A great introductory walk to the Wild Dog Mountains region, with a little of bit everything - Ridges, Steep Downhills, Firetrail, Bouldery Creek Walking, River Crossings and Chest High Nettle. Even though the distance is short, this is a bit of a tough walk as the walking is a bit slow due to the nature of the steep and bouldery terrain. The beach campsite on the Cox's is just fabulous with an abundance of firewood and the walk up towards the Jenolan or Harry's River is just great fun which led to all sorts of antics such as Freezing River Crossings, Horizontal Tree Walking and of course, Rock Skimming. What more could you ask for?
All up it is 13 clicks - if you're fit and fast you'd be able to do it as a day walk in around 5-6 hours. If you're taking novices allow two full days.
As usual we decided to set off from my place with everyone meeting at 6:00pm - but due to a late breaking story, Tim was unable to depart that evening so after a quick bit of car and Scout shuffling we finally set off around 6:30pm and decided to go via Richmond and Bells Line of Road so that we could stop for Pizza at Richmond. Aldo's is place to stop for Pizza at Richmond.
We finally departed Aldo's at around 9:00pm arriving at Dunphy's Campsite at about 10:30pm where we decided it was time for a cup of Hot Chocolate.
Day 1: Dunphys to Breakfast Creek via Ironmonger Hill (6km)
Tim and Nick arrived at around 8:00am and after lazily eating breakfast, sorting out tents and divying up food we were finally ready to depart at 9:20.
We split up into two main patrols, a girl only patrol and a boy only patrol, with the leaders and parents randomly divided between the two, sortof. The first kilometer is along public gravel road after which you enter private property. There were three cars parked here which I found strange but we later discovered that there is this weird sect that apparently enjoys getting up at 4:00am and walking for 3 hours in the dark to get to the Cox's by Sunrise in order to attempt to catch the mysterious, shy and rarely glimpsed Cox's River Trout.
It was only about 100m into the private property when the girls spotted a Horse that was obviously suffering some form of eating disorder as it would only accept the best quality hand picked grass which was lovingly fed to said Horse. Here Katja points out to Chloe where the grass is meant to go, if of course she was a horse.
We soon arrived at the Ironpot Ridge Track at 10:10am and commenced the slog up the short, steep hill to the ridge proper. About 30mins walk from the start of the track brings you the Ironpots - apparently the Aborigines created these for some obscure purpose. OUr campfire discussion later that evening concluding that they must've been used for grinding coffee beans. After this the walk along the ridge is quite interesting and if you look carefully you'll find a number of Aboriginal sharpening grooves.
We arrived at the Ironmonger Hill track junction at 11:10am and after a quick drink and snack headed off downhill along Ironmonger Spur, which like most of the spurs and ridges in the Wild Dog Mountains are steep knee breakers. Finally after an hour and a half of knee jolting, jelly leg walking we got to the Breakfast Creek junction and our intended camping site for the night at 12:50.
The girls wasted no time getting a fire started and had lunch prepared and eaten by the time the boys had worked out that wood actually burns without the use of petrol.
After an hour and half's lazy lunch, it was time for more fun and adventure, so off we trotted towards the Jenolan River and our first obstacle, The Freezing River Crossing. Having crossed the Cox's just last weekend, I was not looking forward to this, but since I was the one that suggested this little adventure in the first place I swallowed hard and took the plunge.
Its quite obvious that I'm a Big Girl's Blouse when it comes to cold water as the Scouts didn't seem to mind the water temperature at all. I'm pretty sure the water temperature would only be a few degrees above zero at best.
It was just as we had finished putting our shoes back on that Lara, Katja and Chloe found that the trees bent over by flood waters were actually really good fun to climb and it wasn't long before everyone, including leaders and parents joined in the action.
As we walked up this section of the Cox's it was amazing to see how high the recent flood waters were - with flotsam and jetsam lodged into trees about 6m up.
Progress up the Cox's was extremely slow as every 100m or so the Scouts would find something to entertain themselves with - from jumping onto sand islands and then wondering how to get back onto the bank without getting wet to the all time river entertainment classic - Rock Skipping. We never did get to the Jenolan River but had a great time trying.
There was even time to do a bit of modelling for Bushwalker's Monthly magazine!
We got back to camp just before sunset and with the abundance of driftwood we soon got a good fire going. After a few rounds of Celebrity Heads we finally hit the sack at 10:00pm.
Day 2: Breakfast Creek to Dunphy's via Breakfast Creek (7km)
It was a pretty cold night's sleep - the temperature dropped to around 3 degs. I got up just before dawn and to my surprise spotted one of those mysterious Trout things. It wasn't long before hoards of Wake Up at 4am and Walk for 3 Hours in the Dark to Get to Cox's by Sunrise to Catch Trout s
ectarians had us surrounded with their fishing poles. One sectarian, obviously a senior priest of the sect needed only Tevas and a light pair of thermals to brave the morning cold and seemed quite happy immersed in the freezing water. He had obviously reached levels of enlightenment that the rest us could only dream of and as a result was the only one capable of catching a Trout.
Patrick also had a fishing rod but I don't think he's a member of the sect as he didn't wake up until sunrise.
After all the excitement of the marauding WUa4aWf3HitDtGtCbStCT sect members had settled down we had the usual leisurely breakfast and finally got our act together, packed up and got ready to head off up Breakfast Creek. At 10:00am we did a final fill of our water bottles in Breakfast Creek as despite appearances the Cox's River is full of phosphates from farming in the Megalong Valley and heavy metals from coal mining in decades past. Luckily this all gets diluted by the time it hits Warragamba Dam and ends up in our drinking water.
Here Patrick explains the emergency use of long leafy things in case toilet paper gets used for lighting fires instead of its intended use - Luca's expression of disbelief suggests that he's not in a hurry to test this out. Or maybe Patrick's explaining something else?
The walking up Breakfast Creek is reasonably easy but slow as there's a heap of rockhopping, numerous creek crossings and lots of Scouts slipping and getting wet feet. The scenery however is awesomated.
After almost an hour and a half walk we got to the Big Clearing at 11:40, which is this fabulously sunny and grassy camping area. It would easily fit dozens of tents. It was here that Lara found her fourth? I dunno, I lost count of how many Butterflies Lara managed to find. Chloe displays the latest specimen as well as her bush manicured fingernails.
After a nice relaxing time eating some snacks we headed back up Breakfast Creek at 11:40 and it wasn't long before Katja spotted this amazing dew covered spider web hole. I'm also amazed that my little Panasonic DMC-FT3 is capable of taking such good shots. Check out the miniscule beads of dew hanging off each strand.
Eventually the pleasant walking come to an end and it was time to head up Carlon Creek, home to the feared and dreaded Stinging Nettle.
During the past week I mentioned to one of my work colleagues the fun that one of the DoE boys Jason, had with Stinging Nettle and he mentioned that there is a plant called Dock Leaf that provides a cure for Stinging Nettle and grows near the stuff. This would have been a good thing to know a week ago but since I didn't suffer any stings I didn't really mind. Ahhh, now I understand. I wasn't a toilet paper substitute that Patrick was discussing, it was a Stinging Nettle cure!!! Dock leaf is the long leaf in the pic and directly below is the Stinging Nettle.
Finally, we got back to Dunphy's at 2:30, ate all of our left over food and supplies in Patrick's car then headed off to fight with the usual Sunday arvo traffic down the Mountains to arrive at my house at 6:00pm.
This really is a great introductory hike to the Wild Dog Mountains and Cox's River and I'm now planning to do a three day hike down the length of the Cox's in Summer so that I don't get cold feet.