Tag Archives: Great North Walk

Great North Walk: Post script from Stockton Beach

My footsteps in the sand in Awabakal lands

My footsteps in the sand in Awabakal lands

Time of writing: 8:00pm 14 July

As I lay here in my tent for my final night before returning home, I can’t help but look back on the highlights of the past two weeks. It already seems so far away; it’s odd how that happens.

I think the thing that’s touched me most are the people I’ve met along the way:

  • the artist lady and her children who reminded me to keep an eye out for animals and birds
  • the fitness walkers in Lane Cove who wished me well
  • the father with his children who kept me company that first day when I was quite anxious about whether I’d make it to the finish
  • the Duke of Edinborough group who welcomed me around their campfire
  • the Christian missionaries who left me with such a sense of peace
  • the cyclist who took me to water
  • the Scout leader who shared a yarn with me when I was lonely
  • the teenage boy who insisted I take $3 in change because he thought what I was doing in taking on the GNW was inspiring (I am going to donate the money towards my Cycling for Hope challenge)
  • the wounded warrior camped next to me at Stockton Beach who gave so much for my freedom (I hope he finds peace for he is only my age but has paid a heavy physical and emotional price)
  • the man camped on the other side of me who I only met tonight but who offered me a lift to the airport (I politely declined because I have to leave early in the morning)
  • all the other people who’ve taken the time to stop and chat as our paths have crossed.

The journey has been intensely physical but also deeply spiritual. Everyday I have spoken to the elders past to tell them why I was traveling through their land and to offer my respect. Everyday I made time for prayer. Today I bought some simple prayer cards from a church of another denomination from mine. I spoke with the good people there and they gave me an extra card: A Blessing for Travelers. I will keep the prayer in my heart and will also wish it on others who take a journey on or off the road:

Loving and gracious God, you always show mercy to those who love you, and you are never far away from those who seek you.

Remain with your servants as they travel far from home, and guide their way by the light of your Word.

Shelter them with your protection by day, given them the light of your grace by night, and as their companion on their journey, bring them to their destination in safety.

May they see your face in everyone they meet, and know the depth of your love on every road they walk.

At the end of their journey, may they return home once again with renewed faith and hearts full of joy.

On this journey I learned that if I just put one foot in front of the other and don’t give up, then, even with a heavy load and rest stops, I will get to my destination. It might not go according to plan and plans might change. But that’s just par for the course. And the most magical moments occur when my heard is open to hear what my ears cannot.

The End

(for the Great North Walk story)

Total: 16km walking around Newcastle over two days

Links

Great North Walk Day 11 (12 July): Watagan Forest Motel to Finish at Queen’s Wharf, Newcastle

Ready to head out into the cold pre-dawn for the final time

Ready to head out into the cold pre-dawn for the final time

Time of writing: 3:22pm 13 July

While I toyed with the idea of braking the final 41km down into two days, the reality is that it was never going to happen. I could either hike 15km to Teralba and spend $40 on a crap caravan park site, or I could hie to Teralba and catch a train to Newcastle for the night before catching a train back the next day to finish off the hike. Neither was an appealing prospect, so a marathon day it was.

I set off long before dawn, excited about reaching the end. Not because I’d had a bad time (I had a fantastic time) but because I was ready to return to the world.

The world was shrouded in thick fog as I walked out of the Watagan Forest Motel. My head lamp illuminated the little beads of water in the air, making navigation a challenge. The lack of signage and multitude of 4WD and dirt bike tracks compounded the challenge. But, as always, the guide book by Wild Walks was spot on and got me out of a few jams (the map kit has been hopeless in this northern section).

As I reached the ridge that would take me to Wakefield the sun started to rise ahead of me. My final dawn on the trail. I will miss the break of day on the trail the most. The possibilities of the sun’s rise are endless.

Once the sun was up, I descended into Wakefield. Oh boy! The road was dangerously busy with limited shoulders and invisible corners. I had to rely solely on my ears to cross and walk along the road. Urgh! The 7km from Wakefield Road to Teralba were terrifying. First, I had to walk through about 2km of road construction with machinery going everywhere and some stupid directions from road workers (really, you want me to walk behind the reversing plant because there might be cars on the road who are driving forwards and would actually be able to see me? Okay. If you say so. And yes, I am walking to Newcastle. That’s what those Great North Walk signs are all about people).

Roadworks cleared, I turned right onto Rhonda Road. There is no shoulder on most of this road, which leads past a busy quarry. I’d come through blind corners, praying no truck was hurtling the other way and then trying to balance in the steep roadside drop if they did. If you are doing the GNW, try to organise a lift to avoid this section. I wished I had. It was not fun or safe at all.

Teralba wasn’t much. Just an industrial town perched on Lake Macquarie. But once across Five Island Bridge, things improved greatly.

Lake Macquarie from Speers Point

Lake Macquarie from Speers Point

Speers Point Park was delightful. It was a vast open grassy space overlooking Lake Macquarie. A group of women were running and jumping under the guidance of a personal trainer. I couldn’t help but notice that I’ve never seen anyone smiling or fit-looking (as in toned and athletic, not the British use of the term “fit”) in a personal training class. Think I’ll stick to hiking and cycling myself.

The chip butty (I couldn't eat it all because it was so big)

The chip butty (I couldn’t eat it all because it was so big)

At Warner’s Bay, I treated myself to a chip butty. I had a massive serve of hot chips and bbq sauce on a hamburger roll with a slab of butter slathered on it. I’d covered 22km with just 19km to go and it was still only 10am.

The big sign at Charlesworth that brougth me almost to tears

The big sign at Charlesworth that brougth me almost to tears

From Warners Bay it was a long 7km to Charlesworth Trackhead. It was the most difficult section of the day (roadside walk not-withstanding). But I got through it and found myself almost overcome with emotion when I reached the trackhead near a huge Great North Walk sign next to the Pacific Highway. I wonder how strange I looked to those drivers as I sat trying to hold back tears of emotion near the sign.

View from Leichardt's Lookout

View from Leichardt’s Lookout

The final 9km were beautiful! First, I went to Leichardt’s Lookout overlooking Glenrock Lagoon.

Burwood Beach in the direction of my travel

Burwood Beach in the direction of my travel

Burwood Beach

Burwood Beach looking the other way (south)

Then down to Burswood Beach, which I followed north for 2km around a rocky point to the Merewether Baths. The soft sand was simultaneously soothing and challenging to walk through. But it was such a treat.

Newcastle surfer

Newcastle surfer

Then, I put my shoes back on to walk on the roadside paths along Dixon and Rocky Beaches, watching the surfers as I went. I almost didn’t even notice the final climb up the headland before the finish (though I’m not sure why we had to walk up in a loop around the obelisk).

Look, I walked 250km

Look, I walked 250km

And then, as simply as that, I was standing at Queen’s Wharf looking at a sign that said Sydney Cove was 250km away. I tried to take a selfie at the sign and a kind girl took a photo for me before trotting off to return to her friend.

Celebratory dinner

Celebratory dinner

A short ferry ride and a kilometre or so walk later I was at Stockton Beach Holiday Park. After a quick visit to the grocery shop and bottle shop, a shower and shave, a phone call home, a steak dinner cooked in the camp kitchen, and a bottle of sweet cider I was asleep in my tent.

There will be more adventures. But first I need to reflect on and process this one. There’s things I need to change in my life. Priorities that need to shit. Attitudes to be adjusted. Lessons to be implemented.

But no one can take away the adventure I’ve just had.

Total: 42.5km hike with 15kg pack

Links

Great North Walk Day 10 (11 July): Barraba Trig bush camp to Watagan Forest Motel

Checking the map

Checking the map

Time of writing: 10:37am 11 July

Fatigued at Hunters Lookout

Fatigued at Hunters Lookout

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.

View from Hunter Lookout

View from Hunter Lookout

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.

Sunrise from the trail

Sunrise from the trail

View from the trail near Barraba Trig bush camp

View from the trail near Barraba Trig bush camp

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.

View from McLeans Lookout

View from McLeans Lookout

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.

Jungle creek

Jungle creek

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.

GNW registration book tube

GNW registration book tube

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.

Views from Heatons Lookout

Look at the mileage

Look at the mileage

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.

Views from Heatons Gap Lookout

Views from Heatons Gap Lookout

Feeling good again at Heatons Gap Lookout

Feeling good again at Heatons Gap Lookout

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

Food

  • 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

Links

Great North Walk Day 9 (10 July): Basin campsite to Barraba Trig bush camp

This is what life's about

This is what life’s about

Time of writing: 8:08pm 10 July

What a day! 36km of diverse and tough hiking under my belt. I left camp in darkness and made camp in darkness, but what a day in between. A day of highs and lows. Of rainforest, lookouts and roads.

GNW trail marker in the bush

GNW trail marker in the bush

The first few kilometres out of Basin camp took me back through the rainforest I walked in through yesterday. The rainforest was dense and I often had to crawl under fallen trees or step through strangler vines. At 6:30am, the sun had not yet penetrated the jungle so I walked by torchlight until the grey light of dawn outshone the artificial beam. With overcast skies and the remnants of last night’s rain all around, I was soon covered in sweat from the humidity.

View from the ridge near Mt Warrawolong

View from the ridge near Mt Warrawolong

Walking along the ridge

Walking along the ridge

More ridgetop views

More ridgetop views

It was a stiff climb out of the Wollombi Brook Valley up to the ridges I would follow all the way to Mt Warrawolong. The campsites up on these ridges were lovely. First, there was a spot at the end of Kangaroo Point Road that would be a nice open spot but is obviously frequented by 4WDers (I can’t imagine walkers carrying beer bottles and the rubber gloves really had me scratching my head). I then crossed a narrow ridge just before Mt Warrawolong from which I had AMAZING views across the mountains and valleys on both sides. Clouds hung in the valleys, making the peaks look like islands. The ridge was definitely a high point for the day.

The awful dirt bike destroyed descents from Mt Warrawolong were one of the lows. It took ages because the track was so rutted, slippery and eroded. I’m glad I didn’t push on to Watagan Creek bush camp because it wasn’t much and also showed the signs of improper use, such as litter and broken glass.

View from Flat Rock

View from Flat Rock

From Watagan Creek I crossed some pretty cow paddocks to climb up to Flat Rock Lookout. I don’t know what it is about hiking through fields of green dotted with cattle that I find so pleasant. But I do, so that’s just that. The hike up to Flat Rock was stiff but the views from the lookout were FANTASTIC! I could see the whole Congewai Valley laid out before me, including most of the 19km path to Barraba Trig where I would be camping. There’s something magical about seeing where you will be traveling. And something awesome about knowing that you will descend a mountain, cross a valley and climb just as high on the other side.

At Flat Rock Lookout I turned on my phone and had service for the first time in a week. It was so good to be able to share the view with my partner. I am rather homesick and missing her now. I don’t miss my house but I do so miss her. On my Tassie trip over the summer I need to work out a way to speak with her regularly. I also randomly found a pile of stick magazines the loggers had left behind. I guess they are something the next visitor can enjoy.

The walk down to Congewai Valley was largely uneventful. There were some glimpses of views to the left but mostly I just pushed on the 8km to the valley road.

The Congewai Valley

The Congewai Valley

Unlike Cedar Brush Rd a couple of days ago, the Congewai Valley Road was relaxing and easy to walk. The whole valley had a sense of security and calm about it. I met a local mountain biker who pointed me to a running creek about 150m in the wrong direction where I could get water (I was running low and didn’t want to rely on the advertised water tank ahead). The mountain biker told me that two to three days ago he gave two walkers a lift to Cessnock because they quit the hike. They were only carrying 600ml bottles each and refused to drink from creeks. I’m glad they quit the walk because 600ml water carrying capacity isn’t enough to survive a walk like this, especially when you refuse to refill them at creeks (there are no taps for most of the walk).

From Congewai Valley Road I hiked up to Barraba Trig. This was a challenging push coming at 31km and right on dusk. It was good to reach the top of the spur and follow it to camp. During those final 2 – 3km on the spur I watched the sun set over the valley and mountains I’d spent the afternoon walking through. The old wood cutters’ hut on the spur creeped me out as I walked past. It hulked in the darkness and its derelict nature made it feel threatening.

The first informal campsite I came to had amazing views over the lights of Cessnock and Singleton. Unfortunately, there was a car, some old caravans and lots of rubbish lying around. I will never understand why bush car campers are so darn disgusting and messy.

Just 150m further I came to Barraba Trig bush camp. This delightful spot between the grass trees already had some guests: a group of four Scouts and their adult leader. I added my tent to the mix on the other side of the track. I introduced myself to the adult leader so that he could rest easier with a stranger camped nearby. We talked a while about Scouts and hiking.

Look what I discovered at camp

Look what I discovered at camp

Now I am in my tent writing as I listen to the Scouts talking and laughing in their tents just like our Scout troop do at home. It’s a far cry from the joombies of Basin campsite last night who were over 100m away up the hill but played their music so loud it sounded like it was a disco inside my tent. They had a generator, massive audio system and a chainsaw they kept using. Mind you, the music was pretty good and I did enjoy hearing tunes for the first time in over a week.

Total: 36km with 18-22kg

Food

  • beef and gravy
  • lamb with rosemary
  • porridge with fruit and nuts
  • oat bar
  • Milo bar
  • apricot bar
  • Organic Food bar
  • fruit puree
  • 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with 2 x triangles of Happy Cow cheese
  • hot chocolate custard

Links

Great North Walk Day 8 (9 July): Walkers Rest north of Cedar Brush Trackhead to Basin campsite

Loving life

Loving life

Time of writing: 4:33pm 9 July

Oh what a luxurious day! It started with a sleep in, followed by a short 8km walk and then more sleeping. I could just stop there and maintain the laziness but you know I won’t.

I finally got the ground cold problem sorted the other night at Palm Grove, so I made the most of the relative comfort this morning. Firstly, I put my wet weather gear and towel under my sleeping mat as extra insulation. Then I put my pack and food bags inside my tent as a barrier to stop me slipping off the insulation and mat. It worked so well that I stayed warm all night, even through the rain showers. Going to bed warm from the fire probably helped too. I don’t know why I didn’t think about using my wet weather gear as insulation sooner. I mean, I use my motorbike jacked and pants the same what when I go motorbike camping.

With just 8km to walk and rainfall pitter-pattering on my tent, I stayed snuggled up inside my sleeping bag until well after 7:30am. Even then, I had to forcibly drag myself from bed. Once up, I had a random breakfast of cinnamon beef noodle soup and hot chocolate custard before setting off after the rain had stopped.

Morning on the trail

Morning on the trail

For the first hour or so, the trail followed a ridge-top fire trail through open eucalypt and cedar forest. There were no views but plenty of birds and evidence of feral pigs and dogs (including a massacred bird). Fortunately, the authorities have set baits to kill the dogs.

At Walkers Ridge Road things got a bit confusing. The GNW signs pointed me down a single track carved by dirt bikes but my guide book said to follow the road. I decided to follow the guide book’s instructions because they made more sense (given where I was heading) than the signs. The guide book was spot on and I soon found another GNW sign only to go wrong at a large unsigned intersection. After following what I thought was the track for about 200m, I again consulted the guide and retraced my steps to try a different path. This time the book was more accurate than the map (the book has GPS-generated maps while the topographic map kit just has some lazy straight lines). After pacing 400m from the intersection, as instructed by the book, I came to another GNW sign so knew I was in the correct spot.

Do you see the trail?

Do you see the trail?

Into the rainforest

Into the rainforest

Tiny mushrooms (smaller than my pinkie finger)

Tiny mushrooms (smaller than my pinkie finger)

The trail wound downhill through rainforest to Wollombi Brook before traveling to Basin campground. The forest floor smelled earthy and moist, the rotting leaves and branches highly scented. Small mushrooms of red, pink, yellow, white and purple dotted the ground. They sprung up out of the nooks and crannies between rocks, roots and man-made steps. I imagine the people who lived here before knew exactly which were safe and delicious to eat (I left them alone).

Time of writing: 5:53pm 9 July

Cooking dinner

Cooking dinner

So the mention of food reminded me to check on my fish curry rice, which I had been cooking on the fire. It was finally ready after bubbling away for about 35 minute. It’s a dish that I concocted using the dried fish from the Asian section of my grocer. Other than the rice being impractical to cook on a gas stove (especially brown rice), this dish is fantastic. The fish are delicious when cooked up in water.

Now that I’ve finished cooking, I’ve ramped up the fire to get me warm. In doing so, I discovered that I burnt a hole in one of my socks. Fortunately, my toe wasn’t in the sock (I was drying it too close to the fire) but it’s still inconvenient because I’ll now risk foot irritation when hiking in that sock.

Basin camp and my wood pile

Basin camp and my wood pile

Basin camp is lovely. There are plenty of sites, some of a grassy slope and others on sand near the creek. While the site on the grass would be perfect, it was very soggy today while the site near the creek are drier. The grassy site has a big picnic table while the others don’t have anything to sit on. There are three big fire pits (I’m camped near one), a drop toilet and a rain water tank. The toilet even has paper in.

I spent over an hour collecting firewood, and washing myself and my clothes. Then I slept in my tent from about 1:30pm – 3:00pm. See, I told you I had a lazy day. Then I lit the fire, cooked some food and stared lazily up at the blue gums that stand in the grassy area.

Mmm ... the warm comforting glow of a campfire

Mmm … the warm comforting glow of a campfire

Now the fire’s roaring, my washing is drying and I”m ready to stare at the flames until I go to bed.

Total: 8km hike with 18kg pack

Food

  • beef noodle soup
  • hot chocolate custard
  • 2 x museli bars
  • fruit puree
  • Organic Food bar
  • 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with 2 x triangles Happy Cow cheese
  • coconut curry soup
  • fish curry rice

Links

Great North Walk Day 7 (8 July 2013): Palm Grove bush camp to Walkers Rest north of Cedar Brush trail head

My new friend

My new friend

Time of writing: 6:19am 8 July

One of the nice things about ridge top campsites is that you can watch the sun rising. Down in the deeper valleys, all you see is the sky slowly getting lighter with no sign of the warming red ball. But here on the ridge, I can see the horizon starting to glow through the trees. Behind me, to the west, the sky is still a deep navy blue. But from about 70′ above the horizon, the sky is starting to get gradually paler until the last 30′ where there is a bright band of colour. First, at the top, there’s a peach coloured band of light. Then, light orange before a central puddle of dark orange directly to my east where the sun will rise to warm the day. As it rises, the sun’s light makes it possible to distinguish the leaves and branches of the trees, which, just a few moments ago, were just bogs of black against the dark sky. These final minute before the dawn are always the coldest. It’s almost as though the cold fingers of night want to punish us for wishing the darkness away and celebrating the daylight hours. In the distance, I can hear kookooburras sing their morning song. This means it will be light within the quarter hour.

Oh, there we go, the tops of the trees are turning from black to green. See, the sun itself is rising behind a thick grove of trees so I can only see the periphery of the dawn not the birth of the sun itself. But the leaves of the trees above me are now slowly becoming green against the lightning sky. It’s starting from up high but with every passing second more are changing colour.

At ground level too the dawn is showing. I can now make out the long green grasses waving in the breeze. I can see the leaf litter is brown and can just start writing without my headlamp. To my right (uphill from here), the taller trees are now topped with brown branches, not the black limbs of night. Lorikeets just flew by, chirping as they went. And now more birds are calling. A new day has begun. Though it is still just day break.

Time of writing: 6:59pm 8 July

So much for that rest day I was going to have today. Despite not leaving camp until 8:00am, I made it to Archer’s Camp at 10:20am, having covered 11km. It seemed ridiculous to stop and I was feeling strong. But continuing meant committing to a 33km day because the next campsite was on the other side of Yarramalong by 14km and I was still 11km from Yarramalong. I decided to push on.

I spent much of today walking along roads. Within 1km of leaving camp I came to Ourimbah Valley Track Head and followed a gravel road (Ourimbah Creek Road) through the valley past the massive Hidden Valley Equestrian Ranch, complete with cros country hose riding course and lots of pretty horses.

The trail along the creek

The trail along the creek

At the end of the road, the track continued along the banks of the Ourimbah Creek to Stringybark Point bush camp. Boy am I glad I didn’t go there for a camp! It was cold, miserable, wet and there was frost on the ground. Perhaps it is delightful in summer but it’s definitely not a winter camp.

The trail climbed steeply from Stringybark to Archers before becoming fire trail. I ran the downhills and walked the rets give than I had decided to push on past Yarramalong. It wasn’t just the food from the shop that was driving me; it was a desire to get the boring road parts of the walk done so I can enjoy my last few days in the bush.

Pastures near Yarramalong

Pastures near Yarramalong

The walk from Archers to Greta Road passed through some pretty country, including  a beautiful mossy little creek. But it was also largely functional and ugly, especially once it hit the power lines and roads. Anyone who has done the Queensland leg of the Adventure Race Australia series in either 2012 or 2013 can probably attest to how undelightful power line tracks are: they are just tough and unrelenting. Here, the track wasn’t even a nice vehicle track; it was a rough single track that went straight down without so much as a considerate swerve around washouts or weeds.

From the power lines, the trail again turned into the bush following an old dray track from timber-getting years long gone. This was quite pretty with rock cliffs, tall trees and pretty brown leaf litter.

*Drools like Homer Simpson*

*Drools like Homer Simpson*

Then, the gastronomic highlight of my day: works burger and chips at Yarramalong Store. For those not familiar with works burgers, they are hamburgers with the lot: meat patty, onions, tomato, lettuce, bacon, egg, cheese, beetroot, pineapple and bbq sauce. It was huge and I couldn’t quite get through it all. Nor the massive bowl of hot chips with yummy chicken salt. I didn’t wash it down with chocolate milk though; just Powerade. After hiking 19km, I really needed some electrolyte action. Though I did buy a 220g block of peppermint chocolate, which is almost gone.

Yarramalong Valley

Yarramalong Valley

The Yarramalong Valley is a scenic and friendly place. I’m not sure that this fact quite compensates for the long 10.5km hike along the main road with no verge. I smashed it out on 2hrs 20 mins including a 15 minute chat with a race horse breeder and trainer. While the march (for it was more a march than a walk) was tough (I was covering 3.5km every 35 minute session), the valley was beautiful and would make for lovely postcard subject-matter. I used this section of the walk to practice my map reading. I’d stop every so often to compare where I thought I was and then confirm it by picking the next feature I should pass. I’ve been doing this all week. But with this quick march I was able to really focus on the navigation.

Cedar Brush Trackhead

Cedar Brush Trackhead

It was a long 2km climb to camp. While the sign at the trailhead said 21km, I think my maps more accurately show the distance as 3 – 3.5km. I almost thought I’d somehow missed camp when the trail finally climbed the ridge to meet the fire trail that led me to a large walkers’ rest area.

Walkers Rest bush camp

Walkers Rest bush camp

This pretty ridge-top rest area is also the first campfire legal spot I’ve camped since Ridge Top where I was with the Duke of Edinborough people. And I’m making the most of it. It’s 8:00pm and my journal entry is taking so long because I keep playing with and staring at the flames. It’s so lovely to be warm after some early nights escaping the cold by retiring just after dark. Though I am super tired after my 33km day so I’m not sure how long I’ll last. I’ve done my stretching, eaten a cold meal (I was too fatigued to cook) and planned tomorrow’s hike (a short day to Basin Creek campsite, which is meant to be really nice).

I just noticed that I can’t hear the F3 anymore. This is the first night of true quiet.

Total: 32km with 18-22kg pack

Food

  • porridge with fruit and oats
  • Organic Food bar
  • apple and cinnamon bar
  • fruit puree
  • 220g peppermint chocolate
  • works burger and hot chips
  • 6 x Vita Wheat crackers and sweet chili tuna

Links

Great North Walk Day 6 (7 July): Mooney Mooney Creek bush camp (north) to Palm Grove bush camp

Mooney Mooney Creek

Mooney Mooney Creek

Time of writing: 5:07pm

I’m going to get my gripe out of the way right now: Somersby Store was closed today! No hamburger, chips or chocolate milk for me! In fact, I couldn’t even find a proper water tap in Somersby. To say I had a bit of a sulk is putting things mildly. But I so wanted some real food after almost six days of camp food. Not that my food or meals have been bad. But could murder some nice greasy carb-loaded, fat-filled hot chips. And don’t even get me started on a nice juicy protein-packed meat patty on a soft but lightly toasted bun topped with fresh lettuce and tomatoes, tinned beetroot and pineapple, a fried egg, slice of bacon and slightly melted cheese with bbq sauce. Mmmmm *drools like Homer Simpson*. But it was not to be today. Maybe the Yarramalong Store will be open the day after tomorrow so I can try again. I can feel that I need the extra calories. I’m not running too low but could certainly do with a top-up.

This morning it was really cold at Mooney Mooney Creek camp. I woke many times during the night trying to get warm but the cold from the ground kept finding its way through my think blue mat. I did sleep but it was disjointed due to the cold. That’s the trouble with low swampy campsites; they are cold sinks. Cold air can’t escape and then it gets compounded by the cold surrounding trapped water.

It was pretty, though, when I got up. Well, not immediately because it was still dark. But as dawn broke, I could see mist rising off the creek. The tide was in, so the water in the swamp behind the camp had risen some. This made it easier for me to collect some of the brackish but clean water to heat up for a wash. It felt good to be clean, if only for a little while.

I hit the trail around 7:30am after taking ages to get going. The late dawn in the deep valley didn’t help. Not that it really matters. There was no point rushing off because I’m on holidays.

The track along Mooney Mooney Creek was mostly flat and easy walking. There were some muddy and wet sections, but I just barged through. My Adidas Kanadia 5 Trail Runners tend to dry quickly so it’s just as easy to take the path of least resistance as to waste energy trying to stay dry. I saw another lyerbird today as I walked along the creek. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn on any crazy songs. See, lyerbirds are mimics so sometimes they treat you to some odd sounds. I’ve seen and heard one in Washpool National Park a few years ago first make a chainsaw noise and then start sounding like a car alarm. Perhaps this is yet to come later in my walk.

Mooney Mooney Creek at the crossing

Mooney Mooney Creek at the crossing

The trail came to a large rock shelf on Mooney Mooney Creek up past the tidal section. Here it formed some little falls and also some pools. I had to cross the creek so had a rest before spending twenty minutes navigating the slippery channels between the exposed rocks. It might have been easy but for my packk.

Pretty pink flowers

Pretty pink flowers

From here, the track widened to a fire trail and climbed to Lower Mooney Mooney Dam. This was build in 1938 as a water source for Gosford. It was replaced in the 1980s with a larger dam further upstream. The trail continued to climb out of the swampy valley to a dry ridge. Flowers abounded (is that even a word?) and I came to a lovely campsite where I stopped for a rest and snack.

Rain forest creek before Somersby

Rain forest creek before Somersby

I spent the rest of the morning hiking up to Sommersby hoping for that burger and chips. While I didn’t find the food, I did find a geocache on my way. I’d marked it on my map before I left home and would you know it, the clue gave it away so I could find it even without a GPS.

After my sulk over the store’s closure, I followed the road for ages before reaching Palm Grove Nature Reserve. But not before I had to deal with some yobbo’s dog that was free to escape it’s yard. Sorry, but dogs should not be allowed to run free even when you live in the country. This mutt snarled and blocked my path in an unfriendly way. It took some serious aggression and walking pole waving to get past. Seriously, I would have poked it one if I’d needed to. Normally, most dogs are easy to handle but this one was a right nasty thing.

Anyway, the Palm Grove walk took me from a dry ridge down a leaf-littered spur with scattered boulders. It dropped gently at first before careening down to a gorgeous little creek. On my way down I found another geocache.

The far side of the creek was pure rainforest. It was all muddy track and dense greenery like I’m use to at home. It was oddly comforting. There was even a massive small-leafed fig tee with its huge buttress roots.

Once back out of the rain forest, the bush opened back up to dry grassy eucalypt bush. Here I saw some local bushwalkers on a day walk, signed the GNW reigster and meandered down to camp.

Palm Grove bush camp

Palm Grove bush camp

My camp tonight is on a narrow spur near the top of a low mountain. It’s much warmer up here than it was at Mooney Mooney Creek. I spent the afternoon lying outside in my sleeping bag resting and listening to the sounds of the bush. I especially liked the sound of the bell birds ringing all around. Sunset was amazing; the orange glow lingered for wages over the distant hills.

My body is a bit fatigued today. My left ankle and knee are giving me some bother and the ITB on that leg is super tight. I stretched well tonight and used a rock to do a trigger line from my glutes to my knee. I only have to travel 11km tomorrow to Archer Camp where I’m allowed to have a campfire so it’s going to be a good chance to rest my body before some big days in the Watagans. I think it’s nothing a burger and chips couldn’t fix – haha.

Total: 17.8km with 22-24kg pack

Food

  • porridge with fruit and nuts
  • Organic Food bar
  • 2 x museli bars
  • fruit puree
  • Miso soup
  • 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with 2 x triangles Happy Cow cheese
  • mashed potato with been and vegies
  • semolina pudding

Links

Great North Walk Day 5 (6 July): Brooklyn Dam bush camp to Mooney Mooney Creek bush camp (north)

Dawn over Brooklyn Dam

Dawn over Brooklyn Dam

Time of writing: 10:15am 6 July

Perhaps it was because I was asleep by 7:00p last night or perhaps it was the cold. But I was up at 4:00am and couldn’t get back to sleep. As it was, hitting the trail at 6:30am was good because it allowed me to catch the 7:45am train to Wondabyne instead of having to wait until 8:50am. On my way to the station, I met four Oxfam Trailwalker teams out training and at least three more teams got off the train I boarded.

View from Scopas Peak over Mooney Mooney Creek

View from Scopas Peak over Mooney Mooney Creek

Walking down Scopas Peak

Walking down Scopas Peak

The walk from Wondabyne to Scopas Peak was stunning! It crossed big rock flats that gave out huge views of the Mooney Mooney Creek and surrounding hills. Sometimes it was like walking on an alien planet, especially after Mt Scopas.

I’m sitting on the banks of an unnamed creek that is flowing across a rock slab. My guide book says it is intermittent so there must have been plenty of rain recently to make it flow this quickly. I love how the water has cut holes and clefts into these rocky creeks. It makes for pretty viewing and unique gurgling.

A father and daughter just walked past. They too are Newcastle-bound. But they’re doing the walk one day walk at a time. I’ve seen their names in the registration books along the way. They told me they swam across Calna Creek at Crosslands and that it was cold. That was in early June before the rains that flooded the track through the swamp lands. They also said that the only way to Patonga is train to Woy Woy and then taxi to Patonga. I’m glad I decided to just travel north from Wondabyne.

The birds today have been plentiful. Mostly big green lorikeets and honey eaters. Their chirping is a pleasant break from the hum of the nearby F3. And they don’t seem afraid of me either. They just watch an arm’s length away then continue eating the nectar of the bright orange banksia flowers.

Time of writing: 3:49pm 6 July

Almost through the first 100km

Almost through the first 100km

I’ve been at camp since 1:00pm. My early departure from Brooklyn Dam also caused me to arrive hear early. The easy flat walking these past 4km along Mooney Mooney Creek and the flat 2km along Piles Creek before that also helped. It was tempting to push on to the next camp about 4km down the track but I am already a day ahead of schedule and that would mean I miss a night here in the Mooney Mooney Valley.

Mooney Mooney Creek is a muddy tidal creek with swampy surrounds. In some ways it’s like the lower end of Bayview Conservation Park back home but on a grander scale. Much of the track is muddy; fortunately, my shoes have been drying well overnight. I am long past avoiding the mud and water; it’s far easier to just plough through.

Before I entered the Mooney Mooney section of the trail, I passed two guys whose car was bogged in mud on a gravel road under the F3 bridge. At first, I was intimidated by them (they were rough-looking guys) but as I walked I thought it wrong to leave them without trying to help so I walked back. Two kayakers in a van also went to try help. The guys with the van towed the car while I pushed and the second guy from the bogged car sat in the back of the van to add weight and traction. It worked so we all went on our ways again.

Blue gums at Mooney Mooney Creek bush camp (north)

Blue gums at Mooney Mooney Creek bush camp (north)

The campsite is a small clearing next to the track. Just behind is a wet swamp with pools of water. Mooney Mooney Creek is below a bank on the other side of the track. Everything here is damp and it was difficult to find a dry flat spot for my tent. Ultimately, I chose somewhere more dry than flat. Above me are towering blue gums. They are amazing. Earlier, their big white trunks and branches almost glowed under the blue sky. Now they are changing in character as darkness falls, making them less mystical and more skeletal in appearance. They make this campsite. Down at ground level there are lots of ferns. They form a foot high carpet around the edges of the campsite and offer some shelter from the cold air coming off the swamp.

The swamp is teeming with life. Frogs croak to each other. Some have short sharp calls while others are more throaty. Birds twitter around in the ferns and shrubs. They are small birds who seem to thrive in this moist and enclosed place. Earlier, a group of yellow breasted birds with grey wings and backs checked me out. They were at camp when I arrived and have only left as the sun’s rays have started to become weak. They flitted around, landing on my tent and the nearby log.

The air is cold here tonight. I have all my clothes on including my rain pants (well, not my stinky walking clothes but everything else). It’d be okay except my feet are cold. My camp socks just aren’t doing their job. Perhaps the Somersby Store will randomly sell warm socks tomorrow.

As I arrived at camp an older man appeared from the opposite direction. He had walked from somewhere up near Newcastle way but was calling it quits. It seems many people start this walk but fail to finish. On my first day, a young guy told me he quit (“bitched it” to be precise) at Somersby and caught a train home from Gosford. I’ve also read more online stories of people stopping than those who finish. I wonder whether it is the ease with which you can escape the track on public transport or by car that makes this reality. At the end of a day, when you’re tired and sore, it’s easy to wonder why you’re doing this as a through walk instead of as a series of day hikes. I think the constant proximity to urban life is also a challenge. For example, tonight and last night the sound of the F3 dominates. So you walk all this way to escape the hustle and bustle only to hear it more than you would at home. It’s an interesting conundrum really. Because the walk is so visually diverse and stunningly beautiful. It is physically demanding. During the day, you don’t hear the F3 because you’re engrossed in walking or you’re listening to creeks. But at night, when the birds retire and the air is still, the sound of the cars and trucks is quite overwhelming. It’s a constant white roar. To be honest, I was prepared for it to some extent but it’s still quite discombobulating.

Though I’m not complaining. It’s nice to have the trail and campsites mostly to myself. So far I’m the only through-walker who I’ve seen in the registration book with dates back to May. Many have walked sections and some are walking the whole trek over a series of day walks. But none have registered as end-to-enders in a through-walking sense.

Shortly, I’ll cook tea and dessert. Maybe I’ll have a cup of tea too. Then I think it’ll be another early night. Tomorrow will be quite a long day to Palm Grove. But hopefully Somersby Store will be open so I can have a burger, chips and chocolate milk.

Hello

Hello

Time of writing: 6:19pm 6 July

As I sit here under the stars listening to a tiny trickle of water to my right and the frogs singing their songs. I can’t help but think about how this trip is like two others I’ve taken in the past.

In 2002, Dad and I cycled 1,600km (1,000 miles) from the tiny Outback town of Birdsville to our home in Brisbane. It took us 15 days and was one of my favourite trips. Every day we just rode. We encouraged each other. Shared the highs like getting through the sand dunes or reaching the sealed road or whooping down the mountains from Toowoomba. We got through the lows like my achilles tendonitis or the near constant head winds. But it was the little things that made the trip. The local who told us we were mad. The endless salt plain with a head wind. The sight of a clump of bushes that told us there was a creek ahead. Not to mention our support crew: Mum, Oma and Suwati. They fed, encouraged and cheered us the whole 1,000 miles.

Then, in 20090-10 I spent nine weeks traveling on my motorbike through south-eastern Australia. I explored Outback NSW, the Snowy Mountains, the Victorian deserts, the Great Ocean Road and Tasmania. It was a solo trip punctuated by visits to people I’d met on an online gardening forum I used to be on. Like the Birdsville to Brisbane bicycle ride, the highlights of my motorbike trip will always be the small things. The crow at the summit of Mt Kosciusko. The night by the campfire at Ben Lomond. The mountain hut at Mt Hotham. The sunset on my first south-facing beach in Victoria’s Gipsland. The hospitality of strangers.

Sometimes, it’s time to be quiet away from the jumble of the world that helps ground us to our souls. To some, this trip might seem like good training for adventure racing. To me, adventure racing is good training so I can take trips like this for my soul. I hope I don’t need to wait 3-5 years between drinks at the soul well in future.

Total: 17km with 25kg pack

Food

  • porridge with fruit and nuts
  • chocolate chip cookie
  • 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with chocolate spread
  • fruit puree
  • 2 x Milo bars
  • Organic Food bar
  • lamb Vindaloo
  • bbq beef
  • semolina pudding
  • hot chocolate pudding

Links

Great North Walk Day 4 (5 July): Ridge Top bushcamp to Brooklyn Dam

The trail

The trail

Time of writing: 8:06am 5 July

Everyone has their own personal trail rhythm. Some sleep in and enjoy the morning at camp after a late night around the campfire. Others linger all day on the trail. Me, I like to be up around 5:00am regardles of the sun. I enjoy a relaxed breakfast before breaking camp and setting off around 7:00am. This gives me time to knock over most of the day’s mileage in the morning but also time to stop and enjoy the sights.

What a fantastic experience

What a fantastic experience

Right now I’m at a lookout heading into Cowan looking back at the spur I hiked down this morning. It was a stiff descent that took me to Joe Craft’s Creek where I rested and washed (rinsed) some of my clothes before climbing to where I sit now. The sun is climbing higher into the sky to my right and the wind is gusting through the trees.

Last night I enjoyed campfire games and marshmallows with the Duke of Edinborough people. It was a grand laugh and I have learned some new games for Scouts. We played the “I’m having a picnic” word game (the one where you have to go in alphabetic order), the “In my happy place” word game (where you can only have thing with double letters), and the “Guess where the train stops word game (where you have to say “umm” before the place. And we played “Mafia and Villagers” where you give everyone a playing card. Black is mafia and red is villager. Red Ace is the doctor and Red King is the sherriff. Everyone closes their eyes. The person nominated as “God” tells the mafia to open their eyes and select someone to murder. The mafia then close their eyes as “God” tells the doctor to open their eyes and select someone to save (the doctor doesn’t actually know who the mafia killed). The doctor then closes their eyes. “God” then tels the sherriff to open their eyes and to ‘investigate’ someone who they suspect is mafia. Everyone then opens their eyes and “God” tells then who was killed (unless the doctor saved them). Everyone then has a town council to decide who to blame for the murder – that person will be expelled from the village and reveal whether they were mafia or villager. The goal is for the mafia to kill all the villagers and for the villagers to expell all the mafia. The game only works if you have more villagers than mafia. To make things more interesting, you can add Cupid (Red Jack) who nominates a Romeo and Juliet for the game. If either Romeo or Juliet dies or is expelled from the village, then the other also suffers the same fate. Romeo and Juliet do not know whether the other is mafia or villager.

Time of writing: 3:58pm 5 July

So this morning I wrote about my morning routine on the trail. I have a bit of a routine at the end of the day too. Once I find camp, I take time to find the best site. The one that’s most flat and sheltered with good views and, preferably, morning sun. Not that I’m fussy. Before I set up I hang out any clothes that need drying and, if there’s a creek, I was my shirt, socks and underclothes. When I say “wash”, I really mean rinse because I don’t use detergent. Then I make soup. I have soup, dinner and dessert for every camp but have worked out that I can’t eat them all as a big meal. The great thing about the soup is that it tends to be salty so I can replace both lost fluids and salts straight away when I get to camp. My soups all have carbs and vegies too, so I’m getting some nutrients at the same time. Then I set up camp and laze around writing, reading the guide book and eating until dark when I pretty much go to bed tired.

Today’s hike was another brutally beautiful one. Once at Cowan I walked what was supposed to be 200m but seemed like twice that to a shop. The shop was also the only “public” toilet in town so I bought a Mint Patty and drink so I wouldn’t feel bad using the bathrooms. It was worth it just to wash my grotty hands with sweet scented soap.

Jerusalem Bay

Jerusalem Bay

From Cowan the trail dropped down the eastern side of the range to Jerusalem Bay. It followed Cowan Creek, often merging as one entity. The creek dropped down gullies of ferns and over flat rock shelves, eventually widening out into a muddy-bottomed inlet that would make good crabbing grounds. Then it opened out into Jerusalem Bay; a deep long bay lined with high mountains (well, relatively high anyway) that plummeted into the bay. I stopped at a clearing along the bay for a long rest. The clearing was on top of a cliff shelf a few meters about the water so I had a gorgeous view. I lay in the sun and fell asleep for half an hour.

As I prepared to leave, a group of young Christian missionaries walked by. They were out hiking for the day to clear their heads after working to prepare for a conference. They had an air of calm about them, especially the one who spoke with me. I would leap frog up the trail with them all day to Brooklyn Dam.

Soldier crabs

Soldier crabs

Soldier crab up close

Soldier crab up close

From Jerusalem Bay the trail climbed steeply up the range. At times I had to really clamber to get up the rock steps. The views from the top were superb! Then the trail dropped down to a small creek before climbing up to the ridge that would take me almost to camp. The climb was rocky and there were metal pegs in the rock to help hikers through (I just wish my legs were longer thought to climb some of the pegs). From the top I could see all the way to Porto Bay.

As I walked I came to a big group of squawking black cockatoos. The kind with the yellow tail feathers. I got a sense they might be Guardians to this land so I told them I was just passing through and meant no harm. Some of the birds glided around. One sat on a nearby branch and ate fruit from his claws. But one hopped from branch to branch beside me watching me before gliding off after I was finished speaking. I am sure he was pleased with my words and accepted me into his lands.

Camp at Brooklyn Dam

Camp at Brooklyn Dam

It’s quite cold and windy here at camp. The water from the dam is cooling the air. I might seek out a more sheltered spot before I put on my tea.

Total: 15km with 25kg pack

Food

  • porridge with fruit and nuts
  • Organic Food bar
  • 2 x museli bars
  • Mint Patty
  • 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with chocolate paste
  • coconut curry soup
  • curry fish rice
  • hot vanilla custard
  • fruit puree

Links

Great North Walk Day 3 (4 July): Tunk Ridge bush camp to Ridge Top bush camp

Check out the split in the tree

Check out the split in the tree

Time of writing: 6:00am 4 July

I woke before the dawn. It gets light so late here in Cockroach Country. At home, 1,000km north, the day is begun by 6:00am but here it is still dark. At least it gave me privacy for my morning wash; we are close to suburbia after all.

Despite her crescent state, the Moon still shines brightly. I was able to lay in her beams as I did some morning stretches. I’m trying to stretch my whole body at least twice a day to keep the soreness to a minimum. So far, I’ve rolled each ankle twice and have quite some shoulder soreness from carrying the pack. The ankle rolling always occurs when I let my mind drift to hardships or try to push the pace rather than enjoying the now. A lesson perhaps.

It must be rubbish day in Hornsby for I can hear the truck off in the distance. How odd that for these two weeks I am not part of that world. For these two weeks I am like a vagabond to those who wear suits and ties. Maybe a figure of someone they want to become or a symbol of what they’ve given up. I’ll see them this morning at the station with their takeaway coffees and sullen faces. Already my trail mind is taking over. How quickly I slip out of my corporate mode and into the role of observer. The land is taking hold. A good omen for my future travels.

Time of writing: 11:23am 4 July

So I’m sitting on a rocky outcrop overlooking Berowra Creek. I can’t be too far from Berowra Waters. The track down from the train station at Berowra has been beautiful. It’s cut down through rocky tree-covered hills across running creeks and past trees of interesting shapes (including one with stumpy branches that made it look like a male fertility charm). The bush is alive with colour and sounds. White flowers are starting to bloom on low growing shrubs. Orange candlesticks adorn Banksias, which grow well in the sandy soil. Fresh new gum growth glows red as the sun hits it. Tree trunks come in black, brown, pink and silver. The views are punctuated by orange and grey cliffs. The wind is strong, creating a whoosh of leaves that fluctuates in intensite while branches rubbing against each other squeek and squwark. I’ve heard whip birds call for mates and have seen a lyer bird scratching around. It is a grand day to be walking.

Time of writing: 4:20pm 4 July

Feeling on top of the world

Feeling on top of the world

I’m at bush camp not far from Turner Road, Berowra. It’s been  a really good day today getting here.

View from Steele Bridge

View from Steele Bridge

Check out the split in the tree

Check out the split in the tree

My day started off with a stiff hike to Hornsby Station. The first 2km were steep downhill on fire trail back to Steele Bridge. Then I had a hard 3-4km climb to Hornsby and on to the train station. Along the way, a friendly man helped me with directions. The train ride to Berowra was uneventful but I’m glad I took it because I’ve since learned that the track was definitely impassable north of Crosslands (Calna Creek).

The detour

The detour

At Berowra I treated myself to a meat pie. It was pretty tasty and actually seemed to have meat in it. From here, I re-enterd the bush and you can read about the hike down to Berowra Waters in my 11:23am notes.

Berowra Waters wasn’t much. I stopped for lunch at some shady picnic tables near parked cars, topped up my water for the overnight hike and set off up to camp.

These rocks are thigh-high on me

These rocks are thigh-high on me

The trail up to Ridge Top

The trail up to Ridge Top

That's the trail up those rocks

That’s the trail up those rocks

The climb out of Berowra Waters was intensely physical. In south-east Queensland uphill trails are groomed or scrambly. Here, I had to climb boulders and steps the whole way up. Many steps were thigh to waist high on me.

But oh my! The views! And the pure rugged beauty of the place. Magic! So worth the effort.

Along the way I crossed a creed so beautiful I had to stop. Water flowed over a small foot-high cascade, onto a slab of rock and into a shallow pool before dropping down a 3-5m waterfall below me. The water was icy cold so I coolled my face and hair before taking off my stinky shirt to rinse it and my upper body. I stayed a while before continuing to climb.

The view west from Ridge Top bush camp

The view west from Ridge Top bush camp

Camp is pretty. There’s plenty of space but it’s bushland not a field. About 20m away there is an amazing vista over the mountains to th ewest. That’s where I’m going shortly (to look at the view).

I’m sharing camp with about 15 Duke of Edinburough teens and their leaders from The Colloroy Centre. Once again, life on the trail is sociable (I’ve had yarns with randoms all day).

Total: 18km hiking with 24-28kg pack

Food

  • semolina pudding with sultanas
  • Organic Food bar
  • pie
  • fruit puree
  • hot chocolate custard
  • beef jerkey noodle soup with vegetables
  • 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with plum jam
  • Milo bar
  • oat bar
  • devil’s lentils (lentils, tomatoes, mushrooms, vegies, herbs and Parmesan cheese)

Links