The Buderwangs' a Rece’

4th/5th June 2005


  Dave Sheppard, Dug Floyd

A 4:30 am departure ex Wollongong on a clear starry cool morning, found us away and walking, form Long Gully camp ground by 8 am.  The campers hardly stirring yet, on this cold dewy morning.  We wandered up Kaliana Ridge, firstly on a black soil track under the canopy of tall trees, brushing past Pandanus palm fonds, the scene gradually changing to a steeper stony soil ridge, with smaller hardier trees, eventually to the steeper ridge with bigger loose stones and fewer trees.  The scramble up the conglomerate slope has been bypassed now, by a nearly complete track (we assume to try and rehabilitate the erosion very evident).  Now the first tall cliff of the Castle is in clear view, very imposing.  Soon we are above the trees and are treated to wonderful views of these very rugged landscapes, with high cliffs and rolling forested ridges and valleys, wherever the eye wanders.

We stroll onwards on the foot track at the base of the cliff, this is a little rugged in places and there are two distinct places where would be walkers must become discouraged and turn around.  The track shows less wear from each place onwards.  We stop for an early lunch (to make up for the early breakfast), at the place the track divides, with on path going to the saddle and Monolith Valley, the other to the tunnel and the Castle.  Dave points out the imposing cliff face of Mt Owen and says “we will have lunch up there tomorrow with views of the Castle”.  Two other parties pass us on their way up.  We go up to the saddle to drop our packs and then go to the Castle climb feeling much lighter.  Another party passes here to go on and drop their packs at Cooyoyo Creek campground and then venture up the Castle.

The Castle rout requires some scrambling in a few places and there is a set hand line in one place – very handy I think.  On top Dave finds the line of cairns that lead us to the southern end (relatively scrub free) for the unique views of Pigeon House and Byangee Walls, Corang Peak Clyde Gorge, Talaterang and Pigeon House Gorge as well as all the other gorgeous scenery.  Mind you the views from the northern end are very special too: Mt Owen, Mt Cole, Shroud of Gods, Castle Head, Mt Tarn and many others.  It is hard to see that there is a drought with this natural landscape holding water in the swampy areas and many of the rocks have pools of water, often with its swarm of big black tadpoles.  I find my hand line comforting at one place on the scramble down.  Back to the packs where we decide to use the Cooyoyo Creek camping area tonight.  There are lots of little cleared patches between the trees but lots of campers too.  We eventually decide to sleep in the sleeping cave to save dewy tent flies in the morning.  After tea we wander up to where the others are camped to chat, Shep wanting to canvass recruits for the BWRS (seems pointless to me as these are track walkers and will have to learn the off track skills).  On group is right into a campfire sing-along but this is a chant, complete with swaying and throwing of twigs and leaves into the fire at intervals.

A pleasant night, no stars, vindicating our decision to not erect flies.  We are up to the Castle Saddle by 8am where we drop one pack again and put our necessities into the other.  There is plenty of cloud about today with the tops of most Mountains obscured.  Along the cliff base of Mt Owen and up the valley up over the chains into the valley that leads to Monolith Valley or Shroud of Gods Valley.  A very beautiful and special place with stark rock features and somewhat scungy scrub.  Shep eventually finds the pass up to the NE corner of Mt Owen and then the line of cairns (to avoid the worst of scrub) to the south point of Mt Owen.  Hear we have lunch and note in the logbook “can not even see the Castle” (only a few 100 m away).  Still we are not actually in cloud here so it is very pleasant, watching the mist play with the trees 20 m away.

We follow the cairns back to the Northern edge of Mt Owen and find the pass up onto Mt Cole (we use a convenient tree, before we spot the small waterfall gully Shep used 15 years ago).  There do not seem to be any cairns on this side, so we have to find away through the scrub (3 m high tee tree or hakea or corral fern).  Luckily we both are reasonably good at this and the passage isn’t too painful (for the most part).  Eventually on the eastern side we seek a way down through a steep valley only to be stopped by a 40 m chimney.  We wander more to the north and eventually force a way down another re-entrant.  Thanks very much to a hand line.  Our clothing much the wore for wear by now, so much so that Shep raises some merriment when he turned round after we talk to a group going the other way (I was too smart to turn round).  We follow the rough track back through the valleys to the saddle.  This really is a fantastic place even if it is a track walk (would be a very rugged off track walk, shows how much the vegetation has changed since the natives lived hear in harmony with the land).

Back at the Castle Saddle we re pack and decide to walk out tonight.  We set off at 5:15 pm and have enough light to get the bottom of the steep section with all the steps.  Past here I cannot see the way at all (6:15 pm) so reluctantly switch on my head torch (handy little 3 LED Tika I found at Mt Wilson Camp ground a couple of years ago).  We battle on with just the one torch over the quite rough track – “very interesting”.  A brew up of tea in one of the camping caves on the way most welcome.  A delightful starry night with no moon at all, quite warm – only in shirtsleeves and the arse out of our trousers.  We eventually get to the car at midnight; it is nice walking through the bush at night.  On the way out we spot just one pair of Kangaroos and one wombat which reminds us we haven’t seen much wild life sign in the areas we have been, it should be a haven for swamp wallabies.

Well not often I bother with a track walk.  The last time I was in the Budawang’s I decided to leave it until I get old and need the tracks.  Still I enjoyed the scenery and atmosphere, thanks for leading this rece’ Shep; I expect your walk will go well.  Till next time.  © Copyright 2005 Dug Floyd.