6 Magical Glow Worm Tunnels Near Sydney

By: The ellaslist Team, 05 July 2024

Although Australia is famed for its koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas and other, less-than-friendly species like crocodiles, snakes and spiders, there’s another, more obscure, creature vying for attention: the fungus gnat, aka glow worms.

The small, and rather rare, glow worm - a much more radiant sounding moniker although they actually aren’t worms! - is an epic sight to behold, as multitudes of them illuminate dark glow worm tunnels in an incandescent spectacle. 

There are a few special spots where you can witness this unique bio-luminescent phenomenon, so take a trip of discovery to one of these glow worm tunnels near Sydney.

What are Glow Worms?

According to Australian Geographic, these luminous locals known for their spectacular bioluminescence or 'living light' are the larvae of a primitive fly – the fungus gnat. A chemical reaction between an enzyme and pigment in the larvae’s body with the oxygen in the air causes them to emit a blue-green light – visible through the transparent skin in their abdomen. This light lures prey closer, tricking them into becoming entangled in the larvae’s silken threads. 

They can be found in dense rainforests of Gondwanan origin and caves or rocky structures, thriving in permanently wet habitats. During the day they are inconspicuous, but in the darkness, these luminescent larvae sparkle, dotting caves, tunnels and walkways with blue-green light.

Tips For Visiting Glow Worm Tunnels Near Sydney

The gorgeous glowing larvae of Australia (and New Zealand) are extremely sensitive, and any change to their environment could be detrimental. When visiting glow worms tunnels remember:

  • Do not shine your torch directly at the worms
  • Do not use flash photography
  • Do not smoke
  • Keep noise to a minimum
  • Do not touch them.

You can, however, sit back and admire their astounding beauty!

6 Magical Glow Worm Tunnels Near Sydney

1. Old Helensburgh Station

Glow worm tunnels near Sydney
Helensburgh Glow Worm Tunnel

Old Helensburgh Station, more famously known as Helensburgh Glow Worm Tunnel, is a local treasure that houses a population of Arachnocampa richardsae. 

While the tunnels shut in 1915 after years of soot and smoke built up, the Arachnocampa richardsae thrived. This species of enchanting glowworms are native to Australia and found in moist, dark environments like caves and rainforests. These tiny bioluminescent creatures create intricate silken webs and emit a magical blue-green light to attract and ensnare their prey. This mesmerising glow is produced by a chemical reaction in their bodies, making them a natural wonder and what keeps visitors coming back to the Old Helensburgh Station year after year. 

It's essential to note that any visitors to the Helensburgh Tunnel do so at their own risk. The tunnel was closed for a while due to flood damage but is now open, although it is still very muddy and slippery. Gumboots are recommended. 

Location: 2 Vera St, Helensburgh

2. Lithgow Glow Worm Tunnel, Wollemi National Park

Wollemi National Park
Experience the wonder of the historic 400m tunnel in the Wollemi National Park, lit by thousands of glow worms.

One of NSW's most famous glow worm tunnels has reopened after a $4.3 million upgrade! 

Located within the World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park, Lithgow’s Glow Worm Tunnel area offers majestic views of pagoda rock formations, abundant flora, and an array of native wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies and of course, glow worms! 

The walk into the tunnel follows a disused railway line that once descended into the Newnes Valley and now provides a gorgeous lead-up to such a stunning spectacle. The 4.3 million dollar upgrades to the tunnel include a new path through the tunnel and handrails to keep visitors from accidentally disturbing the glow worm webs. Plus, there's also 5.7 kilometres of upgraded walking tracks, new picnic tables, a new toilet block, and extra space in the car park.

Location: Glow Worm Tunnel Road, Lithgow

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3. Horseshoe Falls, Hazelbrook

Horseshoe Falls Glow Worms
Horseshoe Falls at night.

Another magical spot to see some glow worms in NSW is along the Horseshoe Falls Track in the Blue Mountains.

A trip to Horseshoe Falls actually offers a double adventure as you'll get to see a number of spectacular waterfalls if you time your adventure in the early evening. 

The Horseshoe Falls Walking Track is one kilometre each way and puts you up close to a number of waterfalls, including Fairy Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Glow-worm Nook Falls, Lena Falls, Oakland Falls, and Burgess Falls. If you're only visiting to see the worms, you only have to walk as far as Horseshoe Falls where you'll be greeted by hundreds of bioluminescent bugs all along the cave wall behind the waterfall - magic!

Location: Oaklands Rd, Hazelbrook

4. Birdwood Gully, Springwood

Glow worm tunnels near Sydney
Birdwood Gully, Springwood

Another great spot for glow worm tunnels near Sydney, Birdwood Gully in Springwood is better suited to older kids as the walk can get a bit rough and steep at times, particularly if you're visiting at night. 

The 2.5 kilometre round trip offers waterfall watching and plenty of cool caves to check out - most of which will be illuminated by nightfall with, you guessed it, worms! 

Location: Bednal Road, Springwood

5. Glow Worm Glen, Bundanoon

Glow worm tunnels near Sydney
Take an evening walk to Glow Worm Glen for the special light show.

Situated in the Bundanoon section of the Morton National Park, the beautiful Glow Worm Glen showcases some stunning glow worms - and the walk up to it is almost as beautiful.

Locals recommend starting the walk at sunset so that it’s dark by the time you reach the glen. Then you can really enjoy the luminescent locals in all of their glory! 

Location: Bundanoon (end of William Street)

6. Blue Mountains Glow Worm Tours

Blue Mountains Glow Worm Tours
Get you up close to this amazing natural wonder on a tour of the glow worm colony.

Located close to Mount Tomah in the Bilpin region of the Blue Mountains just 50 minutes drive from Katoomba, Blue Mountains Glow Worm Tours run nocturnal adventures to a natural amphitheatre situated on private property. 

Positioned underneath a densely populated overhang of worms, a custom-built viewing platform allows you to climb up for a very personal experience with the glowy little things! Each tour has been carefully designed to create an unforgettable experience that is a highlight of a visit to the Blue Mountains.

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