This was a 5 days and 64Km hardish walk from Gungarlin River campsite to Kidmans Hut, then Great Divide, Geehi Valley, Mt Jagungal, Mawsons Hut, and back to Kidmans. I climbed Mt Jagungal attaining great views around and especially down to the Main Range.
The featured image is a view of writer Greg at Mawsons Hut
Kosciuszko National Park – Gungarlin Valley & Jagungal Area
On 7th Nov 2017 I set off from Canberra and headed to the Gungarlin River campsite via way of Eucumbene Rd, Nimmo Hill and the Powerline Trail. The purpose of this trip was to undertake a similar journey to past visits and try and climb Jagungal from the east by camping on the upper Geehi River. I was also considering re-visiting Bluff Tarn and the Alpine hut site as well as checking out an old route from Dead Horse Creek down to Kidmans. Exhaustion & pending bad weather ruled out the last options. This was planned as a 60Km trip in around 4-5 days. I ended up doing about 64Km.
Day 1 – Tue 7th Nov
My start was delayed by one day due to a heavy rain event on Mon 6th. I left home in Canberra at 6.30AM and stopped at Maccas Cooma for coffee and breakfast as well as petrol and reached the Gungarlin River by about 10.30AM. Some of the Nimmo Road was in poor condition. After leaving the Eucumbene Rd it’s about 17.1Km of dirt road which after Nimmo Hill becomes quite rough. Before reaching the parking spot I re visited the ex CSIRO Research hut which is on the right about 1 Km inside the park boundary. It seems in fair condition.
Gungarlin River Car Park GPS reading 638932 5987829, altitude 1300m approx.
I started the walk at the Gungarlin River at about 11.05AM and walked out on the trail that goes out past Davey’s Hut. The morning was quite nice with a cool southerly wind, but sunny.
Across the plain near Diggers Ck I saw a huge mob of around 20 kangaroos and over past Campbell’s Ck and Teddy’s Ck I saw about a dozen brumbies.
I then followed the old bridle trail, still a 4WD to the location of Mill Flat where apparently Jardine’s had a saw mill. I now think a small mound on the south side of the creek is probably the location of the old mill. I then continued up through the still discernible trail to near the old morning tea shelter spot that people used to use on the way to the old Alpine Hut. There is still a couple of small sheets of corrugated iron lying around. Near here I deviated to check out an area that is suitable for camping with nice grass, plenty of fallen timber and twigs and with water not that far to the east.
I then followed the old bridle trail up and over the range at Little Brassy Gap (1620m, GPS reading 633935 5991626) and then down to Kidman’s Hut.
I made Kidmans Hut about 3.15PM without too many issues. The grass area in front of Kidmans had improved since my last visit and after previous significant pig damage. However the scrub continues to cover the large plain in front of Kidmans reducing grass space for camping.
My GPS reading for Kidman’s Hut is 631845 5991223, altitude 1515m
I was tired so put up my tent, collected some firewood and also water from the creek nearby. I had to put on warm clothes and a beanie as it was quite cold.
Because of the previous days heavy rain all the wood was wet and I had to use my slurp tube continuously to keep the fire going until a pool of ashes built up. Yes using a 7-8mm hollow plastic tube of 400-600mm length you can direct strong amount of oxygen onto a struggling fire and keep it going. It’s also useful for getting water out of swamps and cracks in limestone cliffs.
I could hear the Burrungubugge River quite clearly in the background as water roared down the gorge. I also did a quick trip over towards the Burrungubugge to see what the terrain looked like and I could see a quite wide river and the area up the nearby Dead Horse Ck looked quite thick.
I also considered that if there was a lot of snow coverage on the Brassy’s and Jagungal that it would slow me down. I also thought if there was good weather on Sat 11th I might try and visit the Gungarlin dredge site. As it turned out the snow was not that bad and I didn’t get to visit the dredge.
I went to bed around 9PM and read some of my Kindle.
I had done 12.8Km today.
Day 2 – Wed 8th Nov
I arose around 5.30AM in a very cold clear morning and left about 8.05AM taking the old route up through the Burrungubugge Gorge to just above the cascades onto the plateau where McDonald’s Diggings are by 9.10AM which was good going. A lot of the gorge track is a bit overgrown although parts are still easy and fast. I saw 4 brumbies in the area above the diggings.
I made the plateau below the Mailbox where the Burrungubugge starts in a large swamp before it drops down through the gorge, by 10.30AM and stopped for a quick morning break.
I then turned right and followed a ridgeline around until crossing over a large swampy area before reaching a large snow drift where I turned right and followed it up to a saddle which led onto the Bulls Peak Ridge.
Some of the old trail was still discernible but is much is now harder to follow and some completely covered with scrub such as Bossiaea sericea. (‘Bushwalkers lament‘ my label)
I had lunch along the ridge. I then continued and reached Smiths Perisher where I turned left and climbed to a small ridge which I followed north for a while before turning left and then dropping down to McAlister Saddle. I had to deviate around a huge snow drift that blocked the route before climbing the ridge to the west which is the Toolong Range and then dropping down along the route of the old bridle trail to the Geehi River, near where the river splits into an eastern & western branch. I then hopped across the eastern branch and walked up along its western side until I could find a suitable spot at which to camp which I did by 4.30PM.
Today I only did 14.0Km. However I climbed from 1515m to 1850m, then dropped down to 1800m on the Geehi River campsite. I was tired. I hadn’t carried a heavy pack for a while.
Day 3 – Thu 9th Nov
I arose at 5.45AM and left after breakfast on my stove just outside my tent, at 7.30AM.
I had left my tent up to defrost and dry and took with me my camera, GPS and EPIRB in a day pack up a ridgeline and across the tops to reach Mt Jagungal.
I initially climbed up to the north along a ridge I think I climbed once before. It took me to a small prominent peak at the eastern end of ridgelines that formed a continuous ridge walk to Mt Jagungal. On the walk up I started to get amazing views out south to the Snowy Main Range as well as into Victoria. From this little eastern peak I could look down to Jagungal Saddle and across to the ridgeline near Cesjacks Hut area. I called this peak East Peak5, and the named the further peaks I climbed on the way to Mt Jagungal, East Peak 4 through to East Peak1. I think East Peak4 was the highest excluding Jagungal itself, although East Peak1 is quite high. I able to visit all and GPS the tops, except for East Peak 2 which has two large boulders on its peak and were too steep to climb.
I reached Mt Jagungal around 9.22AM and left around 9.46AM. I took several pictures and took several compass bearings. The bearing on the nice mountain top to the north which I think is the Bogong Peaks was 352mag. The most southerly peak on the main range visible was 190mag. The whole vista of the Kosciuszko Main Range was uniquely visible and well covered with snow. Looking at my maps I think this later reading was actually for Mt Townsend.
I could also see into Victoria and noted two set of peaks with clear snow coverage. The larger one to the west was on a bearing of about 220mag. I think this was Mt Bogong which is 236true from Mt Jagungal on my maps.
I returned to camp by 11AM, packed up my airbed and tent and pack and was off by 11.40AM. I went over the small ridge and across the Geehi west stream until I could find the old bridle trail up to the west and followed that into the next valley over, stopping for lunch along the way around 12.20PM. Lunch was again nice tasteless mountain bread, peanut butter, honey and cheese shared with the ubiquitous bush flies.
I then continued south to a site with a prominent cairn that marked the start of the old Strawberry Hill Fire Trail which is now barely a footpad. I followed it west for less than 1Km then turned south down into an open valley which was easy going although it got harder down on the softer more marshy flat area.
The weather was now looking less certain with dark clouds coming over from the NE, but it never rained.
I reached an old Geehi Crossing point I had marked at GPS UTM 625256 5993950 at 2.30PM and had to take off my gaiters and boots and put on crocs I carried, then crossed and then took the crocs off and put back on my boots. It’s a slow process. But the rest was welcomed. It’s actually a good spot with gentle banks and shallow crossing.
I then went south and up on a ridgeline a little to the west until I reached an area I had previously noted could be a mining site. I walked past it and noted that it was maybe longer than I had thought before. The small holes and cuttings seemed to spread along the ridge some 100m or more. I also noted a small benched track like structure that continued south before melding into the ground as it approached a prominent saddle to the south. The diggings area is some 200m north of the saddle.
There are also signs of an old trail as I approached Big Bend on the west side of the valley.
Big Bend was a harder and wider crossing but I crossed in my crocs again without any issue.
I then continued up along a ridgeline before reaching the site of the old Mawson’s Yards now only marked by 3 posts and some fence wire.
I reached Mawson’s Hut about 5PM and proceeded to setup my tent, collect some wood and water.
Today I only did 16.4Km. However I climbed from 1800m to 2060m, then back to 1800m, then up to 1840m, down to 1760m at the River and back up to 1800 at Mawson’s.
The crows were very noisy around Mawson’s until after dark. There must have been a flock of 30-40. The sky was clear and with no wind. I was in bed by 9PM and read some more on my Kindle.
My GPS reading Mawson’s Hut it is 626137 5990522, altitude 1800m
Day 4 – Fri 10th Nov
I got up about 5.50AM and left about 8.48AM. The sky was then clouding over and looking a bit dark and threatening. I crossed the Valentine River again using crocs and after climbing along the alignment of the old bridle trail I reached the top of the range at WP 178 Cairn where I stopped for 15 mins for morning break. I then headed across the plateau to the east side and picked up the fenceline along there and was able to follow it right down to the Gate site in the saddle between the plateau and the Brassy Mountains which is at an altitude of 1860m. I could clearly see a rut next to the fence line where the old trail must have been.
I walked down a large snow drift down to a lower plateau and followed a new brumby trail down for several hundred metres before I could reach the Upper Burrungubugge River.
Then taking the route down toward McDonald’s Diggings I found that there is a nice open area on the south side that affords some easier walking. However the area below is getting more overgrown.
I had lunch in the area above McDonald’s Diggings where the trail up splits from the old trail that went to Alpine Hut site. It’s a convenient site with some nice tree cover.
I went down the gorge section Ok but found the short section between the bottom and the last part above Kidmans tricky and overgrown.
I reached Kidmans hut about 3.23PM. I then took it easy set up my tent as it started to rain quite heavily. In fact a storm with thunder went by and even some light hail or ice came down. After an hour or so it stopped a little which allowed me to collect some water from the creek which caused me to get wet because of all the wet scrub. I abandoned any possibility of a fire as all the wood was soaked. So I took my little stove and equipment to the hut and cooked dinner inside. The rain had stopped enough for me to eat on the stool outside.
I went to bed around 8.30PM and heard it raining a lot later again. Some of my tent flooring got wet but all my clothes and sleeping bag were dry.
Today I only did 8.6Km
Day 5 – Sat 11th Nov
Arose 5.50AM and left 8.30AM. It was initially sunny. I hung my tent fly out to dry whilst having breakfast but it did not completely dry. As the sun came up it was quite eerie. The whole Burrungubuggee Valley was soaked and as the sun’s rays touched the grass and vegetation it immediately created a mist that rose up all around the valley. It seemed to happen all around in unison and looked so strange and magical. It didn’t last long but had me in awe for several minutes.
It was an easy trip up to Brassy Gap where I stopped several times to take pictures to help with writing up some notes as well as photographing some shrubs for later identification. I reached Little Brassy gap at 10.45AM
The weather had clouded over again, a bit like yesterday but didn’t rain on me whilst I was walking. On the way down I got lost at one spot and had to back track a few metres.
I stopped at the junction of Teddy’s Ck and Collins Ck for lunch at 12PM.
I then headed straight back to the car as I could see dark clouds coming over and it was obviously going to rain again. I only saw one brumby on this return.
I reached the car at 2.10PM and quickly got changed and cleaned up. I also met a Qld trout fisherman who had been fishing at Buckenderra on Lake Eucumbene and was planning to camp at the Gungarlin with some friends. I gave him some hints but he could not contact his friends unless he went back to Nimmo Hill, the nearest mobile phone connectivity.
At 2.30PM it started to rain and it followed me right to Nimmo Hill and beyond. Near Nimmo it was pouring with watering cascading down the trail and also signs of ice and hail beside the trail. The car hit a hole in a culvert in heavy rain and I bounced around a bit but everything seemed OK.
I had a break at Maccas at Cooma and was home around 6PM.
I had walked 12.3Km this day.
1. Gungarlin River – Kidmans Hut
Kidmans towards Burrungubbe River
2. Kidmans Hut – Campsite near Geehi River east branch
3. Campsite near Geehi River – Mawson’s Hut
4. Mawson’s Hut – Kidman’s Hut
5. Kidman’s Hut – Gungarlin River
The distance was 200Km one way from Belconnen via the Monaro Highway, Cooma to the Gungarlin River camping spot and car park. From Cooma it was 70Km.
Relevant Topographic Maps
The topographic maps covering the area of this trip are:
1:50,000 older maps: Eucumbene for the Gungarlin area and Khancoban for the Jagungal section
1:25, 0000 newer maps: Nimmo Plain for the Gungarlin area and Jagungal for that area
I strongly recommend that keen walkers check out the use of Oziexplorer from Des Newman’s OziExplorer plus OzRaster from GPSOz
Use of Oziexplorer with OzRaster maps for NSW enables you to load up a gpx file and see your route (and one’s available off this trip) on a modern topo map base
Produced Maps & Documents
One Google earth kml file, one GPX file and one Garmin gdb file covering the trip with waypoints and daily tracks in a Google Drive folder with some jpg maps.
The above includes one Google earth kml file covering the trip available on Google Drive. Note opening this link will go the Google Drive and open the trip file in Google Earth; you do not have to install Google Earth. You also have the option to download the file or view in Google Maps. Put your mouse over and click on a waypoint and it will bring up a small description.
Oziexplorer Topo Map Views
“Overview KNP Nov17 GH NSW Topo.jpg” shows the whole trip on NSW topo mosaic of older maps
Day and Detailed Maps
Days 1/5 – “D1 & D5 KNP Nov17 GH NSW Topo BLUE or MAGENTA” shows Day 1 in BLUE track and Day 5 in MAGENTA track
Day 2 – “D2a KNP Nov17 GH NSW Topo CYAN” shows Day 2 first part
Day 2 – “D2b KNP Nov17 GH NSW Topo CYAN” shows Day 2 second part
Days 3 – “D3a KNP Nov17 GH NSW Topo MAGENTA” shows Day 3 first part climbing Jagungal in detail
Days 3 – “D3b KNP Nov17 GH NSW Topo MAGENTA” shows Day 3 second part walking from Geehi campsite to Mawson’s Hut
Day 4 – “D4 KNP Nov17 GH NSW Topo RED” shows Mawson’s Hut to Kidmans Hut
Days 2/4 – “Kidmans to Great Divide Ozraster Topo” shows in more detail walking Kidmans to the Great Divide section which includes the Burrungubugge Gorge
Notes: Most of these map extracts came from Oziexplorer using NSW DFSI Spatial Services approval for display of their base map from Topoview 2006
The Kidmans to Great Divide Ozraster Topo Map extract was created using Oziexplorer with map base using OzRaster Map with permission of © BKK Enterprises Pty Ltd, http://www.gpsoz.com.au
The trip maps & sketches showing the trip tracks and various waypoints of important locations are available on a folder in Google Drive Maps and the trip maps are also in the Google Photos album.
My pictures of this trip are available on Google Photos. The original pictures are all ~4000 x 2248, 16:9, 9.0 Megapixels, ~ 5Mbytes. The GPS map extracts are 1000 to 1580 pixels wide.
Each picture is labelled with descriptive title. Pictures hi qual mode (9Mpixels) in Google Photos.
It will have captions through the ‘i’ button. The album is shared but only for those with the link above.
GPS files provided in gdb, gpx & kml format are labelled ‘Kiandra13 10-12 Oct 2017’ and ‘Kiandra13 10-12 Oct 2017 Tks&Races’.