If you're looking for something a lot more adventurous in your Namadgi walks, then this is for you. A real bushbash, and some well-honed navigational skills are needed to locate the stone walls.
The Walk: Medium to Hard. The walk itself is only around 9 kilometres, but there are different routes that you can take, which could shorten or lengthen the distance. The shortest route, which would be a straight line from the carpark to the stone wall and return, would involve an arduous slog through the scrub and undergrowth. The route we took involved some pretty serious bushbashing on the homeward leg, and you will need navigational skills to find your way there and back.
Directions: To get to the start of the walking track, you need to travel to the carpark at the locked gate at Glendale Depot. To get there, you first drive to Tharwa. Once over the Tharwa bridge, swing left onto Naas Road. From here it's around 33 kilometres, so enjoy the beautiful picturesque scenery and the wonderful mountains! Continue on Naas Road until you pass the interesection with Apollo Road on your right (leads to the old Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station - another beautiful spot). From this point, Naas Road ends and Boboyan Road starts. Follow Boboyan Road and pass the turn-off to Orroral Valley on your right and a little further on, you will come to the Glendale Depot turn off to your left. You should see a sign about a hundred metres from the turn-off. It is about 23.7 kilometres from Tharwa Bridge. This is a National Parks depot and services the needs of the rangers and Parks personnel with upkeep and maintenance of roads and infrastructure.
Image 1 - At the start of the walk, you will see the nearby mountains to the east, north east. You have to get up and over the top to find the stone walls!
The Walk: Why walk to these seemingly insignificant stone walls? Well, these are estimated to be 100 to 150 years old and nobody really knows who built them, or why they were built. There are theories around about the walls being constructed as sheep pens, or perhaps a fortified hideout for bushrangers, but there is no definitive information as to their true purpose.
Even well-known local and mystery investigator, Tim the Yowie Man, couldn't find any information that would solve the mystery of the walls. For further information about that story, clickhere.
As I would also discover, they are difficult to get to and difficult to locate, even with the use of electronic navigational devices. For an avid bushwalker, this is a great challenge and so starts the adventure!
After arriving at the carpark next to the locked gate at Glendale Depot, we got our gear together and set off. The previous day, I had planned what I thought was a fairly good route, aimed at taking advantage of the fire trails for as long as I could before going into the bush. As mentioned earlier, there are different routes that you can take, ranging from the most direct to one that involves a much longer distance and takes you down Half Moon Creek Fire Trail (adjacent to Reedy Creek) to the junction of the National Parks boundary fence, before heading west, locating a valley and turning south up the incline towards the destination.
I went for an in-between, which involved getting to a pre-determined grid reference on Half Moon Creek Fire Trail and then punching west up to the saddle of a high point, planning to contour around to the western side, before dropping down to where I though the stone wall would be. I should point out that there are actually two stone walls, with one of them being the larger and, by most reports, the more impressive of the two. Topographic map showing planned route below. Click on Image 4 (below) for larger version.
Image 2 (above) and Image 3 (below) - the start of the Brandy Flat walking trail.
The start of the walk commenced at the Brandy Flat walking track (Images 2 and 3), which is just short of the carpark on your left side as you drive in. This is a very pleasant track if you're after something less adventurous. After 1.4 kilometres, you intersect with the Brandy Flat Fire Trail. If you weren't searching for the stone walls, you could take this road and after another 2.9 kilometres, you would arrive at the tranquil location of Brandy Flat Hut (see more details in catalogue of walks). But today, we were heading to the mysterious stone walls of Glendale!
When we started off, it was overcast with a little drizzle but no wind and a perfect temperature for bushwalking (around 20C). I took the time to enjoy the Brandy Flat Trail and surrounds, resisting the urge to charge ahead and get some distance behind me. All along the trail, there is an abundance of Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Red Necked Wallabies. I think that most of them are well used to people, as two of the big males looked over at me briefly before continuing their boxing match as if I wasn't even there (Images 5 and 6).
Image 4 - Topographical map showing planned route - its worked out pretty well to schedule, but the terrain can never be seen on a map!
After 1.4 kilometres, we hit the intersection with the Brandy Flat Fire Trail, and turned left (easterly) and carried on up the first of the inclines (Image 7). The light drizzle had now stopped and the cloud had begun to lift, so I was hopeful that the day would be relatively clear, as it is always hard going when you, and all your gear, is soaking wet!
After about 1.2 kilometres, we reached the track intersection. Okay, I have to admit that I was busily chatting and missed the track intersection and, after another kilometre, realised my mistake and had to back track. This added an additional 2 kilometres to the journey.
We turned onto the Half Moon Creek Firetrail and it wasn't long until we were greeted by some fairly steep hills. This certainly got the heart rate up (Image 8)! It was another 1.5 kilometres before we reached the first pre-planned navigational point. The inclines did settle during this section and became flat to undulating through beautiful woodlands, prolific with small native birds.
We stopped at the navigational point for some morning tea. As we sat and enjoyed the stillness and peace of the landscape, you couldn't help but take in the area's natural beauty.
Image 5 (above - these two Eastern Grey Kangaroos took a short break from their boxing match to look at who was walking by and then Image 6 (below) carried on unperturbed!
Image 7 (above) the first of the inclines on Brandy Flat Firetrail and Image 8 (below) - I'd gone ahead and got to the top of the first incline on Half Moon Firetrail to take a photo looking back down
We had climbed to a rocky outcrop, so were slightly elevated and smack in the middle of a woodland valley.
We were lucky enough to have a small group of four Gang Gang Cockatoos visit a nearby tree. I have tried very hard to get a good photo of these magnificent birds in their natural environment, so far without success. Image 9 (below) is the best I could do on this occasion.
After our cuppa, and feeling pretty relaxed, it was time to push on straight up the incline to the saddle. From the navigational point, we headed due west and the going was pretty good. The undergrowth and trees were spaced enough to make the climb to the top relatively easy (Image 10). We had climbed for a distance of around 500 metres and gained 110 metres in elevation. This put us in the saddle just above the 1200 metre elevation mark (refer Image 4).
From this point you could see that there were fantastic views to the west, but there was enough tree growth so that you didn't get a completely clear view (Image 11).
Image 9 (left) - A Gang Gang Cockatoo in its natural environment
Image 10 (above left) - the re-growth was spaced enough to enable a relatively easy climb to the saddle and Image 11 (above right) - at these elevations you begin to get some breathtaking views
From this point, we contoured around to the west - south west and the terrain got a little tougher to navigate through (Image 12). After we had scaled around the countour and got onto the western side, we dropped down and the terrain became a little easier to get through.
We had arrived at the approximate location that I thought the stone wall was located at. We began scanning the surroundings looking for any signs, but it was difficult as this particular area was strewn with boulders, rocky outcrops and all manner of rocky configurations.
We dropped down a little more (southerly direction) and came across an old fenceline (Image 13). I surmised that this must relate to the vicinity of the stone wall and we followed it for a short distance, before deciding to stop for a short break in order to re-confirm our bearings and location. Like all people who have learnt to land navigate, you would relate to the feeling of: "According to my calculations, we are right on top of it, where the hell is it"?
I kicked back and took a breather and, after a few moments, my wife said: "There's some rocks piled on each other just over there, do you think this might be it?"
I looked over a short distance away and there was indeed a small pile of rocks wedged between two larger boulders. In all honesty, you could only just describe it as a stone wall (Image 14). Nevertheless, it was definitely not natural so had to have been made by human hand. This sparked my enthusiasm and up I got and started searching the immediate area when, suddenly, there it was, staring straight back at me. A huge stone wall wedged in between very large granite boulders! I wondered how I could have possibly missed this, but in all honesty, I'd been examining various rocky outcrops, granite boulder formations and all manner of rocky configurations in my search for the wall that they had all started to blend together and look the same.
"Found it", I proudly announced with my wife giving me a a sideways glance (yes, I took the credit, when really its was my wife)! Images showcased below (click on right or left image to slide).
Image 12 (above) - the going got a little tougher as we contoured around to the south west and Image 13 (below) - we managed to locate an old fenceline, which gave a clue that we were close
Image 14 - a small stone wall wedged between two larger granite boulders. This proved to be the start of the right location for finding the first of the stone walls.
Image 15 (above) - the going at the top of the valley on the way out was pretty good and Image 16 (below) - it got tough very quickly!
Image 16 (left) - the going got really tough and Image 17 (above) jubilation as one of our group busted out of the bush and into the clearing.
We stayed for a short while and studied the configuration of stone walls. I thought to myself: "I'm no expert, but these just look like very rudimentary efforts to form a holding pen for animals many years ago". But, they were in such a strange location, which was not easy to get to and I'm sure this was also the case all those years ago. As the walls were tall enough to shield a person to head height, perhaps they were some form of fortification. The mystery continues! Recognising that this 'wall' was the smaller of the two, I had high hopes for the second!
From here, we set off to look for the second of the stone walls and, by all accounts, the more impressive of the two. We headed to the west before contouring back to the south and into a small valley that was relatively clear. We continued south to south easterly whilst searching for the second of the stone walls, but no matter how hard we looked we couldn't locate the wall.
At this stage the group was starting to get a little weary and it was beginning to get late in the day. With some reluctance (at not having found the second wall) we commenced the walk back down to the Glendale Depot car park.
You can never fully assess what the going will be like by looking at a map. Given that we had managed to get this far with relative ease, I thought that the going would be similar on the direct return journey to the cars. So we basically headed straight down the valley and, to begin with, the going was relatively good (Image 15).
But, as we got lower in elevation, the terrain became very rugged and the undergrowth very thick in parts. The only way through most sections was to put your forearms up in front of you and burst your way through, whilst clambering down the various rocky outcrops (Image 16). This resulted in some impressive scratches to the forearms (don't worry guys, the tale will get better and better as we get older!).
At one stage, we were only covering about 100 metres per half an hour. Thankfully, it started to clear a little as we got lower and I clambered up on a rock to get a good vantage point and from here I guided one of the group to the clearing at the bottom. A sign of jubilation after such an epic slog (Image 17)!
After we all arrived safely in the clearing, we headed south easterly back to the carpark. On the way, I came across two apple trees, obviously left over from the farming days, or an apple core tossed onto the ground by a walker in the past. The apples weren't quiet fully red, and were fairly tart, but I ate three, which were very refreshing after a hard slog through the bush (Image 17).
We arrived back at the car late in the day, just as the sun was in its early phase of setting. I mentioned to the others that I would come back and locate the second wall and was met with blank stares. Oh well, the next time up here will be on my own!
If you do a Google search, you will notice very little information on these Stonewalls, which gives you an indication that they are not easily reached. I would say that few people visit them so if you are thinking of giving it a go, make sure you are properly prepared and proficient in land navigation (or take someone with you who is), otherwise you could easily become disorientated or worse, lost.
Image 17 and 18 (above) - a random apple tree growing wild in the Australian bush!