29/07/2006 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Gill Fowler
I had arranged to meet Gill at the Golden Stairs at 9am, but suggested she might try to arrive a bit earlier. I got a call from her at about 8am, just as I left the Woolies car park to head off to see if Summit Gear was open. She was already waiting in the Woolies car park!
I was hoping to do a walk from Carlon's Farm in the Megalong to the Ruined Castle, via Carlon's Head and Walls Pass on Narrow Neck. Complicating factors were the long car shuffle from the Golden Stairs to the Megalong, the fact that I didn't have the Jenolan map (which has Carlon's Farm and Head on it) and my relative lack of knowledge about Carlon's Chains and Walls Pass. After a discussion, we decided none of these were show stoppers, and headed for Carlon's Farm after dropping a car at the Golden Stairs. I knew one other group was planning the same trip, although they had a 7am start at the Golden Stairs, so we were some way behind.
Arriving at about 9:30am, we set off carrying a rope and harness between us just in case. I had a feeling the track up to Carlon's Head left from opposite the fire trail up from Green Gully, and sure enough Gill spied Volley prints first on the road up to the electricity tower, and then on a small track that branched off up the hill. A short steep climb brought us to the cliffs at the nose and we set about looking for the chains, or the start of a route up. After wandering along the left hand side for a bit, we hadn't found anything, and it was obvious the cliffs were getting higher. Backtracking we spotted the chains and a sign on the rocks which we had missed on the way past. They didn't look much like pictures I had seen, so I figured there would probably be another set, and sure enough, there was. This next set was much more exposed, with a fall likely to be quite messy. At the top we had spectacular views of the Wild Dogs, with Mt Debert, Mt Merrigal and Mt Dingo prominent. Further afield we could see the Mt Cloudmaker Massif, with Kanangra Walls to its right. Having walked from Kanangra to Katoomba in a day a couple of years ago, it suddenly didn't seem so far!
We set off up the ridge, only to find that there was another set of chains - and another - and finally one more set to the top. After a few more views, we headed off up the ridge to Bushwalkers Hill. Across the main fire trail, there was another fire trail heading in the right direction, so we followed it until it ended on a small knoll. We couldn't find a track, but after some scrub bashing, we managed to find one a little further along the ridge. On the next knoll we thought about heading out to CMW Head for morning tea, but it looked rather scrubby, and we opted just to settle down in the bush and have refreshments.
My knowledge of Walls Pass pretty much consisted of: a) there was a large cairn marking something b) it was a bit back from the point, and c) what was on the topo, which sort of confirmed it was back from the point on the south side of the head (Walls Head?). As the vague track that we were following got vaguer and eventually seemed to disappear, we reviewed our options. I decided we should head down to the cliff edge and see what we could see. This was a mistake. Some ten minutes of crawling through dense scrub got us to a small ledge from which we could see ... not much. I fought my way down a gully which seemed to be about the right spot on the map, before giving up after no track emerged. After more fighting through scrub, in which time we progressed about 30m, I eventually decided that the ridge was a better bet. We bashed back up to the ridge, headed out to Walls Head and had a bit more of a look along the cliff edges. Much the same. Good views, but no pass. By this stage our chances of getting to the Ruined Castle in time were remote, so we settled down for lunch in the sun.
Given the lack of obvious signs, we thought it was most likely that the pass was even further again back from the head. This turned out to be the case when on the way back, I spotted a vague track leading off to the east, and Gill simultaneously found the large cairn that had mostly been hidden when we walked past on the way out. Not wanting to miss out on our main objective of finding the pass, we scooted down the slippery gully for quite some distance and out on to a rock platform with a sling and chains at the top. Since we were there we descended the chains, and I went for a wander along the bottom just to check it out. However, the route via Cedar Head would have to wait for another day.
From there it was a longish slog back to the main fire trail, and a couple of hours walk along Narrow Neck got us to my car parked at the Golden Stairs. An hour an a half later we had retrieved Gill's car from the Megalong, and were eating dinner over a welcome glass of wine at Gardiners Inn at Blackheath. Not quite to plan, but still a good day in the bush.