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Kosciuszko National Park – Gungarlin Kidmans Mawsons Huts – Jagungal Area 12-16 Apr 2022

This was a 5 days 51Km medium-hard walk from the Snowy Plains at the Gungarlin River Campground to Kidmans Hut, then up over Great Dividing Range to Mawsons Hut. The trip was to try out my new Macpac Torlesse 60L V2 pack.

The featured image is a view of the road travelling to Nimmo Hill in mist

Introduction

This was 5 days, 51 Km medium-hard walk from the Snowy Plains at the Gungarlin River Campsite to Kidmans Hut, then up through the Burrungubugge River gorge to near the Great Dividing Range then down to Mawsons Hut for a night then back to Kidmans.

On the morning of the 12th Apr 2022, I set off from Canberra and headed to the Gungarlin River Campsite to undertake the walk.

My pictures of this trip are available on Google Photos. I didn’t take that many.

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 was relabeled in 2021 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 Stockmens’ 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 2022 is sometimes more dense than what was there in 2002. The climb from the Gungahlin 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 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, 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 – Tues 12th Apr

I left Canberra around 6.45AM and after getting a newspaper & petrol I drove to Cooma where I 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 not too bad but rough in places with many large ruts across the road caused by continuing heavy rain. They must have graded it as it was now quite driveable. I parked my car at GPS 55H 638892 5987688, which was next to Horse yards and shelter. There was no one camped there.

The only issue was that a lot of the road in was somewhat wet although not boggy. However, approaching Nimmo Hill I entered a fairly dense mist formed from low clouds.

I then started the walk quite late around 11.36AM, walking across the Gungarlin Bridge then west across the open fields of the Snowy Plains. I did deviate from my planned route by checking out some possible sites specifically Hedgers Snowy Plain site and then crossing Diggers Ck higher up and walking cross county to Davey’s Hut and then had lunch. I did GPS a couple of sites that might have been Hedger’s site. However, they were both clean of any debris.

After lunch two people approached the hut as I was getting ready to leave. They were Jenni and Brian (?) from Sydney. They were staying at Thredbo and just did a day trip to the Gungarlin Valley to check it out for future adventures. I offered to take them across to Snowy Plains (or Napthalis) Hut Site as it was the site that had the most history in the area and also offered a great view over the area. It was also close to the main track up to Kidmans. On the way across I didn’t cross Campbells Ck well and nearly fell into the creek. It was narrow but very deep. On the way across Jenni saw a copperhead in a small dent in the grass. We got to the site and I then left them and headed up Teddys Ck firetrail. (Also known by the locals as The Broken Dray Trail). I continued up to Brassy Gap. I got to Kidmans around 5.30PM which was a little late in fading light. I found it awkward to set up my tent as well as collect some firewood and water.

It was hard to cook on my stove outside with little light and not enough heat from the nearby small fire.

My new pack was a little awkward also being hard to pack things and it also seemed like I had lost my beanie on the trip so far. (I was presented with my beanie by one of the guys that I met at Kidmans two days later. He had picked it up climbing up to Brassy Gap).

On the trip from Brassy Gap, I saw a bull or a deer. I didn’t get a good look at it. The area was quite wet which was to be expected after all the recent rain. I also noted the track up to Brassy gap had been largely cleared with no trees having to be walked around.

That’s night it came down with a heavy mist effectively low cloud which made it very wet and uncomfortable.

On Day 1 I did about 12.8Km to Kidmans and further, and of course I had driven around 200Km as well. Gungarlin River to Kidmans was only 12.2Km by its normal route.

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). Other information (Graham Scully) suggested that Jack Bolton was involved in building Kidmans and it was done quick and dirty as they had information that the NPWS was going to soon take over the area.

Day 2 – Wed 13th Apr

I arose early around 7AM to a cold misty morning. I then breakfasted and packed up setting off around 9.18AM.

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 now WP K052 Cairn, crossed a small low scrubby section before I could see another small cut section from WP now K053 Rte Up. This spot marked where I could follow a footpad up to a higher open area next to Cairn 2. From there I went south west down to marker WP now K058 M01 which then allowed me to get easily to another Cairn WP now K060 Cairn. I then headed across the valley with a creek to cross WP now K062 Ck before heading slightly uphill past point WP now K063 then point WP 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 now K065 Bottom Burrung Gorge. I was now in the real Burrungubugge Gorge which I knew fairly well and would take me up to the McDonald diggings and a large open plain above its top. I initially went to point WP K066. I also used new points 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.

I had previously 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 this 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 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 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 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 WP K097 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 75-100m south proving easy and then swung around to the west after passing points WPs K99 and K100 and then took 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 to rest and check where one is at 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 and managed to follow some old orange/yellow tape markers up and I followed a range of new WPs. These WPs are shown in the data as points K103 through to K127. The top section is covered with some small yellow tags which gave me a good route up to WP 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. There is a nice new large cairn on a rock slab here. 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.

One interesting aspect was 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.

I then went south around a wet area and took a route west up and over a grassy area covered with much fallen timber until I could reach the edge of a higher bowl. I followed around its northern edge and then swung around to its eastern edge. This time I climbed up on the western side and took a route through a lot of annoying scrub. This used to be the route of the old bridle trail but it’s easier to walk west along the northern edge of the bowl and then climb up a partially open edge.

From the top it’s an easy trudge west and into a saddle between the Brassy Range to the south and the western edge of a plateau that spans north right to the Mailbox.

This time I took a short cut across a swampy ground until I could reach firmer ground and then continue across some more wet ground before reaching the edge of the plateau.

At this point the sun was setting and it created a blood red effect as it went down. I now knew I was late and needed to get a move on. I now walked very much more by using my GPS and following the old route I had on it. As I headed downhill to the west through some increasing scrub the light largely was gone and I relied entirely on moonlight. Luckily the moon was pretty full and very much low down on the east horizon.

One very strange highlight was that I could now see down over the Valentine Valley and any ponds and water in Valentine Ck was reflecting the moonlight and sparkling with a light show one rarely sees. It was a magic moment only tempered by my fear of being late and not being able to wade across the Valentine River safely.

I thought about camping out here but I had little water left so I need to reach the Valentine anyway. I kept going with my GPS giving me hope I would make it.

I eventually got down to the Valentine River where walkers normally cross when going to Mawsons Hut. I was emboldened when I bent down and put my ski pole into it and found it was not as deep as I expected.

I took off my boots, put on crocs and tied my boots around my neck and waded across. It was fine and easy even though I was doing it by moonlight. I then had to sit down on the far bank and put my boots back on. I didn’t know at the time but I left one gaiter on the bank. Now I was down a gaiter and a beanie. I then trudged the last 330m or so up to the hut.

There was one tent there right where I would have put mine. They were in the hut keeping warm from the combustion wood heater.

I put up my tent and then went down in moonlight to get water getting lost in the process.

The occupants were two women from Armidale Health Service. One was a GP with the Aboriginal Health Service. They had driven to Round Mountain and walked out to Jagungal and then over the Geehi and Big Bend to Mawsons Hut. I was glad to see that they were well equipped and competent. I only reached the hut at 7.35PM so I can’t talk about competence.

Today I did 9.2km but it felt like 25Km.

Day 3 – Thu 14th Apr

I arose quite early around 6.00AM for a nature break. It was very cold and icy so I went back to bed. I think I got up properly around 7.00-7.15 AM and had brekkie in the hut, but I still didn’t get away until around 10.00AM.

I had a slow easy walk back up the hill to the Great Divide plateau and stopped up there for an early lunch. The ladies from Mawson caught me and I gave then some information about water between there and Cesjacks Hut and wished them well.

I then went back down to the gap in the Great Divide with Brassy Peak on my right and down a steep hill into the bowl below then walked around to the top of the track down to Kidmans reaching the latter around 5.32PM.

When I reached Kidmans I found 3 guys from Sydney had already arrived and put up two tents. One slept on the mattress in the Hut. He was game and lucky it had a new covering. Every time I have been there it’s been covered with mouse droppings.

I had to put up my tent in the dark again and go and collect water and some wood.

They encouraged me to cook inside the hut and share the fire in there which I did. I was a bit late cooking having arrived late. Seems to be a theme for this walk.

Kidmans Hut with three of us

They were Mark, Matt (i.e., Matthew) and Teff (Richard.) Two of them were brothers. They came from Chatswood, Hurlstone Park and Marrickville. I think Teff came from Marrickville. Teff seemed to be the most experienced and was the nominal leader. They seemed like a good bunch of guys.

Today I did 8.5Km.

Day 4 – Fri 15th Apr

I arose quite early around 6.00AM for a nature break. It was very cold and icy so I went back to bed. I think I got up properly around 7.00-7.15 AM and had brekkie in the hut.

I tried to explain the route up to the guys but I didn’t have any maps with me so I made a quick decision to guide them up to the top of the gorge so they at least would have the hardest part out of their way. I think we left around 9.30-9.45AM. I forgot to turn on my GPS and only did so when we were half way up the gorge.

I took them up the gorge and then pushed them higher over the open plain and we found the spot where you can easily hop across to the other side. I continued with them until we could turn left at a large cairn and I went with them another few hundred metres until we passed a small clearing and sent them on the correct route from there around 11AM. I returned slowly back down the way I came up and stopped for lunch around 1PM in the gorge where there is an area of large boulders. After lunch I returned to camp at Kidmans around 2.30PM.

I had a couple of hours to kill so I cleaned up and collected a small amount of firewood.

Just around 5PM I heard voices and low and behold another group arrived from the Gungarlin. They were a family of 5 from Canberra. They were lucky I had not moved my tent and were able to set up 3 tents in a good spot near the hut.

They took over my small fire and built a larger one.

They were Peter, Jane and Kate, Meg & Ash (male friend). They had all done lots of treks in Canada, NZ and the Budawangs which I think they normally went at Easter. They planned to go to Mawsons and do a day walk to Cup & Saucer and Bluff Tarn.

They did not have a GPS or good map data so I ended up offering to take Peter up to the start of the gorge a bit like the previous group. I didn’t want to go further with them as I needed to go home this day and I did not really want to drive up the Monaro Highway in the dark.

As I got to know them, they seemed like a nice well-mannered family.

Today I did 5.8Km.

Day 5 – Sat 16th Apr

I got up early around 7AM and had brekkie and packed up my sleeping gear but not my tent. I then left around 7.44AM taking Peter up the hill and across to the bottom of the gorge where a defined track begins by 8.12AM and we quickly returned to the Hut by 8.40AM after which the group left soon thereafter around 8.50AM. I wished them well. An email from the previous group led by Teff told me several days later that they had made it to Mawsons. That was a relief to hear.

I then had to pack up my tent and pack. I got away about 10.25AM. I think I had a very slow packing effort.

I got up to the top of Brassy Gap OK and then went around a quarter of the way down towards Teddy Ck. As it was around 12.40PM I found a nice spot on a rock nearby and had my last lunch.

Two strange things happened while I was lunching. The first was my mobile phone made a beep noise. Impossible as it was off. So, I checked it and it wasn’t off. I must have inadvertently pressed the on/off button while it was quashed in my bum bag. These things happen. Anyway, my wife had tried to text/phone me. Again, impossible as I was downhill from Brassy Gap which is the only spot around that has reception. Well, I did have reception as I rang her and showed her a 360degree view that I was alone and I would be home that night. Then three people came huffing and puffing up the trail. I shocked them as you don’t expect to see someone sitting on a rock nearby. More shocking was they said you must be me. And I was. Anyway, I told them they were doing good and wished them well. They were just going to Kidmans for a look see and an easy trek.

I then headed off again and in less than 100m of came face to face with a medium sized copperhead snake. He turned off into the bush and I continued.

I continued down and across the Snowy Plains. Just after crossing Diggers Ck, I met another back packer Alison Curtin from Canberra also hiking to Kidmans. She had apparently been to Kidmans and was heading back to the Gungarlin Campsite. I still don’t understand what route she took as I didn’t pass her on the route I took. Anyway, we walked together to the campground and went our ways.

As it was easter the area was largely packed out with a couple of noisy young country types. It was nice to see a nice young couple from Jindabyne camped there using the horse yard with two of their horses.

I left the camp ground about 4.25PM and didn’t reach home until nearly 8PM. I took it easy driving across the Rocky Plains but was presented with an amazingly large moon rising just above the horizon to the north east. That was another magic moment.

I had to get petrol in Cooma to be safe and something to eat quickly. Just south of the ACT I came upon some sort of accident. I managed to drive through it and soon was passed by up to 15 police, ambulance and fire brigade vehicles roaring south. I read later that one person was taken to hospital and there were no deaths. It was a straight piece of road.

The Monaro Highway is not the best one in Australia but its safe if you drive carefully. One has to watch out for roos and other animals at night. There is now a lot of patching due to the rain. A stretch just south of Cooma Airport is being renovated so it will be down to one lane there at times.

Today I did 15.0Km walking.

Comments

Whilst some of the trail up to Lt Brassy Gap has been cleared, there is still substantial scrub to get through albeit the route is quite walkable. This route and old bridle trails are overall quite heavily overgrown but that is similar all over Kosi NP and has been exacerbated by the large amounts of rain over the last couple of years. For instance, the area around the burnt 4Mile Hut has the highest grass covering including height I have ever seen. However, one thing is a clear, KNP will burn severely again in the years ahead unless the authorities undertake more stringent and widespread fuel reductions burns, including wilderness areas. Some of that will inevitably require more and better maintained fire trails.

Macpac Torlesse 65L large pack V2 with frame S2, colour Carbon

I bought this pack after my previous problems with the Osprey Exos 58L large pack. This trip was a test for the new Macpac. It’s not like the old canvas solid packs they produced in the past. Its lighter and uses Cordura fabric rather than the Canvas of the past. It’s designed in Christchurch NZ but I am fairly certain its manufactured in China. It was not quite large enough for the crap I carried but it was close. I had issues with the buckles. They are thin and hard to insert and open unlike the earlier large Macpac buckles. Tightening the main straps was reasonably easy but they tendered to slide off to the side of the pack. But they worked OK. I think it lacked a large pocket on the back lower down which would have been handy to carry water bottle, Nibblies, KFS set & cup. There was a side pocket that could accommodate a water bottle and nibblies. I realised that I had not properly setup the main waist belt buckles nor the sternum buckles. I think with time I can get these optimised and make its use more comfortable. I had a lot of experience and success with my last pack, a Macpac 65L Glissade which I bought way back in 2002. It’s starting to show its age and seems a little too heavy for the modern light- weight environment.

Distances

      Section      /      Distances per Day (km)

1. Snowy Plains FT to Kidmans Hut  via Daveys Hut   /   12.8

2. Kidmans Hut to Great Divide & to Mawsons Hut    /    9.2

3. Mawsons Hut to Great Divide & to Kidmans Hut   /      8.5

4. Kidmans to McDonalds Diggs back to Kidmans       /    5.8

5. Kidmans Hut up to bottom of Burrungubuggee Gorge
back to Kidmans then to Gungarlin River Campsite  /    15.0

     Total                        51.3 Km

Car Distances

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 17.3Km to Gungarlin River campsite.

GPX Files

I have from my GPS, created a large GPS file that shows all GPS tracks, based on one track per day of walking.

GPS Files are:

These show my actual walk with only those WPs created plus sone older ones to show main features & sites walk

  • KNP 12-16 Apr 2022 Gungarlin Kidmans Mawsons.gdb. The old garmin format
  • KNP 12-16 Apr 2022 Gungarlin Kidmans Mawsons.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

Topo Maps extracts with walking tracks and Gpx files, Garmin gdb/gpx files covering the trip with waypoints and various tracks are in a Google Drive folder.

On the screen captured Oziexplorer maps with My Walking Track Route shown

Oziexplorer Maps using NSW Topoview Maps & Jagungal 1:25000 Map:-

  • “1. KNP 12-16 Apr 2022 – Overview Map Oziexplorer NSW Topo.jpg” uses Mosaic NSW topo map
  • “2. KNP 12-16 Apr 2022 – Days 1 & 5 Map Oziexplorer NSW Topo.jpg” also uses Mosaic NSW topo map
  • “3. KNP 12-16 Apr 2022 – Days 2 & 3 & 4 Map Oziexplorer NSW Topo Jagungal Map.jpg” uses Jagungal 1:25000 Oztopo version

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.

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 660-750 pixels high.

Blog Post of this trip

Categories: Kosciuszko NP, Mountains, Mining, Huts, NSW

Tags: Kidmans Hut, Brassy Gap, Little Brassy Gap, Snowy Plains, Gungarlin River, Gungarlin Valley, Daveys Hut, Burrungubugge River, Burrungubugge Gorge, Mt Jagungal, Jagungal Wilderness, Collins Ck, Teddys Ck, Nimmo Hill, Mill Flat, Gungarlin River Campsite, Macpac Torlesse 65L pack,

Greg Hutchison, 24 April 2022

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