31 Mar-2 Apr 2017 – Jagungal Circuit, Kosciuszko National Park
On Fri 31st March 2017 five of us set off from Canberra in 2 Subaru Foresters to drive to Round Mountain in Kosciuszko National Park to walk the 44Km Mt Jagungal circuit, starting from Round Mountain on the Cabramurra to Khancoban Road. Mt Jagungal was also known in the past as Big Bogong. It is Australia’s 7th highest peak.
However we were initially thwarted by the death of the cyclist Mike Hall in a road accident on the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale around 6.30AM whilst riding in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. Luckily we were a little late otherwise we may have been there around the time of his death. With the highway blocked by police, we rerouted to the Boboyan Road through Namadgi and were able to start walking by 11.15AM.
We walked initially to Round Mountain Hut. It is a large corrugated iron stockmen’s hut. Single room 7.2 x 3.6m, unlined, timber floor, bunks, fireplace. It was built by Bailey in 1930s for cattle grazing and burnt in late 1940s; then renovated in 1950s by Faulkiner and Whitehead.
It is on the site of earlier hut with iron shed and storeroom that may have been built pre-1930 and was removed together with a storeroom and shed in the early 1970s. It has a corrugated iron gable roof on sawn timber frame with round timber joists but no ceiling. Also corrugated iron on sapling frame possibly originally having a caneite lining. It has tongue & rooved timber boards with cemented brick section in front of hearth. Small glazed window and two glass louvre windows with flyscreens. It also has a corrugated iron clad on external timber frame with fireplace lined with mortared rocks and cemented brick hearth. There is a snow hatch in the top section of the sloping side of the chimney.
Then we went down the trail to cross the Tumut River for lunch. After we walked along the Farm Ridge trail, which seems to drag on forever, but offered great views over the Tumut Valley as well as of Jagungal as we approached it. Just north of the junction with the GreyMare Trail are the ruins of the old Farm Ridge Homestead which was a pastoral homestead complex including a two-room weatherboard cottage and several outbuildings, yards. It was built for AJ Rial. A brick fireplace remains at cottage site.
Freeman Randell described the history in the NPWS Heritage Action Statement: “The site comprises the remains of the cottage, the southern [sheep] yard and the northern [cattle] yard. The cottage was rectangular with a corrugated iron clad gable roof, horizontal weatherboards, and timber floor and timber piers. The fireplace/chimney was constructed of stone and brick. The cottage site retains some of its timber footings, allowing an understanding of the size of the building, a mound indicating the collapsed chimneys [no fireplace is discernable; various bits of timber and sheets of corrugated roofing iron.
“The southern yard was described a being derelict in the 1940s, however small sections of the yard in amongst the trees remain relatively intact. The northern yard retains enough original fabric to be able to discern its original extent and construction method. The extent of a [post and wire] horse yard is not clearly defined although it is believed to have been several acres in area.” G Gregors’ (a historian from the early 1980’s) photos show a number of building ruins in 1982 suggesting that this was a homestead complex rather than a single hut. The outbuildings may have been stables or sheds.
We stopped and looked at the ruins, seeing the fireplace, lots of old corrugated iron and pieces of an old bed underfoot. On the east side of the track there was more but can’t be determined but a NPWS sign shows a photos of the main buildings. See Google Photos link below.
We walked some 16Km the 1st day walking along Farm Ridge and reaching O’Keefe’s Hut by 5.15PM. We enjoyed a nice night at O’Keefes around the fire with a brilliant starry sky.
O’Keefe’s Hut was built in 1934 by A.S. O’Keefe and his two sons for grazing. O’Keefe had a snow lease in this area although his main property was on the Tooma River. The family stayed at Farm Ridge. Stock were brought in via Theiss Village stock route. Materials for the hut were carted from Old Adaminaby. The Flanigans of Berridale held the lease from 1944 to 1957. The hut has been used since the 1930s by stockmen and later bushwalkers, skiers and horse parties.
An old description can be found by ‘Kiandra’ in the 1935 Ski Yearbook: “O’Keefe’s Hut is newly built (one year old) on the bottom slope and 1 1/2 miles from the summit of Jagungal. It is on the old waggon track (known as Ligar’s Route), between the Grey Mare’s and Farm Ridge, and at a spot known as Galvin’s Camp, 3 1/2 miles from Farm Ridge huts. The exact location is 1 to 1 1/2 miles due north from the Trig Station on Jagungal. It contains no fixed supplies, but may have a small amount of food and bedding.”
Interestingly in the O’Keefe’s hut log book there are listed some grand children and great-grand children of the Rials who originally owned Farm Ridge. (see photo in Google docs link below)
The hut burnt down in the 2003 bushfires and was rebuilt on a new site 40m southwest of the original hut in 2009.
Day 2 we walked along the Greymare Trail to the Tumut River, dropped our packs at a small campsite, and all tried to climb the mountain on a track that starts at this location. Three of us made it but unfortunately the other two were not feeling the best so turned around. At the top we met 2 teachers and 10 students from Scots School Albury.
We all had lunch at the campsite then walked around to and camped near Derschkos Hut. Unfortunately they all had raced ahead and missed the turn off to Derschkos and continued on for a Km or so until they realised their mistake and returned to see Derschkos clearly from that direction. Coming to Derschkos from the east you take a steep but short and vague track left as soon as you strike the ridge with trees after crossing the saddle that separated the Tumut from the Tooma catchment. We enjoyed a nice spot on the ridge north of Derschos and could see the sunset and sunrise over Jagungal. We were able to get water from near Derschkos where three people from Batlow & Orange were camped. The night brought a slight breeze and was cold.
Derschkos Hut. It is the site of weatherboard SMA survey & hydrology hut of 3 rooms including 1 main room, 2 bedrooms plus separate locked shed and toilet. It is 20 x 20 ft or 4.5 x 5.5m.
The weatherboards were painted pale brown outside but are now white. It was lined with painted masonite. It has an enclosed entranceway. It had Timber floorboards with lino covering. The lino is now removed. It also has a board type external door and internal doors removed. It also has 4 glazed windows with aluminium frame and winders. There is also a small potbelly stove and flue.
It was built 1950s, originally bright orange. It was reclad with Hardiplank & double-glazed windows in 1990s. It was built by SMA for survey purposes, and named after a hydrologist named Derschko who used the hut from time to time. It is no longer used by SMA. It was maintained by SMA with no direct KHA involvement prior to 1990. It was previously partially locked for SMA use only, with the outer section available for public use from 1973 but was totally locked for a time in late 1980s. The SMA handed over control of the hut in October 1990 to NPWS. All contents were removed by SMA including 2 interior doors, stove, 2 bunks, 7 chairs, curtains, map, bucket, box and broom. The hut was renovated in recent years with new cladding on the north side to remove fibro and also with new flooring as well as external painting.
Day 3 was cold and slightly foggy but that soon burnt off to a cool but sunny day.
We walked back to Round Mountain reaching there by 2PM (Daylight savings time). Two of us stopped to view the old hut ruin known as Richard’s Break hut.
We visited this site along the Round Mountain Trail which is on the Toolong Range 7.5km south of Round Mountain. The hut site lies 50m west of the trail in a copse of snowgums, with a steep low ridge as a backdrop to the west. Apparently there were large yards in a clear areas to west and south, the clear areas can still be seen but most of the yards must have been burnt in 2003.
The site is a ruin of a stockmen’s hut with much material remaining and associated chock and log sheep yards. Six small corrugated iron pyramid-shaped dog kennels are located near north west of the hut. We could see these although they seemed quite small for kennels. The hut is recorded to have a gable roof of ripple (small pitch corrugated) iron on round timber rafters and battens tied with wire. Corrugated iron on round timber poles. Probably earth floor, however, a single slab remains underneath debris. There was a large fireplace at side of hut, however, no rocks were evident.
The chock and log sheep yards built by Tom Richards in the 1920s were known as ‘the break’ hence the name of this site. They were to house sheep and protect them from dingos overnight. The hut was built by Evans Woodhouse in the 1940s for grazing and was used as a shelter during droving of sheep or cattle along the stock route past the hut. The hut was still standing in 1969 but collapsed before 1975 as evidenced by photos provided by Ruth Nicholas of Corryong. It’s marked on 1:50,000 Khancoban map as a “Ruin”. The hut collapsed in the early 1970s & most materials still remain on site, some iron being stacked or strewn around. An old timber ladder repaired with modern screws lies near the dog kennels.
We found one broken bottle dated 1931 as being the property of James Buchanan Bottling Company. It was originally a UK Scotch whisky company that eventually became owned by Diageo in the UK which now owns the Buchanan brand.
Overall we walked 43.6Km although the rest walked an extra 3-5Km as they missed the turnoff to Derschkos.
On the way back three of us saw another cyclist on the Snowy Mtns Highway & again on the Monaro Highway near Cooma risking danger alongside these narrow roads. These roads carry numerous 4Wheel-drive vehicles, semi-trailers, some B doubles and even logging trucks. They are quite dangerous at times and many drivers do not drive with care.
Thanks to Geri, Brad, Jessica (Jess) and Ashlea (Ash) for a great walk and stimulating conversations. Hut information from historian David Scott.
Access: Round Mountain Trackhead Car Park is on the Cabramurra to Khancoban Road accessed either from Khancoban in the south, or from the Snowy Mountains Highway (B72) from the north by taking the Kiandra to Cabramurra Link Road then the road down over Tumut Ponds Dam. The Link Road and road to Khancoban are narrow in places and winding. The Car park is around 260Km from Canberra via Cooma and takes around 3.25 hours (less via the Boboyan Road through Namadgi). It is bitumen all the way unless you go through Namadgi. Note that in winter the Tumut Pond Dam Road may be closed in winter at the Cabramurra Road end and also near Khancoban.
Distances: Round Mountain Car Park to O’Keefe’s Hut via Round Mountain Hut, the Tumut River and Farm Ridge is 15.8Km with small detours to Round Mountain Hut and the site of the farm Ridge Homestead.
O’Keefe’s Hut to the Tumut River point where the trail to Mt Jagungal starts is 5.0Km. The track up to Mt Jagungal return is 5.7Km. Then from the Tumut River point to Derschkos Hut is 2.3Km. So O’Keefe’s Hut to Tumut River, Mt Jagungal then to Derschkos is 13Km. There is also an optional deviation to view a waterfall created by the Tumut River crossing over the GreyMare FT and plunging down a small rocky falls into the valley below. Its not that impressive unless the snow melt is current. Its 300-350m return by walking NE from the junction post of the Round Mountain and Greymare Trails. Derschkos Hut to Round Mountain Car Park is 14.3Km. A detour to Richard’s Break hit site will only take another 200m.
Altitudes: Round Mountain Car Park is about 1600m high; Round Mountain Hut is 1510m; Tumut River (lowest point) is 1310m; Farm Ridge Homestead site 1580m; O’Keefe’s Hut 1620m; Tumut River point where the trail to Mt Jagungal starts 1650m ; Mt Jagungal 2062m; Derschos Hut 1600m
GPS files and Topographic Map Extract on Google Drive 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.