The Three Peaks in the Blue Mountains of NSW, Australia has been spoken of in hushed and reverent terms by bushwalkers for many decades. There are many stories (tall and true) about the epic feats of physical fitness and mental toughness that is needed to undertake the challenge under the classic trip guidelines. In a nutshell, a hiker must make their way over 90kms with close to 5,000 metres of ascent and descent, with large off-track sections and thick scrub, all within 48 hours.
This isn’t one of those trip reports.
You see, there are many different types of hikers out there and I’m just not the type who enjoy putting their body and mind through that. Although my fitness is pretty good, the type of fitness for the Three Peaks challenge is super elite, like marathon fit… make that two marathons… back to back… with no tracks and 5kms straight up and down. For those who are into that, awesome – I cheer you on – just not my cup of tea! 🙂
Just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are also many ways of enjoying the three mountain peaks within the Blue Mountains/Kanangra-Boyd National Park being, Mt Guouogang, Mt Paralyser and Mt Cloudmaker. And so it was on the Anzac Day Long Weekend this year, that I led a trip with Sydney Bushies which I called, “The three peaks – the lazy way.”
The aim was to visit all 3 of the peaks, taking the shortest route possible and starting from the southern end of the park at the Kanangra Road. A rough summary was:
Kanangra Road – Krungle Bungle – Mt Guouogang – Mt Bullagowar – Whalania Creek & Kanangra Creek
Whalania Creek & Kanangra Creek – Mt Paralyser – Kanangra Creek (Yep – UP then Down!)
Kanangra Creek – Marooba Karoo – Mt Cloudmaker – Kanangra Walls carpark
Three Peaks Trip Report
Day 1 – It’s true, I have been known to be a bit of a fair-weather-walker (FWW) in my time, so when the forecast and long drive to Kanangra was shrouded in fog, I was trying every trick in my mental book to convince myself it was going to be worth it. Thankfully, one of the awesome people in the car was Frances, aka. The Dusty Bunny Baker and in commemoration of Anzac Day she had made Anzac Muffins. Delish!
Again, to try and keep to our shortest route possible guidelines, we did a car drop at Kanangra Carpark before driving back along Kanangra Road to the start at Whalans Firetrail. It also gave us longer inside the nice, warm car with Frances’ muffins, but that would be seriously un-hardcore of us. Right?
As soon as we got out of the car, the leeches started dancing and celebrating our arrival, so we headed off pretty quickly along the lush, ferny remains of the firetrail before stumbling out onto the old farm land of Whalania Heights. The mist was thick and challenged our eye sight, so we all had a good laugh when the shrubs that looked like kangaroos … moved.
The weather didn’t improve during the morning and lunch was in the rain – one of those stand-up affairs where you keep moving to avoid becoming leech fodder, whilst trying to down your own fodder.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to make it to Mt Guouogang. If you read my recent blog post, you may understand that this is one of those places that I thought I’d never be able to get to. The mystical (enormous) cairn and the scrub of mythical proportions well out-did themselves, even in the rain. Signing the logbook on Anzac Day, ‘Lest We Forget’ we moved on towards Mt Bullagowar and the ridge. Then it was just a matter of heading down, down, down. The slippery, jagged, rough rocks and roots made slow going for us, before making camp at the junction of Kanangra and Whalania Creeks.
Day 2 – With a relatively short day (distance), but still around 1000m up and down ahead of us, we had a lazy sleep-in which allowed Jim to exercise his casting arm and bring back a lovely rainbow trout for breakfast. It also gave us the time to head downstream and visit the Carlon memorial plaques, as featured in The Man from Coxs River documentary. For several of us, having just see the film, our time there was poignant and still.
Ascending the ridge to Mt Paralyser was long and thankfully, the bad weather from the previous day had cleared, giving us a good breeze and clear views across the amazing ridges of the Blue Mountains National Park. Truly a breathtaking vista that was ample reward for the hard work of hauling ourselves up for a late lunch at the logbook on Mt Paralyser.
Then, in an echo from the previous day, the afternoon was spent going down, down, down. Careful navigation was needed to ensure we stayed true to our required ridge and didn’t find ourselves hitting side creeks. Our 2 star campsite quickly become a 1 star campsite as I accidentally made Mr. Snakey quite angry by stepping on him. Silly me! Thankfully, he realised that he was outnumbered and headed off for a swim, leaving our camp to become the 2 star digs that it truly was.
Day 3 – After convincing my group that starting at 5.30am would be a lovely experience, so that we could watch the sun rise as we ascended our final ‘big’ climb and enjoy breakfast on the way, we left the river by torch light. Big cheers and thanks to the awesome Simon and Jim who had the brekky fire going half-way up Marooba Hill. So good!
We enjoyed the continuing ridgeline and rocky features of Mt Marooba Karoo, before the final pinch over Mt Goowong and onto the track at Roar Knoll. From then, we were all in familiar territory of the main footpad/track to Mt Cloudmaker.
The skies stayed clear for us up on top, before the heavy mist once again descended to make our journey back to the Kanangra Walls carpark a misty, white-out, where the usual dramatic views of Thurat Spires and the gorge were off limits to us. Our trip began in mist and ended the same way.
I expected the trip to be tough and physically hard and it didn’t let me down. Any way you look at it, it’s wild country and you need to be experienced to head out there.
Thanks to a great bunch from sbw.org.au for being a part of the journey and for sharing the navigation, fire-making, fish-catching and laughs.
Q: What different routes have you taken to ascend these three peaks during the same trip?