AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

A forum for discussing the Australian Alps Walking Track. This is a 655 km long track from Walhalla (Vic) to Tharwa (ACT)

AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Tue 15 Mar, 2016 12:36 pm

Not long back from completing this section with my partner over 19 days from 15/2 to 4/3.

Unlike our last AAWT in Victoria we experienced perfect weather throughout...warm, no rain but there is plenty of water along this section.

Did as many side trips as we could including Booroomba Rocks, Bimberi, Blue Waterholes, Broken Dam Hut, Tabletop, Brooks Hut, Mawsons Hut, Mt Gungartan, Valentine Falls, Jagungal, Mt Townsend, Rams Head Range. By my GPS we clocked up 300k+ with all the side trips.

I was originally planning for one food drop at Kiandra but in the end decided to follow a similar plan to our last trip and broke the journey up into 4x5 days with food drops at Blue Waterholes, Kiandra and Derschkos Hut near Jagungal...approx 60k between each drop. I used the bike to get a food drop out to Derschkos Hut on Round Mtn Trail.

This section was much easier than Victoria and mostly follows vehicle and fire trails with the exception of the Murrumbidgee area and after Whites River Hut across The Rolling Ground.

As time permits I'll start chipping away on a report...stay tuned...

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On the Round Mountain Trail to Jagungal with a food drop
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby neilmny » Tue 15 Mar, 2016 3:02 pm

Looking forward to it G.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Wed 16 Mar, 2016 1:45 pm

Day 01 - Namadgi Information Center to Booroomba Rocks (13.4 km)

Similar to our last AAWT walk I was both excited and nervous on day 1...there's always a 'have we forgotten anything' thought in the back of your mind and some frantic last minute checking of equipment just to be sure we’re set. The experience gained from last years 16 day walk through Victoria certainly made planning and preparation easier this time round so I was feeling more relaxed as we set off.

After a lunch of roast chicken rolls, Bridge signed the log book, a couple of happy snaps and away we go. It was a warm day in the 30's and with full packs, a 800m climb to the Rocks turnoff and minimal training we knew it would be a fair days walking.

The plan was to reach Honeysuckle Creek on day one (17k) but by the time we arrived at Tharwa after the bus ride from Jindabyne and a cab out to Namadgi it was 1pm so there was little chance of us reaching Honeysuckle and doing a 2 hour sidetrip to Booroomba Rocks. Instead we decided to reach the Rocks turnoff, set up camp and climb up to the lookout on the cliffs in the morning.

From Namadgi Information Center we travelled up the slopes of Mt Tennent passing Cypress Pine Lookout, down to Bushfold Flats and up to Booroomba Rocks turnoff.

Track heading towards Mt Tennent, ACT

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Leaving Namadgi Info Center towards Mt Tennent


It was a gentle start but soon we were into the steady climb...it took about an hour to blow the cobwebs out.

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Track up to Cypress Pine Lookout

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Eventually we reached the rock slabs of Cypress Pine Lookout with great views back to Tharwa and beyond.

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Views from Cypress Pine Lookout

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Bushfold Flats


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Bushfold Flats


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Dam at Bushfold Flats


It took 5 hours to reach the turnoff to the rocks. We called it quits for the day, set up camp and enjoyed a feed. Wasn't the greatest camping in the carpark but we made do and were happy to get through day one both feeling good and looking forward to the remaining 200k.

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Camp at Booroomba Rocks Turnoff
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 17 Mar, 2016 10:18 am

GBW, as before, nice words and pics. I did Tharwa to Thredbo a few months ago and your pictures brought back happy memories. My first camp was at the Tharwa Visitor Centre, with an early start the next day when it was cooler. Your first night is where I had lunch. Not much water there. I look forward to the rest of your journey.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Thu 17 Mar, 2016 12:44 pm

Day 2 - Booroomba Rocks to Orroral River

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Cliffs ahead


Another warm one forecast so we agreed Orroral River was the aim for today. We packed and headed up to Booroomba Rocks.

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Cliffs of Booroomba


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Booroomba


The rocky landscape with impressive cliffs and views back to Canberra was well worth the effort and we spent an hour exploring some of the cliffs and rock slabs across the summit.

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Booroomba


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View to West


Back onto the AAWT towards Honeysuckle Creek, a disused space tracking station which is now a large picnic/camping area...much bigger than I realised with good facilities. There was some good info the roles Honeysuckle and Orroral radio telescopes played in the moon flights.

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Honeysuckle Creek


Temps were in the 30's by now and after 2-3 hours on Orroral Ridge Rd we reached the Orroral valley and cooled off by the river.There was a nice shaded camp just past the bridge on the grassy flats...kangaroos everywhere...cool river...looked too nice to pass by.

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Orroral Ridge Rd


Bridge was keen to do the 4k walk to the old tracking station and Orroral Homestead in the morning and I was happy to tag along. Neither of us had seen many huts/homesteads in our travels so they were an added bonus along the way.

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Orroral River


We're a little behind schedule on day 2 but no big deal (Sawpit Ck was the original plan).

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Camp at Orroral River
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Fri 18 Mar, 2016 2:26 pm

Day 3 - Orroral River to Little Bimberi Creek

Today we hoped to make 23k to Murray Gap.

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Orroral River valley


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Kangaroos


We left the packs at Orroral River and started the 7k stroll along the Heritage Trail to the Orroral Homestead for a quick look around, passing the old space station site on the way.

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Telescope


The homestead and stockyard fences are still in fair condition and there were plenty of apples in the trees of the old orchard, we ate a couple each and took a few for later.

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Orroral Homestead and stockyard


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Orroral Homestead


Back onto the AAWT, past Sawpit Ck along Cotter Hut Rd to Cotter Gap; several fallen trees had destroyed the campsite, we collected some water and pushed on towards Cotter Hut.

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Cotter Gap and Cotter Rocks


It was good to reach Cotter River, remove our boots and cool off while we had a bite to eat.

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Cotter River crossing


Past the hut and onto the Murray Gap Trail with a sign indicating 5k to NSW. It was a 500m climb up to Murray Gap so by the time we reached Lt Bimberi Ck we'd both had enough and made camp in a clearing by the road near the creek.

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Near Cotter Hut


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Cotter Hut...more like a house


The first three days had been pretty warm, a few hills and I think we were both a little buggered so a good feed and early night was had. The terrain should get a bit easier once we're past Murray Gap heading to Kiandra.

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Camp near Lt Bimberi Ck on Murray Gap Trail
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Sun 20 Mar, 2016 1:07 pm

Day 4 - Little Bimberi Ck to Pockets Hut

Today we planned to reach Murray Gap, climb Bimberi Peak and push on as close to Blue Waterholes as we could.

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Near Murray Gap, Lt Bimberi on the right


After a short climb up the Murray Gap Trail past the Helipad we reached Murray Gap and the NSW border. There were some nice areas to camp in the gap with water in the nearby creek.

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Murray Gap


I was keen to climb Mt Murray and Bimberi but my plan was overruled so we settled on the highest of the two. After locating a cairn indicating the way up to Bimberi we began the climb along an overgrown track towards the summit. Numerous cairns and pink/blue tape on trees made the route to the top pretty easy to follow and we were soon on the clearer plateau with nice views back to Mt Murray and towards the summit. The snowgums started to make the place look a little more alpine.

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Track to Bimberi


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Mt Murray


It took about 1.5h to reach the summit...for some reason it didn't feel like 1900m+ up there, probably because the surrounding area is so high and the climb was so short, but the 360 view was well worth the effort. We could see the Main Range in the distance to the south.

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Nearing the summit


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Views from Bimberi Peak


Back down to Murray Gap, a bite to eat, we continued past Dunns Flat to Oldfields Hut, a nice example of rustic bush architecture built in the 1920s with nice camping on the surrounding lawns and views to Bimberi. I could easily have set up the tent and relaxed here but we decided to get to Pockets Hut about 6k further on and only a short sidetrip off the AAWT.

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Oldfields Hut, Bimberi Pk in the background.


Shortly after Oldfields we reached the Blue Waterholes trail which had been recently graded and resembled a main road. We made quick time to Pockets Hut across the flat landscape and set up on the grassy surrounds, collecting water from the gully to the east.

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Well fed snake


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Blue Waterholes Trail


We were now only 6k from Blue Waterholes and our first food drop which we should reach before lunch tomorrow.

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Pockets Hut
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Sun 20 Mar, 2016 4:24 pm

Day 5 - Pockets Hut to Blue Waterholes

From Pockets Hut we continued along the Blue Waterholes Trail to Seventeen Flat Ck and the start of the Mosquito Creek Trail. We left the AAWT here to collect a food drop and do a days exploring around BWH.

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Mozzie Ck Trail at 17 Flat Creek


I was a little worried about this drop as it gets pretty busy around here and a ranger we'd seen the day we were placing it had told us some food drops had gone missing in previous months. I'd taken extra care to hide it well into the scrub near Magpie Campground and was happy to find it there untouched. After retrieving the bucket we set up camp, had a feed and sorted our supplies for the next 5 days to Kiandra.

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Camp/Picnic area


It was still early so we decided to explore the first of two gorges in the area, Clarke Gorge.

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Blue Waterhole Cave


The water in the creek has a blue tinge from the minerals and makes it look even more inviting on a hot day.

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Cave Creek


The walk down Cave Creek through the gorge is beautiful, numerous river crossings, caves and swimming holes along the way.

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Start of Clarke Gorge


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Clarke Gorge


We must have turned around just short of the falls a couple of km down, never mind, next time.

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Clarke Gorge


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Bridge enjoying the gorge


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Cave Creek


Back to camp for a feast of assorted morsels and Asian dishes, tinned fruit, cake, cheese...I love these food drops.

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Camp at Blue WH



I'd placed a drop at Kiandra for fellow bushwalk.com member Eljimberino; we'd crossed paths on our last AAWT walk through Victoria and organised we'd meet up somewhere along the way. He started in Canberra a couple of days after us and wandered into camp late in the afternoon like a roaming Shaolin Monk complete with pointed hat, cane and sandals. We chatted about our walk so far, what was ahead and got some advice from James who'd done the track S-N last year.

Tomorrow we'll explore Nicole Gorge and some of the caves along that section.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Mon 21 Mar, 2016 11:00 pm

Day 6 - Blue Waterholes to Old Currango Homestead

It was Saturday and things would get a little busy around here. Bridge and I set off to do the 6k loop around Nicole Gorge, Murray Cave and Cooleman Plain as shown in Chapmans book ( p219) while James was keen to see Coolamine Homestead and set off up the road.

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Cooleman Cave


The walk along Nicole Gorge with the cliffs and dry river bed reminded me of Central Australia, quite a contrast from the river walk yesterday, with Cooleman and the larger Murray Cave along the way.

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Nicole Gorge


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Nicole Gorge


Armed with our headlamps we entered Murray Cave and meandered through the cave for about 200m to an end point that continues underwater.

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Murray Cave


You wouldn't want your headlamp to fail now.

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Bridge in cave


There are plenty of limestone formations on the floor and ceiling.

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Ceiling of cave


From Murrays Cave the track heads to the top of the gorge, across Cooleman Plain to Cave Creek and back to Blue WH camp.

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Above Nicole Gorge


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Cooleman Plain


James returned from the homestead a little disappointed, the walk along the road wasn't exactly what he had in mind and the homestead...you've seen one you've seen them all. We told him how good our walk was and he was keen to take a look for himself.

The place was full by now and a group of motorbike riders had arrived and set up near our secluded camp. We decided that rather than stay another night we'd make a start toward Morris Ck or Old Currango HS later in the afternoon when it got cooler.

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Morris Ck


After eating what we could and packing up, I hid the bucket and we started back to the AAWT at 17 Flat Ck. James was waiting at the intersection so we teamed up for the easy 2h walk to Old Currango collecting water at Charles Ck.

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Old Currango Homestead


The Blue Waterholes was a great area to visit, plenty to see and one of the highlights so far...a sidetrip I'd recommend.

It was pleasing to get to the first 70k/five days done, reach the first food drop and have 1/4 of the walk completed...all good so far.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby north-north-west » Tue 22 Mar, 2016 7:52 am

Love that area near Old Currango. There's a brumby pad that runs through the plains from the saddle to the homestead so you can bypass the track (which is through open forest). Great spot for a quiet camp.

There's also some marvellous cave crawling there. Cooleman Cave actually connects to the next cave along, though a series of low flatteners and horizontal solution tubes. Terrific fun!
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Wed 23 Mar, 2016 12:32 am

Day 7 - Old Currango Homestead to Millers Hut


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Morning at Old Currango


The warm weather was set to continue for a few days with temps in the mid 30s forecast. It wasn't a great concern...all the water sources so far had been reliable and there should be no worries between here and Kiandra.

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James on his way


James was travelling faster than us through to Thredbo...we exchanged our goodbyes and he was off. For a few days we followed his footprints and read his entries in the hut log books to check his progress.

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Mosquito Ck Trail


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Near Harrys Gap


Back to the Mozzie Ck Trail and along to Hainsworth Hut for lunch, another interesting corrugated iron shelter built in the grazing days.

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Hainsworth Hut


We had a siesta in the shade of the hut during the hottest part of the day, then made our way to Ghost Gully which is very popular with horse riders...plenty of horse crap around the place and near the creek...they sure make a mess.

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Mozzie CT near Ghost Gully


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Ghost Gully


We'd driven into Ghost Gully from Long Plain rd and along Port Phillip Trail when we placed the food drop in at BWH...it was helpful to see the place beforehand and get familiar with the area.

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Path to Millers Hut from Port PhillipTrail


Onto the Port Phillip Trail for a couple of km to the beginning of the unmarked section heading south to the M'bidgee river.

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Looking back along Bally Creek near Millers Hut


At this point we veered off the AAWT to Millers Hut, another cool looking shelter built by graziers and only a couple of km sidetrip...it was a nice secluded place to spend the night with water in the nearby Bally Ck.

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Millers Hut


Tomorrow we'll rejoin the AAWT at the Port Phillip trail, find the old telegraph line, head for the river and on to Witzes Hut.


With the short distance remaining to Kiandra it was obvious I'd stuffed up the time expected to do this section...minimal sidetrips and easy terrain meant we'd be there much sooner and had nearly 2 days extra food...time to increase the portion size.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Thu 24 Mar, 2016 7:51 am

Day 8 - Millers Hut to Witzes Hut

From Millers Hut we returned to the Port Phillip Track via the loop on p216 in JCs book. There is a sign indicating you are about to enter untracked country (well almost...apart from AAWT markers, telegraph poles, and fences) We set off toward the old Telegraph.

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Directions too...Thanks!


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Heading for the old telegraph


It's beautiful country through the open grassy plains and hills to the Murrumbidgee River, fairly easy walking with water at numerous creek crossings. I could occasionally see the large transmission lines, Long Plain rd, and Snowy Mtn Hwy 2-3k to our right.

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First telegraph pole


It took about three hours to reach the saddle and work our way down to the M'bidgee. It was flowing well but not that deep in places; we managed to rock hop across to the camp area without getting wet.

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Along the telegraph line


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At the old fence...head for the saddle


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You guessed right...horses


You can see where the water levels do get to...that could stuff things up and make the crossing impossible in heavy rain...but none of those worries today...not a drop of rain since we left Tharwa.

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Murrumbidgee River


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Murrumbidgee River near the crossing


There's no shade at the Murrumbidgee crossing, after cooling off and topping up our water, we continued over the Tantangara River and along the easy to follow Bullock Hill Trail towards Witzes Hut.

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Approaching Tantangara River on the Bullock Hill Trail


Three hours later were at Witzes...another ramshackle old timber hut...the last entry in the hut log book was from James...
"Hi B&G, no water to be found...continuing on to the Tantangara river a couple of km further on."
We checked our water...fortunately we'd loaded up at the river and had enough so made camp on the lawns of the hut.

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Witzes Hut


Tomorrow we'll be in Kiandra and our second food drop...half way to Thredbo already... hard to believe.
I reckon if we were just doing end to end without all the side trips we could have reached Kiandra in 6 days.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Wed 30 Mar, 2016 11:14 am

Day 9 - Witzes Hut to Kiandra

We were now only 14k from Kiandra and our second food drop and should arrive about lunch time.

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Tantangara Creek


From Witzes we continued along the Nungar Creek Trail past Tantangara, Kiandra and Chance creeks towards Wild Horse Plain. All these creeks were flowing well.

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Kiandra Creek


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Wild Horse Plain


About a km north of town we stopped to look for a food drop left by an overseas chap with some rough directions where it was. I'd already had a look when we placed our food drop at Kiandra with no luck and figured he'd left it further north of the Snowy Mtns Hwy. After a checking a couple of locations I was happy to find it...a lot further from than the road than expected. I carried it about a km closer to the hwy to make collection a bit easier when we came back.

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Chance Creek


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Nungar Creek Trail


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Approaching Kiandra


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Finally found that blokes food drop


Across the Eucumbene River and along the hwy to the Kiandra Court house. It doesn't look like much happens in Kiandra and if there is a phone...we couldn't find it. Quite a bit of info on the history of the place.

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Crossing the Eucumbene River


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Kiandra Courthouse


After a short break in the shade of the veranda we took the Heritage trail past several old building sites to the Tabletop Mtn Trail at the southern end of town. I collected the second food drop, sorted our supplies and had a good feed on the lawns of Pattersons Hut. We loaded up and continued to camp a km or so further on out of the restricted area.

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Snowy Mtns Hwy at Pollocks Creek - Tabletop Mtn Trail


Because it's an obvious spot for a food drop I'm a bit surprised there's not an area set aside somewhere for AAWT walkers to camp.

About the half way mark now... we were both doing well and looking forward to the track towards Kosciuszko.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Wed 30 Mar, 2016 6:41 pm

Day 10 - Kiandra to Broken Dam Hut


Today we had an easy day to Broken Dam Hut just 14k away.

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Looking back at Kiandra from the south


We continued along the Tabletop Mt Trail passing the power line to Selwyn Ski Resort along the way.

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Tabletop Mountain Trail


Several signs and snow poles indicated this was also part of the Selwyn x-country ski trail.

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Transmission line that heads to Mt Selwyn Resort


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Poles along the Selwyn ski route


A quick sidetrip off the AAWT to Four Mile hut, a nice little shack with numerous old tools scattered about the place. The gold diggings along the running creek are still visible.

Had my closest ever encounter with a snake on the track to the hut...a fair sized copperhead slithered right between my feet and scared the b'jesus out of me. He disappeared into the scrub without any damage done.

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Turnoff to Four Mile Hut



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Four Mile Hut


Back onto the AAWT for another couple of km, we then headed east towards Broken Dam Gully and the hut.
It was easy walking through the snowgums with nice views across to Jagungal and Tabletop Mountain.

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First views of Mt Jagungal near Broken Dam Hut


We eventually found the hut, collected some water from the nearby creek and settled in for the afternoon.

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Broken Dam Hut


It was another nice secluded spot to spend the night.

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Tabletop Mountain from Broken Dam Hut


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Inside Broken Dam Hut


Tomorrow we'll climb Tabletop Mountain and work our way towards Happys Hut.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Thu 31 Mar, 2016 3:02 pm

Day 11 - Broken Dam Hut to Brooks Hut

From Broken Dam Hut we followed the old vehicle trail south back to the AAWT then onto Tabletop Mtn. We went up from the eastern side as shown in JC's book...it's a fairly easy climb to the top with great views across the Jagungal Wilderness.

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View from Tabletop Mountain


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Round Mountain from Tabletop


From the top I could see roughly where I'd ridden the bike from Round Mtn to near Jagungal with the food drop.

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Round Mtn and Jagungal from Tabletop


Back down to the AAWT and along Tabletop Trail to Boltons Hill Trail. The start of the route down to Happys was just past here somewhere... I was hoping for some ribbon or a cairn indicating the way but nothing so we headed south into the snowgums roughly where I thought we should.

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Where we popped out after the shortcut down to Happys (hidden in the trees)


If there was an easy way down we missed it, pretty overgrown but at least we were going down. At some stage we aborted on following the center of the spur and moved towards the creek which was easier going... I knew we'd emerge from the forest somewhere near the hut eventually and as it turned out...we did.

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Happys Hut


A break at Happys, check of the map...on doing some research before the walk I'd seen Brooks Hut 3k SW of Happys had been rebuilt after the fires ...looked like another rarely visited hut to check out. Brooks was easy to find...keep Arsenic Ridge to your right and Arsenic Ck to your left.

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Heading to Brooks Hut along Arsenic Ck


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Route along Arsenic Ck to Brooks Hut


Things got quite dark with a storm brewing as we approached Brooks...light rain started to fall and offered some relief from the heat and humidity. Just as we arrived at the hut it poured for the first time this trip...couldn't have timed it any better...I convinced Bridge it was all part of my master plan. The storm was short lived and we were soon back to blue skies.

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Brooks Hut in the distance


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Just beat the rain at Brooks Hut


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Brooks Hut


Doesn't look like Brooks gets too many visitors going on the log book, but it's a nice view from the hut looking out towards Happy Jacks Plain with some interesting rock formations.

Another great days walking. Tomorrow we'll join the Grey Mare Trail and aim for O'keefes Hut.
Last edited by GBW on Thu 31 Mar, 2016 4:33 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby Eljimberino » Thu 31 Mar, 2016 3:13 pm

Good to see you mowed the lawn at Brooks mate.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Thu 31 Mar, 2016 3:24 pm

Eljimberino wrote:Good to see you mowed the lawn at Brooks mate.



I think we were only the second or third entry in the log book this year J. The last was a PWS worker a few days before who claimed he'd cut the grass with a pair of scissors! Great little hut.
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Re: AAWT Tharwa to Thredbo - 2016

Postby GBW » Thu 31 Mar, 2016 9:19 pm

Day 12 - Brooks Hut to O'Keefes Hut

From Brooks Hut we followed the vehicle track south to Happy Jacks Rd and back onto the AAWT with Mt Jagungal often visible in the distance.

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View from near Brooks Hut to Jagungal


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Track from Brooks to HJ road


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Happy Jacks Rd


Continuing along the Grey Mare Trail past Crooks Racecourse to Mackays Hut for lunch where we met up with a couple of woman from Canberra walking the AAWT headed for Tharwa. I warned them about the overgrown Happys Hut shortcut but they seemed confident it would be fine...I wonder how they went.

Quite a few wild dogs along this section; they kept their distance and usually ran the opposite way.

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Grey Mare Trail


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Crooks Racecourse


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Mackays Hut


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Doubtful Ck


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Grey Mare Trail




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Grey Mare Trail


We eventually reached O'keefes and set up camp on the lawns. Plenty of water in Hut Creek.

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O'Keefes Hut


Tomorrow we'll climb Jagungal then make our way along the Round Mtn Trail to Derschkos Hut and our last food drop.
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