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Nattai River

Fri 07 Oct, 2011 8:11 am

Just two days ago I set out on my Mittagong-Katoomba walk. I had been planning ths for some time and was keen to get going. I started out confidently and the going was good from Mt Waratah down to Bracken Flat on the Nattai. I had planned to make Jellore Creek for my first night however the scrub was much thicker than I anticipated and I was about 1k short by the time it began to get dark. I set up camp on a small patch of relatively flat ground and reviewed my progress. Thus far my average along the river had been 1 kph and I concluded that I needed to make much better progress to meet my timetable of 8 nights for the trip. Up and on my way by 0715, I pushed on for another hour, not making much progress as the scrub was very thick and the marked route hard to follow, even with the route markers.

I then had a fall between two rocks, hurting my left leg, left hand and my ribs. (also bending one of my poles :( ) fortunately nothing was broken, just very sore and bruised but my moblity was affected. I concluded that the sensible thing to do was abandon the trip and return to Mittagong. The return trip was a little difficult, especially the climb back out. Then followed the long walk back to Mittagong and a train home.

So here I sit feeling a bit sore and battered and annoyed that I had to abandon the walk. However even though I did not finish I have learned a few lessons from the experience.

Re: Nattai River

Sat 08 Oct, 2011 1:37 pm

Sorry to hear that Lindsay but sounds like you made the right decision, frustrating as it might be to abandon the trip.
It's a walk I'd like to do one day myself. I did once go from Mt Waratah down to Hidden Creek but found it virtually impossible to continue to the Nattai R from there. Only a day walk so we just headed back. Another time went for a walk down to the Nattai via a different track, passing Stockyard Creek, but then the going starting getting a bit dodgy and we turned around. Maybe a different route could be viable for your trip, eg going in via Starlights Trail.

Re: Nattai River

Sun 09 Oct, 2011 1:13 pm

Yes sad to hear you had to abort. At least you got out under your own steam. When do you aim to try again?


Re: Nattai River

Sun 09 Oct, 2011 2:14 pm

I will try again in the new year I think, probably starting from Hilltop via Starlights trail as John suggested to eliminate the upper section of the Nattai River. I believe that this is a more travelled route and the going may not be so difficult. On reflection I was rather lucky this time as I could have easily done some real damage and still be sitting there as my wife would not have raised the alarm until next Thursday. As it was I got away with some bruising and a bit of skin missing. I was able to keep moving and did not start to really stiffen up until I was sat on a bench at Mittagong station. On the long haul back to Mittagong I had plenty of time to consider the merits of carrying a PLB next time.

Re: Nattai River

Wed 15 Feb, 2012 7:28 pm

G'day mate, I'm going to endeavour to do this walk mid april (if it ever stops raining!)...Parts of the nattia do look tricky and confusing. I don't use GPS so I'll just have to see how it goes and if things get turned around, well, I'll have to abort also.

Bye, Aaron.

Re: Nattai River

Sat 14 Apr, 2012 9:43 pm

Attempted to walk from Starlights back to Mittagong 12 months ago, spent two days in there and only made it half way before climbing out to Soapy Flat Rd. It was always the hardest part of the walk between Mittagong and Katoomba, but the regrowth since the 2001 fires has rendered it all but impassable, with many of the markers missing, and many of those visible in the middle of thickets of scrub (much of it thorny!). The walk down the Nattai from the bottom of Starlights is fairly straightforward. Many of the markers are missing, but you can pretty well just follow your nose, and there are only five crossings of the Nattai required along this section, one just before Wanganderry Ck, one just after, and then the three along Nattai Rd before Belloon Pass.

Re: Nattai River

Sun 15 Apr, 2012 7:26 am

G'day Hugh, Yep the nattia really is hard going, I was going to Katoomba but after being on the Nattia longer than expected had to bail at Yerranderie. I couldn't find a lot of the old Nattia Rd so stuck with the river. Even Bellon pass is basically grown over and if not for a walker before me and their footprints I'd still be up there today.

Re: Nattai River

Wed 18 Apr, 2012 4:39 pm

Hi. Which route did you take? Reading posts from people who've done the walk, I gather there are a couple of shortcuts into the gorge from the Mittagong end, Via Mt Waratah or Wonson's Fire Trail. Was down there again yesterday at the Mittagong end. The track from Mittagong down Gibbergunyah Ck and along the river is fine as far as Box Vale Ck, but pretty much disappears again at this point. Spent a few hours in there clearing and remarking the track, but probably only made it two kilometres past Box Vale. Even in this short distance I encountered a number of small landslips on one of the 'goat tracks' along the gorge sides. Another change I noticed is the prevalence of blackberry, which never used to grow down there. The variety of different track markers is interesting, although many of the original yellow markers can still be seen, however there are still extensive areas where they all simply disappear, leaving you to wonder which side of the river you should be on. Very disconcerting.

Re: Nattai River

Wed 18 Apr, 2012 5:52 pm

G'day, I went in from starlights and I'm pretty glad i did as that blackberry you mention is the whole way down the Nattia. Basically it was really weed choked but the problem with Blackberry is snakes love it and a fairly solid, ANGRY Tiger reared up at me as i was on my way through..he left but not in a hurry. I would of been lucky to see 3 marker ons the whole stretch of river I did but that was probably due to me going by nose as i didn't follow the Sloss track and inpassable scrub meant a lot more crossing.

Re: Nattai River

Wed 18 Apr, 2012 8:12 pm

lucky bugger, i've been down to the nattai probably into triple figure times and only seen one tiger... which got away despite the acrobatics i attempted to try and get to it.
the area up an down stream of emmets flat has the highest population of black snakes i have ever seen. a draw card for me!
you're right about the blackberry hugh, it is sad to watch a river die from feral pigs and weeds, i'm glad i saw it in the 80's and 90's

Re: Nattai River

Wed 18 Apr, 2012 11:27 pm

No acrobatics needed to get close to this dude, in fact you could of sat down and had a ham sandwhich with him as he was going nowhere without a thorough examination of me. But he was cranky, standing above the low lying bracken with his hood at maximum threat...he meant business.
Other than him I only seen 1 other snake, a Redbelly and he did the usually million mile an hour bolt for the water as soon as he heard me. You reckon the Emmetts area has black snakes you want to do a bit of walking along the Illawarra escapment I seriously see at least 5 during lazy stroll. The numbers are massive.

It's the pythons that are getting rarer and rarer to find. I was hoping to see a cuople on this walk because they like to lay in the dried river beds which was my general path..but none to report.

Re: Nattai River

Thu 19 Apr, 2012 10:01 am

Sorry to hear the track is so bad downstream of Starlights. I walked down to Wanganderry Ck recently, and the track didn't seem too bad, although having been down there a few times previously I pretty much know where I need to be. Have seen heaps of black snakes down there, and a few goannas, but no tigers, which is fine by me. Had a funny encounter with a black snake where it was headed down a gully to water, apparently in response to me disturbing it, as I walked into the gully and nearly trod on it. It reared up at me, and my walking buddy reckoned I set a new 5 metre world record carrying a backpack. That was of course after he finished laughing. On a serious note, I read a newspaper article recently about a walker who was airlifted out of the Blue Mountains after a tiger snake bite, and I'm starting to think an Epirb is more or less essential in these environments, which I have never carried before now. Do you guys carry them?

Re: Nattai River

Fri 03 Aug, 2012 4:38 pm

Nattai river passes
For those who get bothered by blackberries, stinging nettles, snake bites, broken bones from slippery crossings and other unpleasant happenings in the Nattai River the following list of passes may provide a way out. The exits at The Crags and Mount Flora are omitted as they are private property. Starting from the south and four figure grids for rare passes because I don’t want to be too accurate and lead people to places they don’t want to be. Lake Alexandra via Gibbergunyah creek, Sixty foot Falls, Gibbergunyah Trig, Forty Foot Falls, Wonsons 1 (6488), Boxvale Incline, Wonsons 2 (6390), Wonsons 3 (6391), New Craig’s (6292), Hidden Creek to Mount Waratah (6293), South Helipad, Needle saddle via North Helipad, Rocky Waterholes Creek (hard), Mel’s Pass (6000), Starlights, Troys, Wanganderry Lookout (hard), Nattai Road, Russ Pass (5410), Beloon Pass, Hill/Peachey Pass (5410) [not possible without guide]. There are other passes further down the Nattai onto Wild Goat Plateau and Wanganderry Plateau but these lead into forbidden Schedule 1 country. I am aware of one D of E party that arrived at the vicinity of Smallwoods Crossing and were not allowed to walk out along the Sheehys Creek Road. They had to be ferried out by NPWS.

I have always enjoyed the walk from Mittagong to Starlights because the Hidden Creek camping spot is great and a visit to Russels Needle is always rewarding. I now go up at Mel’s Pass instead of Starlights because I like to stop off at Ahearn Lookout.

Most people leave the Nattai at Vineyard Flat to go to Yerranderie but those interested in history can walk further down to the sites of the O’Brien’s and Franklin’s huts. Beware, however, because an inadvertent entry into Schedule 1 can be very costly and it is possible that Franklins may be out of bounds.

Re: Nattai River

Sat 17 Sep, 2016 12:03 am

I'm doing the K2M again in April 2017 and after reading this thread I think I'll just bail out at Starlights again and take the alternate route into Mittagong via the village of Hilltop.

A mate of mine walked to Beloon Pass a month or so ago and said the track up Travis Gully was completely overgrown so that'll make that section interesting.

As for the Old Nattai Road, I've followed it all the way from Wattle Ridge car park down to [cue: overdramatic music] "The Forbidden Zone" without any problems apart from the current topo map being inaccurate and telling you not to cross the river when you should.

I'm really looking forward to the K2M again - even the slog down Scott's Main Range fire trail. I'm very fond of the Yerranderie to Wattle Ridge section.

I'd like to try and develop a bit of a loop for a shorter Wattle Ridge to Yerranderie walk since a car shuffle to and from Yerranderie is an expedition in itself. I wonder if there's a walking route via the Woodlands/Wombeyan Caves Rd area? I know the old timers used to walk from Katoomba to Mittagong via Yerranderie and Wombeyan Caves, but I haven't yet traced their routes.

Re: Nattai River

Wed 21 Sep, 2016 6:32 pm

david510 wrote:I now go up at Mel’s Pass instead of Starlights because I like to stop off at Ahearn Lookout.

See viewtopic.php?f=47&t=17036&p=310166#p310166 for discussion of quick route between Starlights and Ahearns.
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