Image 1 - The view from the peak of Mt Gudgenby. Panoramic facing south eat (from left) to west (far right)
Another Namadgi walk that takes you to the rooftop of the National Park. Not easy to get to, but the effort is well worth the sweeping and majestic views (Image 1).
Walk Rating: Hard. The walk distance was just over 20 kilometres in total, with 3.5 hours each way. There is a rudimentary track that ends at the saddle. From there, it is tough going, through some fairly thick undergrowth and rocky granite outcrops. Recommend map and compass skills for this walk.
Directions: To get to the Yankee Hat car park, you drive to Tharwa. Once over the bridge, swing left onto Naas Road. From here it's around 32 kilometres,so enjoy the beautiful picturesque scenery and the wonderful mountains! Continue on Naas Road until you pass the intersection with Apollo Road (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 and a little further on you will pass the Glendale Depot. This is a National Parks depot and services the needs of the rangers and Parks personnel with upkeep and maintenance of roads and infrastructure. Continue past the depot and go past the carpark at Rendezvous Creek. From here it is only a little further. Keep an eye out for the small sign (Old Boboyan Road) on the right side of the road. If the road changes from tar to dirt, you have gone too far! Turn off to the right and the well-maintained dirt road will take you to the Yankee Hat carpark. There are two small weirs to cross, but generally there are no problems with a two-wheel drive (except when the creek is in flood of course).
Image 3 - The view of Mt Gudgenby in the distance as you commence the walk.
After walking just over three kilometres, you will see a small rock cairn on the right side of the road (west side), which someone has generously put down to show you where to turn off the defined access road (Image 4).
At this point, head into the woodlands and head almost due west towards the saddle, which is your first destination goal. During this section, if you find yourself in heavier undergrowth and the going gets tough, you have dropped down too far towards the creek line. Head to the south and get up higher and you will find the going a lot easier. On my walk, I missed the initial marker where the unofficial walking track starts, but thankfully, I stumbled across it when I was about halfway to the saddle (See Image at bottom of page for map and my navigation route). Finding the track certainly made the walk to the saddle a lot easier.
The track is marked by orange (or white) tape on the trees and also some rock cairns. There is always a lot of divide amongst bushwalkers about whether this is the right thing to do, with purists arguing that it spoils the natural ambience of the bush, and takes away the challenge of navigation. For the record, I'm a fan! It makes the going easier and anything that allows better access to more of the truly majestic areas of the National Park, I'm supportive off. Thanks to those who put in the effort to mark the trail.
The track is not an official walking trail as it is not publicised by ACT Parks and Conservation, so no doubt it has been 'worn' by the many walkers over the years. Although the trail is pretty well marked, there are several spots where it is easy to come off the track (it is very rudimentary in parts) and lose the trail. You can generally re-find the track, but this is why you should have some reasonable map and compass skills in case you cannot re-find it (Image 4 and 5).
Being on the track not only made the walk a lot easier, but it also gave me the chance to enjoy the magnificent woodlands and prolific birdlife. The creek was flowing from recent rains, so I was accompanied by the gentle flow of the stream. Very relaxing and peaceful, which is what makes bushwalking so rewarding.
I arrived at the saddle after two hours and someone had even marked this with a rock cairn! I stopped for a break and had an initial survey of the route to the peak of Mt Gudgenby (Images 6 and 7) . From here, the walking track ended and it was evident that I would have to carve my own route through the bush to the peak.
After a short break, I was keen to reach the peak of Mt Gudgenby so I again slung my pack and headed off. The initial part of the ascent wasn't too bad. The bushland was sparse enough to pick your way through and avoid having to genuinely 'bash' through the scrub. But this changed of course, and there were areas where the scrub was reasonably thick.
Image 2 - Looking up towards the peak of Mt Gudgenby from the rudimentary walking track. You can see the extensive granite slabs in this shot.
The Walk: If you've ever been on walks around the area of Frank and Jacks Hut, you can't help but notice the towering peak of Mt Gudgenby to the west. Similar to Mt Namadgi, It is a majestic high point with significant areas of granite slabs towards the top of the mountain, leading to the peak (Image 2).
I'd planned my route to the top after studying the topographic map, and identifying what looked to be the best possible path, keeping away from the really steep sections. I knew that there was a rudimentary walking track that takes you to the saddle so I hoped to be able to find this, and at least make this part of the journey easier.
The morning of the walk, I headed off from home just as the sun was beginning to rise. After dodging numerous kangaroos and wallabies who were (as always at that time of the morning) intent on grazing directly adjacent to the road and then scattering into the path of my car as I was almost upon them, I managed to survive unscathed and arrived at the Yankee Hat carpark around 7.15am. I got my gear together, slung my pack and headed off on what was initially a very overcast day, but thankfully cleared to a mainly sunny day. So glad that the Bureau of Metereology got this forecast right, as there's nothing worse than putting in the considerable effort to get to a high point, and then not being able to enjoy the views.
I headed down Old Boboyan Road and after about 1.5 kilometres, I took the track to the right and headed down over the open plains that surrounded Boboyan Creek. This is a defined dirt access road so the going is fairly easy. You need to keep heading to the south west as your target point is where the open plains end, and the woodlands commence (adjacent to Bogong Creek). During this part of the walk, Mt Gudgenby comes into view, tucked just behind Yankee Hat, and you realise that this will be a tough walk (Image 3).
Image 4 (above) - shows the rudimentary walking track with the rock cairn and tape. Image 5 (below) - shows parts of the track where it is a little unclear as to which direction the track goes.
Image 6 (above left) - shows the small rock cairn that someone has made, signifying you have reached the saddle and Image 7 (above right) - the first of the suns rays had begun to shine through the clouds and I took the opportunity for a short and relaxing break..
Despite these areas, you could still look ahead and work your way to small clearings and mostly avoid the worst of it. Just before reaching the granite slabs under the peak of the mountain, the going did get tough. It was very steep and the undergrowth was reasonably thick. Coupled with numerous granite rocky outcrops, it made it challenging to pick the right path and make it easier for myself!
I have to admit, that I was feeling a little frustrated at this stage, as I'd had enough of the bushbashing and the seemingly endless climb to the peak. Just as I began feeling this way, I burst through final part of the bush and the gigantic granite slabs presented themselves in front of my. I was really glad to reach the slabs, but be warned, there is still a bit of work to do to get to the peak (Images 8 and 9).
There is a bit of effort involved in getting yourself up onto the granite slab. I found the best way was to contour around (northerly) where there is a series of smaller rocks that you can step onto and up onto the slab. Once on the slab and looking up, it can be a bit daunting due to the size and steepness. Keep away from the wet runs (and slippery) and stay on the majority dry slab and the footing is very good provided you have a good pair of walking boots on.
I was relieved to get to the top but quickly realised that the top was actually a little higher, and I could see the survey marker precariously perched on top of a granite boulder (Image 10). After all the effort to get to where I was, I felt that the journey would have been incomplete if I didn't reach the survey marker.
I studied the granite formation, searching for a way up. In short, there is no easy way to get to the top! I found a run between two large boulders, where I scrambled up a boulder wedged in-between, and then found a lone snow gum, which provided the means to climb up a couple of branches where I finally reached the rock shelf and the survey marker. The views were spectacular and could only be described as panoramic. We are fortunate to have a National Park such as this.
I sat and took in the views for awhile, before clambering back down to have lunch and a well earned cuppa. Apart from the views, the top of Mt Gudgenby provides spectacular rocky formations, and configurations, and some of the granite boulders really do look like they were deliberately carved by man, and then placed in all different manner (Slide gallery of images below). This is also a sensitive Aboriginal sight so as always, look but don't touch or interfere.
After finishing lunch, I gathered my remaining strength, packed my things and headed off. Sometimes travelling downhill can be harder on the legs than going uphill, but after such an exhaustive climb, I was appreciative of the downhill run.
I arrived back at my car at 4.00pm, feeling very leg weary and I realised that this walk involved seven solid hours of just walking! That night, I sat back with a glass of red and contemplated the days walk. Although there are numerous great Namadgi walks, the best are generally those where there is no defined walking track, or if there is a track, it is hard to get to. These are the walks that genuinely take you away from the reality of City life and provide you with something that I think is very important to a person's spiritual and physical well being - the sounds, sights, smell and general ambience of the bush in it's natural state.
Image 8 (above) - show the angle of the granite slabs that you have to climb to reach the peak and Image 9 (below) - looking back down, gives you an appreciation of the size.
Image 10 - The survey marker perched on tope of granite boulders - the actual peak of Mt Gudgenby.