09-10/06/2001 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Fiona Macrae, Mike Baldwin
It's funny the way some walks work out. It was the June Long Weekend, and in the face of a distinct lack of enthusiasm from plenty of other people, Fee, Mike and I decided to head up to Newnes and do some walking. Mike didn't fly in until Saturday morning, and had to be back in Sydney by 3pm on the Monday, so that put some limits on where and how far we could go. At about 12:30pm on Saturday we were standing near the campground at Newnes, packs on back, a coin in hand. Heads we go the Pipeline Track, tails we go down the Wolgan. Tails it was, and off we headed.
As usual nothing works out exactly as planned. After taking one of the many tracks through the ruins of the shale oil refinery, we quickly ran into trouble, the path vanishing into the river. Some scrambling got us onto another track which lasted a bit longer, but died equally quickly. Given that there was supposed to be a fire trail for the majority of the walk we figured we were doing something wrong, The knee high wall of stinging nettles in front of us also encouraged us to head inland a bit, and soon we hit what looked like the "real" track.
The walking became much easier. Just across a creek was an abandoned mine shaft with a "DANGER" sign on it. Seemed to be less the danger of it collapsing than the fairly unbreathable gas that had gathered in the shaft that was the problem. We shined our torches down as far as we could see and joked about tossing a match in - needless to say we didn't!
A bit further on we passed into the wilderness area of Wollemi, and after a couple more kilometres stopped for lunch in a small clearing. The sun was already slipping behing the gorge walls, and we quickly finished eating and headed off, stomachs full.
More walking brought us to the abandoned farm, complete with tractor. A large grassy field looked like a nice spot to camp, but we had another destination planned. Soon the fire trail headed up and away from the river, and the map no longer had the trail marked on it. The aim was to get to the junction of Rocky and Deanes Creeks, and there was supposedly a track off the main trail to take us there. A bit of judicious use of the GPS, plus some guesswork based on the track notes and map estimated that we were less than a hundred metres from the turnoff. Sure enough, just around the corner was a faint track and a rock with a tiny cairn on it.
Well, the track lasted less than half a kilometre before it degenerated into a mishmash of crossing wombat trails. By this stage it was starting to get dark, and while we were generally heading in the right direction, we didn't have a trail to follow. When we finally hit Deanes Creek, it was quite black, and there was no sign of the "beautiful camping site at the junction of Deanes and Rocky Creeks" mentioned in the track notes. Mike found a small flat open area not far from the creek and we figured that was as good as it would get.
The next morning we spent a couple of hours exploring up Rocky Creek. The bush is reasonably traversable on both sides of the creek, although it is far from easy walking. It is quite pretty and I would have liked to explore further if we had had more time. Mike made an attempt to rock hop across the creek on the way back, but only succeeded in going swimming.
Back at the camp, we attempted to find the track back to the fire trail. Again we managed to find a path for the first half, which like before petered out into wombat tracks. A bit more bushbashing up the hill got us on to the other track, which finally led back to the fire trail. Leaving our packs we headed down to the junction of Rocky Creek and the Wolgan River, to check out the campsites there. There were several nice ones on both sides of the creek, certainly nicer than where we had stayed.
As usual we were running late by now. We quickly got back to the farmhouse for lunch, and then headed off again. By the time we got to the ruins the light was fading. We had a brief look around, but didn't have time to do the whole of the ruins walk. Finally we reached the ford near the compsite, and for me a cold end to the walk as I was the only one without waterproof boots.