Last week I joined a group of six walkers to head up into the Jagungal Wilderness area from the east. I had never realised there was an access route up from the east, and whether it is a “route” is possibly up for debate, but we followed the description from Greg’s Walk Blog and spent four fantastic days exploring a little visited area and some fantastic old huts.
For our visit it seemed someone had been through recently and the route was a more defined footpad than described in Greg’s description, but it is still not a clear any easy path you could take a without thinking. In fact on the way up we ended up bush bashing for a few kilometres and then on the way back we found a path with a mix of cairns and tape that was actually quite civilised.
The first day started bright and early with a coffee in Cooma, and the a drive out to Gungarlin River camp with Lou in the passenger seat madly trying to send off a last few emails. After sorting out packs (we were distributing weight around to help with recovering injuries) we headed up the first trail which was initially easy walking. Davies Hut, the first of our walk, was more like a homestead set up with a fantastic view of the high plains and made a great stop for lunch.
After lunch we marched on up the first trail to where we had to turn off and follow what was described as an old overgrown path. Aside from missing the turn off (because we didn’t think there’d be one – theme of our trip) the track is actually in really good condition with a new sign and trees cut so you can access the track. Over the saddle and down the other side we made the hut by late arvo after some proper bush bashing, and found a lovely clearly with a cute tiny hut and thousands of mozzies.
We had a plan to follow the clear grass up the valley and then head up to a saddle, but the grass went down hill, and we wanted to go up, and hence a well laid plan turned into scrub bashing for 2hrs. Still, we eventually reached high plains again and found a line of cairns that eventually lead us up onto the top of the range. Crossing the plains we sidled around the Cup and Saucer and down to remote lake for afternoon tea and a swim.
At that point the clouds and storms started rolling in, and with our relatively slow progress so far and the poor forecast, we decide it would be better to head straight to Mawson Hut and spent two nights there rather than camp out on the exposed plains and push the group too hard.
Mawsons hut is a lovely two room but as it turns out, and it was an easy stroll down to the water for an afternoon swim where we had a great timing seeing how much people could stand walking on the river rocks. Overnight it stormed and rained and we felt very justified in our decision to change plans.
The new plan was a day trip to Valentine’s Hut, and to check out Valentine’s Falls. We set off at a reasonable time and made Valentine’s hut around 11am, just in time to meet a group that was leaving. They told us that the falls track took some less than obvious turns and was fairly steep and was about 2hrs return, but as we tried to find our way through following footpads, dead ends and random bits of tape the clouds and storms started to roll in again. This was the second time I had tried to get down there and 1hr 15min mark with rain falling and the track feeling a little slippery we called it again and bailed back to a swimming spot I had chosen last time.
An hour or so later we arrived back at Valentine’s Hut very ready for our late lunch.
The walk back to Mawsons was uneventful except for the bittingly cold wind making us worried some of the group might get hypothermia.
We found the tracks the whole way!
Early in the day we decided to make a concerned effort to find and follow the bits of track we’d found on day 1 and 2. Amazingly when you find a track it cuts hours of you walk and by 4pm we were 3km from the car. The rest of the group, having planned to stay out for 5 days, decided to camp and had the best night out of the trip, but I had a little baby I was keen to see so I walked the last few kilometres and was home by 9:30pm.
Categories: New South Wales