This was the second day of my 100km trek through the northern reaches of the Great North Walk, NSW, Australia. It was my ninth section of the trail to date. I have also made a YouTube clip for this days walk if you’d like to see for yourself: GNW Basin Campsite to Flat Rock (10min)
I had slept quite well that night at Basin Campsite. It was peaceful and my sleeping mat and bag were very comfy. I allowed myself to wake up with the sun and allowed myself the luxury of a little lay in. It would be another ~20km day ahead with a total climb of over 1000m so I wanted to be well rested.
I cooked a warm breakfast of oats and had a coffee before heading to the water tank to gather water.
A trickle came out of the tank, then nothing. I was surprised as we had just had rain the previous day. There was nothing for it but to head to the creek and get some of the brown nasty looking stuff! I scouted around a bit before choosing a spot where it was flowing rather than still and stagnant. I filled up so I had four litres as I was now worried about the water tanks further along. It would be a lot to carry but I knew this was a possibility.
I’d used up quite a bit of time by now so I forced myself to get moving. I packed up my tent – which was now sporting a broken pole from the night before, which I fixed with a repair sleeve that was supplied with the tent. I was surprisingly unbothered by the equipment failure as I had a clear way to deal with it.
I walked back along the Lyrebird trail, able to appreciate it a bit better in the morning light. The forest was lovely and the trees were dressed in vines and looked otherworldly. I still took a very long time to move along the trail given the ups and downs. I now realised I had highly underestimated this part of the trek. I thought it would be a quick link trail but it was an adventure in itself. The tree that had blocked my path yesterday and had caused a slip was no problem this time around as I went over it rather than under it.
I was quite tired by the time I reached the main track of the Great North Walk so I sat and ate. A short walk on and I met up with Wollombi brook at a point where it had become a large pool. It was a nice spot so I rested again knowing that the first big climb was ahead and I was already shattered. I’d already climbed around 200m and descended around 150m in steep terrain so my legs had certainly got a work out. Also on my mind was my planned side trip to climb Mt Warrawolong. I set a cutoff time of 1pm to be there otherwise I’d have to skip it or camp earlier than planned.
The climb took it out of me. Over the next couple of hours I climbed 500 meters of terrain that itself went up and down (down by ~300m). It was taking so long that I began regretting the relaxed start to the day. At one point I was walking along a narrow ridge and could see Mt Warrawolong ahead of me and I knew it wasn’t going to happen. By the time I reached Mt Warrawolong it had taken a good four to five hours to walk 10km. I really struggled and had missed my cutoff time so I walked straight on by the trail that would have taken me to the top. I smiled to myself though as the trail finally began descending.
I reached Watagan Creek Campsite after the 280m decent and had a decision to make. Do I stop here for the night amongst the bushes with the teeny tiny birds or do I press on and face yet another horrific climb? I decided that I didn’t want to face the climb in the morning and worked out that I had enough time before sunset , so I pressed on. The signage at the campsite showed Newcastle as being under 100km for the first time so that was a really good feeling.
I missed a trail marker and walked too far down a road but realised pretty quickly something was wrong as I had expected to have turned off by now. In one of the few times I had to actually check my map, I figured out that I had to walk back only about 300m. Sure enough, there was the marker. I headed across a farmers field, thankful the cows were well away from me!
And then the next climb began. 380 meters up and I cursed it the entire way. The sun was headed towards the horizon again and I still had two kilometres to go. Thankfully I was on a ridgeline so the walking was much easier, though at this point even the slightest slope caused me to stop for breath. I made it to the campsite and set up the tent whilst I still had light. Although there was a strong wind all around, the tent was barely buffeted. I had a good sheltered spot with a full water tank. I cooked some pasta but found I couldn’t eat it all. I was exhausted again and just wanted to sleep. A warm cup of tea proved to be a fine remedy and I was soon laying down cosy in my tent. It would be a cold night so I ended up sleeping in my fleece.
Today had felt like it had been a lot of climbing without a whole lot of reward. The forest was nice but after all that climbing I wanted views!
It was a hard day but I’m glad I didn’t make it harder by climbing Mt Warrawolong!
Next up: Flat Rock to Watagan Forest HQ
Links: 1: Sydney to Thornleigh, 2: Thornleigh to Berowra Heights, 3: Berowra Heights to Cowan, 4: Cowan to Brooklyn, 5: Patonga to Wondabyne, 6: Wondabyne to Somersby Overnight , 7: Somersby to Yarramalong , 8: Yarramalong to Basin Campsite , 9: Basin Campsite to Flat Rock , 10: Flat Rock to Watagan Forest HQ ,11: Watagan Forest HQ to Teralba , 12: Teralba to Newcastle