Cox’s River winds its way for over 100km from Ben Bullen State Forest (north of Lithgow) to Sydney’s main water storage Lake Burragorang in the Blue Mountains National Park (south of Katoomba). The river is named after William Cox the surveyor who built the first road over the Blue Mountains. Cox fell into the river from his horse while crossing it on his first day surveying at the base of Mt Blaxland in November 1814.
Cox’s River is one of the most popular trout streams in Central New South Wales and this is because it offers great fishing within 2 hours drive of Sydney.
Cox’s River and its tributaries are classified as a general trout stream above its junction with, but not including the Little River. All the easily accessible sections of river are upstream of its junction with Little River and are considered general trout stream and are closed to fishing from the end of the June long weekend to the start of the October long weekend. Other fishing regulations apply and you should check The Department of Primary Industries website for the latest regulations before you fish.
The river sustains a healthy population of Rainbow and Brown Trout particularly in its upper reaches near Lithgow close to Lake Lyell and Lake Wallace. You may also find Carp and Macquarie Perch in places.
The Cox’s River runs through bushy granite gorges, with sections of open sandy pools mainly adjacent to open farming land. Near Lithgow willow and blackberry infestations make fishing difficult in some areas, however generally fishermen can find their way around obstructions to make a cast. In the lower reaches she-oaks dominate the vegetation, and these large trees allow better access to the waters edge.
Two other great trout streams the Kowmung River and Jenolan River flow into the lower Cox’s River within the boundries of Blue Mountains National Park.
Public Access Points
Wallerawang: Near the intersection of Main Street Wallerawang and the Castlereagh Highway (Mudgee Rd) just upstream of Wallerawang Power Station. Fish generally hold in the rapids and in the weed beds of the larger pools. Do not go into fenced off private property or within the boundaries of the power station without permission from the relevant land manager.
Lidsdale State Forest: There are multiple access points for this area of the river, however the only access for non 4WD vehicles is via the western end of Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive (from the town of Rydal) near Lake Lyell. Once at the end of this dirt road walk to Lake Lyell then follow the Cox’s River arm of the lake in a northerly direction (upstream). With the dam currently below 50% capacity it is worth walking upstream until you reach the high water mark of the lake before commencing fishing. There are normally very few fish in the river below the high water mark. You will need to walk for about 20 minutes (1km) to get above the high water mark. This is a worthwhile walk as the river is quite picturesque and there are plenty of trout to be caught in this section of the river.
McKanes Falls Road Bridge: A small area of river can be accessed at McKanes Falls Bridge. McKanes Falls Road can be accessed from the Great Western Highway two minutes South East of South Bowenfels. The bridge is approximately 4 minutes from the Great Western Highway.
Glenroy Camping Area: A great trout fishing location. Glenroy Camping Area is located at the junction of Cox’s River and The River Lett (on the Jenolan Road near Hartley). This is a key site in the history of NSW settlement and in Aboriginal history. Camping fees apply to access the land in this section of river but the prices are very reasonable. Please contact the Glenroy Cottage for current rates.
PH: (02) 6355 2186 www.glenroycottages.com
In this area the river is generally skirted by large granite slabs, sandy soil and the roots of substantial river she-oaks which offer good cover for fish. The fish usually take cover behind or above rocks in rapids, as well as under overhangs of riverbanks and around blackberry bushes. In deeper pools they will hold at the bottom. Take great care not to spook the fish.
Cox’s River Road (Duddawarra Bridge): Duddawarra Bridge is approximately 15kms from the Great Western Highway on Cox’s River Road. The Cox’s River Road is the first seeled road on the left when heading west at the base Mt Victoria Pass. The area offers about 700m of riverfront. Fish in this area tend to hold in the deeper pools around weed beds during the day. The sandy bottom of this section of river means fewer fish but the fish that are mostly of good size and condition.
Sandy Hook: To get to Sandy Hook go to Duddawarra Bridge as above. Then follow Ganbenang Road to Cullenbenbong Road and follow Cullenbenbong Rd for about 6km until the road starts to run parallel to the Cox’s River. Where the road and river meet there is a 3km stretch that is unfenced. This section of river can be fished to just down stream of Sandy Hook picnic area. The river bottom is a mixture of pebbly river rock, sand and marble slabs. There is an almost even mix of brown and rainbow trout in this section of river. Average size fish here are around 30cm.
Six Foot Track: Experienced bushwalkers only! The Six Foot Track is a 46km walking track which runs from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. It crosses Cox’s River approximately 4km upstream from the junction with the Little River. While the Six Foot Track does not follow Cox’s River for a long distance it still offers great access to a remote area of the river where few fishermen visit.
To reach the river you do not need to walk the full 46km of track, however you will need to walk a 16km round trip to access Cox’s River Camping Ground and Bowtel’s Swing Bridge.
If you want to walk further, a track heads downstream to Little River from Bowtel’s Swing Bridge. It is a 4km walk to the Little River via this track. This is an important access trail for people wishing to fish the area of the river which is not “General Trout Stream” (thus open to fishermen all year round). There is some private land both up and downstream from Cox’s Camp Ground and lookout for signs that indicate private land or gain permission before you fish.
To access the Cox’s river via the Six Foot Track drive into the Megalong Valley and park were Megalong Valley Road meets the Six Foot Track near Old For Reserve. To ensure plenty of time for fishing you should be willing to camp overnight. If you don’t camp you will have get a very early start in order to make it a worthwhile walk. You can also walk further down the Six Foot Track to fish Little River.
Good preparation is required if you wish to fish the Six Foot Track and down stream sections of river, as there is no public vehicle access and no mobile coverage. You should take an EPIRB or Satellite Phone when fishing such remote areas, and leave a copy of your trip plan with a friend or family member and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). EPIRBS can be borrowed from NPWS and Blue Mountains Police (Springwood & Katoomba Police Stations only).
Make sure you have plenty of food and water. If you are considering doing this walk you should purchase the Six Foot Track Map (from Glenbrook or Katoomba Tourist Information Centre) or the Hampton 1:25000 topographic map.
It is also possible to access Cox’s River at the Six Foot Track camping area by driving along a rough access road from Sandy Hook. 4×4 vehicle access only.
Other possible areas to fish include: Megalong Creek (Old Ford Reserve on Megalong Rd), Farmers Creek, Marangaroo Creek (near Great Western Highway), and Little River (via the Six Foot Track).
Safety: Use extreme care when wading where the river base is a granite slab, boulders or river rock as it is extremely slippery. Sunglasses, hat and sunscreen are worthwhile even when the weather is cool. When fishing in a remote area always fish with a buddy, and carry an EPERB, satellite phone or a mobile phone (if there is coverage) in case you get into trouble. Temperatures can drop quickly and on a winter, spring or autumn afternoon temperatures of below zero are a possibility, so always layer up (at least bring a thermal under layer and a rain jacket).
Watch out for snakes such as Death Adders, Browns and Red Belly Black Snakes as they are regularly seen by fishermen in the area. Blue Mountains and Sydney Funnel Web Spiders are also found in the area although rarely seen by anglers.
Regulations: The lowest 3km section of the river is closed to public access all year round due to its proximity to Lake Burragorang (see map). Cox’s River and its tributaries are classified as a general trout stream above its junction with, but not including the Little River. General trout stream regulations can be found on the NSW DPI Fisheries website.
Impoundments: The main water storages along the river are Lake Wallace (Wallerawang), Lake Lyell (Lithgow) and Warragamba Dam (Lake Burragorang). While not on the Cox’s River proper, Thompsons Creek Dam near Wallerawang and Farmers Creek Dam near Lithgow are also within the upper catchment of the Cox’s River as they are built on tributaries of the river.