Green Gully Track (tldr: it sucks)

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Green Gully Track (tldr: it sucks)

Postby McGinnis » Sun 19 Mar, 2023 11:25 pm

The Green Gully Track in NSW (New England region) is a 5-day 65 km hike traversing ex-grazing properties. For some reason this track appears to get nothing but praise from YouTubers and other reviewers, and I can't fathom why.

This hike cost $900 for four people to walk, to cover the amenities I suppose (it certainly isn't to cover track upkeep, as there is none).

This is my overview/trip report.

Day 0: We arrived at Cedar Creek Cottage, which has two 'bedrooms' (the doors don't close in either) with bedframes and mattresses, a gas burner, and a reasonably nice bathroom considering - though there was no hot water (hot water is advertised by NPWS) and no firewood (also advertised as being supplied by NPWS). I have no problem with not having hot water/showers when hiking/camping, but... when it's advertised and you're paying for it, that's a poor effort. The power for the fridge and lights also cut out after being on for about an hour. It's a good thing we didn't leave anything perishable in there.

Day 1 (17km): Day 1 starts with moving the cars from the 'Cottage' to the 'Lodge', which is a much larger building about a hundred meters away. The hike itself is ~17 km spent entirely on a well maintained (but very steep at points) fire trail. Personally I abhor hiking on fire trails. It was a very, very long day with little in the way of scenery though the environment it passes through is nice at points. The first 10 km of this walk is repeated at the end of the hike on the return journey (the hike is a circuit). It's a pretty punishing first day given the lack of scenery and hard going on lose gravel of all sizes.

Day 1 culminates in an extremely steep downhill section, after which you cross a small stream and arrive at Bird's Nest Hut. Bird's Nest hut is a very basic, tin hut; the odour inside was extremely strong (I suspect it's the resin used to seal the old floor? Though it was a pretty mouldy odour, I couldn't see any visible mould) and impossible to air out given the small windows. Again, no firewood was present; inside Bird's Nest hut there was a sign saying firewood is not stocked between October and March. This notice is not found anywhere else - not online nor in the cottage. Very annoying as while the hut was an oven in the sun, it was very cold at night.

The outhouse was infested with wasps and was unusable.

Day 2 (15km): The hardest day in my opinion, day 2 starts positively with a small climb out of a grassy paddock into real bush, with a very vague trail to follow. I had high hopes at this point that there would be more to this walk than just fire trails. Upon reaching the trig point, it's back onto fire trails; and some of them are so steep they are just horrific to walk. I've mentioned that I hate fire trails, not just because they're boring, but I find they're much harder on the body than more natural tracks are. There is no opportunity to fill up water on this section and you really feel the heat on the exposed firetrails.

There are two lookouts on this section (and really, two lookouts on the entire hike) - Green Gully lookout and The Rocks lookout. I don't know why The Rocks lookout is noted as the great lunch spot; the view from Green Gully lookout was better, it was easier to access, and there was more space and shade. The Rocks lookout in the heat of the day was not fun - no shade, and nowhere to sit comfortably even with just two people. Don't waste your time, stop at Green Gully lookout for lunch instead.

More fire trail walking ultimately leads to a sign pointing the way along the ridgeline toward the next hut - what follows isn't really a track. There are several map markers (some were 30-40 m off the track and very, very easy to miss). The directions are to follow the ridgeline until it descends to a marker... as long as you don't miss that particular marker i guess? This section was also pretty rugged and enjoyable. We made a couple of wrong turns but only ever went a few meters down game trails before realising the need to backtrack.

The final descent at the end of the ridgeline is pretty brutal (though not as brutal as the ultra-steep firetrails) and in places extremely slippery. Beyond the descent you follow some markers to the river, then follow (another) firetrail all the way to the hut.

Green Gully hut is the best of the huts by far; it's similar in design to the others (basic tin) though the odour in this hut was far more tolerable than Bird's Nest. This hut actually has a hot water shower that worked, but again, no firewood.

Day 3 (13.5km): The best day by far, day 3 follows the course of the river for its entirety. I feel like this section is more like 15-16km, and further once you consider all the criss-crossing and backtracking you will definitely need to do. There is no defined path for the vast majority of this section, and very significant lengths require riverwalking and wading - not just river crossings! At times we walked upwards of a km without even touching dry land. Depth was up to my chest at points, and almost at my partner's neck (she's 5'7"-ish).

Overall this day was great, though the vegetation along almost the entirety of the river is pure weed. NPWS have a lot of work to do to rehabilitate this section, but if they succeed, it will be beautiful. There's a very obvious swimming hole part way along which is great for lunch.

The culmination of this day is, unsurprisingly, a firetrail that criscrosses the river all the way to the final hut.

This hut is the smallest by far (it would be a struggle to fit more than two cots in here with any room to move at all). This hut was also infested with rats. We chose to sleep outside under the shelter; whatever you do, remove all food from your bags here. Again, no firewood.

Day 4 (17.5km): Pure firetrail agony, including the tail 10km that was walked on the way in. Some of these trails are so steep I wouldn't want to drive them let alone walk them. Not a hard day as long as you get through the initial climb before the sun rises; just a *long* day. Some of the oddities of this walk are in full display on this section - such as signs placed halfway up steep, slippery hills where nobody will ever stop to read them. Signs placed after landmarks (such as the creek - the only source for water refills on this walk), etc.

There is really nothing else notable about this day other than it's long and hard.

Day 4 culminates at the 'Lodge' - which houses 10 for some reason, with a full kitchen, bathroom and lounge room. This 'lodge' also had no hot water; the water was absolutely beyond frigid (far colder than the cold water at the cottage). I wouldn't want to try to house 10 people in here, as the bunks are basically unusable due to the nose they make while moving.


The cost of this walk is an absolute joke. The advertised hot water and firewood were not present. The walk is uneventful apart from day 3, and is such an odd combination of ultra-curated firetrails and barely recognisable paths.

If you absolutely must walk this, a few tips for those that haven't tuned out yet:
* The river and tank water is quite turbid; ensure you filter both, and don't rely on filters that clog easily (both my BeFree and my partner's are now dead, from brand new - on day 4 I spent over 30 minutes filtering 1.5L from the creek)
* Your feet will get wet on day 3, so either make the decision to soak your boots or wear an alternative pair. My partner and I both wore Vivobarefoot Bloom Ultras the entire day and they were amazing. There's no way a pair of heavy goretex boots like Salomons would dry out in time for day 4 if they were used all day
* Don't trust the fridges in the cottage or lodge; the fridge in the cottage cut out after only an hour or so, and the fridge in the lodge doesn't appear to have been cold enough to prevent meat from spoiling in it over the course of the walk. I was lucky in that I kept everything that needed to be cold in the fridge in my car, and it was still running when we got back
* Don't bother packing a heavy camera - there's not much scenery other than on day 3
* Bring a tent. NPWS should suggest this too in the event the water level is too high to walk the gully; it would be very very easy to get caught out on the walk back up to the Bird's Nest Link trail. Had I not been talked out of bringing my tent at the very last moment before setting off, I'd also have used it every night on the trail. Just take a tent

Opportunities for improvement from NPWS:
* Reduce the cost. It's just nuts
* Adhere to advertised standards - power at the cottage, hot water at the cottage and lodge, and stocked firewood. Or change the advertising
* Weed management along the gully
* Completely remove day 1 - have hikers drive to the top of the hill at Bird's Nest hut and use that for the first night, with day 1 being the walk from Bird's Nest hut to Green Gully hut. That way day 4 has no repetition, as at the junction to the first firetrail, you'd follow a path you've only driven, not walked. This is highly unlikely as the justification for the cost is the stay at the cottage and lodge, whether it's worth it or not
* Fix some of the silly signposting and improve the map - the elevation profile has no markers, and is fanciful at best
* Really, my main suggestion would just be to restructure the walk in its entirety to remove most of the firetrail walking
* One other note - be it NPWS or hikers, people have decided to use the old meatlockers in the huts for crockery. This is stupid. They should be used for storing food overnight. NPWS can install a cupboard if they want to keep the crockery somewhere. Each night, at each hut, we had to empty all the crap out of these food lockers to put our food bags in to keep them safe. Mind you, rats were only evident at the final hut; but it pays to be cautious

I would not only not recommend this walk to people, but I'd recommend against doing it, even if it wasn't for the astronomical cost. I would love to know where the money paid by hikers actually goes - because it's very clearly not back into the huts/track. It seems to me like NPWS have spent a couple of hundred bucks on stretchers and mats from Anaconda, put them in the old huts they inherited with the land, and put a couple of signs down along the walk.

Sorry for the big wall of text. I come across as whinging pretty badly here, but that truly is a reflection of the walk. I have never bothered writing a trip report before, but this one was just so disappointing, and my experience was in complete opposition to everything I'd read about it and wanted to provide an alternative viewpoint for those considering the walk.

TLDR: Just save your time and money and do Overland.
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Re: Green Gully Track (tldr: it sucks)

Postby sandym » Mon 20 Mar, 2023 6:49 am

Interesting. I thought about doing the walk a few years ago and looked at the route on the maps and thought "yuck, boring fire trails the whole way." The cost also seemed pretty high and the necessity to stay in the huts. Personally, not a fan of huts and would rather camp. I enjoyed your honest report.

I often think many of these "classic" walks that National Parks dream up are not very good at all, just convenient as there is fire trail access for them to manage the facilities. I am pretty skeptical of all of them.

But, to be fair to NPWS, my recollection when I looked at the walk was that one day there was no trail at all and navigation would be required.
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Re: Green Gully Track (tldr: it sucks)

Postby Warin » Mon 20 Mar, 2023 9:56 am

Thanks for the report. Some possible 'excuses' for what you found...

Possibly the meatlockers in the huts are used for crockery to keep the crockery cleaner than it otherwise would be..

The lack of fire wood may be caused by a previous group using it all rather than what NPWS thought 'should' be used...

I too have looked at this walk .. and rejected it. As you say the overland trumps it. And possibly others.
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Re: Green Gully Track (tldr: it sucks)

Postby rcaffin » Wed 22 Mar, 2023 6:58 pm

We did it many years ago and quite enjoyed it. Mind you, I think it was a lot cheaper then.
The cottage was nice.
The huts were - well, as expected. Galvo, cattlemens.
Yes, one could reroute a lot of the walk off the FTs. I guess.

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Re: Green Gully Track (tldr: it sucks)

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 23 Mar, 2023 7:11 am

I've also done the green gully track. I enjoyed it.

There is a fair bit of fire trail and it definitely helped that we had cool misty weather for most of the trip.

It does have a number of interesting natural and historical view points over the 4 day walk.

Is it as good as some multi day tent trips in nsw? No. Is it as good as a multi day hut to hut trip in Tassie or NZ? No.

But if your looking for a relatively comfortable (but rustic!) hut to hut walk in NSW with an opportunity for a shower then it fits the bill especially if your party includes inexperienced walkers.

I did it about 18 months ago and didn't experience any of the maintenance or wood supply issues the OP had.

It is very expensive for what you get though and I wouldn't have done it on a cost basis if it hadn't been a friends birthday walk.
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Re: Green Gully Track (tldr: it sucks)

Postby Ms_Mudd » Mon 27 Mar, 2023 9:39 pm

I did it at the start of 2019 with my eldest son. The cost at that time was only $150 each, which I felt was reasonable. $900 is not.

We walked in January and got caught in storms the entire first day, we were pretty soggy, but arrived to a fire that had been totally 'set' ready to light- such relief and comfort after a day of dodging lightning. We had no trouble with the fridge or shower at the end, sorry to hear that you did. We were really looking forward to that hot shower and would have been pretty miffed if it didn't eventuate as promised.

Yes, a lot is on firetrails, but I am still glad to have done it, I suppose doing it with my son really added to the experience rather than the walk itself being spectacular.

Thank you for sharing your trip report, its good to hear different perspectives and experiences. Certainly for what the walk now costs, you would hope as a minimum that the features advertised would be provided.
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