One last bushwalk

I took one weeks leave from work in early December and forgot about all the hullaballoo leading up to Christmas to walk in the Snowy Mountains. I missed out on this walk last year, so I wasn’t going to miss out again. There had been some really cold weather the month before and I held out hope that we would get some snow but the weather forecast looked pretty good, except for some rain. That prompted me to buy myself a Christmas present at least, I do need a new rain jacket, so some expensive Goretex it was.

I drove to Cooma on Monday through drizzle most of the way and it was really cold when I got there, not summery at all. We all met Tuesday morning and did car shuffling to leave some cars at the Round Mountain end of the walk. We waited at Kiandra and tried to keep out of the rain and wind.

Our first night was at Four Mile Hut which was not far away, 4 miles actually or 7km. We were following the Australian Alps Walking Track on old fire trails, so the walking was easy, though hard uphill at first. It was an old miners hut, very rustic and tiny, only about 4 or five people could go in at any one time. I cooked outside because it wasn’t raining at this time, just a bit windy. The hut was nestled on the edge of a small valley filled with wildflowers, mullock heaps and a creek flowing with clear, freezing water. The general consensus was early to bed, so by 7.30, I was in bed, the snow grass was so soft and comfy to sleep on.

The next day was still overcast and threatening rain but it held off and I was thrilled to see a gang of Gang Gang cockatoos in the trees. We walked up higher into the clouds/mist and lunch was cut short as it turned freezing and more mist came in. It wasn’t far then to Happy’s hut where we were to camp tonight.

All the rain had made the ground really wet and the creeks rushing. The water flows in, around and under the tufts of snow grass and if you find a hole, you’re up to your knee in water. My shoes were really wet now, so I tried to dry them as best as I could at night and used the spare plastic bags I had brought the next day. That was better, though I had woken up with a terrible headache.

Sunshine in the morning and we were warned about the creek crossings, some would be fairly deep. So it was back across the soggy Happy Valley with views to Mt Jagungal now. I had forgotten my walking poles and thought a stick would be useful to cross the creeks. It was working fine until crossing one particularly deep creek I leant on my stick too hard and crack. I ended up on my backside and an impromptu wash as well as my socks. At least this creek was not as freezing as the others.

We continued on the Mackey’s or Mackay’s Hut (take your pick), set beside another beautiful flowing creek, no worries about how many cups of tea you have, or if you want another wash.

We left early the next morning because, depending on the weather, we might climb up Mt Jagungal that afternoon plus there were some more wet creek crossings ahead. We crossed Doubtful and Bogong Creeks, taking off socks and shorts. As it turned out, we had a long and leisurely afternoon at O’Keefes Hut as the days seemed to be nice in the morning and a bit more cloudy or stormy in the afternoon. It cleared up nicely that night, so we woke up to a heavy frost and frozen water.

After the frost it was a clear sunny morning, just perfect for bush bashing up to Mt Jagungal. Climbing up over the rocks reminded me of the Larapinta but today I didn’t have my pack on. The view from the top was great, not very far away was Mt Kosciuszko and the Main Range peaks that everyone else had been to but are still on my to-do list.

Kosciuszcko and Main RangeKosciuszcko from the top

We spent plenty of time up there chilling out, out of the wind and in the sun. The rest of the days walk was pretty much downhill to Dershko’s Hut, where I had walked to in March and we had another long relaxing afternoon.

Sadly, that was the last night but the stars were spectacular. There were already plans being made for next year’s walk and I will make sure I am on that as well. We only had a fairly short walk back to the cars, past Round Mountain and a coffee stop at Cabramurra before everyone went their separate ways and got caught up in all the Christmas goings on again.

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Sublime walk

This is a training walk for my training walk for my training walk before my big walk. In other words, aren’t I organised? I want to do the 6 Foot track in March and the leader of that walk suggested I do this walk with her first as a ‘get to know you’. I joined the Bush Club bushwalking club to have some more options in which walks I could choose to do.

So I got the day off work, woke up at 5.15am, caught the 6.17 train and headed down the coast to Austinmer. I have always wanted to catch the train down the coast and it would have been much more spectacular if the sun was out. But I was intensely grateful that it wasn’t as the temperature would be back up to 40 degrees, not good bushwalking weather. So the ocean was grey and it was a bit misty looking and very humid.

I met members of the group on the train, a rather fit looking group of retirees. The walk started right from the train station and started uphill along a couple of back streets and then into the bush and uphill and then onto some steps uphill and then onto some ladders up the cliff. The humidity must have been 99% and the direct ascent was at least 350m in about 1.5km. Phew! I was sweating and puffing and found all the older folk waiting at the top at the Sublime Point lookout. It would have been great to admire the view but it was a bit of a white out.

The next part of the walk was much more sedate along a more level track, but what a cracking pace they set. I asked the leader if this was the usual pace and she replied that yes, as this was not listed as a “fast pace” walk, this was the average speed. Yikes! How will I keep up with a full pack on, on our next walk?

I can’t understand walking like this when you don’t really have a chance to admire the scenery. The mist made the forest of angophoras, Old man banksia, Gymea lilies and cabbage palms look amazing.

I only had time to stop for a few quick shots and be off again. We did have time for some breaks to admire the view again, or imagine it.

Most of these people had done this walk many times before, maybe that is why they weren’t so concerned about admiring the vegetation. Though they did have some particular favourites which we stopped to admire, like the mermaid or Whale tree.

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Then the track started heading down along a few creeks where the track was a bit slippery with lots of leaf litter on it. I had a small slip but didn’t hurt myself, though after that, every downhill made my knee hurt. Luckily we were near the end. Made me feel like such a wuss. The beauty of this area is that the bush is right next to the railway line, so we came out at Stanwell Park train station and hopped on and home again.

One thing that I was pleased about was that this group was every bit as paranoid as me about leeches. Luckily someone gave me a spray of Bushman’s on my boots and ankles and we both stayed leech free all day. Some others seemed to attract them quite a bit. The walk was about 17km in about 6 hours, I felt pretty good at the end apart from a knee that would not let me go down the steps. I now know how much harder I need to work on my fitness and strength.