Determined to get back into the bush after a few months out of any walking due to some health issues, I decided to pick an "easy" route. The idea being I could take my time and enjoy the walk despite my lack of fitness. Armed with information from the following links I settled on a plan to head to Orange Bluff by the Kowmung River for a Saturday night. http://bushwalkingnsw.com/walk.php?nid=993https://fatcanyoners.org/2010/06/05/orange-bluff/http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=26419
I left from the Sutherland Shire at about 4PM, and headed south to Goulburn to avoid (successfully) the Friday mountain traffic. From there I headed North through Taralga to Oberon, and tumbled into the Royal Hotel at about 8PM for a feed. The Royal also has rooms, so would be a good spot to make a base at.
I headed off afterwards out to Kanagra Walls carpark, and headed down to the Dance Floor Cave for the night.
Saturday morning I headed up the Walls, and promptly took a false trail I was specifically told to avoid.
"At a large rocky clearing about 1km on to the tops, the trail divides. Neither branch is obvious as the clearing is large"
Some kind person has ascribed a big X to mark it.
Back on track I quickly got down over Maxwell Top to the Coal Seam Cave, and took a break enjoying the company of some noisy Lorikeets (I think). After the break, I followed the well travelled Gingra Track past the Bullhead ridge track and onto the Brumby ridge.
Brumby Ridge - The track along Brumby ridge was indistinct in places and easy to lose if you are dependant on using a footpad, but once on the ridge proper the descent was straight forward with no significant navigation obstacles.
Once hitting the main campsite at Orange Bluff, I couldn't help myself, I decided to stay the night. Apart from being one of the most beautiful camp grounds I have stayed at, it has a real aura to it. It's hard to describe the weight of the amphitheatre like surroundings, the way the camp impresses itself onto you, pushing out the outside world is pretty special. I'd challenge anyone to be unhappy here. I may come back again mid winter next year and chill for a couple days to soak it up.
There are a couple great places to sling a hammock, but like any camp, if there are other punters about you will struggle to find a good hammock spot.
Orange Bluff - Roots Ridge via Kowmung River
After being woken by dingos singing in hills at about 4AM and unsuccessfully trying to get back to sleep, I fell out of the hammock at about 5:30AM, took my time getting a hot breakfast, strapping my feet up, and breaking camp. Around 7AM I started my wander downstream. Flooding seems to have covered a good portion of the west bank with pretty nasty flood debris, so after a number of nasty efforts on the west side that looked good topo wise, I stuck resolutely to the east, till I got to the rapids just up from the Roots ridge "trail head" at about 9AM, covering ~2.5km. This section could have been much quicker, if I was clear about the east bank earlier, and not afraid to get my feet wet sooner.
Kowmung - Gingra Track via Roots Ridge
The 550m climb up Roots was no fun. There is no track evident until about half way up, and even once there is it is so indistinct that it is trivial to lose. Lower down the ridge, vegetation is sparse, so not such a problem. Further up as the scrub got thicker and the leaf layer got deeper, I was burning a lot of energy battling scrub. Once the ridge narrowed the track appeared, the scrub backed off as I hit the ridge proper, and the climb got easier. I guess I hit the Gingra Track at about 2PM, absolutely buggered, and having consumed all my trail food, and about 2l my 3l of water.
Gingra Track - Coal Seam cave
The walk back to the Coal Seam Cave was easy track wise, but took far longer than is should have due to my depleted energy levels. So I pulled up at the Cave at 5PM, had a rest, filtered a bit of water, had a strong cuppa and a quick starchy meal. I debated staying the night at the cave, but decided to press on in the dark, and made good time on much easier trails, getting back to the car at 8:30PM.
The drive back to Sutherland, via Jenolan, Blaxland Maccas, and the M7 got me home a bit after half 12, ending a marathon day. I saw a LOT of wildlife on Kanangra Walls and Caves road, so bad I had to perform 3 emergency stops. I missed a big *&%$#! wombat by a whisker in one of them.
I learned a valuable lesson in properly assessing the effects of track knowledge, length, climb, difficulty of track, and an honest evalution personal fitness to determine how long a given walk should take. I plugged all the numbers into an online calc, and got a duration of 13hour 30min for the return walk. Almost exactly what it took me.
Would I change anything? Yes, I would reverse the route and push harder day 1. That said, a brilliant arvo at Orange Bluff would have been missed.
Added a few pictures. I didn't take many.
- Flowers were out, though not common.
- Panorama of Coal Seam Cave
- Panorama of Orange Bluff camp
- The bluff
Last edited by Flipper Hands
on Tue 19 Sep, 2017 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
[TLDR] Half a barrel of water at Coal Seam Cave. Track is indistinct down of Brumby Mountain. Orange Bluff is a genuinely beautiful campsite. Stick to the East side of the Kowmung River, heading downstream to Roots Ridge is best accomplished on the east bank. Track up Roots is non existent till about 1/2 way up. Orange Bluff to Kanangra via Roots makes a long day if you aren't familiar with the track and mountain fit. Make a realistic plan.