Sunday 20 October – Friday 26 October 2019
The Hume and Hovell Track, between Yass and Albury, is 426 km long and passes through as good a variety of regional NSW as you would find anywhere – riverside corridors, grazing lands, woodlands, open and closed forest, pine plantations, sub alpine swamps and snow gum highlands. It has it all. The track closely follows the original exploration route of 1824 and is well marked with campsites located about a full days walk apart. More information can be found at https://www.humeandhovelltrack.com.au/
Eight BBBW members sampled some of the best of the Track over six days, five days walking and one rest day. The Riverina Highlands has had a good winter, with consequent green grasslands, full canopied trees and running rivers, creeks and gullys. The landscape was picture postcard perfect for us.
We did a series of day walks and picked sections of the track to take advantage of fixed camp sites and to avoid both the Blowering Dam pine plantation sections and the heat which was creeping up the Tumut valley. Our three drivers moved our camp gear between daily destinations.
The weather was kind, but varied. Two mornings of frost contrasted with the hottest 32 degree day, but it stayed windless and dry until the last day. During walking the conditions were near perfect.
The sections walked were Wee Jasper to Log Bridge, Barrois to Thomas Boyd, Thomas Boyd to the Snowy Mountains Highway, Paddys River Dam to Bussells Mill Site, Paddys River Dam to Buddong Falls, a total distance of 90 km.
On the first day, we walked over a big chunk of the Wee Jasper cave ridden limestone before slugging up a long steep climb through open peppermint and stringybark woodland to Mt Wee Jasper, 1121 m asl. Unfortunately, the descent wasn’t quite so picturesque – through, and adjacent to, recently clearfelled pine plantation. But then, we reminded ourselves, the Track samples all types of landuse.
The second day initially followed alongside the interesting Micalong Swamp with its surrounding Snow Gum woodland and resident Banjo/Pobblebonk Frog populations. We then ambled through lovely Mountain Gum forest which was very pleasant before descending steeply into The Hole. We descended again, past the Waterfall Creek’s waterfall, and after a short, sharp, shocking, “up and over the hill” climb, we landed exhausted on the banks of the Goobragandra River for camp.
The third day’s walk sampled some of the best of the NSW western slopes woodland and grazing country. The initial section alongside the River was, at times, like somewhere in Europe with very shady and green beech trees canopied over the track accompanied by the sounds of rushing and gurgling water. The two suspension bridges also added variety to the challenge.
Further out, through the grazing country, there was green grass everywhere, large spreading red gums and black angus cattle too fat to run away. Some rustic old farm buildings and the remains of an old water powered sawmill added interest.
On our rest day, after a visit to Blowering Dam and replenishing supplies in Tumut, we visited the impressive Sugar Pine Walk at Laurel Hill, lunched in the idyllic verandah post town of Tumba(bloody)rumba, and established a fixed camp under the snow gums beside the very pretty Paddys River Dam. It is a very relaxing spot, spoilt only by the ever present feral horses.
On the fourth day, we descended from camp toward the Murray valley on the very steady grade of an old water race, through snow gum, mountain gum, alpine ash, tree ferned gullys and, finally, eurabbie forest, to the site of the old Bussells Mill before calling it a day.
Our final walk descended the other direction toward the Tumut valley. It traversed snowgum/mountain gum/alpine ash forest, topping the Track’s highest point at 1230 m asl before slowly descending into the Buddong Creek catchment. We passed old gold diggings, an old cattlemen’s mountain hut and finished our walk at the picturesque Buddong Falls which were putting on quite a show from the winter’s snow melt.
When we arrived back at camp, it stormed for three hours with an impressive display of lightning and thunder but with, thankfully, only light rain. Nevertheless we received the message from above and decided to call it quits.
On the final day we drove home via the Elliot Way, Kiandra, Cooma and the back road to Braidwood, always a very pleasant drive.
There is more to this Track which we must walk.
Photos provided by Ian, Brian and Tom