Day 3 – Birds Nest Hut to Green Gully Hut
The camp cots proved surprisingly comfortable and we proclaimed ourselves ruined by these glamping delights.
With a not-too-long day ahead of us and repeating that we are on a ‘walking holiday’, departure time was a leisurely 9am. And as though we needed an additional alarm to shake us on for the morning, the day started with a 300m ascent up a ridge to the Birds Nest Trig.
Even though Parks (with suitable due diligence) have put in great signage and details about the section they describe as “off-track”, it really is an easy to follow footpad that sticks to the highest point of the ridge.
From the trig, we joined the management trail again, which led us through corridors of heavy trees and verdant undergrowth of Paper Daisies and Boronia, shaking off their winter monotony. A standout feature of this day, was the lunch spot perched at The Rocks Lookout (and first lunch) at Birds Nest Lookout. Finally, the earth falls away before us and the yawning valley of Green Gully Creek lifts our eyes, our heads and our hearts.
The magnificent closeted forests of the past few days could leave one feeling closed in, but with a view like this (and with those to come for the rest of the day) our steps lightened.
Everywhere around us, my comedic friend, the Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea) waved gently, beckoning us to look deeper into the gorge below. Often clinging to unlikely, precipitous locations, these ancient wonders seemingly held stories known only to them of the sturdy cattle farming families of the area, now gone.
The lightness of spirit held tenaciously to our souls, as we began the quad burning, foot slamming, steep descent of 900m to Green Gully Hut. This difficult downhill was made more enjoyable by being another single track/rough foot pad section. The thought of doing this on a firetrail, in the hot afternoon sun, doesn’t appeal.
The next chapter in our GGT experience, turned the page to the contrasting terrain of Green Gully Creek. The evidence of the historic cattle farms are most obvious down here, where years of weed carrying by cattle and horses has grown a lush forest of stinging nettles and dandelions.
Passing through the ingenious flood gate at Brumby Pass, we felt like we were being watched. The craggy rock faces that sidle along the creek are home to hundreds of Brush Tailed Rock Wallabies, back from the brink of extinction. Needless to say, these adorable, sentinels kept our cameras busy as the day passed and into the following one.
Our shaking quads were rewarded with the luxury of a hot shower at Green Gully Hut. Powered by an instant gas hot water system, we washed the salt crust from our bodies under an open sky, before settling in for yet another memorable night around the firepit, whilst fireflies danced around us.
Day 4 – Green Gully Hut to Colwells Hut
As experienced off-track and creek walkers, this was the day that we were most looking forward to. Although the logbooks in the cabins seem to point to this being the most difficult for many walkers, our feet relished the variety of terrain as we rock-hopped, scrambled and creek walked, upstream, away from the Apsley River.
With an arrogant spring bursting forth all around us, bright green tufts of Lomandra showed off their floral side, attracting bees and photographers alike.
The water levels in the short canyon section proved no problem for us, but the stories of people wading up to their armpits are believable in consistent, heavy rain.
All the while, we were continuing to be watched. Cute, furry little faces appeared stone like amongst the small cliffs and caves above us. We mused that they were all operating on a detailed roster and bundy system, ensuring that the daily limit of 6 walkers enjoyed at least a few sightings.
This was undoubtedly our favourite day on the track, with more bright sunshine, a long lazy sleepy lunchtime, the wonder of an enormous native bee hive, clinging dubiously to an overhang and distant towering cliffs appearing above us.
Another highlight from this day is the wonderfully quaint Colwells Hut, which we arrived at in mid afternoon, giving us plenty of time to dry out our shoes in the sun. Whilst the other huts comfortably contained the six stretcher cots with room to move, it would be a very cosy evening if everyone had to sleep together here. Thankfully, the nice folk at NPWS have restored the old shelter beside it and four of us chose to sleep there, with two sides open to the elements.
Day 5 – Colwells Hut to Cedar Creek
With our bellies still full of copious amounts of chocolate and Pringles from the night before, we threw on our (much lighter) packs and started up the hill that simply wasn’t going to climb itself. The toughest part of the day is the first 1.5 kms before you join a NE running ridge towards the Rainforest view.
One of the nice things about this walk is the high quality and sensitive interpretive signs that are dotted along the trail. Their information provides an insight into human history, ecology, natural history, flora and fauna. With photographs to help communicate the message and highlight important things that to the untrained eye, are easy to miss, such as the Rainforest View point.
Like horses heading for home, our pace quickened as we reconnected with the 9 kms or so of track that we walked on Day 1, arriving back at Cedar Creek Cottage around noon.
After yet another lazy, long lunch, this time held amongst our ‘neighbours’ the Eastern Grey Kangaroos, we hit the road and headed for home*.
*Update: As of Nov 2016 it is now mandatory to complete the walk over 5 days and 5 nights, beginning and finishing at Cedar Creek. This gives you ample opportunity to make the last day a true walking holiday, ending with yet another hot shower, toilet, beds, cooking utensils, etc in another building, a lodge nearby.
The Green Gully Track is suited to people with intermediate bushwalking experience and good, solid fitness. Even though accommodation is in huts with much of the walk on management (vehicle) trail, the steep descents and ascents, days of up to 18kms, creek walking and self-sufficient packs, means that many people will find this very challenging.
** Optus coverage at Birds Nest Trig only.
** Telstra coverage at many of the high points, but lost as soon as you drop down.