6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

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6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby rwildman » Mon 18 Mar, 2019 5:22 pm

Walkers: Rob Wildman, Michelle Brown
Dates: 3rd March 2019 to 9th March 2019

This was an introductory walk into some of the most scenic country we have visited.

On Sunday 3rd March we left Sydney at about 7:00am and headed straight to the Kosi Nat Park border via Cooma. We didn’t stop at any of those horrible non-service centres along the way because I made a few sandwiches for us to eat. They were much better than what you can get from these places anyway. Just after Cooma, we turned off on the Rocky Plains road which basically just headed west towards the hills. At Rocky Plains itself, we looked for the Nimmo Road which branches off to the left just after meeting the Eucumbene Road. This starts off as a good dirt road and heads down across the Nimmo bridge and then past the Nimmo Nature Reserve. This didn’t look very used and I don’t think there were any facilities here for picnickers and the like.

At the top of Nimmo hill there is a junction with the left fork going toward Island Bend and the alternative going our way. This then drops down to the Gungarlin River where you either ford the river or take the bridge, most people adopting the ford except in the middle of the snow melt when it gets a bit too high.
The road then becomes the Snowy Plains Fire Trail and this then winds its way through private property right to the border of the park. There are several signs from the farmers insisting that this is not a through road and that its also private property. Both of these points are actually true but they don’t paint a true picture for walkers as the road is actually a public road all the way and it just happens to go through private property. A case of NIMBYism I think.

Arriving at the border at about 1:30 we were enjoying some wonderful clear and sunny weather, the prediction for the rest of the week. Just before we crawled through the gate, three older guys on dirt motorbikes came down the road from inside the park, pulled down part of the fence and drove over onto our side. We both looked at each other thinking about the appropriateness of riding these types of bikes through this country but they seemed to have been careful about where they went, in that they only stayed on the old 4WD track so we didn’t get excited.

The walk to Cesjacks only took just over half and hour and it was a real pleasure. We arrived and settled in, finding the water source which each hut is known to have. We then did a small walk down to Doubtful creek sitting on the rocks in the centre and contemplating a dip. But it was too early in the walk even though the river was not cold at all, so we scarpered back to the hut. Dinner was red curry served with Basmati rice, followed by a pretend cappuccino.

The next day was again full of sunshine and so were our spirits as we creaked our way into stride along the old 4WD track. This does actually last for quite a few kilometres, we were to later find out, but we lost it in the first 100 metres and just used the track positions on the GPS to go in the generally right direction. As we were later to discover about being up at about 1800 metres above sea level, the weather was incredibly changeable and after only about an hour of walking we were facing spits of rain and a strong cool wind coming in from the west. We followed the main range until we came to the point where we needed to branch off toward the base of Jagungal, an area about 7 kms away and at the junction of two forks of an infant Geehi river. This took only about an hour and surprisingly we arrived on the river with the cloud having dissipated and lovely sunshine everywhere. We still had plenty of time in the day so we decided to point ourselves up the nearest ridge and attack the flanks of Jagungal, a mountain whose name completely confused Michelle as we kept hearing about Jerrywangle, Junglewungle and more. We had, of course, not taken the sun block as we had left it back at the first hut, as we were to later discover, and so expected to get everything tomato coloured.

On the way up, Michelle found that her wonderful old reliable boots had given her a couple of blisters and after reaching the peak before the summit, we called it a day and just mucked around taking photos and enjoying the views. It actually didn’t bother us at all that we didn’t get to the top. We must be getting old having triumphed over many other peaks in our walking careers.

The return was much faster going down because we could see the gaps in the scrub much easier and we took the right line on the descent unlike some of the strange routes we took on the way up. So back by about 4:30 we settled into dinner of Honey Garlic and Soy stir fry with noodles and an Aunty Betty Date and Walnut pudding for dessert. By this time, the weather had again changed and some very threatening clouds were gathering on the hill to the west of us. It didn’t take long before all this turned into masses of lightning and thunder and we didn’t know whether the lightning would get us first and sizzle us to the spot or whether camping in the river overflow section was going to get flooded out. To our surprise, we actually enjoyed lying there all rugged up with nature putting on such a fabulous show. By early morning it was all over and on going for a pee at some early hour I was completely gob smacked by the follow up show of the stars and the brilliant Milky Way.

Waking to a dull but comfortable morning, we made a decision that we would just head for the nearest hut and give Michelle a rest from carrying the pack with her feet as bad as they were. The route we decided was to head down the Geehi river till we came to the un-named creek which went around the back of Tarn Bluff and then through the Big Bend to Mawsons Hut, a distance of only about 7kms. This was at first seemingly easy but walking on tussock grass turned out to be much harder than expected. You either landed on the tussock and then slipped off or walked very oddly looking for the ground between the tussocks. Both styles made us do a lot of ankle twisting and led to my old familiar boots giving me a blister as well. But the delight of this route was passing the tarn sitting behind Tarn Bluff which happens to be called Bluff Tarn. This is a beautiful little pond lined with reed grass on one side and grass down to the edge on the other. Another time we would have stayed there but not this time as it was still spitting.

Passing through the saddle and down to the Big Bend, which is actually just a bend in the Valentines Creek, we were both getting tired and decided to have lunch before completing the rest of the trip to Mawsons. The weather was changeable, overcast and windy but not uncomfortable and we strolled up to Mawsons after seeing it from some kilometres away. It was wonderfully located tucked up into a small valley and protected from the winds by some very old and beautiful trees. We arrived about 2:00pm and just made ourselves at home. Mawsons has a lot of documentation from the Kosi Huts Association and other skiers and walkers and we spent quite a bit of time just reading through the history of the hut and who had been there.
By this time however, the weather had really started to get quite angry with more lightning and thunder rolling over the hill behind the hut. When this finally broke and let its envelope cover our shelter, we had made up our minds that we would be staying put tomorrow and just wait for the weather to pass over. The dinner that night was Spaghetti Bolognese.

We continued to sleep in the next morning as the storm was still raging outside. Only at about lunch time did the weather break and some warming sun start to emerge. Having been cooped up in the hut for quite a few hours we decided that we needed to put on all the tape for the feet and venture out somewhere. In the end we dropped down to the Creek and discovered that there really was no crossing place and we knew that we would be going out over the creek so we built a rock crossing. This actually saved us a good amount of time when we finally did go back out in two days time.

We just meandered half way up the hill called Cup and Saucer Hill and stopped for a view over the valley behind us. The full extent of the dead trees from the fires of 2003 were evident all over the hills behind the hut, known only as “The Kerries”. We wandered back as the previous night’s storm had bought a wave of cold air with it and we were certainly feeling the chill. This nights dinner was Satay Chicken with rice. But that wasn’t the end of the night. The cold front turned out to be really cold and we think it got down to minus 2. How do I know? Well, going out for a pee at 2:00am, I looked down at the grass and noticed it was like on bling steroids – shiny and glistening. I didn’t stay long but enough to realise we were in the middle of a very cold night. I guess the fact that I also had a thermal, a jumper and a down jacket on inside the sleeping bag also told me something about the temperature.

Of course, with such a cold night we knew that the following day would be a cracker and so it was. By now we were ready for a day walk and had planned to do the short 4.5km walk down to Valentines Hut. Mind you we didn’t start out until about 10:30 after a very slow start in the hut eating porridge and having coffees and teas. This trip was really a very pleasant walk especially because we had ditched the packs and just had enough for today’s survival. The route took us down through lovely valleys, mostly with no or little scrub to bash through. We discovered a sleeping black snake at one of the creek crossings so took a small deviation.

And what a delight Valentines hut is. The hut is something like a Tardis, appearing deceptively small from the outside and cavernous on the inside with enough bunks for about 8 people and a lovely little kitchen area. This was not built by cattlemen but was shelter, erected in the 50’s, for Snowy Hydro workers while on assignment in the bush. On to the creek crossing for lunch and a great desire to strip off and get wet. Didn’t though. The route back at one point took us along an old fence line which went for quite some way making us just amazed at how much money and effort went into managing a herd in this area. Savoury mince and rice for dinner and some custard and chopped prunes for dessert.

The weather had really been lucky for us as we had been through three big storms but all of them passed over when we in some kind of shelter, thankfully. The last full day of walking looked like we were going to be lucky again so we crossed the Valentines and forged our way up to the top of the range. However by the time we had climbed this short hill, the clouds had gathered again and the wind had picked up. We kept looking at the tops of the nearby hills and saw them receding into the cloud, meaning it was getting lower. We had about 13kms to go and as the sky started spitting at us we thought we were in for a long hard and wet slog back to Cesjacks. But luck was with us again and as we ventured north along the range, the clouds got higher and the wind started to die. At one point we lost the fist full of maps I was carrying (well ok I lost them) and decided that we would just use the GPS for the rest of the day’s walking and trust the tools we had.

We stopped for our last lunch in a small alcove of protective rocks half way back. The walk back however was uneventful and quite easy even though we still really dawdled compared to most walkers on this part. We knew we were going to get to Cesjacks in plenty of time so we took it easy and stopped and looked at all the flowers and marvelled at the birds of prey circling above. These open plains were ideal for them and we had seen plenty of evidence of their work in the dried skeletons of a crab like crustaceans right along the routes.

We arrived at Cesjacks at about 4pm, having followed what remained of the old 4WD track along the range, and the last meal of Lamb Madras with coconut milk and rice just before hitting the hay. Weather had improved so that there was now some clear blue patches and a bit of a sunset.

Next day was a short but enjoyable walk out to the border and on to Jindabyne for a burger lunch and Tamzin’s place for a lovely catchup before heading back to Sydney the next day.


PS: I had done quite a bit of planning for this, even to the point of buying a second GPS in case we were fog bound and had to rely on our one and only instrument. There were days and nights of planning breakfasts, lunches and dinners, including desserts, and sitting on the mapping software for hours on end keying in waypoint after waypoint in order to get the tracks right. However, having done this, I strangely felt I knew this country before I even got there. The planning was well worth it.
Attachments
View from Jagungal Looking South.JPG
View from Jagungal looking south over the range
DSC_6243.jpg
One of the peaks on the eastern side of Jagungal summit
DSC_6253.jpg
Geehi River
DSC_6294.jpg
Near Mawsons Hut
DSC_6327.jpg
Mawsons Hut
DSC_6323.jpg
A pool on the Valentines Creek
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby vagrom » Tue 19 Mar, 2019 9:29 pm

Great to read and excellent photography.
Andiamo, on y va - let's go .
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby ribuck » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 7:45 am

Thanks for your write-up, Rob.

rwildman wrote:We didn’t stop at any of those horrible non-service centres along the way

The Michelago General Store, just off the highway between Canberra and Cooma, has good food, great service, and a genuine country atmosphere.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby Zapruda » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 7:50 am

Thanks for the enjoyable read of my favourite area.

The crustacean shells you found were that of the Alpine Spiny Crayfish.

The tussock can be brutal on the feet. Easy does it in that kind of terrain to avoid blisters.

rwildman wrote: so we built a rock crossing


I hope you dismantled it? Wet feet are part of bushwalking...
Last edited by Zapruda on Wed 20 Mar, 2019 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby rwildman » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 8:23 am

ribuck wrote:Thanks for your write-up, Rob.

rwildman wrote:We didn’t stop at any of those horrible non-service centres along the way

The Michelago General Store, just off the highway between Canberra and Cooma, has good food, great service, and a genuine country atmosphere.


Thanks for this - we saw it on the way back and it did look inviting.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby rwildman » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 8:26 am

Thanks Zapruda for the info on the crustacean. I have see mountain yabbies before but not this. We did make a big gap in the "bridge" but expect the winter snows to come through soon and wipe it out.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby ianhopkins » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 8:27 am

nice write up mate. Do you think that you need a 4WD for the snowy plains fire trail?
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby potato » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 9:12 am

rwildman wrote: A case of NIMBYism I think.


I'm not quite sure about that. The road isn't maintained by the council and at times has been impassable due to far too many people accessing the area and damaging the road in their subarus etc. I have pulled out a few. The last section has recently been seasonally closed by the locals to prevent damage.

It's best not to mention this route in a public forum as with too many people accessing the road with give the locals reason to close the road either informally or by a formal application to the NSW Gov.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby crollsurf » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 9:41 am

Nice trip report Rob. Been wanting to walk from Nimmo for a while now, so this all very useful.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby rcaffin » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 7:01 pm

The road from Nimmos to the Gungarlin bridge can be 4WD with chains territory after rain or snow. The bottom section of the hill seems to 'leak' and get very muddy. Deep muddy grooves at times. A few of the hills further in can be a bit slippery when wet. After a thaw or after heavy rain the rivers crossing can be a bit hazardous too. So I would say it is 4WD territory and pretty slow most of the time.

Bikes etc in the Park: a continuing problem with bike riders, horse riders and 4WDers cutting the fence near the gate at times, not to mention ripping the gate off the posts at least once recently. Report it to the NPWS anyhow, every time. And yes, it is usually just a few of the locals doing it. Parks may have to install a camera one day. As it is, I think they know who the villains are but don't have proof.

Cheers
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby rwildman » Thu 21 Mar, 2019 2:32 pm

The road is a contentious issue I do agree.
Thanks potato for your comments: ("The road isn't maintained by the council").

We deliberately positioned the walk in March knowing that it would be the driest it could be (for river crossings etc) and it was fine, albeit slow (in a Subaru Forester). I would agree with Roger on this access normally being a 4WD - in fact, I wouldn't have attempted it if it had been, say, November. I can also see how with poor treatment by even AWD vehicles( ie. going too fast or off track), it could very well be a problem and get very degraded quickly. It is a road which gives fantastic access to the high country very easily but must be treated with respect. I'm not sure if everyone does. I'm not sure bushwalkers are the problem either as we saw a number of visitors in 4WDs who were just going to the Gungarlin River ford/bridge to fish and another coming from the direction of the NPWS Camp road. It took about 1 hour 20 minutes to get to the main road from the KNP gate and much more than half the time is spent before the Gungarlin River.
About the dirt bikers: they had said they had come from the Bulls Peak area and spent the previous night at Cesjacks. They must have been locals to know how to get from the plains up to this area. They were quite old guys actually. I tried to work out which route they would have taken along the range but gave up thinking about it. I couldn't see any bike type damage along the range except that made by feral pigs. In their case, they were careful to put the fence back exactly as they found it.
One more thing: I did give a donation to the KHA in appreciation of being able to stay in the huts. They deserve it for all their work.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby clonanster » Sat 13 Apr, 2019 2:10 pm

rwildman wrote:Walkers: Rob Wildman, Michelle Brown
Dates: 3rd March 2019 to 9th March 2019

This was an introductory walk into some of the most scenic country we have visited.

On Sunday 3rd March we left Sydney at about 7:00am and headed straight to the Kosi Nat Park border via Cooma. We didn’t stop at any of those horrible non-service centres along the way because I made a few sandwiches for us to eat. They were much better than what you can get from these places anyway. Just after Cooma, we turned off on the Rocky Plains road which basically just headed west towards the hills. At Rocky Plains itself, we looked for the Nimmo Road which branches off to the left just after meeting the Eucumbene Road. This starts off as a good dirt road and heads down across the Nimmo bridge and then past the Nimmo Nature Reserve. This didn’t look very used and I don’t think there were any facilities here for picnickers and the like.

At the top of Nimmo hill there is a junction with the left fork going toward Island Bend and the alternative going our way. This then drops down to the Gungarlin River where you either ford the river or take the bridge, most people adopting the ford except in the middle of the snow melt when it gets a bit too high.
The road then becomes the Snowy Plains Fire Trail and this then winds its way through private property right to the border of the park. There are several signs from the farmers insisting that this is not a through road and that its also private property. Both of these points are actually true but they don’t paint a true picture for walkers as the road is actually a public road all the way and it just happens to go through private property. A case of NIMBYism I think.



Hi Rob - thanks for the road info, I'm heading up there in the first week of May but will only have a 2wd - seems like it might be easier to just go in via round mountain or farm ridge.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby rwildman » Tue 16 Apr, 2019 9:09 pm

Hi Clonanster, the road gets up to a height of about 1750 metres just as it enters the park so it could be subject to some early snow. I think though your biggest problem will be clearance as there are a number of drains as you get up into the mountain section which need the clearance of at least an AWD. However, many years ago I took my Morris Minor into Coolamon Caves 4WD track and survived. Depends on your car and how much you want to save it.
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Re: 6 Days in Jagungal Wilderness

Postby NickH » Thu 18 Apr, 2019 2:12 pm

clonanster wrote:
rwildman wrote:Walkers: Rob Wildman, Michelle Brown
Dates: 3rd March 2019 to 9th March 2019

......
Hi Rob - thanks for the road info, I'm heading up there in the first week of May but will only have a 2wd - seems like it might be easier to just go in via round mountain or farm ridge.


A 2WD will have problems. Not so much traction, but ground clearance. In certain places the centre of the track will catch the underside of the car.
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