28Apr-1May 2017 Round Mountain, Gulf Diggings, 15Mile Diggings, Dry Dam Cabramurra – Kosciuszko National Park (Kiandra Trip 12 Public)
This was a 4 day 38.8Km hard explorative walk from Round Mountain Car Park, Happy Jacks Road gate, Dry Dam Area. I climbed Round Mountain looking for ski facilities, searching around Gulf diggings, searching central 15 Mile ridge for diggings and checking around Dry Dam for diggings as well as checking the Cabramurra Link Road for spot to park to later search 8 Mile diggings. Some of the walk required careful navigation and extreme care with holes, cliffs and fallen timber.
The featured image is a view of Mt Jagungal from Round Mountain
Summary Interesting Items
- Day1 – Climbed Round Mountain, finding approx location of the ski lodge and later finding the site of the Linesmen hut on the lower SW ridge.
- Day2 – Found the major sluices and diggings at Gulf as well as a major dam & races
- Day3 – Found the major sluice gully at 15Mile, some dams, some races & likely a couple of hut sites
- Day4 – Walked part of the old 15M track across the tops to 15Mile Linesmens’ Huts
- Day4 – Visited Cabramurra Radio Tower and Nordic Ski shelter
- Day4 – Visited Dry Dam and checked out access track down to 8Mile diggings
- Day4 – Checked some parking spots to enable visiting the main 8Mile diggings
- Day4 – GPS’d the tourist 2 stamp Stamper Battery at the NCH visitor car park
28th Apr – Day 1
Up early & left home 7AM. Stopped for petrol & then at Maccas Cooma for a break & coffee. Then straight to link road near Cabramurra where I stopped a couple of times to check out possible parking spots to later check the 8 Miles diggings. There seemed to be about 4 suitable spots but I noticed some large drops north of the road. I also stopped twice along the road up from Tumut Pond to see if I could see any races over Rough Creek area that might head towards 15 Mile diggings. I could not see any but could see some large rocky outcrops over on the western edge of the 15 Mile ridge. There had been 3 pushbikes on the highway near Denison & there were several motor bikes on the Tooma Road section. These roads are incredibly narrow and dangerous for bikes or walkers. I made Round Mtn CP about 11AM.
I met a guy at the Round Mtn Car Park who had pushed a cart to Derschkos Hut to position supplies there for a winter ski trip. He also did the same thing from Guthega to Schlink Hilton Hut.
I had a quick bite for lunch then walked with my day pack across some awkward ground looking for the site of the old ski lodge. I could not find anything but the area around DS’s WP was a nice open area and was the most likely spot as any higher it became quite steep. I tried to push through the scrub above this little clearing but found the going quite difficult as it was very high and steep making progress slow. I backtracked and went around to the North West about 220m and found a more open route along the initial alignment of a small creek & gully. This was also close to DS’s location for the ski tow which I could not find. I did not look hard for the ski tow and decided to get to the top which was then quite straightforward but very steep.
Great views from the top all around. Its 1756m high. You can see Tabletop, Far Bald Hill, Mt Jagungal, the Main Range, Cabramurra, & Mt Black Jack & Manjar & Jagumba Mtn to the west.
I returned via the SW ridge which was slow and scrubby after getting off the top but relatively easy to follow. I found it slightly easier to drop off the main ridge and walk through less think bush lower down before I reached an old comms line with some poles still standing & thus showing the way. Without the WP from David Scott I would never have found the site of an old Linesman’s Hut. I did find it but there was only some old tension bars and broken glass. I then went down a steep slope through light scrub but thick regrowth in trees to the Khancoban Road and walked along it side back to the car. I then backpacked down to the Gulf Diggings area and checked a race alignment as I walked across to find a suitable camp site high up in the Gulf Diggings area. It wasn’t the best site as the grass was bumpy however I found lots of dead wood and I was close to a creek. In addition there was a great view out over the Tumut Valley and Gulf area gully only 30m metres away.
That night was crystal clear, great view of the stars, but it was very frosty and cold.
From what I had seen I though the Gulf Area looked more difficult then I had expected with a large deep creek & hidden valley being the 2nd/3rd creek from the fire trail down. Looked like a near vertical hill past the creek if I tried to get to Sam’s Diggings. I now realised that I would be better off taking my pack back closer to the FT and later walking back up to Round Mtn and maybe search Sam’s Diggings from the top of 15 Mile Ridge and check out the rest of Gulf with my day pack. I also now realised that having a serious look at 8 Mile diggings was most unlikely to occur this trip.
I had walked 9.6Km this day but it felt like more.
29th Apr – Day 2
Up around 6.30AM & had breakfast in the tent cooking on my small gas stove. I headed off at 9.00AM after a freezing morning & packing up my wet tent & equipment.
I notice a small embankment that could have formed a Dam. It seemed to align with the route of the small dry creek that the race crossed near the rockfield. However I wasn’t convinced it was a dam.
I stopped quickly as I could see a race coming down from near the area I had been. I went back along the race and past a small gully with a rockfield to a higher small gully which I could see functioned as a dam with a race then coming down to it from higher up on the same creek I had camped near. The race was substantially built with some retaining stones as it crossed the gully with the rockfield and more support as it progressed down the side of the lower gully.
I had tracked a race from the Fire Trail the previous day as it progressed to meet a creek that had come down parallel to the FT. I suspect that the race crossed this creek and another creek within 50m. It then clearly progressed along the side of the gully formed by the two aforementioned creeks joining. I think the race mentioned early may have come down the slope, it’s hard to tell, and joined this race.
I left my pack around here and followed this new race section (which can be seen from the FT) along the side of the gully. The race is easy to follow initially and acts more like a footpad. After 150m or so it’s close to the top of a ridgeline formed between the earlier mentioned gully and the larger gully that is to the NE. At one point it looks like a race breakoff may have gone NE and probably sent water into this NE gully. However the main race I think continued along the ridgeline and I suspect it eventually finished near my WP GR36 (stands for Gulf Race 3 Point 6). I then continued along the ridge as there was big drop off to the NE until I could walk down a side ridge that headed off the main ridge. Then I found what I have deduced was a small sluiced gully with the ridge I had walked down formed by the diggers sluicing out the ground to its SW thus forming a small thin gully running SE to NW. At the bottom of the sluice gully there is a connection to the larger gully/valley above it to the NW and an exit gully at right angles dropping down to the SE and quickly joining the largest creek in this area which has a large and near vertical face along its northern side for part of its way.
I would estimate the sluice gully to be 50m in length and only 5-10m wide.
I then walked back to the main ridge which was becoming a sharper rocky ridge and then down to the major creek. I decided to cross the creek and follow a higher level race (G Race 6 DS. I labelled WPs on this race as GR4X) around and down to where there might be some hut sites near the Tumut. Crossing the creek I dropped my walking stick into the creek and it floated away downstream. I walked along the race and dropped down to the open area near the Tumut where I could talk to 2 fishermen whom I had seen come down the hillside on the other side of the Tumut. I learnt they were two retired guys living in Alexandra near Lake Eildon Vic. They were camped down on the Tumut near the FT. They told me the area where I was and further on they called the Big Bend.
Opposite the area I was there was a small cliff line making progress down that side difficult.
I checked for hut sites in the area. Two of the sites seemed to be close to Prospecting holes that probably would show up as dark objects on an aerial photos or satellite view. The 3rd hut site seemed to be in an exit race or trail race that ran down to the Tumut. Higher up the area, but well below the level of the race there were two parallel long trenches or mini sluiced gullies. I guess they were 30-50m long. The tail race seemed to come from the top end of one of the trenches, which I could not figure out as the trenches ran downhill toward the Tumut as well. I didn’t understand the arrangement. Possibly the Tail Race took the water coming from the race from the creek down to the Tumut when the miners didn’t need the water to flow into the trench area?
I could not see exactly where the race I had followed ended as it seemed to fade away near the trenches. I deduced it had a runoff down to the trenches as it did not seem to continue. I climbed up higher and could not see any races or diggings further around the hill or down the Tumut. As time was getting on I returned. On the way I went to the junction of the main creek and Tumut and spoke again to the Fishermen, one of whom had caught a rainbow trout.
I had seen a human used campsite across the Tumut a sort distance to the north close to DS’s GDiggs4 location. They told me there was a strange dark hole over there as well and they believed it was an old wombat hole taken over by pigs and enlarged as a ‘pigs den’. So that could be the site interpreted as GDiggs4? They also mentioned they had previously seen a shaft in the ground up the hillside a way but slightly further south on the Tumut East bank.
I walked back along some of the Tumut banks and then up and escarpment onto the large open area and then parallel to the long minor gully. DS’s data showed some diggings there (GDiggs3 & GRace 5). However I could not clearly see any things that looked like these.
The plain was flat and open and easy going. I looked for GDam 3 but the WP didn’t really look like a dam and I could not see any races leaving it. However there was a possible old track crossing a little above that point. I was unclear to me how many races came together and if they crossed those creeks near the FT. However it’s definite there was at least one race crossing the FT and probably got its water from the creek that crosses the FT higher up. If there was ever an embankment to get the race across the creeks it’s well and truly washed away. Possibly the race just flowed in the first creek and down to the minor gully. However the alignment of race across the FT and then down that ridgeline does look as though they link together.
I recovered my pack and walked up the FT to the creek crossing for lunch. Then back to the car after which I drove around to the Happy Jacks Road (HJR) barrier and parked next to it on some rough grass. I then backpacked along the road until it started to drop down at some culverts under the road. On the road I could see rockfields and rocky outcrops along the western side of the 15 Mile Ridge as well as the large white reflector on top of Boltons Hill to the east. I left HJR near the culverts and headed across the open fields on 15M ridge and then down some scrubby ground for around 1.5Km from the road and found a spot to camp close to GDiggings 7/8. I found some grassy flat ground although it was a little wet ground with plenty of dead wood around but not much water. I camped and took water from a soak hole. On the day I left here I found water 50-100m to the SE in a swampy area. The weather was slightly weird with clouds scurrying across the sky but some clouds being so low they ended up from a mist along the Tumut Ponds alignment.
I had walked 8.2Km in the Gulf area and 4.6Km in the 15M area this day, or 12.6Km total. Not so much but there was a steep climb up from the Tumut with a heavy pack and some tiring walking around the diggings and along the Tumut River.
30th Apr – Day 3
Warning: The area described in this section is incredibly difficult with steep hills, fallen timber, some holes and large dug out or sluiced gullies and thick scrub. Some of the scrub is pricky acacia and dug into my skin through a thick shirt and long trousers. It does not have much scenic value nor any relics that could be recovered. Its really only for anyone interested in old mining sites. It took me most of 8 hours to walk just under 8Km
I was up early at 6.40AM and cooked breakfast on the stove again. The weather was fine again and remained like that until night fall. The campsite was in an open grassy area but quite damp underfoot due to a swamp to the south-east which I had seen initially. It’s probably would have been better to camp 75m to SW.
I left with my day pack at 8.50AM and headed for the main sluice based on DS’s data. I tried to follow the old bridle trail I have created a GPS track for. On the main ridge closest to where I had camped the going was reasonable. It became much harder as I dropped down in a valley to the east of the main ridge. There was a lot of fallen timber requiring a lot of zig zagging. I had to deviate from this route to try and find DS’s 15M Race2 Dam. I got to the spot but could not recognise a dam as such. However it’s possible it may have been although I could not see any races leaving from near here. I was very doubtful. The creek drops quickly below this point.
I returned to the planned route and looked for DS’s next spot ‘15M Race3 Dam’. I could not find anything at the point but close by I found a depression that looked like a dam, Dam3 GH. I could not see any races however the scrub around here was quite thick so seeing anything was hard.
Close by I found a definite race and followed it as best I could as it turned left and appeared to be going in the right direction for 75m or so. Then I was in a more open area and I could see signs of diggings activity which mainly seemed to be a large section of the side of the hillside had been dug or sluiced away. The race seemed to end in this area. I latter thought of the area I was entering as the ‘Western Gullies’ only because they were west of the main sluice gully and they were hard to define and comprehend due to the terrain and thick scrub.
The area was quite steep with this section of diggings high up on a hillside. I could not see the overall area very well nor relate this area to the overall context of 15M so I labelled this section 15MDiggs1 GH with 4 WPs 1a through to 1d.
After the last WP the hillside finished and everything dropped away so I followed it down and across the inevitable ck/gully below to the other side and labelled some work here as 15MDiggs2 GH with WPs 1 & 2. It was only a short length but I seemed to have crossed into another side gully. It was again quite scrubby but after the sluiced hillside stopped I pushed through and joined another quite deep gully/Ck. I could see it opening up to the right so I followed through to the SW and eventually I was able to walk quite easily on a grassy covered creek bed as it opened up some more. I could not see any signs of diggings. I noted that I was now on DS’s spot 15M Sluice which it was not. I could see I was heading upstream on a small creek to an area where I had been close before. So turned around and went back down but had to move uphill to the east a little as the line of the creek dropped significantly and looked very bushy, dark & difficult. Continuing downhill above the creek I came upon another small ridgeline which was obviously scree from diggings so I labelled ‘15MDiggs3 GH’. I then could see a nice small grassy open area some 20m downhill to the east.
This is a nice grassy area and I suspect the miners may have camped here. I deduced after a while and with an outlet to the main exit gully for the Western Gullies that this nice flat grassy area had been sluiced. Some 20m SE of where I came down I found the edge of this small area and could see another large gully which some high sides on its SE side and a large open grassy floor. I quickly realised this might be the main sluice gully.
Instead of entering this area, I took the other direction which led me to another small gully which I suspected was the exit gully for the all the earlier gullies I had visited. It was so I went left and quickly came to the junction with the last major gully. I didn’t go up there but went up the other leg which didn’t go far. I was able to leave that gully and headed through some messy ground and scrub and found myself back at point 15MDiggs2a GH. I then was able to follow the outflow from that area back to the outlet area I had just left at Glyjn2.
I then moved over to an open area I had seen and though I had found another dam. But I am unsure about that now. It had a strong walled embankment on its east side which I eventually worked out it supported a race. Going further north I found a definite dam 15MDam10 GH which had a race coming into it on its east side but the race went around the NW and I could not work out where it went. There were high hills & ridges all around so I was left confused. I suspect something cut along a hillside but was covered in scrub. Going back south I flowed the race south of the dam and it turned left in a small gully which I did not follow. It was heading for the major gully outflow but I suspect it turned north and went along the hillside before dropping down to the Tail Race. More later.
I went back towards the nice camp area but reaching the outflow gully I followed it down a little and could see it disappearing down into the main Tail race. Returning to the nice spot I then entered the Main Sluice Gully and wandered around trying to absorb how it fitted in. I went up stream to the SSW direction close to where DS had point ‘15M Diggs1’. However the main gully finished around here as it became scrubby. However I was able to walk along it most easterly edge and walk a further 40m until near the end of the sluiced eastern side of the hill.
The eastern side of the gully has been seriously sluiced to a very significant height, maybe 40m and you can still see the bare dirt sides. The bottom of the sluice was grassy and not really wet. At the farthest point I went south I could see the gully opening out into the dense forest valley further on but could not see any more sluice impacts.
I went back down to the bottom of the overall gully and was surprised to see that there was no open outlet to the ck/gully below. I could see where water had flowed over a small impression on its east side. So I wondered how all the sluiced-earth had flowed to enter the Trail Race boxes that were supposed to be below the level of the sluice. It didn’t make sense. Had the floor of the gully sunk? Did they dam it up to hold water for ongoing purposes after they stopped sluicing? The embankment at the bottom end looked part of the overall structure and was over 2m high. So this remain a mystery for me.
I had lunch at the nice camp spot from 1PM to around 1.30PM and thought through where I was at and when I would have to head back to my base camp. I deduced I should head back via the main ridgeline by 3PM at least as it would take me a minimum of 1.5 hrs to get back once on the main ridgeline. I nearly got it right. I decided to go downstream and try and find the hut that would be on the left after a creek intersection. I wondered where races were that could bring enough water to sluice out this big gully and where was the header dam. I guessed they were on the far side up the steep near vertical wall. I realised I didn’t have time to look this day.
So I headed down with trepidation into the tail race. I soon saw on the left where the other gully entered and it was big drop. Possibly this had been exacerbated by the miners digging out the tail race. Walking down the TR gully was OK but some initial drops had to be overcome. It then flattened out. I then noticed a race coming alongside the gully from the left or west side. I labelled this race 15MR3X GH with points 1 through 3. It had a definite rocky ridgeline separating it from the main TR. I suspect this race is a continuation of 15MR1.
The race ended as everything flattened out as the valley was joined by another strong creek joining from the SE. Just past this junction I noticed a very rocky creek joining from the left, or west. I decided to take this rocky creek which I thought looked like it had been mined with rocks piled high in the middle. So I followed it west and uphill for about 150m before the rocks largely finished and I could extract myself out of the creek. There were some side gullies to the south but I took small gully off to the right or north. I then blundered around in thick scrub until I entered a large clearing.
I wandered around and looked for hut sites where DS had WPs. I found one possible hut site labelled WP Hut site poss 1 with hinges & nails GH. As it states there were a lot of nails, some hinges and broken glass on this small bare patch. Close to where DS showed Stains Hut site I found what I labelled Strains Hut & Yds site GH. It had some strange metal arrangement with bolts which seemed to be the base for boards that may be part of a hut plus some small posts around which were part of the hut or associated with yards. There was clearly some sort of structure here. I also found some pieces of pipes one close to another site I could not define. I also found a possible hut site as I was leaving up a small hill. It looked like the area may have been flattened which some rocks providing support. Close by there was a squarish hole maybe a prospecting hole with some form of drum or container stuck down in it. As I took a route up from this latter area I found a small piece of corrugated iron with a small cairn nearby.
It was now nearly 3PM so I decided to make the ridgeline that was only200m away, so I headed that way past another nice little clearing.
The main ridgeline that I was just following was a mixture of the same scrub you find all over the mountains, quite thick and head high, plus some nice low scrub that was easy to walk through and some thick prickly acacia that I had not struck that much as yet that was annoying and stung me through my long sleeved shirt and even my long NorthFace trousers. Initially the ridge was reasonably flat and after 500m I came upon a race that was running along the ridge. I labelled it 15MR4X and later I have thought it may have gone down to the east and joined with the first race I came across near Dam3.
Soon I dropped down slightly to a small saddle where I noticed the race again on the west side of the ridge and another race occurred just on my east side which I labelled 15MR5X.
The ridge started to climb again coming out of the small addle and in 30m I came upon a circular dam in the middle of the ridge with both races leaving it on the north side from which I approached the dam. It then had two race coming into one from the SW side probably coming from Rough Ck and one on the SE side which came down the ridgeline and as I continued I kept company with this race for 40m or so before it disappeared off to the east side somewhere. I remembered from earlier in the day some creeks with water on that side and I assume that was the likely source.
It was then a long slog uphill through and around various scrubs and fallen timber slowly turning SE until I reached a Rockfield that straddled the ridgeline. So I climbed onto the bundle of rocks and nearly came a cropper. I started to slip on slippery rocks covered I moss. I put my walking stick down and it broke in two and I struggled to stay upright. I stayed upright and got off the rocks quickly and then it was a short climb and 500m back to my campsite. I was really glad to see the tent still standing as it was now 5.20PM and getting cold and dark.
Today I did 7.9KM. Not much. But gee they were hard Kms.
1st May – Day 4
It was an overcast and windy morning and I was up by 6.30AM. After packing up I went for a walk around to check DS’s ‘15M Diggs7’. I could not find anything although I found around 50m south of my campsite a swampy area with running water.
Then from 9.20AM I headed off but first tried to check out if DS’s ‘15M Diggs8’ was valid. I looked and the only thing of note was a 45m sort of shallow trench with a fruit tree near the southern end. There was no spoil or rocks or holes. I then continued up the ridgeline turning to the SW after a couple of hundred metres and encountering nice open country before using an animal pad to get through some scrub before getting to the top open plateau.
Just before reaching the top plateau I deviated east and revisit the small Dam ‘15M Dam11 Small GH’ that I had first visited on Day 2 and looked for race leaving it. I could not be definite but there was probably one going downhill towards the Gold Lease 6 area containing DS’s ‘15M Diggs5&6’ or it may have flowed down to NE or east where there may have been some diggings. I declined to check as I was tired from the previous day and expected the sites to be minor at best. However it may just be a small dam just below the open plain above and close to the metal bits and bars in rocks.
At the beginning of the open top plateau I revisited the site I had labelled ‘Metal bits’. Some of the metal pieces reminded me of metal at Strains hut site. Was this another hut site? It was flat but on the edge of the plateau and not really protected from the prevailing winds. So it’s probably unlikely. I also went slightly eats to two rock piles that had a bolt sticking out of each I labelled ‘Bar in rocks’ & ‘Bar in rocks2’. I guess these were markers.
I then continued across the large open plateau that then stretched right to the HJR some 500m south. I went down the road a bit to check out those culverts which I convinced myself were just that. I noted an old marker that probably showed the way to an old link track that went south and down to an old 4WD that parallels HJR over the tops to the Linesmens Huts. I was able the follow the old trail a bit but it’s become indistinct and you just need to walk south-east until the main old 4WD is met which is obvious although even that trail is indistinct in places. I think the horse riders and some walkers have used it so much that they have created a parallel footpad that I walked along mostly. It had some thick scrubby section in the middle but I was able to follow it right through to the Linesmens Huts. It was quite windy and cloudy so I had lunch at the huts. Their maintenance for KHA had recently been taken over by the Tumut Bushwalking Club and earlier in 2017 they had had a painting working bee there.
I had planned to leave my pack there or nearby and walk down to Sam’s Diggings but the weather which was threatening to rain at times and my tiredness from the previous day I decided to leave and check out some easy sites around 8Mile instead.
So I walked down the grassy track to HJR to the car. A Snowy Hydro car whizzed past me and didn’t stop.
I drove to Cabramurra getting passed by a racing car, yes two guys in open racing car wearing helmets raced past me as I drove up the hill from Tumut Ponds. Bloody hell we have some stupid drongos on our roads. Note the road was a little wet from some rain as well.
At Cabramurra I went up to the radio Tower which is impressive and high maybe 50m although the topo map says 40r, then I drove to Dry Dam and then up to the access track on the north side some 520m past the dam turnoff. There is a sign at the road that says 01 TL / 11 – 6. My deduction is that this is Transmission Line 01 towers 6 to 11 access. This is probably the Yass No1 330KV line. Along this track there was a gate with two large posts but there is no gate anymore. It’s a good place to park just off the road.
I left the car here and did a walk along the track for 200m until I found it blocked by large fallen tree. So backtracked and went down on the open area and down to a tributary of 8Mile Ck looking for The Ranch. DS’s point is not correct as its right on that creek. I looked across the creek on its open area and found nothing. I crossed the road and then checked for location of the SMA Camp and found a flat likely area. I then walked along the road edge and noticed an embankment that could have been a dam along there but I could not determine its function. I went inland a little and picked up a Nordic ski polled trail. I noticed an old race line flowing the route of the ski trail up hill to the east bit I didn’t follow too far. I cut back to the car and then noticed a race line each side of the road. These all had to be going to the tributary ck that joined the 8Mile Ck shortly below. I never saw any race coming from the main Dam. So I am confused where the water from the dam got to the 8 Mile diggings. I am assuming now it must come from 8Mile Creek but somewhere between Dry Dam and the Link Road.
I returned along the road and was going to stop and look for Crains Hut but couldn’t stop along that section of road. I did drive onto the airstrip and noticed both a weather station and a snow monitoring weather station on the left side of the access road and not much else. I also stopped at the Nordic Shelter. I then drove around to the Link Road and rechecked possible car parking spots, finally finishing at the New Chum Hill visitor carpark and photo’d and GPS’d the Stamper battery
Today I did only 6.6KM on the upper 15 Mile ridge & 1.9Km around Dry Dam area.
I was home by 6.30PM
Overview GPS Map View from Oziexplorer using NSW Land and Property Management Authority approval for display. Others can copy for personal use but need permission to publish. Other GPS Map used Oziexplorer with map base using OzRaster Maps with permission of © BKK Enterprises Pty Ltd, http://www.gpsoz.com.au – Ozraster’s Toolong & Cabramurra digital topo maps were used