2008 Budawangs - Styles Creek, Quiltys and Hidden Valley

summary: Have tried getting to Hidden Valley before and failed. This time we succeed and throw in Quiltys mountain and Styles Creek for good measure!
date: 11-13 July 2008
distance: 35kms
views: 2245

The Budawangs have many amazing places to visit, none of them are more interesting, or hard to get to than Hidden Valley! We’ve attempted this trip once before, but were turned back by some pretty serious weather that turned out the sun, and brought out the leeches!

July 2008 saw Richard, Doug, Eddy and Graham attempt the trip again, this time with a much better weather forecast!

Day 1 – Friday

We had arrived at the Sassafras entrance to the park on Thursday night, and made our way down to the camp site just a little way into the park. We braved some very significant winds that night, which is always a worry when you are in a tent in the forest!

We woke to a cold morning, and what looked like snow clouds on the horizon! But that didn’t phase us as we were expecting things to be cold, and windy today so the clouds will be blown away pretty quickly!

We left the camp site a little after 8:30, and headed off the long tramp along the fire trail to the New Haven Gap gate. The temperature was around 4 degrees, and we figured with the wind chill, we were walking in about -10 degree conditions, so there wasn’t much stopping along the way!

Most of the morning walk, we had the wind to our backs so we made very good time and arrived at the base of Quilty’s Mountain at 11:30am. We dropped packs and headed up to the top of the mountain and the amazing Aboriginal art works at the top. It is definitely worth the effort getting up the top of the hill as you get to see the whole valley spread out around you. We could even pick out the bottom of the valley and Styles Creek where we were heading for.

After our climb back to the main trail, we took a short break for lunch, and then headed off again for Styles Creek. Making note of the Hidden Valley turn off on the way! It is a very clearly marked turn off with a large clearing, a tall tree fern and a small rock cairn.

The rest of the trail was very easy to navigate, and we arrived at Styles Creek around 3:00pm. We had a look around, and collected some fire wood and prepared for a cold windy night!

Day 2 - Saturday

We were all up pretty late on Saturday as it was very cold outside! The morning temperature was up to -3 degrees when I rose at 8am! And a cold night like that is a really bad night for the air mattress to spring a leak!

Today’s plan was to investigate Hidden Valley, and we managed to leave camp at 9:30am to execute this plan. Retracing our tracks back to the Hidden Valley turn off was pretty easy, and then we were onto some new territory.

The track to Hidden Valley was reasonably well marked, just remember to always try and stay on track and you shouldn’t have any trouble. We reached the top of the hill were there was some amazing rock formations that formed the entry to the top of the valley.

Shortly after the rock formations, we made it to the entry of Hidden Valley, and it was pretty spectacular, like a step back in time. The track here was much less clear, so we headed south looking for Dark Brothers Cave. The cave was easily found in the end, and once again keeping to the foot pad kept us going in the right direction.

The cave was pretty big, and after a short break we tried to locate the track up to the top of the plateau above the cave. The start of the track is further around than expected, but clearly marked by large rock cairns. We made it about ¾ of the way up the climb before deciding to turn back and leave the summit for another day.

Heading back to the bottom of the valley, we decided to continue to the south and try and find our way out of Hidden Valley on an unmarked trail. This was pretty difficult, but we found our way eventually. We emerged onto Styles Swamp and then eventually climbed back up the hill to the fire trail that we came in on yesterday. We probably saved a little time, but we also got to see an amazing pre-historic environment!

We arrived back to the campsite at 2:00pm, so we had time to follow some of the other trails that headed away from Styles Creek.

The trails we followed showed it was very easy to follow the fire trail around to Fosters Mountain on another trip. This trip though, we stuck to the North East and made our way along the base of the swamp again!! It was a reconnaissance walk though, for a future North to South attempt of the Budawangs, so we returned back to camp before too late.

We had a large fire planned for tonight as there was a concern the temperature was going to drop again! Well it didn’t, and it was still around +7 degrees when we finally went to bed.

Day 3 - Sunday

Well the final day was not too spectacular as it was just a pack up and return to the car. The walk back was pretty uneventful, with the weather holding off for a fine walk. It does take a lot longer than expect though as it is an 18km walk!

We arrived back at the car a little after 2:00pm, with beer left in the kit it was a quick celebration before we headed home!

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