View Full Version : Off-track hiking in OZ

08-05-2003, 03:12
This is for Kerosene and Mini-Mosey mostly. Took Kerosene's advice and tested the gear out. This is the result.

Mt Coricudgy - Wollemi National Park Ė NSW Australia
1-3 August, 2003

Left Sydney 12:30pm Friday and headed west across the Blue Mountains. Met up with 5 others and headed on to Kandos with 4 wheel drive vehicles. Turned north and wound up a dry weather only track to Mt Coricudgy. Arrived 4:30pm and setup camp. Extremely cold and uncomfortable night. Should have taken an Arctic rated sleeping bag.

Set off 9:00am next day and headed north down the mountain via a walking track. Very steep descent. Turned off the track and headed west across a ridge. We are now off-track. Maps and compass only to guide us now. Within the first half hour realise I should have worn leather gloves. Prickly scrub and banksia. Gaiters were excellent. Pack and hat kept getting caught up in branches. Terrain was reasonable but lots of ups and downs out to the end of the ridge. Constantly pulling thorns and splinters out of my hands.

Did a quick detour south up Mt Davis without the packs. One hour return. Spectacular views to the north west showing the narrow ridge we needed to cross.

Back into the scrub and descended again to the next ridge. Some of the clambering over boulders is getting tough. Out onto very narrow rock ridge. Steep drop offs both sides. Think we spotted a few Wollemi Pines in a remote inaccessible gully. Lunch up on top of the rocks in the sun. Breathtaking.

Continued along this ridge looking for a way down. Up and down and over many rocky outcrops. Started to feel the strain. Very hot and getting exhausted and itís only 1:00pm. Almost reduced to tears at one point but no alternative but to go on. Finally got to end of ridge and found a way down. Hard going. Fell three times and spent more time on my backside than standing up straight. Have now run out of water, I started out with 2 litres. Not use to pack, causing balance problems. Have large bruises on both thighs and one massive one on shin where I slipped and my left went under a log.

Down, down, down and finally to the Coricudgy creek. Found a spot to put up camp around 3:30pm. Sharing a tent with Tanya tonight . Sat by creek and drank to my hearts content. Pure, fresh and oh so cold, no need for Puritabs here. Built fire and we all cooked dinner and stuffed our faces. I passed on the Port and Red Wine and died around 6:30. Temperature dropped below freezing. Even sharing tent was cold early hours of morning. Ice on tent and packs in the morning.

Set off again at 8:00am. This creek has not seen much sunlight. Birds are everywhere and sounds are amazing. Lots of wombat scats and holes but being shy we are unlikely to spot one. Nice to know there are still so many living in the peace and quite of this wilderness. Have not spotted one insect or lizard or any other animal, being winter I assume they are well hidden. Summer you would get eaten alive by mosquitoes down here. Spotted lots of rock wallabies and kangaroos higher up the slope.

Travelled south up creek. Extremely hard going. No one has every walked this creek and there has been no fire in over 50 years. Heavy build up of dead trees, leaves and rotting vegetation. Massive ferns, difficult to see where you put your next foot. Travelled up over rocky outcrops, slopping paths, mossy rocks, and fallen trees. Crossed back and forwards across creek at least 20 times. Slipped off log and fell into the creek pack and all. Soggy, tired and frustrated with getting pack or my hair caught up in vines and trees. Several hard slaps in the face from branches. Ground kept giving way, slipped and fell constantly. Peter suggested I should just walk into a car wash pack and all when I get back. I am absolutely filthy.

It is getting tougher. Had to crawl on stomach under one tree and climb others to get over them. Rotten logs keep giving out under your feet and rocks shift when you least expect it. Grabbing onto dead trees that give way in your hand is a big problem. Feet getting tangled in creepers are another trap. Had lunch at the most spectacular canyon that I donít think more than a dozen people have ever seen. Magnificent and after stopping for 5 minutes very, very chilly with no sunlight down here.

Six hours and 4km later we finally find the gully we need to ascend. Scrambling up cliffs with a full pack is just plain scary. I was having trouble trying to get my knees to bend and span some of the distances. Half way up a sheer rock face I just lost it. I could not find a foot hold and could not go back down. I thought I was going to go backwards and fall. If I had I would have probably killed myself, so you can understand just how steep it was. Peter hung on to me and another came back and took my pack off. The others very graciously carried my pack up the steepest section. Now on hands and knees scrambling up cliff. Bruised and bloody knees make it even harder.

Finally onto more level ground and I take my pack again. Back out onto the track and back up the steep, steep, climb to the cars. All up we were only 25 minutes behind the others. Time to strip and wash the worst of the dirt off. Dry socks, damp boots, oh well!! Dry clothes and untangle the hair. What bliss. Time taken to travel 6km Ė 8 hours.

Previous trips into this region with the same leader have seen one man break his ankle and get carried on a stretcher for 1km before they could get a helicopter to winch him up. One man got a 2 inch stick through his thigh and he still had to climb out with it stuck in his leg. One other had a tree fall on his leg whilst having lunch, he is still bushwalking but minus his right heel and a few toes. Just to give you an idea of how dangerous this off track Australian bush bashing can be. Always travel in pairs and always carry a GPS for co-ordinates in case of rescue. This is mid winter and you need 3 litres of water a day and you still wonít be re-hydrated properly.

Headed into Rylstone for dinner at the local Club, then the long haul home. Arrive back in Hornsby at 11:30pm.

Gear summary: 65 litre One Planet (Australian design and Chiropractic approved) canvass pack was wonderful, 6 different adjustments made it fit perfectly and not cause either shoulder or back problems. No wet gear when I took tumble in the creek. Pack took severe scraps when going down slopes and rocks on backside. Leki pole was a bonus for me with a wobbly knee but was a nuisance climbing up cliff. MSR Pocket Rocket was a dream to use. GSI Lexan bowl, cup and utensils worth the money. Gaiters are a must have for bush bashing. Thermal hat, socks, tops, gloves, pants a must have for overnight. Don't forget the leather gloves. Polyester pants and tops a failure, stick to good old long sleeved cotton tops and long pants. Articulated knee and crutch type would be better. Carry an ecofleece and storm jacket. At least 3 litres of water per day and a good first aid kit. Therma rest and artic rated sleeping bag a must for the cold nights in winter. Tents, the smaller and lighter the better. I prefer boots but most others are wearing softer shoes. With all the ankle twisting I was glad of my boots however cliff climbing would be easier with softer shoes. Gortex lining in boots is wonderful except when water goes over the top then it canít get out.

All in all I am pretty chuffed that I made it out alive and I know that a seven day pack hike through the Appalachians will be a piece of cake in comparison. It has given me a lot more confidence in myself and restored my faith in human kind on the track.

This walk was with the National Parks Association. If deciding to come to Australia to hike with a club be warned they are tough and keep a fast pace, some clubs are worse than others and very competitive. Advice from Peter was, do it on your own at your own pace, youíll have a much more enjoyable time.

I is definately coming over next year!!

08-05-2003, 05:06
stu cries.. i miss home. its all farmland here in england.. sob! i miss the bush and sounds of lyrebirds and willy wagtails and being swooped by maggies in nesting season...