12-14/06/1999 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Jonathan Potts, Nicole Shepherd
I had injured my shoulder badly only a couple of weeks before, and couldn't raise my arm above my head. So I wasn't sure that a three day wilderness walk was the best thing for the June Long Weekend. However, Nicole and Jonathan persuaded me that I would be OK. I didn't have any thermals, so that was one of the first purchases from the outdoor stores given the cold forecast.
We arranged to meet Fee, Sal and some of Sal's friends at Mobbs Soak along the way, and so didn't have to organise our own car shuffle.
We camped on the Friday night at Boyd Crossing Campground, after arriving in the wee hours of the morning. Being the June long weekend the weather was very cold, and my toes had well and truly gone numb by morning.
Day 1: Kanangra Walls to Mt Cloudmaker to Dex Creek
Saturday morning saw us drive down to the parking lot at what we thought was an early hour, only to find it full already.
The first part of the walk was quite easy, being out along the Plateau itself. There were plenty of great views of the sandstone cliffs both north and south and endless photo opportunities. Jonathan posed on a small minaret for a spectacular shot across the Kanangra Creek gorge. At the end of the Plateau we ran into our first problem - how to get down. After a bit of searching we found a passable but somewhat tricky route climbing down a narrow crack. It would have been somewhat easier had my shoulder been functional. We were obviously not the first to use it as there was a well worn path at the bottom leading in the right direction.
A small knoll not too far ahead was a great vantage point for some views of the Walls.
Then we meandered along the Kilpatrick Causeway to Crafts Wall, a large mass of sandstone rising out of the surrounding bush. At the eastern end of the wall we missed our trail heading off to the left, and if not for another party of walkers going the same way we might have ended up at the Kowmung River!
From Craft's Wall, we headed down into the small saddle and up the other side to Mt Berry. Over the crest of Mt Berry was the biggest descent of the day, down to Gabes Gap, and from there it was all uphill. The next 4km was one long climb, punctuated by the occasional flat or very short downhill section. In quick succession we passed the inventively named Mt High and Mighty, Mt Stormbreaker, Rip, Rack, Roar and Rumble. We stopped for lunch on Mt Stormbreaker, which had some nice views of the surrounding area.
Mt Cloudmaker was only a short way past Rumble Knoll, although it was wide and flat-topped, and there were no views at all to speak of. There was a small cairn and log book, but it is not exactly a mountain that you feel you have conquered.
Continuing along the track from Mt Cloudmaker for about 1km brought us to the intersection of two creeks, and the Dex Creek campsite. We got there first, but by the time we started collecting a meagre supply of wood there were about eight tents in five separate groups set up.
Day 2: Dex Creek to Mt Strongleg to Mobbs Swamp
Getting on to the track heading north out of Dex Creek the next morning was no easy task. We first ended up fighting thick scrub all the way to the top of the ridge. Once on the ridge above Dex Creek, we tried to find the minor ridge heading for Mount Moorilla. The bush unfortunately was making visibility poor and when we finally broke out of the bush we found we were two ridges east of where we should have been. It ended up taking us an hour just to travel the one kilometre from the camp site to the trail proper. Another group we bumped into was on the right ridge, but backtracking because they thought they had the wrong one!
Once on the trail the route was easy all the way to the Mount Strongleg. Even though the trail turned into piles of rock at various points along the way, for the most part it followed the ridge line, which was clear on the map. Near the top of Mt Strongleg the trail petered out above the the 650m descent to the Coxs River.
If anyone ever tells you that going downhill is easy, then this is a good walk for them. My toes were absolutely aching by the bottom. I suppose a good pair of hiking boots may just come in handy at a point like this. One thing I did notice was a few stands of prickly pear at various parts of the hill. I wonder whether the NPWS takes an interest in things like that.
The Coxs River is fairly wide and shallow (usually) just across from the bottom of Yellow Dog Ridge. However, in the middle of June it also happens to be freezing cold. I can highly recommend carrying (or finding) a walking stick - three legs is better than two when it comes to walking across the slippery bottom of a cold river in the fastest time possible. My toes were again numb on the other side
From there we had the longest climb of the walk - about 600m up - along Yellow Pup and Yellow Dog Ridge. There looked to be an old trail which followed the ridge straight up, and a newer one which zig-zagged back and forth along the side of the ridge. Presumably this was to try to reduce erosion on the crest of the ridge. We took the new trail in any case. Following the big descent to the Coxs River, this was a long slog, but I hummed to myself the whole way up and the time passed quickly. We broke for lunch at the top, adding layer after layer of clothing as we cooled down, the wind picked up, and the sun disappeared behind the clouds.
Once on Mt Yellow Dog the rest was relatively easy. The track undulated all the way to Mobbs Soak with only small amounts of height variation. Jonathan and Nicole headed off to Mt Dingo and Splendour Rock while I lounged with the packs.
We reached Mobbs Swamp in the late afternoon, and surprisingly enough our arrangement to meet the others worked. They were waiting when we arrived. Water was a bit scarce - we continued up the track a short way and found a small stream, which we filtered. Unfortunately it started to drizzle after dinner and everyone retired to their tents pretty early.
Day 3: Mobbs Swamp to Breakfast Creek to Carlon's Farm (8km, 300m ascent)
The last day was only a short walk. While our friends headed off for a day walk, we set off to get the car shuffle out of the way. After a few kms of flat walking, we were heading along the faint track along Black Horse Ridge to where the steep descent to Breakfast Creek started.
Considering our late start we opted for lunch here while we could enjoy the view. Of course, that might have just been our excuse for putting off the 400m climb down for as long as possible. The delay started to look a bit dodgy as the weather began to deteriorate. The skies darkened and a small storm headed towards us up the Breakfast Creek valley. We spent 15 minutes climbing down to a rock ledge for shelter only for the storm to blow itself out before it reached us. However we decided to get moving quickly as there looked to be more bad weather following.
The last 4km - 400m vertical down to Breakfast Creek and then 300m up Carlon Creek - were hard on the legs but not too difficult given what we'd already walked. Still it was nice to finally see the car park at Carlon's Farm.
The excitement wasn't quite over for the weekend as we still had the three hour round trip to Kanangra to pick up the other car. As we turned onto Jenolan Caves Rd from the Great Western Highway, the snow started to fall. For a while it was like a winter wonderland, but we soon reached the Kanangra Walls (dirt) Rd, where everything started to get slushy. It was a bit of a slow process, and not a great deal of fun. Eventually we retrieved the other car and made it back to the Mt Victoria pub, where a well-deserved hot dinner was in order as the snow fell outside.