This was a 3 days and 33.2Km medium-hard walk from the Snowy Plains at the Gungarlin River Campground to Kidmans Hut, then up through the Burrungubugge River gorge to near the Great Dividing Range and the Brassy Mountains. The trip was to try out my new Osprey Exos 58L Pack
The featured image is a view of Kidmans Hut from north side looking south with fallen tree in its front Nov 2021
This was a 3 days, and 33.2 Km medium-hard walk from the Snowy Plains at the Gungarlin River Campground to Kidmans Hut, then up through the Burrungubugge River gorge to near the Great Dividing Range and return.
On the morning of the 16th Nov 2021 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 up an old bridle trail route to the Great Divide just north of Big Brassy, and back to Kidmans. Originally this was planned as a 5 days trip to test out my new Osprey Exos 58L large pack maybe going to Mawsons Hut, etc.
My pictures of this trip are available on Google Photos.
Note: Waypoint/Points mentioned in this document refer to waypoints in the GPX file as well as shown on the trip maps. The waypoint naming and numbering has been relabeled to make it consistent and include many cairns along the way.
Warning & Dangers
The area mentioned in this writeup is largely rugged and partly untamed. Yes it was grazed in the Stockmen’s Days and many walkers have negotiated the area since. There is substantial bush to be negotiated and some large trees to be wary off. The area was heavily burnt in the 2003 fires and has recovered with a vengeance i.e. the scrub in 2021 is sometimes more dense than what was there in 2002. The climb from the Gungarlin Valley at the junction of Teddy’s Ck and Collins Ck is not difficult but the track negotiates an area bordered with extremely large and tall gum trees, probably alpine ash, all of which were heavily burnt in 2003 and many large trees have fallen, some across the track, although now mostly cleared. There is no formal track past the Little Brassy Gap (also shown as Brassy gap on maps) which is the location where you would pass through the Little Brassy Range and then head down to Kidmans Hut. This gap is often covered in snow in winter up to October. Mobile phone coverage is limited with Little Brassy Gap and parts of the Great Divide (Including up behind Tin hut & maybe the Mailbox) being the only spots where coverage is guaranteed. The altitudes are also high for Australian walks with the Gungarlin Valley, that one walks through, around 1,300-1,400m (and can be snow covered in winter), 1,620m at Little Brassy Gap, 1,515m Kidmans Hut, 1,855m crossing through the gap north of the Brassy Mountains, 1,810m at Mawson’s Hut, 1,860m at Tin Hut, Gungartan Pass 2,000m, Mt Jagungal 2061m.
Day 1 – Tue 16th Nov
I left Canberra around 7.00AM and after getting a newspaper I drove to Cooma where I refuelled at the Woolworths petrol station and had coffee and some breakfast at Maccas. I then drove via Rocky Plains down to the Nimmo Bridge crossing of the Eucumbene River, then up to Nimmo Hill and then down to the Gungarlin River campsite. The section from Eucumbene Road to Nimmo Hill was quite rough in places with many large ruts across the road caused by recent heavy rain. The top section near Eucumbene Rd was heavily pot holed and in the worst condition I had ever seen it. The road from Nimmo Hill to the Gungarlin River Camp site was in better condition than the first part of the road. However I had to stop and drag a fallen limb of the road. In a recent correspondence it appears they have graded the road from Eucumbene Rd junction to Nimmo recently ie Jan 2022. The road inside the National Park Section was in much better condition than it had been in recent years. I learnt from a couple I met on my last day that the campground and road in had been closed some weeks earlier due to poor road conditions. They must have graded it as it was now quite driveable. I parked my car at GPS 55H 638892 5987688, which was next to the new Horse yards and shelter. Just across the track on the River bank were camped several men from Sydney. They were there until Thursday.
I then started the walk quite late around 11.40AM, walking across the Gungarlin Bridge then west across the open fields of the Snowy Plains, not visiting Davey’s Hut but going straight across and then stopping for a quick lunch next to Snowy Plains (or Napthalis) Hut Site.
I then followed the very walkable trail along Teddy’s Creek (also known by the locals as The Broken Dray Trail). Crossing Teddy’s Ck twice as you do, is easy enough even with a solid flow of water. The easiest thing is to walk around 10m or more to the north side of the trail and find a nice thin spot that you can hop across. At Collins Ck junction it’s fine just north of an old log that used to be part of the old bridge. In summer and on one can simply walk straight across these creek crossings.
I then headed up towards Mill Flat and just next to a sign that declares the Jagungal Wilderness Boundary a tree has come down along the trail and smashed itself into a numerous pieces. However I could get around it along the eastern edge of the road and then continued along Mill Flat and up through the nice forest trail to my first top or gap known by me as (Little) Brassy Gap at 4.10PM. The old Jagungal Map just calls it Brassy Gap as does Klaus Huenke.
Most of the way up from Teddy’s Ck had been cleared by NPWS last year although a couple of small trees and one big one had fallen across the trail. However in several areas small amounts of bush had to be brushed past. It’s not by any means a well maintained track, but it’s quite easily walked.
Brassy Gap was the highest point on Day 1 being around 1,635m. Mobile Phone calls (Telstra at least) can be made from here. From this spot one usually gets a splendid view of the Brassy Mountains to the south-west as well as the ridge to its north to The Mailbox. The whole upper Burrungubugge River valley was also in view, although I could not see Kidman’s hut from this spot.
I then continued down the large open area below the gap. The actual old vehicle ruts do disappear part way down. Walkers then need to walk across vague foot pads to reach an area left of a large stone down on the south side to then enable picking up an obvious small cutting which then takes the walker down to a creek that has to be crossed. It’s the first of some 6 creek crossings that have to be negotiated to reach Kidmans. Most are very easy and present walkers with no problems. This time I went a little too far to the east. Going down through an old cutting just before I had to cross the first real creek, my foot fell into a hole next to the rut and I went down. It looked as though water running down the cutting had undermined the ground there.
I continued down across a couple of minor creeks on the north side, over more fields, across another side creek and then to Kidmans Hut. The route was slightly overgrown in a couple of spots, although a couple of spots has been well cleared. I fell two more times with a foot going down into an undermined hole both times. One needs to be careful as you could break a leg.
I reached Kidmans Hut at about 5.30PM and put up my tent, collected water and also some firewood. Water was available around 30-40 metres down in the nearby side creek. The water point is steep and it’s always tricky to get water without slipping into the small creek.
I then went for a walk up the old route above the hut heading towards the Burrungubugge Gorge. Here in the field up above Kidmans I was shocked by a deer blowing its horn at me. I think it was very close but I couldn’t see it due to the sun being very low and straight in my eyes. But it was loud. Probably a Rusa Deer.
On Day 1 I did about 13.2Km to Kidmans and further, and of course I had driven around 200Km as well. Gungarlin River to Kidmans was only 12.2Km.
The wood was damp. But I managed to have a small fire outside which I had to prime by blowing concentrated air in a “slurp tube” to keep it alight. I used bits and pieces for dinner cooked on my stove, ie a soup packet, some potato powder, some of my freeze dried seaweed and some TVP. It was fairly light, easy cooking and easy cleaning. Overall it worked OK again for a main dinner. The weather was fine. However it was a freezing night.
The reason for the trip was to try out my new Osprey Exos 58L large size very light weight pack. I had managed to squeeze all my stuff into it. However not far from Kidmans the sternum strap connector had popped out of its track. I now spent some time trying to push the clip of the packs sternum strap back onto the slider track. However I failed this time. This meant I realistically could not go to Mawsons Hut the next day as it was awkward to use the pack without a workable sternum strap especially over the terrain I would face. It was going to be difficult enough just getting back to the car. So I decided to just do a walk up the Great Divide or as far as I could get and re GPS the route from Kidmans to the top, which needed doing. I had already done some of the work in Mar 2020 and early last April 2021.
Kidman’s Hut GPS 631845 5991223, altitude 1515m. It’s a corrugated iron original stockmen’s hut built about 1932 by Ken and Alec Kidman & Bill Napthali. It’s a single room, 3.6 x 3m unlined, fireplace, with a stone floor. The corrugated galvanised iron was fixed to nogged timber frame. It has a wooden board door, with no window. The fireplace with timber frame, galvanised iron cladding and rock lining. The fireplace was rebuilt by NPWS tradesmen in 2007. According to Robert Green the floor was covered in stones after the fireplace was rebuilt by Ian Frakes and hut maintainer Ian Macaulay around 2008. (Data mostly from David Scott)
Day 2 – Wed 17th Nov
I arose early around 6.30AM to a cold morning.
I then decided to walk up the route to the top of the range and checkout the current status of the route, as well as re GPSing things as I went. So I left about 8.45AM. I did carry the new Osprey Exos 58L pack but obviously it wasn’t fully loaded so the missing sternum strap was less of an issue.
I followed the old historic bridle trail route up from Kidmans, although the first section is a steep climb up a small recut section until I reached the small plain above. I then passed a large cairn on a rock WP 111 (relabelled K052 Cairn), crossed a small low scrubby section before I could see another small cut section from WP 112 (Rte up) (also relabelled K053 Rte Up). This spot marked where I could follow a footpad up to a higher open area next to a Cairn WP115 (also relabelled Cairn 2). From there I went south west down to marker WP M01 (now K058 M01) which then allowed me to get easily to another Cairn WP 117 (now K060 Cairn). I then headed across the valley with a creek to cross WP 118 Ck (now K062 Ck) before heading slightly uphill past point WP 119 (now K063) then point WP120 (now K064). Along this last section there was a lot of thick woody low level scrub which had to be walked around before I reached the point WP 121 Bottom Burrung Gorge (now K065 Bottom Burrung Gorge). I was now in the real Burrungubugge Gorge which I knew fairly well and would take up to the McDonald diggings and a large open plain above its top. On the way down this latter section I came across a pig digging out grass pads to get to their roots. I was able to take a picture of it at work. The noise from the Burrungubugge River nearby was deafening so the pig could not hear me walking past.
I initially went to point WP 122 (now K066) but had some issues finding the right path after this. After a couple of tries I was able to ascertain the right route and thus I ended up with several new WPs to get the route in walking order. These were WPs 002, 003, 004 from April 2021 walk. I then decided to use WPs based on the multitude of cairns along this section and I used Knnn Cnn to notate WPs as well as Cairns if the Cnn is included.
WP Cairn3 (wrong) is a cairn that is located in the wrong spot but was probably an alternative route in the past but the main old route appears to be to its south & west.
I relabelled all waypoints in the form Knnn starting from the Gungarlin River as K001 and reaching K045 on the creek just before Kidmans and I then restarted points at K050 just above Kidmans. As described above some waypoints have these designation plus a Cairn number mostly just Knnn Cnn if a Cairn was involved.
From here I was able to follow all the points up to the top of Burrungubugge Gorge at point WP 130 Top (now K088 C26 Top). I then traversed across the tops which is easy but very uneven and slightly scrubby to the north-west side of the River before I could easily cross the Burrungubugge around 150-200m from the top point. The stone piles seen on the south side are the McDonald Diggings GPS 630416 5991396.
I then went up across a large open field using a thin footpad towards the next ridgeline that had to be climbed. I reached point WP 133 Jn for Alpine (now K092 Jn for Alpine) where in the past I had turned to traverse the small valley in that direction before it goes over a crest and heads towards the old lost Alpine Hut site. I stopped for lunch here.
I then headed up a lightly scrub covered ridge to reach an area that stockmen used to camp and rest their stock before taking the final climb up to the Great Dividing Range.
I then headed south to pick up point WP 136 Cairn Tk Bottom (now K097 C32 Tk Bottom) on a rock that represents the spot where the old Bridle Trail turned slightly south to then go up a ridge to the next level of the river valley, a large open bowl below the Mailbox and its southern ridge that is the start of the Burrungubugge River.
Near the WP136 Cairn there is an old historic Cattleman’s fireplace GPS 629902 5991094 but is largely covered with scrub.
I then headed up the first section for around 75m south proving easy and should have continued in a south west direction but I made a mistake trying to get around a fallen tree and went north-west for a short distance before correcting and heading south-west to pick up the track. I should have been more careful and ensured I used WPs K99 and K100 tag correctly. There is a steep pitch uphill from K100 through to K101 up to a crest at K102 which is the top before reaching a small open spot which is a good spot rest and check where one is at WP 144 (now K102 Rest Spot). This section up to this spot is probably the steepest on this route.
I then headed up slightly to the left or south of the original old trail. Initially I tried to follow the original route but found it too bushy. I then went more southerly to the left and managed to follow some old orange/yellow tape markers up and I took a range of new WPs to try and lock in a walkable route. These WPs are shown in the data as points K103 through to K127. April 2021 I had these points as 005 through to 026. Many of these are close to old points I had for years. The top section is covered with some small yellow tags which gave me a good route up to WP150 (now K28) which is where I would have broken out of the tree line and scrub and could see all over the area to the east and out to the Monaro Plains. It was then a short 180m trudge over some low level scrub and grass to a large rock, point old WP151 Tk Top, which is only 50m from old WP 152 Burrung R Water which is where one top branch of Burrungubugge provides easy access to clean water. However the time was nearly 4PM and it was a 2 hr trip back to Kidmans and my camp site. So I stopped there. From here I headed back down to Kidmans and on the way I took some alternate routes and refined a little what I thought was the best route up from Kidmans. I reached Kidmans just after 6PM and had an easy night.
One interesting aspect was returning near McDonalds Diggings I went higher up across to the river at point Good Spot to X Ck if flooded and was able to step across the Burrungubugge River easily. Lower down it was flowing strongly and thus hard to cross without getting wet feet. Most of the year it’s easy to cross lower down as I did coming up.
Today I did 7.8km.
Day 3 – Thu 18th Nov
I arose quite early around 7.00AM but I still didn’t get away until around 9.50AM after a cold nice fine night. I found it hard and slow packing the Exos pack. I also added a note to the hut log book and took some pictures.
I had a slow easy walk back up to Brassy Gap and took an easier route up through the swampy field before the Gap. I did stop a few times and gps’d many points and some cairns.
I stopped at the northern end of Mill Flat and had lunch from 12.35PM until around 1.20PM. It was longer than planned because as I was finishing lunch a sole walker came towards me along the trail from the north and we had a long chat.
He was Mike Hinchey an ex-President of KHA from 1984-86. He still looked fit and walked well. He was doing a day walk from near the Northern Gungarlin Bridge up to Brassy Gap return. He was going to check out if a guy who used to go the old Alpine Hut (which burned down in 1979) left a ski sledge at Brassy Gap to carry goods which he then skied with to the hut in winter. I told him I didn’t remember seeing it and it would have burnt in 2003 anyway. He also told me about deer around as he had a property down near Kalkite and he had numerous Rusa Deer there and it was likely the one I heard was of that variety. He has volunteered to help KHA with the rebuild of the burnt huts from 2020. I wished him well and we went our ways.
Tree fallen in front of Kidmans Hut
Since my last visit in April 2021, and Nov 2021 the tree that use to exist just south of the outdoor fire place had come down and lay between it and the Hut. It did not hit the hut which was lucky. It may be a source of timber for some time to come although the main trunk was quite thick.
Today I did 12.2km.
I got home fairly early around 7.00PM which was Ok.
Osprey Exos 58L large pack. Got to be blunt. This was a fail. The pack whilst light I found hard to fit in all my gear. Adjusting the waist belt I found awkward. Similarly the shoulder strap was awkward. And lastly the sternum strap failed. It didn’t technically break but one connector popped out and I could not get it to go back in. Thus I could not get the pack to sit nicely. It put excessive strain on my right shoulder which was the area that I had skin cancer removed from. With the pack fully loaded that was difficult and not comfortable.
Thus I returned the pack to Paddy Pallin and they were kind enough to refund me. I still have an Exos 48L smaller pack which is functioning but I only intend to use it for shorter trips where I don’t have to carry lots of extras or heavy winter type apparel. I instead looked around and eventually bought a new Macpac Torlesse 65L V2 Carbon S2 at the Black Friday sales for $240. It’s not as light as the Exos but I think it is built with stronger straps and has a more adjustable frame and stronger sternum strap.
Section / Distances per Day (km)
1. Snowy Plains FT to Kidmans Hut and above it / 13.2
2. Kidmans Hut to near Great Divide return / 7.8
3. Kidmans Hut to Gungarlin River Campsite / 12.2
The distance was around 200Km one way from Belconnen, Canberra via the Monaro Highway, Cooma to Rocky Plains, then Nimmo Rd and Snowy Plains FT. It was 183Km from home to the Nimmo turnoff along the Eucumbene Rd. Then it was about 17.4Km to Gungarlin River campsite.
I have from my GPS, created multiple GPS files that shows all GPS tracks, based on one track per day of walking plus a separate track for the little walk above Kidmans on Day1. However the main GPS file is based on the best route from Gungarlin Campground to Kidmans, plus lots of waypoints as one track of 11.9km plus one track from Kidmans to near the top of the Divide of 3.1km. There is still another about 2Km of walking to get to the Great Divide proper which not included in these files.
GPS Files are:
The first lot show the actual walk
- KNP Nov 2021 Kidmans Original File no WPs.gdb. The old garmin format
- KNP Nov 2021 Kidmans Original File with WPs.gdb. The old garmin format
- KNP Nov 2021 Kidmans Trip Edited new WP numbering.gdb. The old garmin format
- KNP Nov 2021 Kidmans Trip Edited new WP numbering.gpx. The new GPS format
The last lot shows the best track routes to follow
- KNP Nov 2021 Kidmans Trip Best Track minimal WPs.gdb The old garmin format
- KNP Nov 2021 Kidmans Trip Best Track minimal WPs.gpx The new GPS format
- KNP Nov 2021 Kidmans Trip Best Tracks all WPs.gdb The old garmin format
- KNP Nov 2021 Kidmans Trip Best Tracks all WPs.gpx The new GPS format
Relevant Topographic Maps
The topographic maps covering the area of this trip are:
1:50,000 older maps: Khancoban & Eucumbene, if you can get them.
1:25,000 newer maps:-
- Nimmo Plain for Teddy’s Ck and trail, Davey’s Hut, Snowy Plains, Gungarlin River
- Jagungal for part of the Brassy Peaks & Mountains, Mailbox, Mawsons, Kidmans, Burrungubuggee River, Cesjacks Hut
I 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
Diagrams, Pictures and Docs Available
Gpx files, Garmin gdb/gpx files covering the trip with waypoints and various tracks are in a Google Drive folder.
Detailed Maps with Best Track Route shown
Oziexplorer Maps using NSW Topoview Maps & Jagungal 1:25000 Map:-
- “1. Overview of walk best track with min WPs view Oziexplorer.jpg” uses Mosaic NSW topo map
- “2. Gungarlin to Kidmans Best Track Gung to Brassy Gap.jpg” also uses Mosaic NSW topo map
- “3. Brassy Gap to Kidmans Best Track Jagungal Topo Map.jpg” uses Jagungal 1:25000 Oztopo version
- “4. Kidmans to Top Best Track Jagungal topo Map.jpg” uses Jagungal map
- “5. Kidmans to Top Best Track All WPs NSW Topo Map.jpg ” uses Jagungal map
- “6. Burrung Gorge to Top Best Track All WPs NSW Topo Map.jpg” uses Jagungal map
Detailed Maps with Actual Walking Tracks shown
Oziexplorer Maps using NSW Topoview Maps & Jagungal 1:25000 Map:-
- Gungarlin River to Brassy Gap Return Actual Walk All WPs NSW Topo Map.jpg uses Mosaic NSW topo map
- Brassy Gap to Kidmans Return Actual Walk with All WPs Jagungal Topo Map.jpg
- Kidmans to Top Return Actual Walk with All WPs Jagungal Topo Map.jpg
Notes: Map view extracts came from Oziexplorer using NSW DFSI Spatial Services approval for display of their base map from Topoview 2006. GPS files available on Google Drive. One map view comes using Oziexplorer with Ozraster NSW topo map provided by BKK Enterprises Pty Ltd, http://www.gpsoz.com.au.
“Mt Jagungal and the Brassy Mountains” is an excellent old sketch map produced by Tim Lamble of Sydney in the late 1970’s. I have the 1st edition which I have heavily updated. There were three more editions and I also have pristine 4th Edition. I understand that Lamble will no longer produce any updates of this map so what you see is all that’s available. Some digitised versions have been made by myself and also by people with better facilities. If you need a copy contact me.
Categories: Kosciuszko NP, Mountains, Huts, NSW
Tags: Kidmans Hut, Brassy Gap, Little Brassy Gap, Snowy Plains, Gungarlin River, Gungarlin Valley, Daveys Hut, Burrungubugge River, Burrungubugge Gorge, Mailbox, Mt Jagungal, Jagungal Wilderness, Collins Ck, Teddys Ck, Nimmo Hill, Mill Flat, Gungarlin River Campground, Osprey Exos 58L large pack, Mike Hinchey
Greg Hutchison, 16 Jan 2022