KOWMUNG OVERNIGHT WALK – MARCH 2016
Oberon Stock Route > Mt Hubb > Carkeneller Spur > Waterfall Creek > Kowmung River and Return
After walking with Anne B and David S for 2 weeks in New Zealand, I thought I’d like to introduce them to trips that I do, and a couple of days over Easter would be great, down a lovely spur to the Kowmung, camping on the river and an easy walk out, easy as!
So, 48hrs later, … not sure that Anne will ever walk with me again and the jury’s out too as to whether or not David will! The plan (or marketing spiel) that I gave them was that it would be an easy walk down to the river, then we’d walk along a route that had been cut by NPWS for a couple of horses that had been down on the river with their riders baiting pigs. The trail that had been cut by NPWS meant that you didn’t have to walk through all that scratchy shit and the walk along the Kowmung was therefore easier than it used to be. We’d be camping at a stunning site at the end of the Uni Rover Trail with a big swimming hole and lovely cliffs opposite the campsite (which was grassy and really large). Then next day we’d simply walk up the spur back to the cars. How hard could it be? I thought I mentioned the 600m height elevation that we’d be walking up to get out but Anne swears that I didn’t!
We met up at the Ranger’s Hut at Mt Werong (Jeff, Cathy and I had driven up the night before), Wendy and Geoff arrived, followed shortly by Anne and David. We waited, and waited for Heather to turn up, apparently my directions were ambiguous (not the first time I was reminded). In any event, once we were all there, we set off to park the cars on the Oberon Stock Route, just south of Mt Hubb. Anne wasn’t used to off track walking but it was easy (for me) open country, so we were doing just fine.
We reached Mt Hubb by morning tea and so far so good. We chose a spur that we hadn’t used before, but it looked like it had nice views either side, so we took off from Mt Hubb and descended, admittedly we were going down a very steep slope with scree, sticks, stones etc, and I have to admit that it wasn’t like the nice NZ track that Anne and I had walked on in New Zealand. She accepted it like a trouper though!
All was going well until we got to Waterfall Creek, admittedly the last time I was there it was 6pm at night, pitch black and we were using head lamps to walk from the spur to the Kowmung, but in daylight it was worse than I remembered, we were clambering over trees and those that didn’t want wet shoes were having trouble with the creek.
I breathed a sigh of relief when we got to the Kowmung River as I thought, “thank goodness, the track will be there and it will be easy going”. Wrong! I recall now that there wasn’t any track on the side we were on. We hooked up with it somewhere but I couldn’t remember where. Nevertheless, Jeff and I blithely led them downstream thinking that any moment now we’ll get onto that nice horse track!
About 100m from the Waterfall Creek junction we crossed the river, the going wasn’t too bad, but then it got nasty. Jeff went his own way and I took to the river, the rest stuck resolutely to the bank and got held up in all sorts of horrendous scrub. I don’t know what was happening with Jeff, but I soon found myself in water that was thigh deep and getting deeper so I made my way back onto the bank and the impenetrable scrub. What had I done to these poor people! Anne and David would never speak with me again. Thankfully Heather was used to this and Cathy, Wendy and Geoff wouldn’t be happy but would at least they’d still speak to me (although it may take them another 6 months before they went on another one of my adventures).
Whilst all this is going through my mind, I caught up with Jeff and we called out for the rest, who eventually blundered through the undergrowth and we re-grouped. We walked another 200m and finally were within cooee of the Uni Rover trail, so I was relaxing a little. (NB there is no photographic record of this part of the trip down the river, we were totally focussed on getting through the scrub!)
We walked on a little further only to discover that a SBW group was camped at the campsite that we were planning on using and there was “no room at the inn”, although Caro did say that we could join them there, it would have been crowded and merging two groups never works well. I started to drag the group back to Lannigan’s Creek where I knew there was a good campsite … while we backtracked on our trail we discovered that there was a relatively flat area (albeit a little stony) that was 50m away, so we all downed tools, called Jeff back (who had forged on ahead) and set up camp.
It wasn’t ideal but what the hell, we’d all had enough (and once again I was questioning my wisdom leading trips and vowing never to lead another one).
Once we set up camp, lit the fire and settled down with some tea/wine and hors d-oeuvres there were smiles all around again. It took about 2 hours for us all to regain our humour (scrub will do that to you), then David brought out the full bottle of mead that he’d carried in and suddenly we were all happy campers (and we had a lovely campfire).
Most of us had a good night’s rest and next morning we set off to retrace our steps. I was determined to find that damned horse trail so that their trip back to Carkeneller Spur would be less scrubby than yesterday. I did find some of the track, but then crossed the river and instead of the horse track got onto a pig track (at least it was a track), there was lots of neighing from those at the back of the pack (will I ever live the horse track debacle down), and I kept having to remind them that it was a Pig Track, not The Horse Track but they wouldn’t listen.
David and Jeff took a look at the map (it’s a good idea to give them something to do) and we decided to use the spur at the junction of Lannigans and the Kowmung to access Carkeneller. It was a great choice, easy going, not too steep (Anne would disagree) and no scrub. So, we spent the best part of the day walking up hill in relatively open country.
We took lots of breaks to catch our breath (a memorable break was close to the top where a few of the group decided to see if they all sat on a branch and bounced up and down on it they could break it!).
Eventually we made it back to the vehicles, but the epic wasn’t finished. Heather was a bit worried that she’d be out of fuel (she’d spent hours driving around on Friday night looking for the Rangers Hut), so we decided to drive in convey to Oberon. We got as far as the rangers hut (and stopped for some reason), and then discovered that Heather had a flat tire. Took a while to change the tire (Heather and four guys), Cathy and I just watched), and then we made a bee-line to Oberon and then onto Hampden Pub for dinner. What an epic! Sorry Anne!