Budawangs Trip Report with Photos

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Budawangs Trip Report with Photos

Postby wallwombat » Sat 14 Mar, 2015 3:02 pm

I've come to realise that having a Plan B is a very good thing. When something goes wrong and it often does, it's great to have a second option rather than simply putting your tail between your legs and heading home. My quickly devised contingency plans often get more of a work-out than my heavily researched primary plans. I don't know if this suggests that I tend to bite off more than I can chew or I'm simply crap at making plans. I tend to think it's a bit of both.

My friend Dave had just returned from a failed Colo River packrafting trip. Dave and his mate James had planned to walk down the Wolgan River until they could go up and over into the Colo River headwaters and raft down to Windsor way. The only problem was Dave was recovering from a bout of pneumonia, and a couple of days into the trip he realised he hadn't recovered enough for a trip of this magnitude. He'd lost 8kg while he was sick and felt very weak. They turned around, headed back to Newnes and managed to hitch a ride back to civilisation. As you might have gathered, Dave's planning abilities tend to mirror my own.

Anyway, Dave had a week left of his two weeks off work and didn't feel like languishing in Sydney, feeling sorry for himself. He felt a bit stronger after a couple of days resting and eating lots of food and decided he was up for another trip. I was free for the week, so we decided it was a goer. I went into planning mode and everyone involved became nervous.

I'd been thinking about checking out Tallowa Gorge, just near Wingello State Forest in NSW's Southern Highlands. I'd checked it out from a distance, while climbing in the area years ago and it looked pretty interesting. On maps it also looked promising. My plan was to drive out to the state forest, walk down Running Creek to Tallowa Creek, follow that for a day or so through the gorge and then up and out and back to the car. Dead easy!

Dave caught the train down to Goulburn on Wednesday and we headed up to Wingello. Once there, my plan began to crumble rapidly. We left the Subaru at the end of a fire trail and took off into the bush, intending on following a ridge down to Running Creek. Once we got a look at Running Creek, enshrouded in thick, thigh-high ferns, looking like home to armies of leaches and snakes, I began to have second thoughts, which I verbalised immediately.

“This looks poo...!”

Dave agreed and we decided to head back to the car and work out what to do. After a couple of small hiccups, as in being unable to find the car and ending up on the wrong fire trail, we eventually made it back to the Subaru.

I hadn't been to The Budawangs for years but I had done a fair amount of walking there when I was at high school and also when I used to work as an outdoor instructor at The Tallong Wilderness Center back in the early nineties. I knew there were tracks there, I'd only managed to get lost there on two occasions, it was spectacular and the drive out to Wog Wog camp ground wouldn't take that long from Goulburn. As far as I was concerned, it ticked all the boxes

Another plus was the fact that Dave had, amazingly, never been there before. As they say, ignorance is bliss and Dave took the bait. He agreed. We paused only long enough for me to put my silver Garmin GPS on the roof of my silver Subaru Forester, hop in and drive off. We soon found that while we were gone State Forestry had blocked off the fire trails we drove in on due to an imminent tree harvesting operation in the spot we had parked. We drove around a couple of barricades and high-tailed it out of the state forest as quickly as possible. Soon we were speeding down the deadly Hume, heading back towards Goulburn

Once in Goulburn, we paused only long enough to pick up some maps that I no longer owned, check out directions to Wog Wog camp ground on the interwebs, top up with petrol and grab a couple of long necks from the bottle shop. We were set and raring to go.

The drive out to Wog Wog didn't take too long with the road out to Nerriga now tarred all the way. We took the Mongarlowe Road to the camp ground finding it much more civilised than it had been twenty years ago. Being mid-week, we had it to ourselves and settled down to dinner, a beer and the peace and quiet of the bush which was only broken occasionally by trucks barrelling down the nearby road to the Mongarlowe River Gold Mine, which we soon found operates 24 hours a day.

The next day, we woke at the crack of 9:30am, packed up and headed off down the well worn track. It was nice to be finally walking, especially on a track that looked like Blind Freddy couldn't even lose. The day was sunny and clear with a slight breeze. It was perfect, although I did wonder where my GPS had got to as we continued along the track. We crossed a creek on plastic grated board-walks and headed up along an undulating forested ridge, abounding with wild flowers.

We continued through forest for an hour or so and the vegetation gradually began to change to scrubby heath type country with large conglomerate rock formations popping up here and there. I felt certain we were soon in for some good views and I wasn't disappointed. Once out of the trees and headed towards Corang Peak we spotted a cairned side track which took us to a spot with an amazing vista of Donjon Mountain, Mt Cole, Mt Owen, The Castle and, in the distance, Pigeon House Mountain. I'd replace my little Nikon that I'd managed to break on my recent Shoalhaven solo trip with a used Canon S95, picked up on eBay. I snapped away to my hearts content.

We continued on along very impressive board walked sections of track towards Corang Peak. When we reached the track that branches off left to ascend the peak, we took the right branch that doesn't ascend the peak, being the go-getters that we are. Actually by then, being out of the trees, the sun had begun to bake our brains and the reflected heat off the largely white track and surrounding bare rocky sections was quite intense.

We skirted Corang Peak, and after a while reached a point where we looked down on the flat heathland below. We could clearly see the track as it wound it's way towards Canowie Brook with Profile Rock Hill standing proudly above it. In fact there were impressive rock formations everywhere we looked. The views in The Budawangs really are fantastic.

Canowie Brook beckoned and we hadn't had lunch so we took off down the steep conglomerate slabs that the track follows. After a brief section of forest we hit the flat heathland and arrived at the creek, passing the small camp site sitting just before it. Once on the heath land we were attacked by swarms of nasty little biting black flies that wouldn't leave us alone until we stopped at the creek and covered ourselves in enough Bushman's insect repellent to kill a small cow.

There was virtually no shade at Canowie Brook, so we stopped only long enough to have a quick bite to eat, rehydrate and kill a few dozen flies. We continued on, passing Profile Rock Hill and heading towards our destination, Burrumeet Brook, with it's pleasant little campsite. We reached this in no time and collapsed hot and fly blown on the grass.

After a bit of a rest we set up camp and went for a bit of a wander. We were quite surprised to find a toilet a few hundred meters from the camp site. It is one of those toilets that get helicoptered in and out by National Parks and I have to say they placed it in a marvellous spot. You can certainly have a poo with a view at Burrumeet Brook camp site.

A big rocky mountain overlooks the camp site and being The Budawangs, where huge rocky mountains are a dime a dozen, it doesn't have a name. The big rocky mountain south of the camp site doesn't have a name either. Obviously, after a while, they simply got sick of naming them.

We settled in at the camp site, as low cloud started coming in from the east and wisps of mist began to appear. We decided to have an early dinner, taking our time eating and lounging around drinking tea and port. I talked about other spots that I'd visited in The Budawangs, telling Dave about the Bora ground on Quilty's Mountain and Monolith Valley and the climb up to the top of The Castle. I vowed to myself to return soon and revisit some of those places. I also thought about the fact that this was the third time I had walked out or in from Wog Wog and I still hadn't managed to find Corang Arch. I wondered if there was something wrong with me.

We retired as darkness fell and by then the Budawangs mist, that I remembered so well, had set in. I lay under my tarp, reading my Kindle, enjoying the sound of light rain falling sporadically. I was enjoying the moment so much that it was after midnight when I stopped reading and resigned myself to sleep.

In the morning the mist had thickened and visibility was very low. The mist was so thick that we were forced to don rain jackets while eating breakfast and packing up. Even though the mist obscures the amazing views of the surrounding mountains, it certainly adds atmosphere. I remembered a trip when I got stuck on top of Mt Tarn for two days in thick mist and rain. We were unable to find the pass off the mountain until it cleared.

Dave and I were soon off back along the track we had followed in. I'm usually not a fan of return trips, much preferring circuits but in the current conditions it seemed so different from the previous days walk that it hardly mattered. The weird law of physics that states that the return trip is always shorter in distance was in full operation and we arrived at Canowie Brook in what seemed like five minutes. We found that the nasty little biting flies that habituated the heath around Canowie Brook weren't the slightest bit perturbed by the mist and another semi-lethal application of Bushman's was quickly applied.

Soon we were walking up the hill towards the rocky slabs that take you back up to the plateau on which Corang Peak sits. Once again I failed to locate Corang Arch, although in the prevailing conditions I occasionally failed to locate Dave. Once on the plateau, I kicked myself for not taking photos of the view down towards the Canowie Brook heath land and Profile Rock Hill the day before. Having walked in The Budawangs before, I should have known better – when there is a good view, take the shot. The opportunity might not be there for long

Corang peak was invisible in the mist as we made good speed along the plateau. We had to pause briefly to let a small Black Snake get off one of the board walks then continued on towards the camp ground. Sooner than we thought we reached the forested ridge that curved it's way back to Wog Wog and before we knew it, we were back at the car, where we scarfed down a late lunch.

We headed back to Goulburn, making a brief detour to The Nerriga Hotel for a quick schooner. The pub was surprisingly busy for a Thursday afternoon. I think the new sealed road from Braidwood and Goulburn over to Nowra has probably helped business pick up, providing a nice stop off for day trippers from those two towns and Canberra. Personally I think it's great – the old dirt road was a real car killer. I know it will make it much easier for me to access the northern section of The Budawangs, the southern section of the Ettrema wilderness and the rock climbing areas around Nowra. Isn't progress grand.

So for a Plan B trip it ended up turning out alright. We didn't get lost, injured or killed. Dave got a little taste of The Budawangs (he's keen to go back). I had my memory jogged to what a wonderfully spectacular and different region it is and I managed to get some photos and not break my camera. Now, if I can only manage to find Corang Arch, I'll be a happy man.
Budawangs pano-2.jpg
Burrumeet Brook camp site
Unnamed mountain above camp site
Burrumeet Brook camp site the next morning
Fog anyone?
Looking down off the plateau through thick mist.
Dave the Dude
Last edited by wallwombat on Tue 17 Mar, 2015 9:40 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Budawangs Trip Report with Photos

Postby DarrenM » Sat 14 Mar, 2015 4:29 pm

Well played mate, and a cracking read. Cheers.

As for the Wolgan being a Packraft route through to the Colo....Probably needs to be in flood otherwise its a bit of a $hitfight as old mate Dave discovered. :D
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Re: Budawangs Trip Report with Photos

Postby Lizzy » Sat 14 Mar, 2015 8:30 pm

Nice one fellas :)
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Re: Budawangs Trip Report with Photos

Postby Pika » Sun 15 Mar, 2015 4:37 pm

Great read. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Budawangs Trip Report with Photos

Postby puredingo » Mon 16 Mar, 2015 7:51 pm

Great stuff. I used my plan B's so much that these days I don't even bother with a plan at all. I just point myself in the general direction of a general area that's piqued my interest and see what happens....?
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Re: Budawangs Trip Report with Photos

Postby Mervyn » Tue 17 Mar, 2015 6:23 pm

Just for future reference
On the plateau between Corang Peak and the steep conglomerate climb. The track splits into several paths all reconnecting. Make sure you walk on the western side or western edge. Corang arch is below the plateau level but huge and clearly visible from the western edge, even in thick fog.
Also Burrumbeet has several caves, these are ideal in damp conditions. From the spot where you camped the path heading south takes you to one of those caves.
If you have the time you can loop back by turning west at the Canowie creek campsite. The path is longer as it loops around. But you do not need to retrace your steps.
Your photo of the trees in the fog captures the regrowth after the bushfire from 18 months ago.
I agree the Budawangs are lovely.
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Re: Budawangs Trip Report with Photos

Postby michael_p » Wed 18 Mar, 2015 7:41 am

Great report. Sounds like you still had a great time despite everything that went wrong. The Budawangs is a great spot. I've been there a couple of times now and would love to get back some day to explore a bit more.

The view from Corang Peak is worth it. Even though you have to stand on the old trig rock pile to see above the scrub.
View from Corang Peak towards Corang Arch.

Hard to miss Corang Arch, it's a biggy. But as Mervyn said you need to stick to the western side.
Corang Arch.

Whiteouts seem to be the norm in this area. Following was about 5pm and we couldn't see a thing.
Camp at Canowie Brook.

One foot in front of the other.
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