25/04/2017 - report - photos

Participants: Tom Brennan, Jon Bell, Peter Bruce, Liz Youman, Clive Roberts, Bill Pixton, Alan Osland

The final notes of the Last Post faded in the dawn air. The crowd turned to face the rising sun for the minute’s silence, the clouds over Lake Burragorang turning orange with the coming light. I teared up thinking of the bushwalkers who went overseas to fight, never to walk in their beloved bush again.

Five hours earlier, six of us had gathered in the dark at the signboard at Dunphys Camping Area. Despite the cool forecast, the night was mild, and I was in shorts and t-shirt. I was feeling quite good even though I had only had two hours sleep. The usually reliable Alan was nowhere to be seen at 1am, so after a few minutes of waiting, we marched off up the fire trail heading for Medlow Gap. I had no idea how the walking in the dark would go once we left the fire trail, so had allowed an extra hour or so of time over what I thought the walk in to Splendour Rock would take us in the daytime.

Morning tea, if you can call it that at 2:30am, was taken at Medlow Gap. I lent Bill one of my torches, as both of his had stopped working. It was a short walk to the start of the bush track around the Dogs Terrace to Mobbs Soak, the turnoff now marked with an NPWS sign. We made Mobbs in fairly good time, at around 3:50am, for a quick snack and drink stop. I was a bit worried about waking people up, but there was plenty of noise and action at Mobbs, as other parties who’d camped there got ready for the shorter walk up to Splendour Rock. We lost the track at Mobbs in the dark, and spent some time floundering around in the bush looking for it, aided by GPS, phone and my track log from last year.

Bill was starting to feel nauseous, and we slowed a lot for the walk to the turnoff up to Mt Dingo. Luckily we still had a fair bit of the extra time in hand, and were still on track for the service. On our way in to Splendour Rock, we surprised an unfortunate camper who had headed off into the bush to do a number two, only to have dug his hole in the dark right in the middle of the track! A bit of embarrassment ensued on both sides!

Our arrival at 5:30am coincided with the start of people gathering for the service, so we were able to take up prime spots. Alan also appeared, having slept past the 1am meeting time in a car right next to the meeting point! He had made his own way to Mobbs using a photo of the map at the car park, and then tagged along with other groups for the last bit.

Despite Anzac Day falling on a Tuesday, I’d say there were still over 80 people who made it there for the service at 6am, including fellow SBWers Glenn Draper and Lisa Sheldon, who had been out for 4 days. This year featured a school choir, a trumpeter and a piper. In such a stunning place it is hard not to be moved by the ceremony, with the backdrop of Mt Cloudmaker and Kanangra Walls. A fitting site for the bushwalkers' war memorial.

Bill was feeling a bit better after breakfast. We picked up Alex Allchin, who was on the last stage of his Mittagong to Katoomba walk, for the jaunt to Mt Mouin. Based on the condition of the track, most parties turn off at Blackhorse Gap, as there’s not much of a footpad to Mt Mouin. Which is a shame, because there are excellent views from the narrow rocky ridge that leads over Blackhorse Mountain to Mouin, and great rock formations to boot, not to mention the vistas from Mouin itself.

Last year when descending off Mouin, Karl and I turned too late to hit the fire trail that climbs the side of the mountain. This year I turned too early. Same result. Sketchy scrambling on steep, loose scree slopes. Luckily it only lasted about 15 minutes, and one large rock that I had to dodge!

From there it was an easy walk down the old fire trail to the White Dog Track, and then the slog back along the main fire trail to Dunphys Camping Area. Thankfully less than the 9km marked on the NPWS sign at Medlow Gap! We were back at the cars at 1pm, pretty much 12 hours after we left, having covered nearly 30km. A solid day however you look at it, but certainly well worth the effort!