2014 Bungonia - Overnight

summary: Despite the weather forecast, a brave crew of ten challenged the elements of Bungonia Gorge.
date: 16 August 2014
region: Bungonia - NSW
views: 3949

Another Wet Weekend

Not sure if Mark is in mother natures good books. Everytime he asks me to go hiking, the weather is less than ideal. But with my commitment already pledged, I had to go no matter what, even if the forecast was for lots and lots of rain.

I set off early from work on Friday so that I could check out some camping locations in Penrose State Forest, or other local areas. I ended up finding a great little spot tucked into the pine forest just off the main road. The weather was still good at this stage, so I set up a nice campfire and relaxed for the evening, and the inevitable early morning!


I was up early, not so bright, packed up camp and headed off for Bungonia National Park visitors centre which was our meet up point for the morning. I had to stop along the way and take some photos of the amazing foggy sunrise at Wingello railway station.

Eventually getting to the visitors centre with plenty of time to cook up some breakfast and coffee before the others arrived.

It appeared that a few others had decided the weather was not right for them, and our numbers were down to ten. We took some time sorting out gear, introductions, planning and general chit-chat before we organised the car shuffle and then set off along the misty trail.

I was not expecting quite such a steep track leading down into the valley. I'd looked at the maps and knew the track was steep, but Im sure the topo must have been missing some contour lines! The trail was well marked though, and we took plenty of time getting to the bottom of the gorge, but by the time we got there, my legs were on fire!

At the bottom we encountered a large boulder field that took some time to negotiate, but was a lot of fun. After that we started finding large pools of water, mostly strange bright green colours - apparently from the polluted water coming from the mine up-stream.

So far today, the weather had been holding up nicely, not too hot, and not wet! Once we hit the Shoalhaven River at the bottom of the gorge, we turned right and headed towards camp.

This section was more familiar to me as we walked along here several months ago - in the rain. Before long we arrived at the first of two river crossings, where people took their time removing shoes, and then carefully making their way across the slippery, cold river. I decided to go straight across with boots on, since I knew there was a more difficult crossing coming, and because I didnt bring river shoes!

Shortly after completing the first crossing, we were on top of the next. This one was much more difficult, not deep water, but very slippery rocks which took quite a lot of work to cross without falling in - which most of us managed ok!

From here it was a pleasant walk along the track until we reached camp. We were greeted by a friendly wombat when we arrived, which was great. There was lots of firewood around this time so collecting up enough for the night was easy.

Once packs were dropped, everyone else headed off to check out the chimneys. I decided to wait at camp, sort my things out and take a quick swim. Yes, a very quick swim, the water was freezing!

Shortly after getting dressed, Kathy returned and together we got the fire sorted out before the others returned to warm themselves beside our creation.

During the evening, the first signs of rain started to show, and before long we were all heading off to bed while we were still dry. The rest of the night was pretty much constant rain which we were to also enjoy throughout the next day.


The next morning we were all up at a good time - once the rain stopped for long enough to get up and stay dry! The rain was on and off during the morning so we were still mostly dry after packing up camp. It wasnt long though before the rain set in as we started the long walk back up the hill to the cars.

I did managed to keep my pack on this time, despite taking my time. I refused Marks offers to take it from me, since he only managed to return along the track to me a few hundred metres before the top of the steep climb.

Once a the lookout over the valley, the rest of the trail was easy enough, and once Mark mentioned the word beer, my pace picked up significantly!

Once at the cars, the rain was still coming down pretty heavy so we quickly shoved wet packs, and wet people into cars and headed back to the visitors centre were there was enough shelter to change clothes before heading off to get some sustenance at Hungry Jacks.


After heading off from Hungry Jacks, I decided (along with Marks) to check out some of the waterfalls on the way home. I figured that with this amount of rain, they should be pretty spectacular. I wasnt wrong! I stopped at Fitzroy, Bellmore and finally Carrington Falls. All were pretty amazing, Bellmore was difficult to see with the fog, but Carrington was definitely the most spectacular. A huge amount of water pouring over the falls and a deep thunderous roar to go with it.

So overall we had a great weekend again, despite the conditions. Ill need to do more training before trying the track again though, it took until Friday before my thighs started to feel normal again! And with the thigh pain gone, I started to feel my knees!

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