Pigeon House Mountain

Pigeon House – On a clear day you can see forever!

A hill was in sight which much resembled those dove houses which are built four square with a small dome at the top. Joseph Banks, 22 April 1770.

It’s a clear autumn morning at the base of Pigeon House Mountain as my son and I throw on our daypacks. After a scenic drive from the pretty coastal village of Milton we feel the change in temperature as we suck the crisp mountain air into our lungs and commence walking.


Pigeon House is a distinctive peak of around 719 metres named by Captain Cook as he sailed along the coast in 1770.Cook described it in his journal as, a remarkable peaked hill laying inland the top of which look’d like a Pigeon house and occasioned my giving it that name.

For anyone who lives on, or visits, the NSW south coast it is a right of passage to “do Pigeon House”. While not a long walk in terms of distance, the vertical climb is steep and the top section on the pigeon house itself has ladders fixed to the sheer rock.


We head up the first ridge, straight up that is – and our calf muscles burn as they transition from car comfort to working mode. Only our hard breathing disturbs the early morning quiet and the twitter of small wrens in the low scrub.


After twenty minutes walking we pause for a welcome drink before continuing along the middle section of the track. The track meanders gently through the eucalypts and rocky outcrops and allows for pleasant walking.


As the vegetation thickens into taller, denser gums and tree ferns we catch glimpses of the rocky sandstone massif above. Before long we came to the base and peer upwards at the ladders weaving in and out of the weathered rock face.


NSW NPWS have done a lot of work here in recent years. Gone are the original narrow iron ladders that hung precariously to the mossy walls. Today, new mesh ladders with hand rails are angled comfortably against the rock and allow virtually anyone to reach the top; you don’t even need a great head for heights! On the way up we take our time, stopping to admire the views over the green Clyde River below.


On the summit we sign the visitor’s book and dip into our packs for a well earned morning tea. On a clear day such as this the views are outstanding – we can see the coast clearly and make out Point Perpendicular to the north and Mt Dromaderry to the south. To the west lay the mystical depths of more challenging walking destinations such as The Castle and Monolith Valley.


We start the return trip and after carefully descending the ladders pass a number of other walkers including families. We are a little concerned however for the couple in thongs slowly picking their way through toe breaking terrain. It reminds us both that although we are on the coast and the walk may seem like a stroll, it pays to come prepared with the right equipment such as strong shoes, sunblock, drinks and a snack.


Back at the car park which is now quite full, we start the engine and look forward to something the esteemed Cook or Banks could never have – a well earned meaty lunch at the Rainbow Pie Ship in Milton.


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