2008 Budawangs - The Castle

summary: We have been to The Budawangs many times in the past, but I've never climbed one of the parks most famous monoliths, The Castle. So this trip we decided to explore some of the lesser visited areas such as Mount Owen and Shrouded Gods, and then finish off with an ascent of The Castle.
date: September 12 2008
region: Budawangs National Park
distance: 36 kms
duration: 3 days and 3 nights
people: Graham, Eddy
tags: HIKE - REPORT - BUDAS - CASTLE - 2008
views: 2965

Day 0 - Thursday

We left the office at 4:00pm, and the trip to Yadboro took only three hours. Of course we arrived in the dark, but the evening was mild and the campsite was empty, so a good night ahead with beer and chili was expected.

Day 1 - Friday

Friday morning and today the aim was to walk all the way to Mount Cole Camping Caves.

We left camp at 8:30am, with the weather looking good. The river crossing appeared to be a little higher than boot depth so some time was lost doing the bare foot shuffle across the water. From there, the track was a lot steeper than I remembered! The track follows along Kalianna ridge and up to the base of The Castle conglomerate, which was a good spot for a break at 10:00am.

The trail continued along the face of The Castle before hitting "the steps" at 11:50 and then on to the saddle at the top of the hill for lunch at 12:15. Surprisingly, there was no sign of any other people here. There is a new sign at the saddle now, indicating that Cooyoyo Creek camping area now has a toilet available!

After lunch, we spent an hour walking through the amazing Nibleung Pass, and then on to Monolith Valley. We arrived at "The Wooden Bridge" at the bottom of the valley at 1:45pm. From there, it took another 30 minutes to reach to top of the gully out the other end of The Green Room.

Once we were out of the gully, the walk past the Seven Gods pinnacles was as amazing as ever, with some incredible views to the Northern valleys.

After taking in the views, there was some debate on the best way to get to the Mount Cole Camping Caves. Well we finally decided to just keep following the marked trail and sure enough this led us directly to the first of the overhangs, and then on to the camping caves. We decided to stop at the first cave and use this as a base, despite knowing that others were available further along the cliff face. We arrived at the caves just before 4:00pm, with plenty of time to collect some fire wood, some water from the local waterfall, and settle in for a mild, yet windy evening!

Day 2 - Saturday

Another early start on Saturday saw us away from camp at 8:30am. We headed South to walk around the cliff face of Mount Cole, looking for the entry to the top of Mount Owen. We past several other caves, and also the trail off to Bibenluke Mountain which is very well marked.

It took less than an hour to get around to the ascent up Mount Owen, and there is a rather imposing cliff face to shimmy up first. This is no trouble in the dry, but a little scary when it is wet and slippery. We were lucky today as it was still warm and windy, and very dry.

Once at the top of Mount Cole, we turned to the South and found the cairns very easy to follow leading out to Mount Cole precipice! There are some great views along this track, looking to the west we could see all the way to Corang Peak and further. At the end of the walk, there is a book to sign while taking in some incredible views. We could see Kalianna ridge that we walked up yesterday as well as across to The Castle, Byangee Walls and Pigeon House Mountain.

The walk back towards Mount Cole took about 30 minutes, arriving and turning East at 11:30. There was a little discussion on which gully to follow back down into Monolith Valley, but we continued following the cairns and eventually found the correct descent. Although following the gully to the bottom would prove to be more difficult than need be, so we took a right at another cairn which led us to another simpler section, climbing down a tree into the valley floor.

The environment through here is incredible, like something out of Jurasic Park. Everything is green with moss, and looks like it hasn't changed in 1000's of years. Once again, we continued to follow the cairns out of the valley, and did not fall for the old trick of dropping down the Faux Pass! We remembered to get to the bottom and turn LEFT and not RIGHT! We finally arrived at "The Wooden Bridge" at 12:45pm for lunch right on schedule.

After lunch, we headed out of the valley to the East, and back to a location where we could get to the top of Shrouded Gods Mountain. We studied the maps and the trip notes and identified what we thought would be the correct gully to start our ascent. Unfortunately we found the wrong one! There is what looks like an obvious minor gully to climb up, to start the ascent of the major gully. Unfortunately we were about 50m too far East and found the going very tough. We eventually found a trail and some cairns leading up to the correct major gully up the mountain.

The climb was not too difficult, we followed the gully up to a point where things became rather difficult, then turned to the right and had to "chimney" climb up a crevice in the cliff for about 20-30m to the first of several viewing platforms. Continuing a little further we came to a fantastic spot looking out over The Castle, Byangee Walls and Pigeon House at 2:00pm. We stopped here for a while, before pushing on looking for the final ascent up to the top of the mountain.

The trail seemed to be reasonably obvious, but we ran out of time before we could get to the top. Having to turn around at 2:45 and head back to camp.

On our return we found a marker back on the main trail to follow next time we come up this way. There are three stick on the ground blocking a trail through some bushes to one side, this is the trail to follow to get to the land of the gods!!

We passed through Monolith again at 3:30pm and finally arrived back at the caves at 5:00pm, completely exhausted again!

Day 3 - Sunday

The evening was very mild again, and overnight the stable weather turned into a thunder storm. I have to remember next time, when the tent is pitched for multiple days that I should still check the pegging before going to bed! In the middle of the night when the rain, thunder and wind started up, my tent decided to fold up over me. Each time the wind would blow, the tent would bend over and cover my face. Surprisingly, I was still mostly dry, with only a few drops of water seeping through. I eventually got up and re-pegged the failed structure. Although this did not provide me with the security of a good nights sleep!

We were up early again though, packed, fed and away by 8:30 again. We re-traced our steps again, all the way back to Meakins pass where we headed off towards the track head to The Castle. At this point, the weather was still very windy, but dry. We dropped packs at the tunnel and then moved on to the start of the climb. Just as we got there, the heavens opened up!! We huddle under a small overhang keeping dry for a few minutes, before running back to a larger cave. Eventually we made it back to the tunnel and had an early lunch and waited to see what the weather would do.

Well the weather cleared and we attempted the climb again. This time we managed to get to the top! Well at least Eddy did. Most of the climb is not too hard, there are a couple of rope sections, and some climbing out on the cliff face. There are a couple of spots to stop and look out over the valley, and at these spots we were concerned about being blown right off the mountain! When we arrived at the very last rope climb, I decided I had risked enough and so I let Eddy climb the last 30m to the top himself while I huddled in a corner trying to stay safe.

We finished off at the top of The Castle just after 1:00pm, and we were back at tunnel by 1:30pm. From there it was just a matter of hoping the rain would hold off while we retraced our steps back to the Yadboro river and the safety of the car. The steps were crossed at 2:00pm, our lunch spot at the base of The Castle was at 3:00pm, and finally back to the car a little after 4:00pm.

Google Maps

  • 01-climb 
  • 02-cole 
  • 03-owen 
  • waypoints 
If this text does not disappear quickly, then your browser does not support Google Maps, or Google changed their MAPS API without telling me


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