AAWT Stage 16 – Ghost Gully (Port Phillip Trail) to Tharwa
By Jensy and Simony
After catching up with Lucie and Mark at Miller Hut and finding out about Lucie’s injury, the intrepid Melbourne arrivals, Caroline, Jens, Vanessa, Jon and Simon set off in search of some adventures and ultimately Tharwa!
While hiking over a lovely plane, meeting many beautiful wild horses (brumbies) and having many interesting and funny conversations, we got a bit distracted and lost our way. But thanks to Jon and Simon’s superior map reading skills (and many extra kilometres), we finally found the correct track again and arrived at our campsite just in time to set up our tents and cook dinner before the lovely evening sun disappeared over the horizon, while we cooled our feet in Doosey Creek.
We had a great sleep in and when we got up Jon was ready to tell us about his early morning adventures that he experienced while we were still asleep: he went for a lonely walk to the caves (Blue Waterholes Picnic Area) that were not too far away from our campsite. He really tried to make us feel jealous and guilty about getting up so late (while in our objective opinion, he just got up far too early…). But we didn’t believe all the amazing stories he told us about the caves because they were probably pretty boring and overloaded with tourists who simply drove there. While still amazed at how early Jon had got up and how much extra walking he had already done, we packed up our stuff and got ready for the second day of argumentative hiking.
This second day included the first real uphill section of our hike but we were more than compensated by the great view at Oldfield Hut where we stopped for our lunch break, feasting on another round of wraps and sandwiches. There must have been something weird in the wraps as Jens suddenly found his love for flowers and it was pretty hard for the others to tear him away. We then hiked again…
After a long afternoon hiking in the heat we got desperate to stop for the night and almost decided to set up camp by the side of the track in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately we kept going (up hill) and to our pleasant surprise we were crossing the border into ACT and there, just past Cotter Hut, we found a lovely campsite with beautiful views next to the appropriately named Licking Hole Creek (seriously…?). No sooner were the tents up when a family of overly friendly kangaroos arrived who were keen to share Simon’s tent with him despite his loud protestations. These amorous kangaroos then proceeded to entertain us all night with their loud courting sounds.
We got into an area that was a bit more mountainous and Vanessa and Jon started to show some kind of weird behaviour (it might have been due to the lack of oxygen…?) and started a ritual of intermittently fighting and making up. And then we hiked…
The next section of the hike led us through (seriously) the most beautiful Orroral Valley with wide grasslands, majestic trees, many kangaroos and a magical sense of wilderness (sounds lame, but it is true…!). And then we hiked… At the end of the day we found a very picturesque campsite where Caroline and Simon insisted on going swimming in the leech-infested and stagnant Orroral River. Plus we were finally able to have our first campfire. At this point Vanessa decided to show off her carefully selected, matching water bottle and iPhone cover. We were all very impressed.
The next day Jon got up early again, collected all of our water bottles and filled them up at the former Orroral Tracking Station. The others got up with the pleasure of bottles filled with fresh and cold water so that we were fully prepared for the toughest section of the hike with our noses in the gravel for quite a long section. But we were rewarded with spectacular views and the prospect of being reunited with our friends Lucie and Mark at Honeysuckle Creek.
We all stayed overnight at Honeysuckle Creek, drank some beer, played frisbee and had another huge campfire. The next day, revitalised by the beer surprise, we headed off for the last day of our hike and the last day of the AAWT! Mark joined us for this section and, without the backpacks that we left in the car with Lucie, we raced emphatically towards the end of the AAWT at the Namadgi Visitor Center. There we were reunited with our friends Lucie, Lorelei, Katka and Jake and we all celebrated our huge achievement with a very, very, very well earned swim in the Murrumbidgee River.
And they all lived happily ever after…..
Total Ascending (TA): 2320m
Total Descending (TD): 2735m
Total Distance of AAWT completed (TKM): 73.7km
AAWT Points: ((TA+TD)/1000)*(TKM/10) = 37.26 points