Mist on the Whalania Fire Trail approaching Green Hillock.

Mt Whalan shrouded in mist.

On Mt Krungle Bungle.

Bill beside the old Trig on Mt Guouogang.

Grass Trees growing on the summit of Mt Queahgong.

Strange atmospherics between Mt Queahgong & Mt Jenolan.

Lunch time on Mt Jenolan.

The sun finally came out as we left Mt McAviney.

Looking across the Kanimbla & Megalong Valleys

Our Coxs River crossing point..

Whalania Heights to Dunphys Camping Area along the Krungle Bungles

Date:  9/10/2010

Maps:  LPI Kanangra 89303S, LPI Jenolan 89303N and Dunphy's Gangerang

Route:  Kanangra Road near Whalania Heights to Dunphy's Camping Area via the Krungle Bungles (Mts Whalan, Krungle Bungle, Guouogang, Queahgong, Jenolan, McAviney & O'Reilly), Scrubbers Saddle, Ironpot Spur & Ironpot Mountain.  A very long day.  Distance: 31 kilometres.  Ascent: +- 1,200m.

Gear:  Day Pack, Camera, PLB, Maps, Compass, GPS (set to WGS84), 3 litres water.

Party:  Peter Medbury & Bill Beck


In the past I've walked out to Mt Guouogang & back from the Kanangra Road & to Mt Jenolan from Dunphy's Camping Area.  Both walks were long day walks with early starts & late finishes.  When I looked at the maps, the GPS traces from the previous walks, the distances involved & topography, I was sure it would be possible to walk from the Kanangra Road to Dunphy's Camping Area, about 31 kilometres, in a long day.  When I suggested the walk, Bill was keen to give it a go.

Bill is a long distance walker who often covers greater distances in a day than I would usually think about over several days.  I do most of my walking off track.  Bill usually walks on established tracks & fire trails but he handles off track well.  We'd be on track till we reached Green Hillock.  From there till we started the climb up Ironmonger Spur we'd be off track.

A point to point walk like this requires long car shuffles or really good support.  I come from Orange & Bill from Sydney so a car shuffle is really hard when the start & finish are so far apart.  Fortunately we had great support from our families.  I camped overnight at the Boyd River Camping Area & met Bill at the start of the Whalania Fire Trail at 6:30am.  I left my car there in case we needed to return before we reached the halway point.  Our families would handle the logistics & with my wife & son meeting us at Dunphy's Camping Area.

Overnight rain in the area had left everythng wet.  Visibility was very poor because of the thick mist/low clouds.  We knew that if the clouds didn't lift, we would be navigating by map, compass & GPS grid references.

We set off up Whalans Fire Trail just after 6:30am.  I wanted to see Green Hillock & Mt Whalan so we turned north when we reached Luthers Fire Trail.  At 1318 metres, Mt Whalan is one of the highest points around.  The summit is quite open  but visibility was limited because of the mist.

From Mt Whalan we turned east & then south, working around the wet gullies to pick up Whalans Fire Trail just north of Mumbedah Swamps.  The mosses were very green.  In places the ferns were waist deep.  The rocks were often slippery, a problem that would remain with us for much of the day.  Thick mist was swirling everywhere.  We said goodbye to the Fire Trail about 1 kilometre west of Mt Krungle Bungle.

Mt Krungle Bungle was very gray & gloomy when we reached the summit at 8:45am.  There are no views from Mt Krungle Bungle so the low clouds & mist just kept everything damp.  From Mt Krungle Bungle we headed north up to Ferny Flat where we turned north-east for the climb up to Mt Guouogang.

From Ferny Flat the route is across a narrow ridge that swings east & broadens to become Mt Guouogang.  At a couple of spots along the ridge we noticed Greenhood Orchids flowering nicely.  The slope to the west is quite steep but nothing compared to the east side.  Jenolan Pit is a massive hole, almost 700 metres deep, formed by Jenolan Creek.  Quite incredible.

According to the topographic & the satellite maps we'd be on narrow ridges most of the way from Ferny Flat until we reached Mt O'Reilly.  

As we started turn east on Mt Guouogang we encountered thick heath for the 1st time on this walk.  Up until now we had only to cope with thick bush.  This was the real deal - banksia, hakea, isopogon - old, hard & almost inprenetrable.  Last time I'd been here I found the heath didn't seem quite so thick on the western side.  We stayed as low as we could until we were around the thick stuff. From there were able to make good progress - there were lots of paths through the heath which we followed when they went the right way.  As we approched the top the heath become thicker as did the fog.  Everything we touched was saturated.  In places we just had to push through & by 10:55 we'd reached the Jenolan Trig Station on Mt Guouogang.

It was time for badly needed refreshment & a break.  While we ate & drank we looked through the log book reading of the exploits of others who'd reached Mt Guouogang.  We added our own brief comments, took the obligatory photographs & started off looking for the ridge that would take us from Mt Guouogang across to Mt Queahgong.

Mt Guouogang is covered with a low, almost impenetrable eucalypt forest.  The only way to get any sort of view is to push to the edges or to climb to the top of the Trig Station.  There wasn't any point - the thick fog hid everything. 

From here to Breakfast Creek along the Krungle Bungles was new territory for me.  I'd reached Mt Jenolan before but by climbing up Gaspar Buttress but we weren't going that way.

The route to Mt Guouogang was along the narrow ridges that linked the peaks in the Krungle Bungle Range.  From Guouogang we had to find a very narrow ridge and follow it north to the almost level bench named Hawk Fell.  After Hawk Fell the ridge swings north-east to Mt Queahgong.

The spur that leads down to Hawk Fell is a bit over 300 metres north-west from the Trig Station on Mt Guouogang.  It is the 2nd spur & a bit higher than the 1st, which starts about 260 metres from the Trig & drops quickly into Guouogang Pit.  It wasn't easy to find the ridge we wanted in the thick fog but after a few minutes we were heading down to Hawk Fell.

Hawk Fell is the narrow ridge linking Mt Guouogang & Mt Queahgang.  It has very steep sides.  The surfaces is mostly broken rock with hardy trees & a few shrubs & groundcovers.  In a couple of places the surface is fairly level & walking is easy.  On a clear day there might have been some nice views through the trees into Guouogang Pit on the right or into the Mumbedah Creek gorge.  Not today - way too much fog.  The rocks on Hawk Fell were extremely slippery & we it slowed us up.

From Hawk Fell there is a short, steep climb up to Mt Queahgong.  I was pretty excited to finally get to Mt Queahgong.  I'd almost made it twice before, once from Mt Guouogang & once from Mt Jenolan.  The top of Mt Queahgong is really a short bench running south-east.  From the highest point the route heads north-east along the saddle to Mt Jenolan.

The ridge between Mt Queahgang & Mt Jenolan is very narrow & extremely rocky. Again there might have been great views through the trees but for the thick fog.  At one point the fog lifted - one one side only.  The fog stopped abruptly like there was an invisible wall - white one side & clear the other. Quite amazing!

When we reached Mt Jenolan it was time for a quick break for lunch.  Thanks to the fog & the slippery conditions we were way behind the schedule we'd set for ourselves.  There were no views on Mt Jenolan, just a pile of rocky rubble to sit on for lunch.  The summit of Mt Jenolan is covered with trees.  There are some nice views from the Gaspers a bit to the east but with fog hanging round & the time against us we headed  north down the ridge to Mt Dwyer.

The fog started to lift as we reached Mt Dwyer & by the time we'd reached Mt McAviney it was gone - we were bathed in bright sunshine & warming up enough to put away our wet weather gear.

As we came down from Mt Jenolan we started to see wild flowers - colour everywhere.  The trees opened up & for a while it it looked like we were walking in a park.  We started to make up some time.

At Mt O'Reilly we had to push through a very thick, tall wall of pea flowers.  There were a couple of different species - absolutely stunning.

As we headed down to Scrubbers Saddle we decided we'd skip Scrubbers Hump this trip & head straight down to the Coxs River.  In the middle of the saddle there was a cairn but we didn't see a track.  We headed south-west down the ridge to get around the low cliffs that flank the western side of the Coxs River at this point.

Everything went well till we got to the Coxs River.  It was quite a bit deeper than last time I'd been there.  It was 5:00pm & we needed to cross before dark.  At the point where we decided to cross the river was wide & slow moving & we could see the bottom quite well. Making sure everything was safely waterproofed we headed into the river, Bill first, me following a little up stream.

We used some long branches as poles to provide some support & extra balance & allow us to test where we'd place our feet.  A few metres into the river & the water was up to our rib cages & very cold.  There were no holes & the footing was quite firm - fortunately it didn't get any deeper & after a few minutes we were safely across & on dry land.

We were going to have a short rest on the rocks where Breakfast Creek flows into the Coxs River beforer starting Ironmonger Spur.  Bill & I took slightly different routes across a particularly rocky section of the river bank.  As I scrambled across the steep rock face I discovered a collection of Thumbnail Orchids, flowering brilliantly.  I just has to stop & take some photos to record these beauties - often they are dry with shrivelled leaves but these were in excellent condition.    

When we reached Breakfast Creek we took a well earned rest & some refreshments - our last break had been on the summit of Mt Jenolan, 3 hours ago.  It was a good opportunity to remove the sand that had got in my shoes while crossing the river.

At a bit after 6:00pm we started up Ironmonger Spur.  It was a tough slog to finish a long day but 7:30pm we were on Ironpot Mountain, just as it was getting dark.  I phoned my wife to let her know we were almost back at Dunphy's Camping Area.

From there it was easy & we reached Dunphy's Camping Area at 8:45pm.  It had been a long, tough day, made harder by the thick fog & the slippery conditions but we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.  Our adventure was complete when Kathy & Ben arrived to pick us up a short time later.

One thing remains - to do the walk again in better weather.


Times, Locations and Grid References

Time Location Grid Reference
06:35 Start along Whalania Fire Trail from the Kanangra Road    GR 269 462
06:45 Green Hillock GR 279 460
07:00 Mt Whalan GR 280 467
08:45 Mt Krungle Bungle GR 316 464
10:55 Mt Guouogang - morning tea GR 340 477
12:30 Mt Queahgong GR 348 497
14:15 Mt Jenolan - lunch GR 365 501
14:30 Mt Dwyer GR 346 512
14:45 Mt McAviney GR 362 521
15:30 Mt O'Reilly GR 370 530
16:35 Scrubbers Saddle GR 380 550
17:00 Crossing the Coxs River GR 385 549
17:35 Breakfast Creek - late afternoon tea GR 388 555
18:10 Start up Iron Monger Spur GR 390 555
19:15 Ironmonger Hill GR 405 563
19:35 Ironpot Mountain GR 406 568

Reach the Fire Trail

GR 420 573
20:45 Dunphy's Camping Area   GR 435 577



GPS Track of our route from Whalania Heights to Dunphy's Camping Area:



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