YENGO NATIONAL PARK – 11 & 12 May 2019
Yengo Trail > Tumbledown Ridge > Tumbledown Creek > Nowlands Creek > Nowlands Ridge > Yengo Trail
Back in June 2010, I did a recce day walk out to Nowlands Track with a few BWOC friends, just sniffing the place out. Then in December 2010 I put on an overnight walk to Nowlands with the intention of exiting via Tumbledown. Due to a number of reasons (heat – FFS it was December what was I thinking – scratchy scrub, bull ants and a navigational error on my part), all we did was the Nowlands Ridge part of the walk down to Sandy Creek. When doing my “wish list”, for some reason I added this walk to it as “unfinished business”. Maybe I should have read the trip report from the December walk!
Jeff, Heather (who’ll go anywhere with me), Paul and Norm joined me for the weekend. I wasn’t sure it would be a great walk after looking at Six Maps and finding there were fire trails all over the place, you’d have to try really hard to get off track (I didn’t know about Six Maps in 2010).
AND, I should have read the trip report, I noted “the scrub was much thicker than anticipated” after the recce in 2010; and my conclusion after the December overnight walk was “the jury is still out as to whether or not this area is worth a second look, I’m up for it, surely all those ridges and spurs can’t be covered with scratchy scrub”! Well, the answer is yes, there’s a lot of scratchy scrub there (too much).
The downside of the trip, is that there had been no significant rain recently, and no guarantee we’d find water, so we all carried enough for the whole weekend. Jeff carried an extra litre for me (brining his water weight up to 6.8k), and I carried around 3.5k of water.
When discussing the route, Jeff and I had determined that there were a few spots where we had to be particularly vigilant not to go down the wrong spur, and sure enough, at the precise spot where Jeff thought we would have trouble, we found ourselves at a steep drop, which we definitely shouldn’t have encountered. So, we backtracked, not once but twice, and eventually were back on our desired route.
On Sunday we looked at the map and planned out route. We had a few options, fire trails all over the place that we could use as a quick exit, or continue downstream to the junction of Nowlands & Tumbledown Creeks (and check out if there was a campsite there – there was), then upstream on Nowlands to see what it was like, if there was good water, and to check out a big cleared area. At that point we’d then make the decision to exit on a fire trail, or go up a convenient spur to the top of Nowlands Ridge.
We were at the junction of Nowlands & Tumbledown Creeks by 9.30am, there’s a nice campsite up on the right (note for future use). Nowlands at the junction didn’t look pretty, lots of vegetation to walk through, “this isn’t going to be pretty”, so again we considered the options, climb out to the fire trail, or give the creek a chance?
On the ridge, once again you had to concentrate on the navigation, there were a few spots where you had to make sure you took the right route off a knoll. Everything went well until after lunch, when we were getting close to intersecting with the fire trail. We lost concentration and inadvertently walked 200m over to what we knew was the wrong spot as soon as we got there, retraced our steps, and discovered that where we went off-route was only 50m from the fire trail – you get that, particularly at the end of the day when everyone is tired!
Jeff and Paul walked on ahead of the rest of us (they are way fast), and went to retrieve the cars from the start of Tumbledown Ridge. I could have walked the extra 2k, but it was nice not to have to do the steep down and up on that section of road – thanks Jeff!
So, would I go back there? Well, (1) the upside is it’s only 2 hours from the Central Coast and you don’t have to drive through Sydney traffic, so it has that going for it. (2) You can obtain the key to the locked gate at Nowlands Ridge from NPWS, so with the key, it’s very attractive as an (almost) car camp, ie, you could drive almost all the way to a wilderness campsite and then walk in with a heavy pack (wine, cheeses, steaks and salad), and have a lovely campfire. OR, (3) if you just want a track walk, the fire trails are great, easy access to any part of this walk on fire trail, with just a short off-track section to get to the nice campsites. So, I guess the answer is yes, I’d go back, but probably not through the scratchy parts of the ridge again, and probably after a major rain event, so there was guaranteed water.
Thank you so much Jeff for navigating, and for joining us on the walk Heather. A BIG thanks to Norm and Paul for coming on the walk, it was their first walk with us, very brave of them to head off into the wilderness with people they didn’t know, with unknown experience, we really enjoyed your company around the campfire on Saturday, lovely to meet you both.
So, where to next?
Banner: Our grassy meadow – that I’ve been searching for for years!
Thumbnail: Prickly Pear fruit
Snake Count: 0