Mt Clear (campground) to Brayshaw's Hut - SouthernBorder Walk
Image 1 (top left) and Image 2 (top right) give you an idea of how exposed the walk is on a warmer day.
This was a walk I'd never really considered doing. However, whenever camping at Mt Clear campground, I always like to explore the area and the Southern Border Walk was a walk that I had not done previously. Whilst the walk itself is pleasant enough, offering a range of different landscapes and vegetation as you climb the ascent to the southern border and then descend down to cross Boboyan Road onto the back leg of the Settlers heritage trail, it is very exposed for most of the trek so probably best on a cooler day (unless you really like the heat and are prepared to carry a lot of water!). A reward on this walk is making it to Westerman's Homestead where you can stop and relax for lunch.
Walk Rating: Moderate. Has some inclines and the hilly sections can be slippery coming down. If you come back along Boboyan Road - 14 kilometres. If you turn back at the border sign - 7.2 kilometres.
Directions to Walk
To get to Mt Clear campground, drive to Tharwa. Once over the bridge, swing left onto Naas Road, which turns into Boboyan Road. From Tharwa it's around 49.3 kilometres to the turn-off to the Mt Clear campground and parking area.
Please note that after 36 kilometres, the road changes to dirt. It is a well-maintained dirt road but does get affected by the weather conditions from time to time, particularly during the winter months. Generally, a two-wheel drive vehicle will have no problems, but occasionally the road is closed or only open to four-wheel drives.
Once you turn into the access road to Mt Clear, you travel about a klilometre, until you come to a fork in the road. The left fork takes you to the Mt Clear campground and the right fork takes you to the carpark at the start of the walking track. Image 3 (right) depicts a sign at the start of the walk.
The Walk: We started from Mt Clear Campground after spending the night there, so it didn't take long to get to the car park at the southern side of the road intersection as you approach Mt Clear campground. From this location, you can step off for a number of different walks. If you stay on the trail (Naas Valley Fire Trail), this will take you to Demandering Hut (sadly lost in the 2020 fires) and then onto Horse Gully Hut, which I'm pleased to say survived the 2020 fires.
If you turn right from the Naas Valley FT and take the Long Flat FT (Image 4), after 1.7 kilometres you can turn left where it intersects with Burnt Hill FT, which is a continuation of the Long Flat FT and this will take you to the top of Mt Clear (a hard slog). But today, we were heading to the southern border and onto the back end of the Settlers Trail.
Image 3 - The start of the walk and the start of several walks you can do from this location.
Once on Naas Valley FT, turn right onto Long Flat FT and walk for 1.7 kilometres and then continue on the Burnt Hill Fire Trail. The initial couple of kilometres are worth taking in as it gives you an oversight of the 2020 fire behavior and you can clearly see what was damaged and what escaped the fires relatively unscathed.
It's really pleasing to see that this part of the National Park has escaped the worst of the 2020 fires. If you are feeling adventurous, you can attempt to locate the remains of an old homestead below Potters Hill. This is at Grid Reference 8140 2800 (Collinton 1:25000). About 900 metres along the Long Flat FT and about 200 metres to the west, towards the creek. This was the homestead of Henry and Anastasia Allen, who took up a piece of land here, and attempted farming from 1890. There were a lot of hardships endured by the couple including the drowning death of Anastaia's 10yr old boy in the Boboyan Creek. He is buried near the Boboyan homestead.
We continued past the ruin and made our way along the fire trail. To prove that not all the animals perished in the fires, we came across a pack of wild dogs (Image 6 and 7 below left). Although they look like dogs that have escaped into the bush and become feral, the Rangers tell me that they have largely Dingo DNA. I couldn't get too close for obvious reasons so apologies for the enlarged grainy shots.
After 1.7 kilometres the Long Flat FT heads off in a westerly direction into the mountains. We continued straight, now on the Burnt Hill FT. At this point you begin to move away from the grassy areas around the aptly named Grassy Creek and the surround becomes more heavily wooded.
At the 2 kilometre mark, you begin the ascent , which takes you to the top of Burnt Hill. The ascent is reasonably steep in parts so best to take it slow. There are some views that unfold to the south west, but the trail is largely surrounded by woodlands.
After about 500 metres of ascent, you arrive at the top of Burnt Hill and right on the ACT/NSW border. There is a sign here with some interesting information about the history of the border survey, explaining how the ACT borders were surveyed (Image 8 below).
It's well placed as not only do you get the chance to get your breath back, the sign is very informative as well!
Image 4 (top left) - the right turn mark onto Long Flat FT. Image 5 (top right) - border walk sign.
Image 6 and Image 7 above - a couple of the wild dogs from the pack that we saw.
After a a short stop to read the sign, we continued to the west, remaining on the Burnt Hill FT. This is a mainly down hill walk, but be conscious that the fire trail is very gravelly in parts and it is very easy to lose your footing, particularly on the steeper down hill sections.
This section of the track will take you 2 kilometres through undulating hills, moving alongside the border as you go. There are loads of Red Necked Wallabies through this section and although untouched by the fires, I was disappointed at the lack of bird life in this are. It seemed an ideal habitat with a small creek and loads of native woodland.
After two kilometres, we came to Boboyan Road (Image 9 below left) and crossing the road we climbed the stairs over the fence (Image 10 below right) and continued on the now Waterholes FT.
This is an enjoyable part of the walk as you make your way towards Westerman's Homestead and the back section of what is known as the Settlers Trail. The Settlers Trail is about a 9 kilometre loop walk that takes you past Brayshw's Hut, Waterhole Hut and Westerman's Homestead. It's well worth it. Continue along Waterhole FT and veer to the right after about 600 metres. You will be able to see the homestead in the distance from here (Image 11).
Image 9 (top left)_- Burnt Hill FT heading west towards Boboyan Road and the Settlers Trail and Image 10 (above right) - arriving at Boboyan Road.
Image 8 (above) - The information sign on the ACT/NSW border at the top of Burnt Hill.
After turning right towards Westerman's Homestead, it is only 600 metres until you arrive. KHA do a really good job maintaining this homestead and there are numerous information boards that provide some really good historical insight into life for the early white settlers. It's a great place to stop for lunch, a drink or just a break to take it all in.
I also had another motive for stopping here. We were scheduled to film an historical re-enactment as part of the Namadgi documentary, so wanted to do a recce, to make sure we had the scenes properly planned out. I've added a picture from the filming (Image 12) for those interested.
After stopping at the homestead for lunch, we packed our bags and headed to the the north, following the Settlers Trail for 2 kilometres, before arriving at Brayshaw's Hut. The only way back to Mt Clear camp ground from here is to either double back (meaning about 8 kilometres), or continue north along Boboyan Road to the Mt Clear Campground (about 3.5 kilometres).
As it had turned out to be a very warm day, we opted for the shorter return leg and took Boboyan Road. Needless to say, not without its pitfalls, with all manner of vehicles and driving abilities on display. If you do take this option to walk back along Boboyan Road, best to get off the road if you hear or see a vehicle approaching. Drivers aren't expecting walkers on Boboyan Road.
Note: there is tank water at Westerman's Homestead so you could replenish your water supply there, but make sure you treat the water before drinking it.
This would be a really satisfying walk if a track could be forged from Brayshaw's Hut back to Mt Clear (rather than walking back on the road).
There's plenty to keep you interested, and regular locations providing historical information about the early white settlers.
I would recommend the walk, but best on a cooler day as large parts of the walk are exposed to the sun.
Image 11 - The walk towards Westerman's Homestead.
Image 12 - Filming the historical re-enactment for the Namadgi docuementary. For details, visit www.thewalkworldproductions.com