26-28/12/2008 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Caoimhin Ardren, Rachel Grindlay, Steve Thomsen, Lou Clifton
Caoimhin, Rachel and I arrived at Steve and Lou's place in Mt Vic before 8am on Boxing Day. However, it was closer to 9 by the time the coffee drinkers (ie not me) were ready to depart, almost 10:30 when we dropped my car at the Uni Rover track, and after 11 by the time we were at the Kowmung River. The river was flowing quite well. I wondered briefly if liloing would have been an option. Steve drove the 4wd back up the hill and ran back down to join us.
It was only a short while before we hit some unpleasant looking river bank scrub, and decided to get wet feet. On the other side was an old 4wd track. It made for easy going for a short way, before petering out at the first granite gorge section. Rachel and I decided to swim. I made the mistake of putting my thermal top on. Mistake since there was no more swimming before lunch. Caoimhin, Steve and Lou went over the top.
From there to lunch was a mixture of granite slabs, granite ribs and more scrubby sections through granite boulders. The granite slabs were excellent, plenty of rock hopping, sidling and scrambling. Lunch was had on a small island in the river, with a good swimming hole next to it.
After lunch was more of the same, although the number of cascades increased and swimming became the easy option to avoid some high sidles. Another dip and water stop was taken at Tuglow Hole Creek, a beautiful swimming hole under massive slabs of granite. As the afternoon wore on the lack of campsites grew a little worrying. Finally we reached Savage Cataract at the bottom of Morong Creek and found a couple of small but serviceable sites in the vicinity. That would do us just fine for the night.
The next morning was quite overcast and we fairly quickly hit gorge conditions. Some slow progress took us to the top of a series of falls, and Caoimhin, Steve and I scrambled down the first cascade and swam the pool at the bottom to a massive boulder overlooking the next fall. It didn't look promising. Water swirled down a 10m drop. No way through, we retraced our steps and sidled high above the river for several hundred metres until we could climb back down. We pushed on a little further to another small camp site and had a break for lunch.
Progress had been pretty slow and rather than push on looking for infrequent camp sites, we decided to stop for the night, and do some exploring without packs. This proved to be a lucky choice as a thunderstorm rolled in and with it, the rain. The granite boulders, mostly covered with a black algae, became grease-like and dangerous to step on. The rain, which initially looked like blowing through, hung around for most of the afternoon, so we huddled variously in tents or overhangs. When it eased a little, Steve got a fire going which we fed to a warming blaze, and managed to keep our wetness at equilibrium. The rain finally stopped long enough for most of us to cook dinner, though not Caoimhin!
The weather had cleared by the next morning, so we decided to head downstream a bit further before heading up the ridge and out. This was well worthwhile as there were some more impressive gorge sections before we reached Gap Camp Gully. This had an excellent pool in which we cooled off before hitting the steep climb out. It was pleasant walking across Morong Hill, though I got quite a fright when I almost stepped directly on a large black snake sunning itself on the tops! We stopped for lunch atop some granite boulders above the fire trail. Then we each had a 6km fire trail bash back to our respective vehicles.
The plan was to reconvene at the Halfway Hotel at Hampton. However, our car was there quite a while before Steve and Lou, and having to work the next day we decided to hit the road and get back to Sydney.