which provides access to Sandham Road by foot. The start of the Dargans Arch trail is about a hour from Richmond or 20 minutes from Lithgow.