Freezing morning at Tin Hut
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Kosciuszko National Park 9-13 Apr 2019 Gungarlin Gungartan Tin Mawsons Jagungal Area

This was a 5 days and 57.4Km hardish walk from the Gungarlin River camp ground to Kidmans Hut, then up to Tin Hut, then Gungartan, along Kerries Ridge to Mawsons  through Snowys Plains in the Gungarlin valley, and through the Burrungubugge Ck gorge and along the Valentine Ck valley.

The featured image is a view of Greg on a freezing morning at Tin Hut

Kosciuszko National Park – Gungarlin River to Kidmans, Tin, Mawsons Hut, Gungartan, The Kerries in the Jagungal Area

Introduction

On the morning of the 9th April 2019 I set off from Canberra and headed to the Gungarlin River Camp Site to walk across the Southern Gungarlin valley called the Snowy Plains to Kidman’s Hut, thence to Tin Hut, then to Gungartan, then down The Kerries to Mawsons, then back to Kidmans and across the Snowy Plains to my car.

This was a solo trip with all proper precautions taken and following the planned route mostly. My pictures of this trip are available on Google Photos

Day 1 – Tue 9th Apr

I left Canberra around 6.25AM and after a nature stop at Bredbo I drove to Cooma where I had coffee and some food at Maccas. I then drove via Rocky Plains down to Eucumbene River crossing, then up to Nimmo Hill and then along the Powerline or Island Bend Fire Trail (FT) to the Gungarlin River Camp site. It was just under 200Km from my place in Canberra to where I parked the car. The last 17.2Km or so are on a dirt road, with the section past Nimmo Hill being is poor condition. Lucky I had a Forester as I would have struggled in a conventional vehicle.

I reached the location where I parked my car around 10.10AM. There was no one here at all so I left my car at the site near the bridge over the River.

Parked car at GPS 638931 5987834.

Gungarlin River Camp Ground GPS reading 638877 5987737, altitude 1320m approx.

I started the walk at 10.25AM with some wind blowing and clouds rolling over.

I then climbed over a road barrier, crossed the bridge and turned right to follow a well-defined 4WD trail west across the Snowy Plains. On the way I had to cross two small creeks, Diggers Ck and later Campbell’s Ck. Davey’s Hut can be seen some 400m south of the trail.

Davey’s Hut from past visits GPS 637851 5989446

On the way across the plains I saw two groups of brumbies one with 12 and another with 9 horses. They all looked in good condition.

Entering the trail along Teddy’s Creek, which is really an extension of the trail I was on, I saw around 7 Red and White cattle just south of the trail and maybe around 100m from the Napthalis site which sits with grand views over the plain. I took a note to drop into a property and advise the owner about the straying cattle.

I didn’t visit Napthalis site as I had done so several time in the past. Napthalis Homestead Site GPS 638146 5990522. The site has a NPWS plaque with some history on the site. They also name it as Snowy Plains House. It was built in 1900s by Jardine for logging and grazing and collapsed in the 1940s.

I continued along the trail only stopping to put on my Macpac Event raincoat as it has started raining.

On the way I passed again another hut site with some evidence of a ruin still there. This was

Harvey’s Hut site GPS 637192 5991587

It was also known as Broken Dray. It was built for grazing and destroyed by fire in 1976 reportedly to have been caused by rangers.

At the junction of Collin’s Ck and Teddy’s Ck I stopped for a quick lunch as it has stopped raining.

I then headed uphill through Mill Flat and then through the nice forest track up to the top at Little Brassy Gap. This is the highest point on Day 1 being around 1,635m. Mobile Phone calls can be made from here.

I had sighted another guy following me up the trail just below the crest. I waited but he didn’t show. So I continued down and as usual got into trouble most of the way down trying to find the entry into the easy way down section. I did achieve this and then the other guy arrived. He had made a side trip up to the major peak on the range from the gap we had just left.

He was Matt Madin from Sydney. We continued on together and I showed him my way down, across a creek over more fields, across another side creek and then to Kidmans Hut. The weather looked less than optimal so we put up our tents. Mine was an MSR Hubba HP and Matt put up a very light weight Tarp.

Kidman’s Hut GPS 631845 5991223, altitude 1515m.

This is a corrugated iron stockmen’s hut built about 1932 by Ken and Alec Kidman, Bill Napthali. Its a single room, 3.6 x 3m unlined, fireplace, with a stone floor. Corrugated galvanised iron fixed to nogged timber frame. It has a wooden board door, with no window. Fireplace with timber frame, galvanised iron cladding and rock lining. The fireplace was rebuilt by NPWS tradesmen in 2007.

Day 1 was 12.5Km of walking with a full backpack starting at 10.25AM and finishing at 3.40PM.

We had a fire near the hut and chatted as you do about our lives and interests.

Day 2 – Wed 10th Apr

I arose around 6.30AM in a very cool bright sunny morning which was good as our tents were heavily frosted over.

We left by walking around 150m south from the hut and then following some orange taps some guys had placed for the trip up back in Jan. It worked initially and we were able to travel up the Burrungubugge Gorge mostly Ok with some occasional patches of heavy scrub.

We reached the top of the gorge and rested close to the McDonald Diggings GPS 630416 5991396.

We then went across open fields and then up slightly and looked at the old historic Cattleman’s fireplace GPS 629902 5991094.

Then we could see the guys’ tapes a little to the north of where the original trail was. We went on the original route which was initially very hard going through head high thick scrub. From a small clearing we followed up the approximate route of the original trail and found the tapes again. I tracked slightly south to pick up another useful clearing to walk along. Eventually we joined again and took the tapes to the top.

We stopped for water at the top where a branch of Burrungubugge provides easy access to clean water. GPS 629470 5990744.

The Burrungubugge rises in a large partly swampy valley which lies just east and below the Main Range ridgeline as well as peaks such as the Mailbox which meld with the range to feed water down into it.

We tracked south and went up the original old route that travels south west and into another high valley that lies just below the main range but this time further south and is fringed by Brassy Peak in the south providing nice gap just north of it where the trail went and which we followed. However just before turning up we stopped for lunch on some rocks.

I left Matt at a waypoint labelled Gate and headed south a little below Brassy peak before turning south west and heading down a side valley towards the Valentine Creek valley main plain.

I crossed the main creek and headed south along the western bank. It was a slow journey owing to numerous small gullies to cross and areas of swamp vegetation. As I headed upstream I could see my goal, a ridgeline or gap on the horizon which represented the main divide between the Snowy and Murray systems. I also knew that Tin Hut was not far over that gap. However I had to cross the Valentine and its tributaries several times. Close to the gap the ground became firmer and it made for easier walking.

I didn’t take the best route to the Hut from the gap and only made Tin Hut around 4.30PM.

I camped outside and was able to scramble enough wood for a small fire outside.

It was a clear beautiful night but extremely cold.

I wandered 200m east behind the toilet and was able to phone my wife at home.

Tin Hut GPS 627911 5985751, altitude about 1860m

It is a small corrugated iron skiing hut, with a single room 4.2 x 3.3m lined, now a stove, plus entry vestibule. It was built as a small ski touring hut, with a gable-roofed single room 4.2 x 3.3m (14′ x 11′) with a lean-to woodshed. It was constructed of corrugated iron on a sawn hardwood frame with t & g timber board lining (c1950s). Its woodshed has corrugated iron on round timber poles. It also has a small double glazed window in its east wall. Also has a rock hearth and flattened corrugated iron clad chimney on pole frame. A pit toilet building 30m to south. It was replaced by a new NPWS toilet 50m east of the hut around 2010 with a fly out waste container as per Mawsons. The hut was built in 1925/6 by Con Bolton for NSW Government for the Tourist Bureau & Dr Schlink and the Ski Club of Australia for use in the first crossing between Kosciusko and Kiandra in preparation for Kiandra to Kosciuszko tours.

Today I did 11.0Km.

Day 3 – Thu 11th Apr

I arose early at 6AM with my tent and all the ground covered in heavy white soft frost. I had to brush it off my tent and pack. Everything took a while to dry so I only left Tin Hut around 8.48AM. I did look in the Hut and it’s in good condition. My only criticism is that the old double deck wooden bunk was no more. Just a bare floor.

Initially I kept high to the east walking up to the gap and was able to see it was the easier route which required a left hand turn (WP250) to the west to drop down to the corner and gate of the old fenceline (WP250 Fence Cnr). I then followed the fenceline up and onto a higher level plateau but had to leave the fence and walk through soft ground and some scrub to get to a grassy area just below a high rocky ridge (1st peak) on the west side that blocked my route. I could then walk easily along the grass below the ridge until I then had to walk up though some scrub to attain the ridge (WP 251) I wished to walk on as it would take me up to Gungartan Gap. I then followed my old WPs and track that was now hard to follow due to heavy scrub growth. I then kept left and wound my way around scrub around the south side of the 2nd peak to WP252. I then had to walk slightly uphill around a small valley. I went slightly low but it was fine. WP254 was covered in scrub but I walked close to it as I passed the 3rd small peak. Here there was signs of the old trail as I wound my way along the side of the ridge on its south side until nearing old WP254. Note there is water around 100m to the south. I then continued through the middle of the ridgeline and then left again until WP255.

Here I saw a fox. He took off when he saw me and continued up the ridge for 500m or so. I then tracked to the right, ie south west through fairly soft and slightly swampy ground until reaching grassy levels right below The Kerries ridgeline. I then continued up along this grassy route until reaching the grassy gap south of the real Gungartan Gap and thus right on the cusp of the start of Kerries Ridge.

I left my pack here and headed off around 10.45AM to reach the top of Gungartan which I reached at 11.30AM. The views are sensational being from Mt Kosciuszko north to Mt Jagungal. The old trig stand has now fallen over but still sticks to the top. I could see various other peaks around with a subsidiary Gungartan peak at to its north west which doesn’t seem to be reflected on any contour maps. There is also a significant peak out the north east on a ridgeline that stretches a far way and it seems to have two peaks over 2,000m. It’s unnamed, but I will call it Finns Ridge as it’s the source of that River. Kerries Ridge also seems to have two or more peaks around 2,000m or more.

Refer to Paul Ma’s sites on the high peaks of KNP over 2,000m

This other site PeakBagger has Schlink Hill of 2054m between my Kerries Ridge Peaks 2&3. Not sure how he can place it there as it was clearly not the right spot.

In this area the Great Dividing Range goes over Gungartan then along the alignment of Finns Ridge to the north east for short distance before dropping down to follow the ridgeline I walked up from Tin Hut, to that gap north of Tin Hut, then along the alignment of the Brassy Mountains, then down to the gap near where I left Matt, then along the eastern edge of the plateau that stretches north to the Mailbox.

I returned to the gap using a more direct route around the west side of a small peak below Gungartan.

On the way I kept well west down to the Gap and found a nice water spot. It would be quite area to camp providing the weather was amenable.

I picked up my pack and started the ascent of Kerries Ridge. Initially it not too hard to the first peak WP 258 Kerries Ridge Peak1 probably about 2012m. I stopped for lunch around 12.22PM.

I continued on to the next two peaks which look the highest, 259 Kerries Ridge Peak2 (about 2035m) and 260 Kerries Ridge Peak3 (about 2040m). This clearly looked the highest and was the hardest to climb although not really that hard. Views from here are 360 degrees and are just sublime.

I missed 261 Kerries Ridge Peak4 (about 2020m) as after the 3rd peak I dropped down to the west and started my laborious walk across the various terrain and vegetation types. There was a lot of largely low scrub, interspersed with some swampy sections, rocky sections and some spectacular ones. I digressed from my old route but eventually made it to the top of a ridge around WPs 260 and 270. Then I swung around to the north west and passed through WP 271 Gap which is where the old firetrail was clearly still visible. It original went as far as WP 269. Unfortunately there is little visible of this trail and after passing through the gap it zig zags down to the north west to another small gap to WP 274 Crest. Little of the track down is visible. However in this gap you can still pick up the fire trail or old trail which then goes downhill for 250m until it became overcome with scrub. The route down is essentially following an old waterline from the top down to a creek.

I followed it down staying reasonably close to the central water course which develops into a creek the further down one goes.

Copperhead Snake near Mawsons
Copperhead Snake in creek

I should have veered left at WP 275 Creek and then continued on that route to Mawsons Hut. I unfortunately kept doing down next to the now developed creek. Then I just passed a small Copperhead snake who had obviously been enjoying the afternoon sun. Now it was 4.30PM and no sun here and getting quite cool. Yet the copperhead didnt move. This was a little strange. I kept going, got some water and turned west uphill to pick up the ridgeline down to Mawsons. The going from here was easy and I made it to Mawsons Hut around 5PM.

I found the hut occupied by a nice couple from Castlemaine, Vic. Ben, and Mary who was a school teacher at Bendigo. She travelled daily from Castlemaine to Bendigo return by train. Wow you couldn’t do such a thing in regional NSW or many other states for that matter.

I camped out but we had a good chat inside later as they had the wood stove fired up and it was amazingly warm, unlike outside which was bitterly cold.

Mawsons Hut. GPS 626137 5990522, altitude ~1800m

It is a corrugated iron stockmen’s hut Built in 1930 by Herb Mawson, Con & John Bolton, Lindsay Willis.

It has 2 main rooms 7 x 3.6m, and with an entry/storage vestibule, Caneite lining, fireplace now with an iron stove, and timber floor.

Today I did 12.8Km, but it felt like 44Km.

At Mawsons Hut
Ben & Mary at Mawsons Hut

Day 4 – Fri 12th Apr

I got up early around 6.00AM and had breakfast in the hut. Everything was quite frosty and wet and took a long time to dry.

The other two used a Feathered Friends double sleeping bag. It doesn’t have a proper base and assume you can use the sleeping mat as it bottom. It’s made in Seattle

I left Mawson’s fairly late at 9.30AM and headed down to cross the Valentine Ck before heading up along the old route to Adaminaby but only up to the plateau above. I did make one wrong turn up near WP Rocks Prom but soon corrected it.

I took the old route down from the gap and soon gave up following it properly. I then stopped for lunch. I then continued to the top of the old truck coming up from Kidmans. I fiddled around where the taped track came out from the thick scrub, cleared some fallen branches and tagged where it should be. I then went down the trail trying to follow the new tags. I mostly succeeded however when it went to the north side on the last leg down I go lost again and had to push through very thick scrub.

I then continued down the Burrungubugge gorge section feeling now quite tired. I eventually got close to Kidmans but again took the wrong section to go down for the last few hundred metres. I reached Kidman’s at around 5.05PM.

Today I only did 9.2Km.

Day 5 – Sat 13th Apr

I was up early again and cooked on my stove in the hut. The early morning wind had now given way to a fine, slightly overcast but fine day.

I dried my tent and took numerous photos from the log book of all my visits. I finally left at 9.18AM and going up the rough trail I spent a little time clearing the way of fallen branches and debris.

I reached Little Brassy Gap at 11AM and made a phone call to my wife who said she was home in bed sick. This hastened me and I made the junction of Teddy’s Ck with Collins Ck where I had a quick lunch, then punched on to the Snowy Plains and the car at the Gungarlin River by 2.45PM.

On the way across the Snowy Plains near Daveys Hut, I saw 2 nice groups of brumbies each with 5 horses. These galloped across the plain in a line formation and served in formation from left to right. It was an amazing display of horse capabilities. The ground was hard and sure so they didn’t do any damage to the underlying ground. I also saw another 4 then another 8 crossing the plains.

Two nice old fellows were near me at the campsite and we chattered about the huts and locations as they both were in KHA and had been to Kidmans and Mawsons. They now lived at Kiama and Sassafras; both had lived in Canberra previously.

Today I did 11.9Km.

I then drove to Bullenbalong property along Rocky Creek Road, and told Tim Jardine and his wife that I had seen cattle along Teddy’s Ck. Tim called the trail along there near Napthali’ s site as Broken Dray Trail which seems related to the alternate name for the Harveys site.

I continue to Cooma and had a snack and coffee, boy I needed it at Maccas.

Matt had advised me about a new pie shop in Cooma called Yuma’s I think.

However my trials were not over. I did have an easy and nice drive back with a sunset occurring and then 2Km south of Michelago I had to hit the brakes quickly doing 100kph as something with 4 legs ran out in front of me, luckily going back as I hit the brakes. I was very lucky with no one in front or behind and I was able to fish tale OK and continue with no damage, except for having a near death experience. I think that was a small deer.

I reached home around 7.15PM. The wife was OK by the way.

Distance

Distances per Day Distances (km)
1. Gungarlin River Car Park to Kidmans Hut 12.5
2. Kidmans Hut to Tin Hut 11.0
3. Tin Hut to Mawson’s Hut 12.8
4.  Mawson’s Hut to Kidmans Hut   9.2
5.  Kidmans Hut to Gungarlin River CP 11.9
Total 57.4

 Car Distances

The distance was 199Km one way from Belconnen, Canberra via the Monaro Highway, Cooma to Rocky Plains, then Nimmo Rd and Powerline FT.

Relevant Topographic Maps

The topographic maps covering the area of this trip are:

1:50,000 older maps:

  • Mt Kosciusko
  • Khancoban
  • Eucumbene, if you can get them

1:25,0000 newer maps:-

  • Nimmo Plain for Teddy’s Ck and trail, Davey’s Hut, Snowy Plains, Gungarlin River
  • Jagungal for part of Kerries, Brassy Peaks & Mountains, Mailbox, Mawsons, Kidmans, Burrungubuggee River
  • Geehi Dam for Tin Hut, Gungartan, part Kerries, part Brassy Mountains

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,  Pictures and Documents

One Google earth kml file, one gpx file and one Garmin gdb file covering the trip with waypoints and daily tracks are in a Google Drive folder.

The above includes one Google earth kml file covering the trip available on Google Drive. Note opening this link used to go the Google Drive and open the trip file in Google Maps; you did not have to install Google Earth. However as at 1 Nov 2018 this feature doesn’t work and it only offers you the option to download the kml/kmz files, and then you would have to open it with Google Earth.

On the screen captured Oziexplorer maps:

Overview Maps-

  • Overall Trip “KNP Apr19 Overview NSW Topo Map View.jpg” is an overview Map of the 5 Days Trip using Oziexplorer and Topoview 2006 NSW topo details

Day and Detailed Maps-

  • Days 1&5 Part A – “KNP Apr19 Day 1 & 5 A Kidmans to Teddy’s Ck Trail NSW Topo Map View”
  • Days 1&5 Part B  – “KNP Apr19 Day 1 & 5 B Teddy’s Ck Trail to Gungarlin Campsite NSW Topo Map View.jpg”
  • Days 2&4 – “KNP Apr19 Day 2 & 4 Kidmans to Main Range NSW Topo Map View.jpg”
  • Days 2,3&4 – “KNP Apr19 Day 2, 3 & 4 Kerries Mawson Tin NSW Topo Map View.jpg
  • Day 3 – “KNP Apr19 Day 3 Gungartan Kerries Ridge Detailed NSW Topo Map View.jpg”

Notes: Map extracts came from Oziexplorer using “NSW DFSI Spatial Services” approval for display of their base map from Topoview 2006 Product

GPS Waypoint Abbreviations Used:

  • Pxx = occasional route point
  • TK Pt xx = old Track point
  • Gxx = Gate
  • Ck = Creek
  • CP = Car park

The trip maps and 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, ~ 4Mbytes. The GPS map extracts are variable but around 800-1000 wide to 660-740 pixels high.

Greg Hutchison, 17 Apr 2019

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. Hi Greg,
    Thanks heaps for your blog, it is a treasure trove of useful information about the Jagungal Wilderness area.
    I am taking a group of Venturers there in January for a 6 day hike and hoping to head from Kidmans Hut through to Tin Hut. My route plan has us heading up over Dog Peak (up the ridge between Dead Horse creek & Burrungubugge River) and I was wondering if you had any intel on the forest growth / swampy nature through there / along Dead Horse Creek.
    This seems to be the only blog post I can find where you head to Tin Hut from Kidman Hut (but via Valentine Creek).
    Regards
    Stuart

    1. Hi Stuart. Looks like your into finance! Yes I am aware of your route I believe. Robert Green who wrote “Exploring the Jagungal Wilderness” was keen on that sort of route. He has 4 pages in his book about direct routes Kidmans to Tin Hut. Personally I tried it once and swore never again. It was slow going with lots of scrub and some very soft ground in places. It would be wise to head SE from Dog Peak for ~2Km to another peak then SW and over the northern end of the Porcupine and approach Tin Hut through a saddle and just along the southern edge of the Brassy Mtns. I have done the trip from old Constance Hut site to Tin several times along that latter part of that route OK. Going can be slow. If you would like the 4 pages of Roberts book devoted to Tin-Kidman I can scan it and email if you like. I personally prefer going up the Burrung Gorge from Kidmans and then from McDonalds Diggings area then take the ridge up to the Upper plateau where Burrung Ck starts. Its then an easy walk through some scrub up to another saddle between Brassy mtns and Bulls Peak Ridge where you can turn left for Tin Hut or go NW to Mawsons. Of couse you can go down the Valentine River valley to Mawsons or go up along a ridgeline between upper Valentine R and Upper Finns R. Used to be an old track up to Gungartan Pass where you can go down the Kerries to Mawsons or west to Schlink Pass/Hut. Really good view from Gungartan/Kerries Ridge. Lot of scrub around Tin now on south, west and some of its north side. The route from Kidmans to the Great Divide (Brassy Mtns) has also been kept walkable by various people helping to keep the scrub down and even marking parts of the route. Note that I have been up south of Kiandra back in Oct, and twice in Nov, the last with David Scott checking out mining features. This area was heavily burnt in Jan 2020 whereas around Kidman it was not. Thus around Kidman/Tin etc there is heavily developed scrub. Whilst around 4Mile/9Mile area most of the scrub was burnt there are many fallen trees. The most interesting thing lately has been the rapid growth on grass and wildflowers. Sites I found easily in Oct are now heavily covered in grass and flowers. I expect given the wet conditions that around Kidman and Tin Hut the grass will be much higher than you expect. The other thing to be wary of are the flies. In Nov they were just terrible, probably due to the wet conditions that suited their spread. The march flies were also out in full force. You will need long trouser and long sleaved shirts/. I am also back up there next week with Robert Green and a couple of others to re-tape the old Arsenic Ridge track between Brooks Hut (burnt down) and just east of Tabletop. We did it last Nov but the Jan fires burnt everything down. Its NPWS approved. Good luck. Greg

  2. If you intend to go Tin Hut to Gungartan – Head South from the hut to a series of grassy ramps ( visible from the hut) and onward to skirt around below the range on easy ground. Basicly following where snow drifts remain for longer periods on the lee side. No scrub and some nice craggy sections to admire.

    1. Hi George. Your very active on FB and Instagram. Can you describe your way from Tin Hut to Gungartan with some more detail. Yep I have walked south to the saddle (which is right on the Great Divide) then turned left or west and taken a route past some old fence posts for 50m or so to near a rock hill and then taken the ridge that then exists between the Finn R on the south and Valentine R on the north up for a Km or so and then crossed a swampy area to the edge right below Kerries Ridge then tracked south along the edge and climbed up to Gungartan Pass. The last part under Kerries Ridge is reasonably open. Going up the ridge between the Rivers is a bit scrubby in places but there is still part of an old bridle trail mostly on the southern side of the ridge and sometimes in the middle. Not exactly sure where you mean by open and snow drifts remain. The way I spelt out does have snow drift at the rocky hill just up from the saddle and also under Kerries ridge in late winter early spring

        1. Hi Helmut. Thanks for map. Yep I understand better now. It might be a better route getting to Gungartan itself, not sure its as good if you just going to Kerries Ridge and north to Mawson’s. I might check it out sometime. I guess your related to George Fieg

          1. Oh I use my middle name ( George) . Yes Its probably not the way to go if you want to go to Kerries/ Mawson. You could however use some of it as a variant over G Pass down to Schlink hut

  3. Hi Greg, a quick note to say a big thank you for providing this information. I’ll email you a tale of how your notes helped a group of wayward hikers between Davey’s and Kidman’s just before Christmas 2020.

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