Time of writing: 10:37am 11 July
My body and mind are totally exhausted. I just want a shower, clean clothes and a soft bed. I’ve never been this long on a hike and the novelty has warn off. Mind you, it’s taken until Day 10.
I’m at Hunter Lookout just past Watagan HQ. The view is superb! Mountains enclose a massive green valley on three sides. To the south-west, clouds still hang low, wafting out of a hidden valley’s mouth.
I’ve already walked 13km this morning. The Scouts weren’t even awake yet when I left. The first hour of my walk was beautiful. I walked along leaf littered ridges with stunning views. I watched the sun rise over the valley and hills, lighting the world. Then came a long arduous and dull slog along vehicle tracks to Watagan HQ. Once there I dumped all my excess food and rubbish in the bin to lighten the load on my back. I think I managed to drop about 3kg.
There’s really nothing at Watagan HQ so I have walked here to the lookout. There’s a water tank here so I’ve boiled up 800m: half for a cup of tea and half for sports drink once it cools. I want to get some extra fluids into me because I’m a bit dehydrated, which is adding to my mood slump. I want to get to Watagan Forest Motel and shop today. Then I’ll decide whether to camp in the park or to push on for 15km to Teralba. Given that the shop is said to sell hot food, I imagine I’ll dine there and camp one final night because 42km might be a big day. But I have my race mode on now, so anything could happen.
Time of writing: 6:14am 13 July
I was too tired to write once I got to Watagan Forest Motel. It had been a huge day of hiking. So I rented a room for the night, surfed the internet on my phone, spoke with my partner and watched television. It was just what I needed.
So, how was my walk that day? Long and tough with stunning sections. Not far from Hunters Lookout was McLeans Lookout. The views here were of a similar area but just slightly more northerly. I could see a communications tower way off in the distance and cliff-lined mountains. Little did I know that I would be hiking all that way and then some. Nope, I just looked at the view in awe. I also finally learned how to use the panorama feature on my camera.
From the lookout I fully expected to be walking fire trails all the way to Heatons Lookout. But the trail can be sneaky. Instead of a hard march I found myself dropping down a single track into the jungle. And oh what a jungle it was. It lived and breathed with the intensity of a crazed but well-meaning lunatic. Creeks flowed quickly. Waterfalls rushed. Strangler vines grabbed and tangled me and the path. Cliffs were surrounded bu fallen boulders that held no moss. Massive trees littered and blocked the path, creating an overs-and-unders obstacle course. Mud sucked at my shoes. It was glorious to be surrounded by such vibrance.
I sloshed, limboed, slipped, scrambled and picked my way through the jungle for hours. Bell birds heralded my passing. Whip birds went about the business of calling for their mates. Creeks ran clear through mossy gorges. The scent of the rain forest was dense and intensely earthy.
And then, as quickly as I had entered the jungle, I popped back out at Heatons Lookout. There, splayed out to my south and east were the coastal lakes (Macquarie Lakes) and the ocean. It was difficult to imagine that I’d be walking all the way from the lookout down to the sea off in the distance. Some school students on holidays were cooking sausages at the lookout and offered me one. Best sausage sandwich ever! But then, I was famished.
From the lookout I made my way down to Heatons Gap and the Watagan Forest Motel. After a meat pie, two chicken sticks and some sort of chocolate protein milk drink I decided to rent a room and live it up for the night. Well, living it up is relative. The Watagan Forest Motel is probably 2.5 stars quality but is clean, friendly, had a bed and shower, and free laundry with drier. So I washed my clothes, showered and slept without being cold.
Total: 26km hike with 15-18kg pack
- beef and vegetable soup
- semolina pudding
- 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with 2 x triangles Happy Cow cheese
- Organic Food bar
- 2 x museli bars
- sausage on bread
- fruit puree
- meat pie
- 2 x chicken sticks
- 2 x chocolate bars
- Great North Walk link page
- Day 9: Basin campsite to Barraba Trig bush camp
- Day 11: Watagan Forest Motel to Finish at Queen’s Wharf, Newcastle