Katoomba to Mittagong

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Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby matt_h » Tue 14 Apr, 2020 3:42 pm

Hi Folks,

Planning some hiking adventures for when we're all allowed to travel out of the city and into the country again...

Can anyone provide any updates on the status of the Nattai River valley? Essentially the section of the route south of Beloon Pass, down Travis Gully, etc...

A trip to Russells Needle from Wattle Ridge last year had the Nattai very overgrown with scrub, and the river banks strewn with fallen trees.

Cheers! Matt
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Tue 14 Apr, 2020 9:51 pm

matt_h wrote:Hi Folks,

Planning some hiking adventures for when we're all allowed to travel out of the city and into the country again...

Can anyone provide any updates on the status of the Nattai River valley? Essentially the section of the route south of Beloon Pass, down Travis Gully, etc...

A trip to Russells Needle from Wattle Ridge last year had the Nattai very overgrown with scrub, and the river banks strewn with fallen trees.

Cheers! Matt


Scrub/downed trees in the Nattai is pretty normal.... although large parts of it have since been burnt out in recent times.

Belloon down to the river is always vague but you get there eventually, even if you lose the pad. There are cairns most of the way but you can lose it if not paying attention. Once you hit fire trail near the river you can stay on it all the way to Wattle Ridge if you choose to, or head upstream off track (vague track here and there) if you want.

If you're good with nav you'll be fine, regardless of the scrub situation. If you've done Emmets to Russell's needle you should be ok... much of the valley is similar (conversely if you found the scrub on that section difficult you won't much like the rest of the valley either).

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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby michael_p » Wed 15 Apr, 2020 10:56 am

Hi Matt,

Have a look at the photos I posted here: viewtopic.php?f=47&t=17036&p=390546#p390375

The fires were extensive along the plateau but appeared to be patchy along the slopes and in the valleys. I haven't seen this first hand but have information that the Wanganderry Tableland (Beloon Pass) was extensively burnt out. No idea if this extended down to the valley floor or if was just along the tops.

The other thing to take into account is the 2016 floods carved the Nattai River valley up badly. Years have passed and you can still see the river clearly in the above linked photos. From photos I have seen it appears that you can walk along lengthy sections of the river itself.

Hopefully someone who has been through that way recently can give you more information but I hope this is of some help.

Michael.
Last edited by michael_p on Wed 15 Apr, 2020 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby michael_p » Wed 15 Apr, 2020 11:50 am

Have a look at these satellite images from 14/04/20: https://apps.sentinel-hub.com/sentinel- ... ates=false
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby matt_h » Thu 16 Apr, 2020 2:55 pm

Thanks for the response folks. The scrub/fallen trees out to Russell's Needle was fine to deal with. Sounds like it'll be very manageable.

Great photo's Michael, thanks for the insight.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby puredingo » Thu 16 Apr, 2020 8:19 pm

I did it a couple of weeks ago, Beloon pass is unrecognisable, not so much from the fire damage but the few little creeks once crossed are now deep, wide gorges. Still, it’s a basic thing...follow the gully/ creek and either way you will hit the top or bottom eventually.

All the creek crossings and flats have all changed again from the 2016 floods so any Sloss/map stuff is basically redundant.
Keep an eye out as you leave the valley and start heading up...an old crane truck still connected to the tractor it was sent in to save has been exposed.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby wallwombat » Fri 08 May, 2020 8:21 pm

Just out of interest, does anyone actually start or finish in Mittagong nowadays? I did this walk June 82,83,84 and even back then we started at Hilltop, although we still referred to the walk as Mittagong to Katoomba.

I've been doing a little research, as I'd like to do the walk again, only via The Blue Breaks this time. What I noticed, reading various trip reports, was no one seems to start or finish the walk in Mittagong but like me and my school mates, in the 80s, everyone still refers to it as Katoomba to Mittagong or vice versa.

It's a bit like saying I'm going to walk from Sydney to Newcastle but I'm going to start in Gosford.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby GregG » Fri 08 May, 2020 10:38 pm

Good point Wallwombat, I don't know anyone who ever actually started/finished at Mittagong yet the walk is always called Katoomba to Mittagong. Maybe it sounds more impressive. The Mayor of Wollondilly certainly thinks so, he is currently spruiking a Mittagong-Katoomba-Mitagong circuit grandiloquently named The Great Burrogorang Valley Walk.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Fri 08 May, 2020 10:54 pm

GregG wrote:Good point Wallwombat, I don't know anyone who ever actually started/finished at Mittagong yet the walk is always called Katoomba to Mittagong. Maybe it sounds more impressive. The Mayor of Wollondilly certainly thinks so, he is currently spruiking a Mittagong-Katoomba-Mitagong circuit grandiloquently named The Great Burrogorang Valley Walk.
Great Burragorang proposal would necessitate significant trackworks, including essentially creating tracks in the Nattai, so I have mixed feelings about it.

Regarding the above question, purists would say it's only m2k if you start in Mittagong but most people start at Hilltop (wattle ridge). Even Sloss updated his notes to start from Mt Waratah as apparently the section between there and Mittagong are too overgrown (not sure about this.... I've only done parts of that section but those bits were OK). The section between waratah and Emmett's is really nice so would be good to include it if you can/have time, but wattle Ridge to Katoomba is still a $(^!*# good walk imo.

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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby ribuck » Fri 08 May, 2020 11:35 pm

wallwombat wrote:It's a bit like saying I'm going to walk from Sydney to Newcastle but I'm going to start in Gosford.

It's a bit like saying I'm going to walk from Sydney to Newcastle but I'm going to take the ferry from Sydney to Woolwich :)
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby GregG » Sat 09 May, 2020 1:56 pm

Yeah, Sydney to Newcastle via the Woolwich Pier Hotel, a tough one, a three dayer at least.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby rcaffin » Sun 10 May, 2020 5:24 pm

We took the train from Parramatta to Katoomba, walked to Mittagong, and caught the bus back to Parramatta.
The bus was very late: it had one or two punctures before it got to us.

Cheers
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby wallwombat » Sun 10 May, 2020 9:50 pm

We used to get the train to Picton from Central and then a bus to Hilltop and then a train back down the hill from Katoomba to Central.

Also remember finishing school on a Friday, catching the Red Rattler down to Moss Vale, then catching a really strange one carriage mini-train out to Robertson. We would then walk to Kiama and get the train back to Sydney on Sunday.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby johnw » Mon 11 May, 2020 12:33 am

rcaffin wrote:We took the train from Parramatta to Katoomba, walked to Mittagong, and caught the bus back to Parramatta.
The bus was very late: it had one or two punctures before it got to us.

Cheers
Roger

Just curious Roger as I occasionally get the train to Mittagong for a day hike (at least I did pre Covid-19).
Why would you not catch the train from Mittagong to Campbelltown and change for a city service, then on to Parramatta?
Mittagong trains generally leave every 30-60 minutes on weekdays, less frequent on weekends. Trip takes probably 2 to 3 hours depending on day/time/connections.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby ribuck » Mon 11 May, 2020 8:41 am

wallwombat wrote:... catching a really strange one carriage mini-train out to Robertson ...

The Robertson line was a great train route!

If you want to find out more about that strange train, it was a "CPH Railmotor" and they have a preserved one at Thirlmere railway museum.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby Mark F » Mon 11 May, 2020 11:51 am

Great little units. They used to run from Sutherland down to Waterfall before the Illawarra line was electrified. The driver sits in the middle and there are two passenger seats either side with a forward facing window. We used to try and grab one of those seats (a bit like the front seats upstairs on a double decker bus) and open the window - perfect air conditioning on a hot afternoon.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby wallwombat » Mon 11 May, 2020 7:15 pm

johnw wrote:
rcaffin wrote:We took the train from Parramatta to Katoomba, walked to Mittagong, and caught the bus back to Parramatta.
The bus was very late: it had one or two punctures before it got to us.

Cheers
Roger

Just curious Roger as I occasionally get the train to Mittagong for a day hike (at least I did pre Covid-19).
Why would you not catch the train from Mittagong to Campbelltown and change for a city service, then on to Parramatta?
Mittagong trains generally leave every 30-60 minutes on weekdays, less frequent on weekends. Trip takes probably 2 to 3 hours depending on day/time/connections.


My guess is that it was quite a while ago and the public transport network wasn't quite as advanced as it is now.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby johnw » Mon 11 May, 2020 10:32 pm

wallwombat wrote:
johnw wrote:
rcaffin wrote:We took the train from Parramatta to Katoomba, walked to Mittagong, and caught the bus back to Parramatta.
The bus was very late: it had one or two punctures before it got to us.

Cheers
Roger

Just curious Roger as I occasionally get the train to Mittagong for a day hike (at least I did pre Covid-19).
Why would you not catch the train from Mittagong to Campbelltown and change for a city service, then on to Parramatta?
Mittagong trains generally leave every 30-60 minutes on weekdays, less frequent on weekends. Trip takes probably 2 to 3 hours depending on day/time/connections.


My guess is that it was quite a while ago and the public transport network wasn't quite as advanced as it is now.

Yes I had a similar thought, part of the reason for asking I guess, and knowing that Roger has been bushwalking for a long time.
That said, there has been a regular/fairly frequent train service to Mittagong for as long as I can remember, having lived along the southern line for 40 years.
So possibly a fair while ago.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby rcaffin » Thu 14 May, 2020 9:07 pm

Why would you not catch the train from Mittagong to Campbelltown and change for a city service, then on to Parramatta?
Ah ... can't remember!
It was a long while ago, and the bus may have been the most direct route which I could find at the time. Almost pre-web?
Beloon Pass was clean, and the banks of the Nattai were too - at the time. Bit of a track most of the way I think.

I used a Katadyn ceramic filter on the Nattai a little below Mittagong - before the Mittagong STP was replaced. We were both extremely ill the next day, after we got home, from some sort of sub-micron virus which the filter did not stop. Out for 24 hours I think.
Eventually the State Gov't paid for a new STP with tertiary treatment - because the Mittagong effluent was going into Warragamba and the Sydney water supply. I gathered at the time that the Mittagong Council saw no reason to spend THEIR money on Sydney's problem!

Cheers
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby johnw » Fri 15 May, 2020 1:14 pm

rcaffin wrote:Why would you not catch the train from Mittagong to Campbelltown and change for a city service, then on to Parramatta?
Ah ... can't remember!
It was a long while ago, and the bus may have been the most direct route which I could find at the time. Almost pre-web?
Beloon Pass was clean, and the banks of the Nattai were too - at the time. Bit of a track most of the way I think.

I used a Katadyn ceramic filter on the Nattai a little below Mittagong - before the Mittagong STP was replaced. We were both extremely ill the next day, after we got home, from some sort of sub-micron virus which the filter did not stop. Out for 24 hours I think.
Eventually the State Gov't paid for a new STP with tertiary treatment - because the Mittagong effluent was going into Warragamba and the Sydney water supply. I gathered at the time that the Mittagong Council saw no reason to spend THEIR money on Sydney's problem!

Cheers
Roger

Thanks Roger, yes that makes sense if there was a direct bus service. Unfortunately such a thing no longer exists to my knowledge (and according the NSW Trip Planner website).
Bus now takes multiple connections and a duration of up to 18 hours :shock:! So rail is the only practical option other than driving.

That sounds like a nasty experience. Even now I would not risk drinking from the Nattai no matter how much treatment it has had.
The one time I camped at Emmetts Flat at the bottom of Starlights Trail we carried water in for the trip, knowing the Nattai water reputation.
It was only overnight so we made do with what we could carry in. Getting water from side creeks would likely be a better option where possible.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby rcaffin » Fri 15 May, 2020 2:11 pm

Getting water from side creeks would likely be a better option where possible.
Which is what I SHOULD have done!
I believe most of them are 'OK'.

Yes, it was a direct bus service - then.

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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 17 May, 2020 6:04 pm

I haven't walked in the nattai. Why do most parties start from hilltop?

Is it the convenience/shorter overall MtoK walk?

Or is the section of the nattai river closer to Mittagong a horrendous scrub bash?
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby rcaffin » Sun 17 May, 2020 6:48 pm

I have no idea. There was a track right to the back of the park in M when we did it - long ago.

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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby Mark F » Sun 17 May, 2020 7:18 pm

Wildwanderer - your option 3 - scrub.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby wildwanderer » Mon 18 May, 2020 11:39 am

Mark F wrote:Wildwanderer - your option 3 - scrub.


Interesting. I wonder if the recent floods and fires improved the situation? (or made it worse)

If the Mittagong start is viable again it would avoid the $ taxi.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby johnw » Mon 18 May, 2020 4:03 pm

wildwanderer wrote:
Mark F wrote:Wildwanderer - your option 3 - scrub.


Interesting. I wonder if the recent floods and fires improved the situation? (or made it worse)

If the Mittagong start is viable again it would avoid the $ taxi.

It could go either way, but my experience suggests that the Mittagong end may be worse. Maybe do a short trip there as a reccy if you can to get an idea.
There was a significant storm/flood event in 2016. Not too long after I started out for a short day hike along the Nattai; from memory I was only going as far as 40 Foot Falls.
However, below is what I faced after descending to the Gibbergunyah Creek crossing. The track is buried on the left somewhere and those conditions continued along the river as far as I could see.
I wasn't going to spend the rest of the day trying to push through that so made an abrupt change of plans. Some months before that I had walked along the Nattai to the old skip incline without issue, but I noticed it started to get very scrubby around there. In fact I had trouble finding the start of the ascent even though I'd done it before. I only realised my error when I reached an obscured "Katoomba" sign.
Nattai Damage 2016.JPG
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby tom_brennan » Fri 22 May, 2020 1:26 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Or is the section of the nattai river closer to Mittagong a horrendous scrub bash?


Not in my recent experience. 7 or 8 years ago, much of the upper Nattai was supposedly a horrible scrubby mess, but the floods of 2015 or early 2016 cleared a lot of that out. I didn't walk in the Nattai till 2016, so apparently missed out on the fun :)

I've walked all of the upper Nattai between 40 Foot Falls and Troys Creek, other than a few km upstream from Russells Needle. The going is slow but fairly straightforward. "Normal" sort of off track. Certainly not a "horrendous scrub bash".

I haven't done the section from Mittagong to 40 Foot Falls, but it looks easy enough to follow rough tracks from Lake Alexandra down Gibbergunyah Creek to the Nattai River, and along to Nattai Creek (40 Foot Falls).

It's all about 1-2km/h territory.
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby johnw » Fri 22 May, 2020 5:08 pm

tom_brennan wrote:...but the floods of 2015 or early 2016 cleared a lot of that out...
I haven't done the section from Mittagong to 40 Foot Falls, but it looks easy enough to follow rough tracks from Lake Alexandra down Gibbergunyah Creek to the Nattai River, and along to Nattai Creek (40 Foot Falls)

Yes, it's dead easy from Lake Alexandra to the Gibbergunyah crossing and usually remains pretty easy from there to the falls, except that one time shown above.
I haven't gone down there since, so all that debris could have been cleaned out by later flooding events, or quite possible that local regulars may have re-established the route.
I'm aware from other reports that parts of the Nattai have changed significantly as a result of flooding over the last few years.
I might even go down there and take another look myself, now that we've been let loose again :).
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby matt_h » Sun 28 Jun, 2020 9:42 pm

Just did an out and back from Wattle Ridge to Beloon Pass in a day yesterday - a big undertaking from dawn till after dusk! The section from the Nattai River up to Beloon Pass was as described, absolutely no evidence of a track, just a deep gully with huge exposed boulders. A fun day out but tough going for a lot of it!
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Re: Katoomba to Mittagong

Postby rcaffin » Sun 28 Jun, 2020 10:05 pm

>> just a deep gully with huge exposed boulders.
I believe that IS the track (post rains).

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