[SUBW-A] Trip report - the Budawangs for Easter

Roger Butler R.Butler at lake.com.au
Fri Apr 28 09:32:43 AEST 2000

Party members - Sally, Alex, Celesta, Melissa, Betty, Nikola, Justin,
Stephanie, David Os, Kristen, Beatrice, Roger.
After meeting at a very dodgy French - Vietnamese bakery at Nowra we set off
for the northern (Sassafras) entrance of the Morton National Park.  Well
most of us did.  My car set off for Melbourne instead but we eventually got
back on track.  We caught up with everyone else while they were standing
around Sally's car trying to figure out how to get it out of a bog.  Dave
came to the rescue with a rope tied to the back of his car and we were soon
bashing a fire trail south into the park.
Now having only ever walked a small part of the south-western Budawangs I
had ambitious plans of covering most of the lovely scrubby country in the
northern section of the park.  The sketch map indicated a negotiable route
called Gailbraith's Route just near our fire trail.  So Dave led the charge
into the bush to check it out.  Ten minutes later we were back on the
comfortable fire trail with the opinion that Gailbraith was a moron.  We
continued on to Red Johnny's Cave where we made camp for the night.  The
cave wasn't big enough for our large party so most of us pitched flys
(flies?) in the bush instead.
We were interrupted during breakfast by a couple passing our cave to search
for a natural arch indicated on the sketch map.  They came back unsuccessful
half and hour later so we decided that we might have better luck finding it.
Alex led the way and we climbed up and down over many pagodas but we too
were unsuccessful in finding the arch.  However, after consulting the sketch
map and topo we now have an idea of where it might be and it's still waiting
to be found.
Undaunted, we set an easier target of the bora ground on top of Quilty's
Mountain.  This involved a short walk and then a climb up to some great
views and an "oval of stones with a longitudinal meridian line".  There was
also a miriad of cairns indicating no particular route around the top of the
mountain.  Many of these were suddenly agitated by localised climatic
Hidden Valley and Mount Sturgiss were our next targets.  We found the Hidden
Valley turnoff easily because there were two guys camped on the track at the
junction (at 2pm!).  After incrementally losing party members, some of us
made the final ascent to the summit of Mount Sturgiss through a crack in the
rock and were rewarded with fantastic views of Mount Talaterang, Hidden
Valley, and Mounts Houghton and Hoddle.  We collected the rest of the party
on the way back and made camp in the bush up from Styles Creek.
Easter Sunday delivered more cold but fine weather and a great environment
for devouring Easter eggs.  Dave, Kristen, and Beatrice left us because they
were due at Penny's parents' place in Milton that night.  Sally led most of
the party across the swamp and up onto Mount Houghton while Alex and I scrub
bashed up for a look at Styles Cave on the cliffs above the creek.  Sally
found a great cave on the northern side of Mount Houghton and we dropped our
packs and traversed the northern face of the mountain before ascending Mount
Tarn.  There we met a party of guys with fancy walking poles and gaiters
over their long pants!  I'm sure we looked a great sight in our Volleys and
After a very comfortable night we said goodbye to Justin and Stephanie who
were leaving early for a day's climbing in Nowra.  Sally wanted a swim in
Sallee Creek so we made our way back through the swamp and around to the
western side of Quilty's Mountain into quite different country from what
we'd already explored.  Rather than rainforests and woodland, we were now
walking though open grass country populated by white gums.  After a long
day's walk we made camp on an beautiful open knoll near the Endrick River
and settled in for a comfortable night.
Now over the past four days, Alex had developed a healthy respect for Mr
Gailbraith and the route he'd taken his horse and cart over and was willing
to give it another go.  So while Sally led the rest of the party through the
Vines and along fire trails back towards Sassafras, Alex and I left at 7am
for the treacherous route up onto Gailbraith's Plateau and through the Hakea
and Banksia into almost canyonous country.  About 1km from the fire trail we
gave a cooee and were rewarded with a response so we knew the others had
beaten us to the arranged meeting place.  At 1pm we completed the 5km route
and settled in for the trudge back to the cars.
We had an early dinner in Kiama and made our way back to Sydney.
Unfortunately my Mini didn't like being left in the bush for five days and
misbehaved on the way home but we got there eventually.
A beautiful Easter with great weather and great walking country.

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