Summary: An impressive display of red, yellow and white Aboriginal hand stencils in a long shelter. The Red Hands Cave is reached via 1km return walk from the end of REd Hands Firetrail or a longer 8.2km bushwalk along Campfire Creek.

The Red Hands Cave in Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains is one of the most well-preserved and accessible Aboriginal rock art sites in the area. It is one of the few Aboriginal sites to which tourist visits are encouraged, and has been described as a “ceremonial cave for the initiation of young warriors”.

The back wall of the long shelter has many red, yellow and white hand stencils, as well as some outlined and infilled motifs drawn in red ochre. The stencils are thought to be have been created between 500 and 1600 years ago.

AWAT9942 LR yre Red Hands Cave in GlenbrookAWAT9942 LR Red Hands Cave in Glenbrook

Although the site has been vandalised, it’s now protected by a steel mesh. While a necessary measure to protect the art, it also detracts from the experience: as Jon Rhodes describes in his thought-provoking book Cage of Ghosts, “the painted red hand in its perspex cage has become impenetrable to vandals and viewwe alike”.

Getting to the Red Hands Cave

The easiest way to reach the Red Hands Cave is from the end of the Red Hands Firetrail, which is accessed from The Oaks Firetrail (an unsealed road suitable for all vehicles – but it crosses a causeway near the start which may be impassable after heavy rain). From the parking area at the end of the Red Hands Firetrail, it’s a fairly easy 1km return walk along a well-formed path. You can return the same way, or do a 4km loop walk (which also passes some Aboriginal axe grinding gooves).

You can also access the cave on foot from near the start of The Oaks Firetrail via the Campfire Creek Trail. This is about an 8.2km return bushwalk.

More information

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Aboriginal Sites by National Park

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area protects over 3,000 known Aboriginal heritage sites, and many more which are yet to be recorded. This area includes the Blue Mountains National Park, Gardens of Stone, Wollemi National Park and Yengo National Park.