Koscisuszko National Park. A 5 day 88Km hard walking trip from Kiandra to 4 Mile Hut, Tabletop Area, Boltons Hill hut site, Boltons Hill Diggings, Brooks Hut, Greymare and Tabletop Trails and Broken Dam Hut. Quite long hard days. Was lucky with very good weather.
[provided as record of an old trip visiting many sites around Tabletop, Bolton’s Hill area]
Featured Image is view from Brooks Hut across my tent over the Upper Happy Jacks Creek
This is a report on a 5 day 88Km walking trip from Kiandra to 4 Mile Hut, Tabletop Area, Boltons Hill hut site, Boltons Hill Diggings, Brooks Hut, Greymare and Tabletop Trails and Broken Dam Hut.
The main aim was to revisit old sites, recheck the Tabletop South race, try and find Boltons Hill hut site, re-examine the Mulligans Ck No2 (Boltons Hill) Diggings, look around Clearhill along the Greymare Trail, and look between Broken Dam and 4 Mile Hut.
GPS readings of important sites were done using a Garmin Oregon 450 connected to 10-12 satellites and averaged over 1-2 minutes to provide a 100% reliable reading. In the GPS file/Maps the red waypoints are incorrect points, the green are sites not checked but may be valid, blue points are those I GPS’d.
Pictures referenced are from Google Photos
Information on Boltons Hill Hut site and Diggings is updated since Trip of April 2011
Day 1 – Mon 17th October
Left Canberra at 6.45AM and drove to Pollock’s Gully, Kiandra arriving at 9.45AM. Parked near the upper hut, but found I had left my GPS, camera and gloves at home. So I drove back to Canberra, found them and returned arriving at the top of the Gully at 4.30PM.
I left the car left, feeling pretty disappointed with myself and also tired, having driven around 660Km. What an idiot! I agree!
I reached 4 Mile Hut around 6.10PM and set up my tent. I had by then walked around 7.2Km.
At least the weather was good but the night was pretty cold. I was of course behind in my schedule. Pic 1
Day 2 – Tue 18th October
Arose at 6.10AM and left 4 Mile at 9.00AM in a cold frosty morning.
Four Mile Hut and Diggings pics 2-4.
I went up to the Tabletop Trail and took it along to 9Mile. The ants were ferocious wherever one stopped.
Approaching 9Mile I noticed the dam about 200m upstream from where the trail crossed the creek. Pics 6-10.
Climbing up the side of 9Mile to where the trail crests and turns south I crossed a couple of races which I tried to record.
Race from Diggings GPS 633859 6019202; Big Race Downhill GPS 633877 6019239
Big Race Crosses trail GPS 633914 6019217; Race Crosses from NE GPS 633932 6019210
I also picked up the race that apparently comes from 9Mile Ck across the top and to the header dam. It seems to cross the FT near where it turns and then again just above the large sluice gully. Pic 11.
Race to Header Dam from 9MileCk (R1) crosses FT GPS 633965 6019088
Race to Header Dam from 9MileCk (R3) crosses FT GPS 634021 6018979
It was unclear if this race actually entered the header dam and it seems to join with a race coming out of the header dam and running 10m down to the top of the sluice gully.
I continued on to where the old bridle trail leaves the Tabletop Trail and heads down to Temperance Ck area and had lunch at the cairn marker. I also went across to the Tabletop Hut Site and took more pictures. There are some 5-6 pieces of corrugated iron lying around the site. I found it mentioned in Huts of the High Country. Pics 13-16.
Tabletop Hut site GPS 636415 6017322
I then tracked down passed the open swampy area below the hut site keeping well to the south and it’s not too bad going. I came out at the end of the Tabletop South race, where there is a form of embankment barrier below the swamp that captures the water coming down. Pics 17-20. At the southern end there is a small creek coming down into the embankment. Of course this all fed the Tabletop South race. I could not find any race coming from below to join the embankment, but there is a small race joining the creek at the southern end of the embankment about 30m above where the creek finishes. Pic 21. I have labelled where this race starts (really finishes) as Waypoint TTRX (Tabletop Race Extension). Whilst you could call it part of the race passed Tabletop, it is technically detached from the actual main race by 30m and it actual size is very much smaller over most of its length compared to the main race.
Tabletop South Race Extension Finishes GPS 636342 6017066
The first 20-30m of the race extension is very indistinct and shallow. Pic 22. It then gets slightly deeper but is similar to races in most areas around here, whereas the main Tabletop race is quite large and deep.
I followed this race 1.4Km all the way around to where it seemed to terminate as it met with another swampy area and small creek. Pic 23.
Tabletop South Race Extension Starts GPS 637117 6016644
It generally follows close to where DS said it would although east to the Temperance Bridle Trail it’s further south. Where it crosses that bridle trail I left my pack. It was indistinct around here as traffic must have trampled it and if you didn’t know it went passed, you would miss it.
There was one major issue with this race extension. At GPS 636264 6016725 it takes a large ~4 foot drop into a small gully that then joins a side gully and it continues on to the embankment and main race discussed earlier. Can’t say I have seen a drop in the middle of a race like this, except near Bendigo Vic where you find the Dissipators on the long Coliban Water Channel. However it’s much more than a normal race. I took a picture of this drop but for some reason I don’t have it. I must have not pressed the shutter properly. Some of the race extension was easy to walk in but many parts has scrub and fallen trees.
I returned from the end of the race extension and went to find my pack. Then I turned around and saw 12-15 wild pigs making whoopee on a swampy area on Temperance Ck I was about to cross. Pic 24. There were large old fellas, younger pigs and a couple of very small piglets. They made a mess.
I crossed the swampy area, part of the old bridle trail and the pigs scattered to the west. I followed the route, although in places there is no sign of the trail and continued right on to near the Boltons Hill Trail. On the way down from the top of Boltons Hill there was a tractor parked by the side of the track but no one around. Pic 26. This had been used to clear scrub away from the track. Whilst Boltons Hill trail is easy walking there are a couple of nasty climbs to its top, not nice after a hard day.
I took the trail all the way to where the old Boltons Hill Hut access track took off and in the saddle area around there I pitched my tent. I then thought about water and luckily there is an easy route to the east into a nice open grassy valley at the head of Boltons Creek about 250m away. There is nice water on the far side just below the main ridgeline. This valley looked like a nice route down to the diggings for the next day.
Campsite on saddle near Boltons Hut GPS 632887 6014957
Water from Boltons Ck GPS 633069 6014884
I reached the campsite at 5.45PM and did 22.4Km this day. That night I had mobile (NextG) reception from Cabramurra Snowy Hydro tower (or maybe Mt Selwyn Tower) that I could see and rang the wife.
Day 3 – Wed 19th October
I got up at 6.10AM and had breakfast anticipating a long difficult search around the gully and steep slopes where Boltons Hills hut site was supposed to be.
The morning was very frosty, cold but clear and sunny later. I left my tent to defrost and took a bum bag with maps and data, GPS and camera to search for Boltons Hill hut site at 8.30AM.
I had collated all the data available, loaded all relevant GPS waypoint onto my GPS and also created a search circle in RED in which I thought the site would be. It was largely around the southern KHA reading but included the northern reading. I was very convinced it was not as far north as David Scott or the HHMIS readings as that area seemed to me to be way too steep and covered with very prickly difficult scrub.
I initially went down the start of the old trail but that disappeared quickly and thick scrub started, although it was not prickly. I was trying to follow my estimate of the old FT down towards the northern KHA site and then I would undertake an anticlockwise search around my search circle.
My route from the campsite is in blue and I came down just north of the KHA site and found it slightly too scrubby. I then worked my way around and south and reached a strange large boulder flow – an open field of large boulders, granite I think, that you can easily walk over, although it is sloped. I deviated east slightly to check out a small ck, ck1 on the map.
I then walk across and up the boulder flow and passed just to the north of the KHA south site. I then heard water flowing to the north and headed over there. It was the same creek as from below to the west. I followed it as short distance but it seemed to disappear into boulder and scrub. However I noticed an unusual track like feature though the edge of the boulders, as though someone had moved boulders to create a waking path to the creek and boulder flow. It headed north east.
I was now outside my search circle however the instance of water an unnatural feature of the track made me follow and up a small rise. Then I saw a star picket with the back of something shinny in the sunlight. Getting close it looked like a sign. Then I was on a small plateau which was unusual as all the other ground around was sloped. And there was an old stove, more signs around and lots of corrugated iron. Pics 27-31.
After walking, really stumbling around this stark and difficult landscape I felt elated. Boltons Hill Hut site at last!
Bolton’s Hill Hut site GPS 632567 6015213
But damn it the signs said keep out asbestos contaminated site! So I walked around the edge of the site and took several pictures. It was still quite early, around 0910 in the morning and the air was clean with no breeze at all. There were some iron pieces separated to the north about 10m. The toilet or kitchen. I don’t know. The stove was sitting at the main area on the western edge of the small plateau.
I took a risk and carefully walked across some scrub and lots of corrugated iron to the middle and took a clean averaged waypoint. Under the iron and scrub I could clearly see very small pieces of fibre (asbestos) which has been totally fractured and broken up in the 2003 fires. It looks quite stable and obviously has settled down due to the snow and rain over the preceding 8 years. There was certainly no dust at all. The conditions were in fact perfect for visiting this site.
I took an easy route back through limited vegetation to the saddle and that is the best route if anyone should really wish to go there. From the saddle just head down aiming for the Cabramurra tower.
Downloading the data later I had a quandary. The site is on border between 2 maps and it’s very difficult to determine, but the Cabramurra map looks likely.
The site is closest to the KHA 23084 southern site. KHA needs to merge data from its DB ID 10017 and 23084 and probably delete 10017.
I have written a separate report on Searching for Bolton’s Hill Hut Site 2011.
I then regained the previous night campsite and had to pack my tent and pack.
Then at 10.15AM I headed down into the upper Boltons Creek valley dropping off the saddle I had camped in. There is an obvious old bridle trail with a deep rut in places that I could follow for about 2.5Km heading gradually downhill in a SE direction. The going was generally easy and grassy.
I then had to head slightly south to avoid a small gorge being formed by the Creek, and the swinging east and down into a side valley and shortly rejoining the main valley, although it more constricted than before.
I was now travelling roughly east down the valley – then I spotted a small race as I started walking in it. I had expected to see one eventually but not so soon. I suspected this was related to the Mulligans Ck No2 diggings that David Scott had put me onto early in 2011. So I turned west and followed the race up along the edge of the small valley. Eventually I came to a spot that I took a waypoint of which is the first sign of the race, which I labelled MRace2Start (Stands for Mulligans Ck Race2 Start point). Pic 32. However there was a small waterfall just west of the WP, Pic 33, which is obviously where they had obtained the water.
Mulligans Ck No2 Diggings Race 2 Start 633496 6014004
Then I turned around and decided to follow the race around to the Diggings and expecting the race to join up with the race I had discovered in April.
The going was easy for 250m or so until it started to turn SE across an open field, and then SW as it cut across a hillside. I still thought this might be the same race, although it seemed a bit higher than it should be. As I got further to the SW it became harder with thick scrub and fallen timber on the eastern edge of the ridgeline as it dropped down onto the plain below. As the race turned more southerly it became very difficult to follow, so I had to make a few deviations. It then entered more open country and then and open area surrounded by a small embankment.
Mulligans Ck No2 Diggings Race 2 End 633387 6013522. This race is about 810m long.
I eventually realised that this was a Header Dam. Pics 34-36. The dam is about 20m N-S and 40M E-W. I could eventually see that a race exited and went down to where it dropped down into large sluice gully. This small race is only about 70m long. Since I had been to the gully before I could easily understand the arrangement.
Mulligans Ck No2 Diggings Race 2 Header Dam 633384 6013511
I now knew this race was not the same one as I had partially tracked in April. Crikey there were two races and both ended up serving the Sluice Gully. The first race joins with the short race that comes down from the Header dam and they enter the Sluice Gully in one small channel. So why did Race 1 enter the other race and then the Gully without any holding dam? Was it a mistake then they built a second race and holding dam. I guess we will never know.
I then walked around the top of the large Sluice Gully. It’s quite large and at the northern top end around 15-20m deep and in the middle maybe 25-35m deep. The gully is roughly 100m long and 50m wide. At the top it just starts from nothing as the race enters it. At the bottom it peters out onto an open plain. The exit at the bottom is a narrow channel obviously where a lot of water and filling flowed. There is no creek at the top feeding the gully. The whole thing looks artificial, like the Nine Mile Sluice Gully. Pics 37-40.
I then went across to where I knew there was a small dam and some small gullies. I checked out some of the gullies as I went around and back across to the bottom of the Sluice Gully as it was not safe to wander straight down it. I came across a lot of pig damage in the open grassy fields in this area.
There are something like 5-7 small gullies in this area that tend to flow SW-NE and down into a tributary creek of Boltons Ck. The northern most gully has a small dam which seemed to feed some of the gullies with water. The gullies stretch for around 150m along the west side of the tributary creek. Pics 41-42.
I stopped for lunch next to the small dam which 30-40m long. Dam Wall 633631 6013503
It would be possible to camp on some of the ground just above the gullies and obtain water from the tributary creek mentioned around 150m to the NE.
I then headed to the North and NE trying to pick up where the first race went. I had tracked part of it back in April. I eventually picked it up near the open plain mentioned earlier. I took some waypoints and followed it around the ridge to the south, east then north of that plain area. In parts it was scrubby forcing me to walk 10-30 metres away, but the northern part along Boltons Ck valley was open and easy.
The 170m between the earlier track and WP MRace1P5 I have reconstructed, but walked the alignment of the rest. The race actually reaches Bolton Ck again, only 100m east of the where Race2 starts. Pics 43-44.
The race starts at a nice spot on Boltons Ck with some cascades below. Pics 45-46.
Mulligans Ck No2 Diggings Race 1 Start 633592 6014050. This race is about 1.3Km long.
Mulligans Ck No2 Diggings Race 1 End 633365 6013453. The race ends at a junction where it joins the race from the header dam and just above the Sluice Gully.
Why Mulligans Ck No2 Digging?
This naming comes from David Scott who has also provided information on Mulligans Ck No1 Diggings. These are high up on the headwaters of Mulligans Ck and 500m to the west of the old Arsenic Ridge route. They are easily accessible off Boltons Hill Trail pretty much opposite where you joining the trail coming down the old Bride trail from Tabletop.
They are quite uninspiring being largely dug up mounds and rock along the creek just below where it drops down from a higher level swamp.
David’s rational for naming Mulligans Ck No 2 is based on a NSW Department of Mines Annual Report 1950 page 102 which says “(iv) Minor Localities: (d) Mulligan’s Creek. Two small open cuts occur on the north side of Mulligan’s Creek, near its junction with Happy Jack’s River. These are in the Tertiary deep lead deposits, and no departmental records of them exist.
Sub item (a) also mentions Crooks Racecoure diggings which they state span both sides of the divide in Macgegors Ck and the Gungarlin River. Again they have no departmental records.
To me this is discussing something closer to Mulligans Ck which I planned to visit but had insufficient time to attempt. Its about 1.2Km from the diggings to the junction of Happy Jacks River and Mulligans Ck. Maybe there is some open cuts near the junction alhtough it hard to check on Google Earth because of the rocks and clifflines in that area.
Recently I found another report
“AUSTRALIAN ALPS MINING HERITAGE CONSERVATION & PRESENTATION STRATEGY, APPENDIX 8, MINING SITES, & LANDSCAPES: Page 186: Bolton’s Hill: A small, isolated patch of diggings on tertiary gravels (deep lead) exists to the west of Mulligan’s Creek, on a spur between Bolton’s Creek and the Happy Jack’s River.
Fairbridge, Fitzpatrick, Goldflam & McPhee, “Report of Geological Survey of the Bolton’s Hill – ‘M’ Bend Area of the Happy Jack’s River on the Adaminaby-Tumut Tunnel Line”, June 1951 (Map).”
However my thought is that the diggings above are better labelled Bolton’s Hill Diggings.
I then left the diggings and headed south east along open country to cross Boltons Creek and climb up and over the ridge and down in the Mulligans Ck valley. Near where I crossed it, it is very steep and narrow. Exposed rock can be seen firther down the creek. I then climbed up the other side and still on a SE direction crossed a large open plain and ridge system in warm conditions. I crossed two more small creeks before climbing up onto another ridge system. For the last 500m or so it was east up and through a high swamp area that marks the top of Arsenic Ridge.
I did cut across a North-South distinctive animal pad either pigs/horses that seemed to follow the ridgeline.
Whilst here I looked for the other hut that was supposed to be NW of Brooks. As usual I found no sign of this site which I think is one of those phantom listing that got onto the KHA DB. I then went down the creek and onto the plain near Brooks hut which was only 300m to the south. I reached Brooks at 4.30PM.
Unknown Site near Brooks GPS 636812 6011884. GPS derived from KHA listing of GR 367 117. This was apparently a Gatis Gregors listing.
I did only 12.9Km this day. However I was damn tired as tracking those races is slow and hard work. Also walking across the many ridges between Boltons and Brooks is slow and tiring.
At Brooks I am still intrigued where one is supposed to get water. I was able to get water from the small creek 300m north of the hut. However I doubt in mid summer if that could be done. One would seem to have to go down to Arsenic Creek to get water. It’s about 500m east of the hut and down about 15m.
Also I was intrigued by a couple of small dark birds with red marking that used the entrance of Brooks as hang gliding type of zone. They would swiftly fly into the entrance area and seemingly hand suspended above the doorway before scurrying away when they saw me. They were very graceful and seemed to enjoy what they were doing.
The ground outside Brooks is a bit slopped and not the best place for a flat tent site. I guess in snow time the snow would even out the ground.
Brooks Hut GPS 636918 6011641 (Taken March 2011) Pics 47-48
Day 4 – Thu 20th October
Awoke at 6.15AM but didn’t leave until 9.15AM.
I followed the old access track to the Happy Jacks Rd. However I had to cross the Happy Jacks River. I used my old zippered gaiters on top of my newish Scarpa boots and crossed without getting wet boots.
I walked up the road to the junction of the GreyMare and Tabletop FTs, left my pack here and headed south along the Greymare FT. I decided to look for the supposed hut on the Clearhill parish area that David Scott had found on a portion map.
This turned out to be an 8Km extra deviation that I felt at the end of the day, even not carrying a pack. I did look around the Clearhill area which is very open but quite undulating and slow walking. I also had to cross both Barney’s Ck and McKeahnies Cks the latter using gaiters to avoid getting wet feet. Pic 50
However I found nothing there nor anything around Barney’s Ck. KHA had references to another unknown hut here at GPS 638113 6009084. But there is nothing there unless the GR is wrong. GPS derived from KHA listing of GR 380 089. This was apparently another Gatis Gregors listing.
I regained my pack around midday and went north 1Km before lunching.
I then continued on across the swampy ground here. I turned east just before Dr Phillips site and explore and old cattle yards site. The four main corner posts are still there.
I GPS’d the four corners which are:
Yards NE 639099 6010423, YDS NW 639033 6010499, YDS SE 639058 6010396, YDS SW 638993 6010474. Pics 52-53.
I noticed old wheel tracks going up the incline north of the yards and deduced they must have gone north to the old Dr Phillips site.
I continued on to the Tolbar Road junction then took the Tabletop track north finding the climbing strenuous and the weather warm.
I stopped in a saddle north of the Happys Hut turnoff to look for the Sheep yards that David Scott has on his map but could find no signs of any yards. However there is an old 3 strand wire fence running north south just 10m to the east of the FT. I tracked it over 100m and took two Waypoints. Note that the wire strands are largely on the grounds and covered by grass.
Sheep Yards & Dip on Tabletop Trail (DS site) 640535 6013905. Not found.
I then continued on passed, the Dip, passed the Boltons Hill trail junction, found some water at a soak.
I planned to look for Sites 38 and 41 of DS on Waterhole Creek area. However I was so tired that I put my head down and headed passed Tabletop and onto to Broken Dam hut reaching here at 6.40PM. I had done some 30.6Km mostly on tracks.
It’s not the easiest place to camp at with a tent especially when it getting dark. And finding water was messy in the dark. I note the hut has no bunks which seems common in the new huts like Boobee, Brooks and now Broken Dam.
It also lacks somewhere to store wood, with wood stored on the verandah to the left of the door.
I found it hard to cook on the fireplace in side so used my gas stove.
Broken Dam Hut GPS 635169 6020286
Day 5 – Fri 21st October
Broken Dam Hut pics 56-59, 67, 68. I awoke at 6.30AM but didn’t leave until 10.00AM.
I read some notes in the log book (Pics 60-61, 65) and trundled down to the actual Broken Dam to explore around here.
Broken Dam (the dam wall middle) GPS 635411 6020027. Pics 62-64.
I could see the race leaving the eastern side and heading around the ridge to the south to presumably get to the South Bloomfield Diggings.
I also noticed a race coming into the dam from the SW and took two WPs. Pic 64.
Race Enters Dam (BDR1) GPS 635371 6020029
I then left and went cross country in the direction of the old road that ran from near Broken Dam down to the east of 4Mile Hut. I had got this off the map done by Paddy Kerrigan on the 1:50000 base. I had transcribed (as best as you can) manually from the topo map onto Oziexplorer and loaded onto my GPS
I was not planning to follow all of it only the short cut across to near the Tabletop FT and maybe some sites around 4Mile.
I had some trouble with the road and never saw any cuttings or grooves. However, I did find two large cairns along the rough alignment of the road. These I GPS’d. I also came across another race. Initial finding was 600m west of Broken Dam Hut.
I had trouble determining where this race was going. It zigged and zagged more than most races. It also disappeared near the first cairn on a large rocky area that sloped north. I lost the race here and later concluded it must have run on a flume across the rocky area and then SW. I have now concluded that the race was in fact taking water from 9Mile Creek around the ridgeline to the north and back south to Broken Dam. Which lines up with the race coming into the dam. This needs more ground checking and map checking on levels as the race would have had to cross the upper reaches of Broken Dam Creek. Alternatively the race was taking water from Broken Dam Creek to 9 Mile Ck to add to its flow. That then leaves open the question as to where the race into Broken Dam came from. It then could only be Tabletop Creek. The other factor is the diggings at Bloomfield/Elaine Mine are much later than 9 Mile.
Signs of another race south point (R11) GPS 634536 6020299
Signs of another race north point (R15) GPS 634180 6020715
Kerrigan’s map also shows the race being noted at a point SW of the 4Mile-Broke Dam road and on a contour that would take it to or from 9 Mile Ck. This needs further work and maybe this can form the basis of a new trip for 2012.
I followed the route of old road and ended up pretty much on the Tabletop Track so continued on it.
One of the first good water points you come to on the Tabletop Track after leaving Kiandra is a distinctive creek 1KM SW of 4Mile Hut. It’s at GPS 632756 6021901.
Just to the west of this spot I think could be a great protected grassy Campsite GPS 632714 6021904 with plenty of wood around.
I went back down towards 4Mile Hut, but took the side creek to the north and looked for three hut sites marked on Kerrigan’s map. I did not find any as the area is heavily dug over and the map is not of high enough scale. However the site closest to 4 Mile looks prospective with some piles of stones possibly marking a hut. Pics 69-70.
Kerrigan’s Possible Hut site 1 GPS 633385 6023184
I reached the car at 3.30PM having done 15.4Km today. Overall about 88.2Km.
Diagrams and Pictures Available
Pictures of this trip are available on Google Photos. Pictures were uploaded as 1024 pixels wide and if you download you will get that size. The original pictures are all ~4320 x 2432, 16:9, 10.5 Megapixels, ~ 5Mbytes. The sketch/maps are either 1600, or 1800 pixels wide.
It includes 20 special sketches and scans and GPS Topo map extracts showing my daily routes and the overall trip & 4 hand drawn sketches.
A Google Drive folder contains the following:
- One Google earth kmz file covering the trip but not extra routes
- One GPX file covering the trip data and other data used
- Separate file of this report of this trip and an excel file
Greg Hutchison, 27 Nov 2011; Updated 19 Dec 2011 [Updated 17 Nov 2017]