Ben ventures to the outback's natural high … this is some of the most spectacular scenery in the state.
Mt Kaputar, on the western edge of the Great Dividing Range, is the highest point until you reach Africa, and from its peak (on a clear day), about 10 percent of New South Wales is visible for 360º.
The Mt Kaputar National Park is very much a local secret and holds a diverse range of vegetation and wildlife, including many threatened species.
As much as 17 million years of erosion has sculpted the now extinct Nandewar volcano and what is left offers a majestic skyline of rocky outcrops with spectacular views.
Mt Kaputar's summit is 1524m and there are 11 marked walking tracks. The Narrabri Visitors' Centre or National Parks and Wildlife Services can supply you with a good guide map.
In the northern section you will see Swan Rocks, one of Australia's best examples of organ-piping geological formation. It is 40m high and extends to the bed of Bobbiwaa Creek. The perfect polygonal jointing of Swan Rocks is attributed to the slow and even cooling of molten rock which came about in an eruption around 21 million years ago. The polygonal impressions are the tops of basalt piers which go a further 60m underground. There is a viewing platform with barbecues, toilets and good wheelchair access.
An easy walk to Dawsons Springs and Falls is an interesting thing to do, and you may even see the most unusual red diamond slugs.
There are two camping areas in the park one at Bark Hut and one at Dawsons Springs. Nestled amongst beautiful tall snow gums, they have showers, toilets and electric barbecues. Caravans are not permitted and firewood is not provided, but there is a delightful bush caravan park in the foothills, just 25km from the summit which provides a quiet retreat.
There are also two modern cabins which sleep up to six. These have septic toilets, hot showers, crockery, cutlery, kitchen utensils, microwave, stovetop, kettle and toaster. You need to supply your own linen and bedding. There are no telephones or provisions in the park.
If you are keen to see the wondrous things Mt Kaputar National Park has to offer but aren't the camping type, Craigdon Guesthouse, just one kilometre from Swan Rocks, is a four-star gem.
The owners have renovated the 1905 Federation homestead and it now has four double rooms with ensuite, high ceilings and beautiful colour schemes. There are also two garden units suitable for families.
Breakfast is included and prepared by the resident chef who will also arrange dinner on request. Other attractions are a tennis court and outdoor gymnasium.
A rustic, cinder block building seats 100 people and is open to the public for lunch each day. It has a terrace and large deck which gives expansive views of the national park.