Getting to Sydney via NSW Hinterland (Part 2)

Saturday morning, 23rd April 2022, I continued my drive from Canowindra towards Sydney in a big arc. Hence, I first headed North, thus crossed the Broken Hill Line near Orange. I was already here, 2.5 years ago on the train to Sydney – the last section of my journey so far. A few kilometres North of Molong, at the inactive Molong-Dubbo Railway line, I had a brief stop at the Larras Lee rail graveyard. There are a lot of old, rusty waggons on display on private property. But I doubt any of them, would make it back into operations. As with many branch lines, or secondary lines, also this one got shut down due to missing a commercially sustainable business case without significant government support. It is interesting how double standards are used here. Ten thousands of kilometres of roads are missing any business case, and still they’re build, maintained and even upgraded – by tax payers money. They solely rely on government support, except the few toll roads around the major cities. Thus, more bogans can drive their useless high-clearance 4WD on them, and then even complain about so many potholes. But when it comes to railways, a lean government is proposed, because you can’t “waste” even more money with useless railways.

Broken Hill Line near Orange
Larras Lee Rail Graveyard

In Wellington, the site of the last recorded duel in Australia (there were no fatalities), I had my extended lunch at Macquarie River. It was actually quite warm and I needed to look for some shade. Afterwards I had a brief stop at the Wellington Solar Farm, just North of town, and then at the Bodangora Wind Farm on my way towards Gulgong.

The site of the last recorded duel in Australia in Wellington
Wellington Solar Farm
Bodangora Wind Farm

Gulgong is already a coal mining supply town, and the most western extend of the Hunter Valley Coal Mining Industry. You see lot’s of mining utes with its safety feature. On the way to Ulan I crossed the Great Dividing Range, it’s nothing special in this area. I stopped on the road near Moolarben Coal. But miners don’t like to be interrupted, and even taking pictures of their operations (from a public space), could stress them. When I followed the Sandy Hollow-Gulgong Railway Line further to the East, I entered really rural area. It also appeared that most stand-alone were no longer inhabited, and several of them had already yellow numbers in front of their driveway. It seems they were already sold to a mining company for their next extension. I camped the night in Wollemi National Park just before Coxs Gap.

Moolarben Coal Mine Operations
Nice Landscape with those sandstone outcrops all along the way
Some of the farms in the area look quite dead, and have those yellow signs at their driveways
Sunset at the Sandy Hollow-Gulgong Railway Line…
..with another fully loaded coal train heading to Newcastle

On Sunday, the day before ANZAC day, I finally continued my drive. I followed the Goulburn River towards Sandy Hollow. It’s actually a nice place. There are all the sandstone outcrops around, and you’ve the farms dotted along the valley. After Denham the Goulburn River flows into the Hunter River, and the agriculture still continues for a while. Until all of a sudden several large scale opencut mines interrupt the scenery. And when the road is suddenly graded and widened, then you know it’s a deviation for a mine. A few kilometres south of Singleton there’s a big junction actually too big for such a small road), and I turned into Putty Road. Leaving the Bulga mine behind and crossing the Wollombi Brook, the road actually turns into a nice scenic drive.

The railway line is well maintained and fit to run those heavy coal trains…
…and includes two long tunnels to cross the sandstone formations near Coxs Gap.
Upper Hunter Valley

After having lunch in Milbrodale, I visited Baiame Cave. I parked before Bulga Creek, as some locals were standing around. They told, they just fixed the crossing due to the recent flooding, but I still could walk over it. It didn’t expect such a big Cave (on private property), but once you’re inside, you realise why. Because it provides a fantastic view over the valley by providing shelter at the same time.

Paintings in Baiame Cave…
…and it’s view across the valley.
Eucalyptus Bush along Putty Road

The Putty Road leads through the Putty State Forest. Back in 2019 it was closed due to the then recent bushfires. Now, it had been just closed a few days earlier due to the recent flooding, and there was even still a sign in Milbrodale, which indicated the same. I was a bit scared that it might be still be closed just before Colo, but in the end it just reopened the same day. I popped out in Windsor, and the agriculture plains of the Hawkesbury River were badly scarred by the recent floods. I drove towards Hornsby, and wanted to drive through the Galston Gorge, but this one was really closed due to the rainfalls and the occurred landslides. In the evening I met Lena again.

GPX Track

Getting to Sydney via NSW Hinterland (Part 1)

After staying another day in Mount Beauty where I paid the local library a visit, I headed off on Wednesday, 20th April 2022. The library in Mount Beauty was also quite annoying with Covid-19 registrations. For weeks, I went to the Horsham library several days per week, when I stayed in Arapiles, and they never said anything about registration. But the Mount Beauty first wanted me to register with the Victorian app. When I told them that I’m actually on the way back to NSW, I could register also without an app.

I was the last time in Wodonga on a day excursion from Melbourne in January 2021, and their old library was really tiny. Within the last time 15 months, they opened a completely new library, which offered separate working spaces and provided a nice atmosphere. And there was again no issue with any registration, even as they’re directly on the NSW border. I stayed the night in Burrumbuttock. The tiny free campspot at the community hall provided not even toilets but also a free warm shower. I just needed to sent a SMS to the caretaker and if you want you can also provide a donation.

On Thursday I headed further North, and my first stop was the former Lockhart railway station on the Oaklands Railway Line. The last part of the railway line before Oaklands is closed. And in the direction from Victoria the railway line was upgraded to standard gauge in 2008, but deteriorated since then and has now several low speed limits in place. With proper maintenance it would’ve provided a backup to the Main South Line, and provided additional resilience to the railway network in case of any accident.

Former Lockhart Railway Station

I stopped in Wagga Wagga, as former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian told her secret Ex-Boyfriend Daryl Maguire “I’ll throw money at Wagga”. Hence, I thought let’s have a look at the Wagga Wagga library, how this money throwing turned out. Well, unfortunately not as good as in Wodonga or Devonport. The atmosphere in the town, and also in the library was quite strange. Both felt a bit of run down, and it seems they already saw better times. In the evening I drove via Junee to Bethungra. The former tennis court provides now a overnight rest stop directly next to the Olympic Highway.

On Friday 22nd April 2022 I went to the Bethungra Spiral, which is directly out of town. In order to decrease the gradient for Sydney bound trains the almost 9km long deviation was built during line duplication in the 1940s. The southbound trains are still using the higher gradient on the original track. I stopped at the Cootamundra library for the day, before I continued in the afternoon. After Cootamundra the Olympic Highway still follows the Main South Line for a while, and just by accident it happened that a Sydney bound NSW TrainLink XPT train from Melbourne overtook me.

The two railway tracks below Bethungra: Southbound original track (right), Northbound deviation via the Spiral (left)
Track passes over itself after gaining elevation and finishing the Spiral…
…and its deep cutting after the passing tunnel.
Sydney bound NSW TrainLink XPT train

I made a quick afternoon stop in Young, before I continued along the Olympic Highway to the North. The Koorawatha railway station at the Blayney-Demondrille railway line is mothballed since the 2011 flooding damaged the railway line between Young and Cowra. Instead of repairing the railway, it will be eventually ripped apart and more roads will be build in Australia, even as the local councils strongly support a reopening of the railway line. In the late afternoon I was back in Cowra, and knew where to camp like in December 2020, but I decided to continue to Canowindra. Canowindra is a small country town and the (in?)official Hot Air Balloon Capital of Australia. Canowindra lies on the now closed Eugowra railway line. The line closed in 2001, and the Canowindra railway station is abandoned since then. I went to the Mount Collett lookout, to enjoy a nice sunset over the NSW countryside.

Koorawatha railway station still has a water tank
Sunset from Mount Collett lookout…
…to the country town of Canowindra (yes, we call it town, even it has only a bit more than 2,000 residents).

Hiking Victorian Alps Traverse (Day 4&5)

Easter Sunday morning, 17. April 2022, I continued my walk along the Langford West Aqueduct. As the name already suggests, there almost no elevation gain or loss along an aqueduct. After an hour or so I passed the Bogong Rover Chalet, which is nowadays a Scouts Hut. There is/was even a very old, and very short ski lift. The poles are still standing, but I’ve serious doubts that this is still maintained and operated.

A lot of white stags can be seen from the Langford West Aqueduct
Poles from the old and short ski lift next to Bogong Rover Chalet

After a short distance I took the turnoff towards Cope Hut, and had a short break there. This is a historical hut, and maybe one of the first huts in the area. You should only use it for emergency, but it’s still well maintained and I think even a few people slept there overnight. Cope Hut, the walk is actually quite boring over a wide plateau. The weather was good, thus at least I could see some mountains in the distance. I had lunch at the Cope Saddle Hut, a small, former SECV, hut. It was open and provided a bit of shelter. Afterwards the walk continued unspectacular.

High Plateau after the Cope Hut…
…and along the Australian Alps Walking Track

My original plan was to make a detour to Mount Fainter South, but the day was already long enough, and thus I skipped that. On my turn off to Westons Spur Track, I could already see a bunch of riders on their horses. There were even signs before, that riders should not take the hiking tracks to prevent further erosion. Well, let’s see. On my way down to Blairs Hut, I could clearly see that this group of maybe 20 riders, is also following Westons Spur Track. And as I came closer, I saw which devastating effect those maybe 20 horses had on the track. Within those few minutes they went through the sections of the track, it was completely plowed over. On the other side of the mountain there’s a programme in place to reduce the impact of the deer to the fragile alpine soil and vegetation. And here, those brumby lovers couldn’t care less about their impact to the nature. In neighbouring NSW, the situation is even worse. Since 2018, brumbies, which are nothing else than feral horses, are protected. I mean what are you going to do next, protecting feral Camels in Western Australia, and Cane Toads in Queensland? As you can imagine they’re not really fast on a hiking track, and extensive windfall slowed them down additionally. Thus, I caught up to them quickly. They were not amused that I wanted to overtake them, and even suggested that I need to go into the bush to do so. WTF, you’re blocking with your fucking horses a walking track. You’re responsible for them, and need to make sure that I can pass safely, not the other way around. In Blairs Hut there were three guys, including a camera man, waiting for them. As this is a “special” crossing…whatever palaver…yeah, whatever special if you need a maintenance team afterwards to repair the track. And who’s going to pay for it? You, or is it tax payers money?

Horse Convoy in front of me on the Westons Spur Track
And once they went through…
…all the soil is plowed over…
…and exposed to additional erosion.

Blairs Hut is a former farmers hut and in a quite bad state. There’s a lot of rodents shit around, and I didn’t like the appearance. Hence, I pitched up my tent next to it. In really bad conditions, you could shelter in it. I was already setup completely, when maybe 3h later this horse convoy finally went through camp. They continued further 1km to the Diamantina Horse Yards. Technically, I would’ve been allowed to camp there. But I was more than happy to walk this additional kilometre the next morning, and don’t stay with them. Another two guys arrived later, and also stayed for the night. They took the shortcut back to Mount Hotham, via West Kiewa Logging Road.

Diamantina Spur is clearly visible in front of Mount Feathertop

On Easter Monday I had an early start. I got reception the day before, and the weather forecast, said rain would start late morning. I thought, I’d better hurry up to get on top of Mount Feathertop, the second highest mountain in Victoria. The approach to the Diamantina Spur Track was an easy 4WD firetrail again. The Diamantina Spur Track is a nice track, a bit steepish in the beginning, but only a very short section, where you need once you hand. Apart from that nothing exposed. Half-way through I could already see the summit, but it would be still 1-2h until I could reach it. And then I thought, actually I could’ve had already started in the night, and be on the summit at “sunrise”. Not that I’m a particular fan of sunrises, but at least I would’ve seen something. And the track is easy enough to be followed also in the darkness. Well now it was 2-3 hours too late.

View upstream of Kiewa River West Branch
Mount Fainter South seen from the Diamantina Spur Track
Mount Feathertop is still free of clouds…would be still OK to be on the summit now
Lifts of the Mount Hotham Ski resort can be already seen…as well as the Razorback to the right

Once I reached the Razorback Track I left my big backpack at the junction, and only continued with my small daypack. It started drizzling and several people came towards me and already started hiking out towards Mount Hotham. The track was without any difficulties. I could get a glimpse at Federation Hut, and even met a three people later on the way down from Mount Feathertop, and they told me that the campsite was packed over Easter weekend. But now it’s vacated. Hence, they move into Federation Hut for the next night, as they were completely soaking wet from the rain. I also got a glimpse down the valley towards Bright, as well as the MUMC Hut (well dome) on the Northwest Spur Track. The last few hundred metres until the summit to Mount Feathertop was completely in clouds. I couldn’t see anything, It was even hard to detect the actual peak without any optical reference. Just to be sure, I continued along Razorback North Walking Track, and once it noticeably descended, I was sure, I must’ve traversed the summit.

View down to Federation Hut in the rain
Glimpse down the valley towards Bright…and the MUMC Hut on the Northwest Spur (right)
I lost my luck…
…the summit of Mount Feathertop (yes, I know, I could’ve shown any rocks in some clouds here – but there are rarely any summit crosses here)…
…and still having fun. Anyone can do it in good weather 😉

On the way down I made a short detour to the NW Spur Spring. That’s the only reliable water source on Mount Feathertop. Even if you stay at Federation Hut you need to get your water from there, as the small rain tank is unreliable, as the other hikers told me. The walk out along the Razorback to Diamantina Hut is not hard, nor hard to follow. It stopped raining, but still was overcasted. It still took some time after I picked up my backpack again. Diamantina Hut is a bit of a run down shelter, just made of steel and concrete, and directly next to the Great Alpine Road. Nevertheless, it was enough to have some protection for a late lunch break and a warm coffee.

Razorback cleared a bit during the descent
Low hanging clouds in all the valleys after the rain
Mount Buffalo in the distance
Sunshine to the West behind Mount Feathertop
The ski lifts of Mount Hotham Ski Resort coming closer

Afterwards I continued to Mount Hotham. That’s an easy walking track. I met four tourists from South Korea, which just had stroll from the Mount Hotham holiday village in the ski resort. The ski resorts of Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Perisher Valley (NSW) all belong to Vail Resorts. Vail Resorts is one of the largest outdoor companies, and has a market capitalisation of 15 billion USD. So make sure, you that you properly spend your money there. The day pass in Perisher Valley last season was 200$. So don’t even try to escape the capitalism by doing backcountry skiing or snow shoe tours at your own.

Summit Cairn at Mount Hotham…
…my last mountain for the trip

Mount Hotham was my final summit on this track. I climbed 4 out of the 6 highest mountains in Victoria: Mount Bogong, Mount Feathertop, Mount Nelse North, (Mount Loch, Mount Fainter South), Mount Hotham. I don’t regard mountains with a small prominence as independent. As I said earlier I skipped Mount Fainter South, and Mount Loch is just an easy walk across Mount Hotham. The question remains, if Mount Hotham is actually an independent mountain, as it’s prominence is only 122m to Mount Loch.

Communication Equipment on top of Mount Hotham

This was my only hike in the Victorian Alps. I ended it at “The Cross”, which marks Australia’s highest year-round sealed road, and is with 1,845 m also the highest point of the Great Alpine Road. I hitch-hiked back to Harrietville, with two local blokes (and their 5 dogs), who just finished their paint job in the holiday village. All the tourists in their shiny car, couldn’t care less to give me a lift in the drizzling rain with my backpack. In Harrietville I actually had quite some luck, because this one bloke in his ute even turned around, as he saw me standing on the side of the road. That is very rare. After 15min or so, he dropped me off at the junction to Tawonga Gap Road. It started to get dark, and I was contemplating where I could pitch-up my tent, as I didn’t want to go into the tourist town of Bright. And then just before it was really dark, a young girl gave me a final lift back to Mount Beauty. She told me, that she was working for the ski resort in winter, but now in a ski rental business, and that most staff for Falls Creek actually stays in Mount Beauty, because it’s much more affordable. Once we were talking in the car, she even offered me to stay for the night at her house and have a shower. This was much more than I was expecting to get at the end of this drizzling day.

GPX Track

Hiking Victorian Alps Traverse (Day 1-3)

After almost seven weeks in the land of milk and honey, I left Arapiles on Wednesday 13th April 2022. The long Easter weekend was approaching, and the campsite got packed. Most of the other “residents” also left. I had my best time in the weeks prior, and could extend my skills on trad climbing. Will was going to drive the same day to Sydney to pick-up some friends to do some rock climbing, and we wanted to meet on the intersection of our drives in Benalla or Wangaratta. But his friends contracted Covid-19, and he wasn’t driving to Sydney. Thus, we also didn’t meet. The next time we met was in May 2022 in Sydney.

On Maundy Thursday morning, I drove to Bright, in order to prepare my hike. I got a map, did my walker registration, and stocked up on food. In the morning the town was calm, but in the afternoon it was bustling, and full of tourists. Just right in time to escape into the mountains. Not that I expected to be completely alone, but at least much less.

In the late afternoon I drove over the Tawonga Gap to Mount Beauty. This settlement was built for the workers of the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme, and serves nowadays as base for the Falls Creek ski resort in winter. I parked my car and started my hike. It seemed to be a bit unusual to start hiking at the base of the mountain, because some elderly blokes looked at me. I asked them, if it was safe to park my car there until Monday or Tuesday. They said yes for sure, as I told them that I’m heading off to Mount Hotham.

Mount Bogan my first destination can be clearly seen from Mount Beauty
Those barns with chimney are very common in the area of the Victorian Alps. Later I found out they’re used to dry for example.

I walked out of town along Rock Pool Road and then forded the Kiewa River East Branch. I was actually happy that the gate was locked, so there would be no high-clearance 4WD on the Fire Trails. After a few hundred metres I turned right into the East Kiewa Fire Track. I joined the fire trail for the next 12km or so. It was continuously winding up its way. My original plan was to stay at the Cairn Creek Hut at the Big River, but from my research I gathered that the access is quite hard, and I would have needed to ford the Big River twice. Thus, we such a late start, I stayed at a campground next to a small creek (can’t recall the name). There were definitely signs from car based camping, but tonight I was surprisingly at my own. On my way up I cam across at least two deer. They’re big animals. One time, I just made a break, and didn’t make any additional noise on purpose, and once I sat off again this massive deer was maybe 5m in front of me. Once, he realised me, he run off into the bush. In the evening, after I just pitched up my tent, a deer wanted to come out of the forest into the opening of the campground. Then he saw me with my light in and around the tent, and then started roaring. I thought fuck, that’s not nice. He continued for about 15min, and then went away. Those deer were introduced by the British settlers, because they thought it’s a good idea to have something to hunt. The only problem is, that there were no animals with hooves in Australia prior to the white occupation. Now we not only have deer, but also e.g. horses, cattle, sheep, camel. The deer, but also horses, destroy the fragile alpine soil with their hooves. This is why a deer reduction programme is in use, and some parts of the national park are closed intermittently for active deer shooting.

Big River Firetail can’t be missed

Good Friday I continued my hike along the Big River Fire Track. There’s a small creek at the turnoff of the Quartz Ridge Track, and I could see evidence that several people camped at nearby Bogong Creek Saddle overnight. I saw the campsite on the map, but was unsure about the water supply. Thus, I opted for the safe option. I took the Quartz Ridge Track to the summit of Mount Bogong. The beginning was cut free from windfall, and easy to follow. I also saw the turnoff to Cairn Creek Hut. But this looked already quite overgrown. I was happy, to not have bush bashed there. Also it would be an additional 200m elevation loss to get down to the hut (and up again at the other day). The Quartz Ridge is actually more like a mountain spine. There’s not a single exposed section. It was just an easy walk. Shortly before the summit some people came towards me, and the summit itself was even a bit more busy (and shrouded in clouds, when I was there).

Large forests cover the mountains
That’s the way to Cairn Creek Hut
The white stags, seen from Quartz Ridge Track, are the leftover from the last bushfire
View back to Mount Beauty

Mount Bogong has a prominence of 1233m, the sixth highest prominence in Australia. Hence, depending on your cutoff criteria Mount Bogong could be even considered as second highest mountain in Australia, as the other mountains around Mount Kosciuszko only have prominences below 200m: Mount Townsend (189m), Mount Twynham (155m), Rams Head (110m). Thus, it’s up to the definition (100m-300m are quite common) what is considered as an independent mountain. After the summit I walked to Cleve Cole Hut. This is a private, well maintained hut. There was even a guy, with his girlfriend, from the ski club, who maintains the hut. He told me, I could stay in the hut, and don’t need to pitch up my tent. I like that idea. Several other bush walkers pitched up their tent around the hut.

On top of Mount Bogong
View Back to Quartz Ridge Track and the summit of Mount Bogong…
…as well as to the other side of the mountain spine on the way to Cleve Cole Hut

Saturday morning, 16th April 2022, I continued my walk along the Long Spur before turning into the T-Spur and heading down to the Big River. Again the track was well maintained, easy to follow, no windfall or scrubs. Maybe a few short steepish sections. After fording the Big River, I needed to gain some elevation again. With a big backpack on such an easy track I still could do 400m an hour, and still it’s not running. After a few metres some bushwalkers had their break and were sitting next to the track, commenting on how slow I was. Well, I couldn’t resist to tell them that this is an easy walk, without any exposure, just going a bit uphill. Then they shut their fuck up. After the ascent I had my lunch break in front of Ropers Hut. It’s a small, rebuilt (as the original one burnt down in a bushfire in 2003) hut, and should be only used in emergency (which I don’t understand, are you worried the hut could get some scratches, while using it, before it’s burnt down in the next bushfire?). The track after the hut widens and after a few minutes I joined the Big River firetrail again. Then I “climbed” Mount Nelse, and its two “pre” peaks. It’s not really clear which peak is the highest. So, I walked to all three. Nevertheless, one of them is Victorias third highest. The maps suggest it’s Mount Nelse West, but I had my highest GPS reading on Mount Nelse itself (but only walking out, not walking in, there was a difference of 10m). None, of the summit is in particular interesting, also their views are not breathtaking, but they were on my way anyway. I met a few other people on the summits, most of them doing day walks from the nearby Falls Creek Ski Resort. On the way “down” I passed two huts: Edmonsons Hut and Johnstons Hut. I could’ve camped there, but I continued, as it was easy terrain.

Crossing Camp Creek Valley along Long Spur
It’s part of the Australian Alps Walking Track
View from T-Spur to Mount Nelse
A red parrot sat calmly on this branch above me
View Back to Mount Bogong shortly after lunch
Approaching Mount Nelse West
It was quite sweaty at this day on top of Mount Nelse West with Mount Nelse North (centre) and Mount Nelse (right) in the backdrop
Mount Feathertop with Falls Creek Ski Resort in the foreground
Trig Point at Mount Nelse North…
…and on Mount Nelse…
…as well as its summit cairn.

I turned into Marum Point Track and walked down to the Langford East Aqueduct. This was actually a nice change to the kilometres of firetrail before. The Langford East Aqueduct is already part of the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme. I followed the scheme for a few kilometre, and also passed a revegetation side, which was destroyed by deer before. Just before Langford Gap is an old hut from the former State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV). It’s open and not locked, and in really bad weather you could find shelter there. I instead opted to pitch up my tent next to it. Nevertheless, the hut at provided at least shelter from wind for cooking, and eating dinner and breakfast. And the Langford East Aqueduct is a reliable freshwater source.

Looking down a valley from the high plains
Rockey Valley Storage from the Marum Point Track (at least back on a track for a short time)
Plenty of money at the SECV…they even built a covered bridge…
…over the Langford East Aqueduct.

Hiking The Great North Walk (Two Parts)

The Great North Walk is a long distance multi-day walk from Sydney Cove to Newcastle. In total it comprises 245 km, and starts in Circular Quay. Man plan, since 2019, was actually to do the Lindeman Pass in the Blue Mountains. But the weather in the Blue Mountains was always very unstable last year. There was a record in rain in Sydney due to the La Niña effect (in combination with the negative Indian Ocean Dipole). One landslide in the Blue Mountains even killed two tourists. Thus, I found the conditions for Lindeman Pass not suitable enough, as it’s a very rarely done track, you need good stable weather. Instead I opted for something more easy, which could be also done in changing weather environments. Hence, on Saturday 5th February 2022 I went to Circular Quay in order to take the ferry to Woolwich. I just missed the direct ferry, and needed had a connection on Cockatoo Island. I used the time to explore the small island in the middle of Sydney harbour. Cockatoo Island was used as a shipyard, and once this business shifted out of Sydney harbour, steam turbines for coal fired power plants were manufactured and serviced here. Some of the old heavy machinery is still preserved. After 45min or so, I got my 5min connecting ferry to Woolwich and finally could start my hike.

Sydney CBD from Cockatoo Island
Still Preserved Big Lathe in one of the machine shops
Old dock is nowadays used for recreational boating
One of the old draft rooms
Leftovers from an Indigenous Sit In
There were extensive caves excavated

The first few kilometres lead through the suburbs of Woolwich and Hunter Hill. One of the most expensive in Sydney. At one point you actually almost go through their backyard, but it’s still council land, and you’re free to room. Even if it’s a 20 million $ property behind. The only annoying thing is the aircraft noise, because Hunters Hill is in the direct approach path of the 16R runway of Sydney airport, and the airplanes are already quite low here. The track actually passes directly the former Manson of Eddie Obeid, just another convicted corrupt NSW politician (Labour Party). Not to be confused with Daryl Maguire, the Ex-Boyfriend of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (Liberal Party).

Let The Walk Begin
Woolwich Dock with the supermaxi yacht LawConnect in the back
One of the backyards of the big mansions
St. Peter Chanel Church

The track basically follows the Lane Cove River. In the beginning due to the tides, it’s brackish water lead to the development of swamps and small mangrove forest. Also in the beginning you can still sail on the river, and beside the typical sailing boats, there was also a party boat present. The only purpose was to get the shit-faced. I mean what else are you going to do on a Saturday arvo in Sydney. After a while the gorge of the Lane Cove River gets bigger and greener. This lengthy green oasis meanders through Sydney in North-Easterly direction. But still the you always can hear the M2 Hill Motorway on the western slopes, or the A3 over the De Burghs Bridge. Thus, don’t expect a quiet experience. On the Eastern slopes of the Lane Cove River in Riverview is the private Saint Ignatius’ College, where pupils are taught the benefits of neoliberalism. The school has notable alumni like Tony Abbott (former Prime Minister – now does something else) and Barnaby Joyce (former Deputy Prime Minister – is still shagging his former communications staffer).

Mangrove Forest in the brackish water
Let’s go party people
One of the industrial sites, while crossing the Lane Cove River

In the evening the weather shifted as forecasted, and it started to drizzle. I still had a few kilometres to go, before I finished at Macquarie Park. I needed to hurry up a bit, to catch the last direct bus back. In the end everything worked out flawlessly. Sure in the worst case, I could have used another connection, but that would’ve taken much more time.

The further upstream, the greener it got
GPX Track

On Saturday 22nd January 2022, Heidelies, Bruce and I drove to Hornsby, as Bruce was visiting his friend John. Heidelies and I took the train to Cowan. The plan was to do the section of the Great North Walk from Cowan to Berowra. It was a warm and sunny Saturday. The track was also easy to follow, and also started easy with a firetrail. Then we got into the Eucalyptus bush, and a few ups over the sandstone outcrops, and then downs into small creek gorges. The creeks had actually quite some water due to the recent rain. After a while we were far enough away, so that we no longer heard the Pacific Motorway. After about 2h we reached the lookout above Berowra Waters. Then a steepish downclimb followed, and we had our lunch at the ferry at Berowra Waters, which was quite busy with all the scenic drivers on a Saturday afternoon.

Eucalyptus Forest on the sandstone outcrops
Heidelies and I at the beginning of the walk
Down at the creeks it was actually quite nice to escape from the heat
Why go to Komodo Island, if you can see them here (that was actually a big one)
Berowra Waters Lookout

So far so good. Then the drama started. Shortly after lunch we needed to cross a small creek. It was a bit slippery over the rocks. But that wasn’t everything. Heidelies thought she required a photo of her next to the waterfall. I’m mean it was not even a waterfall, it was a small drop of this trickle. I was already 20m away, so I needed to return over this slippery rocks. After the Instashot was done, I turned around and continued walking, when I heard a dull impact just a few seconds later. Heidelies slipped and crashed into a small waterhole. We continued walking, but she was in pain, and we didn’t had any pain killers. The closest bus station was in Berowra Heights. Thus, we needed to continue to walk at least to there. But it still was about 200m elevation gain. Originally, we wanted to walk all the way to the train station, but we skipped that. After taking the bus to the train station, and the train back to Asquith, we needed to collect the car from Bruce. Well, he was not amused to say the least, as he wanted to stay overnight at John’s place. Anyway, I drove back and dropped Heidelies off at the hospital, and then back home. The result: broken wrist and four weeks sick leave. You’ve to know in the neoliberal Australia you only get 2 weeks paid sick leave per year, the rest you can take paid or unpaid leave. That’s up to you, as employee, and not your employers problem. Maybe I’m just too spoiled from getting up to 78 weeks paid sick leave (within a 3 years time frame).

Here everything was still fine
GPX Track