Image 1 - The spectacular view from the peak of Mt Namadgi
If you are considering doing one of Namadgi National Parks toughest walks, do so with the upmost respect for this significant cultural Indigenous site. Shortly after completing this walk, I wrote these words, which I believe reflect my own experience of that trip, but also my own growing self-awareness of our local ancient historical cultural and spiritual landscape.
It’s a long tough walk to get to the top of Mt Namadgi and I couldn’t help but reflect on the cultural significance of the stone arrangements. This spiritual place sits atop a windswept mountain top, battered by the ravages of weather and time, and surrounded by panoramic views of this ancient land, a view that will stay with you forever.
As the clouds rolled by and the wind swept passed, bringing that icy chill that you get in these high areas of Namadgi, it felt like such a lonely spot, even though I was surrounded by the warmness and good nature of the walking group. In a way, the location felt surreal, significant and yes, spiritual. But, it also seemed one removed from our group, significant evidence of a past spiritual practice from a people who must have gone to great lengths to not only travel to this mountain top, but to recognise and maintain its significance and spiritual meaning over many thousands of years.
Now, after thousands of years of culture, here was our small group visiting this sacred place. A relic of the past? Perhaps it should never have been interfered with. In a way, I felt like a trespasser and I really don’t hesitate to admit, I felt as if I should have gained permission to be there, that I needed the blessing of the Ngunnawal or perhaps the Ngarigo people, or both.
Perhaps the feeling of one removed is a reflection of the current political state in Australia. A genuine and meaningful treaty with the Aboriginal people seems just that, one removed. I hope not, and I hope to see the day that a meaningful treaty is reached in my lifetime. Such is the impact that a visit to Mt Namadgi has.
Although I couldn't see it at the time, I now feel like I really found the Namadgi Trail.
Walk Rating: Hard. This is an overnight walk. The majority is not on a walking track and you have to pick your way through the scrub. You will need a map and compass and the ability to navigate.
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 interesection 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 car park 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 car park. 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).
From the Old Boboyan Road turn-off to the Yankee Hat car park is around 3.5 kilometres.
Image 2 - The walking group crossing the grasslands with Mt Namadgi in the distance.
Image 3 - A short break at the Aboriginal Rock Shelter with the group entertained by my walking buddy, Jamey.
The Walk: This was the first time I'd been on a walk with a group of other walkers and the first time that I'd shared a walk with well known bush walker - JohnnyBoy. I've done other tough walks, but be warned about this walk. It is deceptive, as you can see Mt Namadgi from the car park and it really doesn't look that far. But once you hit the scrub and get off the defined walking track, the going is tough and the climb towards Big Creamy Flats (at the base of Mt Namadgi) is relentless.
After arriving at the Yankee Hat car park, my offsider and I were introduced to the walking group. This particular walk was an organised walk, led by John Evans. It was the first time I had ever ventured out on an organised walk as most of my treks into the bush were either solo, or with one other person (I know, against my own safety advice on this website)!
After introductions, we all slung our packs (quiet an array of gear I might add) and headed off across the open plains of the Yankee Hat grasslands. The first part of this walk is following the Yankee Hat walking track (that takes you to the Aboriginal Rock Art). Instead of walking to the rock art -after about 1.5km (after crossing the bridge over the creek) - we headed north west over the small knoll as this was more of a direct line to our first navigation spot at the Aboriginal Rock shelter (that walk also on website).
On the other side of the small knoll are the sweeping Gudgenby grasslands, shadowed by the surrounding mountains (Image 2), with numerous grazing Eastern Grey kangaroos. They eye you suspiciously as you pass of course, but they are somewhat used to people as the walk to the Aboriginal Rock Art is a popular one.
Continue to the north west for another kilometre and you will come to a dirt access road (very rudimentary but you can't miss it). You may come onto this track at the remnants of old fencing posts.
Turn right and follow the access road until you see the remnant of the second old fence gate on your left, which consists of the old gate posts but no actual gate. Follow this track until it pretty much comes to an end. From the second gate to the rock shelter is a distance of just over one kilometre.
At this point, you will have to find a spot to cross Middle Creek as the Rock Shelter is on the other side, as is the walking route to Big Creamy Flats. On the day our group was there, the water level wasn't too high so provided a couple of reasonable crossing points. With heavy packs, it made for an interesting big step across the water to avoid waterlogged boots! Not pretty, but effective.
Our group stopped at the shelter (Image 3) for some rehydration and a short break. It's great to stop and enjoy the rock shelter, remembering to respect the wishes of the Ngunnawal custodians. There is a sign at the rock shelter to remind you of the sensitivity of this site and what you can, and more importantly, cannot do. I found this location very humbling, reflecting on the spiritual significance of this place and the Aboriginal history over thousands of years.
After our short break, we once again slung our packs and headed to the west. This first section (Image 4) takes you around 750 metres until you come to an old disused fence line. Cross the fence line and continue to head north westerly with Middle Creek on your left. You are pretty much following Middle Creek for most of the way.
Things started reasonably well, but I could see that not too far in front of the group, the bush was about to close in around us, and the further ahead I you looked, the thicker it seemed. After crossing the fence line, this is where the scrub starts to get thick, but you do get the odd area that is not as thick and the going is a little easier. Head towards these and pick your way through the thicker stuff.
From here, I managed almost 1.5 kilometres in just over an hour and then a further 300 metres in 25 minutes. It was really starting to get quiet thick, and there was now a lot of trees littering the ground, having been blown over or uprooted by the elements.
All this aside, I decided to go for one more push to see what ground I could cover. I managed another 1.1 kilometre in a respectable 23 minutes and had made it to the foot of the eastern spur line of Mt Namadgi. I must admit, I did think about shooting straight up the spurline, rather than go to Big Creamy Flats but I was faced with a wall of dense scrub and granite rocky outcrops.
I took the time to have a rest. It had been tough going to here, and I hadn't had a break yet. Whilst I sat quietly, regaining my breath, I became aware of the thriving birdlife at this location. A family of Gang Gang Cockatoos had nested in a nearby tree, and the parents were teaching the three young birds to fly. It was very amusing, watching the three take off from their nest, circle around the tree and land back at their nest, much to the delight of their raucous parents! It was such a pleasure to see this endangered bird seemingly thriving in this isolated spot of Namadgi. Makes canberra bushwalking truly pleasurable.
Image 4 - After the rock shelter, you get an idea of what is in front of you. This is the last of the easier section.