|Entrance to the Gorge,|
Leaving the carpark with a backpack carrying a picnic lunch, Sara and I descended (or scrambled down) a steep and rocky track into the deepest limestone canyon in Australia. For the next five or so hours we found ourselves in a strange new world.
We had entered the eerily atmospheric Bungonia Gorge.
The gorge is located on the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, 190km southwest of Sydney and 35km east of Goulburn in the Bungonia State Conservation Area. Driving down Mountain Ash Road, and all the properties with 'For Sale' out the front of them, you get a sense that Bungonia was once a much larger and more happening place than it is today.
|We followed the 'Red Track' down a very steep descent to the floor of the canyon and it's once you've made that knee-spanker of a descent that to the bottom of Slot Canyon that you can begin to appreciate the uniqueness of your surroundings. The 275m vertical limestone walls that shoot up from either side probably has something to do with this.|
|Old climbing rope on the South Wall|
There is quite a bit of climbing to be had on both the north and south walls of Bungonia Gorge, which can be accessed either from the bottom of the canyon or through rappelling.
Also a bit of caving to be had as well...
However, our trip was strictly a hiking mission.
For more information on these climbs, visit theCrag.com...seems to be a lot of trad but also some bolted (hard) stuff as well.
From here the track disappears and it is up to you to make your way as best you can amongst the giant boulders and rock pools which choke this 1km-long section of the canyon. It's hard work, but great fun as you feel like you're in an over-sized maze with plenty of options for progression but also plenty of dead-ends as well.
It's a good idea to take your time on the boulder section as it would be very easy to slip and break an ankle (or worse) when hopping across boulders the size of a modest house!
Another thing to take notice of before attempting the hike is the risk of flash flooding. The position of the trees in these photos illustrate just how high the water can rise and how powerful that torrent can be.
Eventually we found a nice spot for lunch (Backpacker's Pantry Beef Teriyaki, tea & chocolate) and a bit of relaxation, before embarking on a sustained hour of steep ascent to complete the circuit back to the car.
and I didn't take a map with us having done the walk before, but even
without previous knowledge I think it would be pretty hard - if not
impossible - to get lost completing the Red Track Circuit. |
If there's one thing the hideous limestone quarry is good for, it's as an effective landmark to get your bearings from.
When you see this sign, you know you're near the end of the canyon.
However, as shitty as the quarry is when you're back up the top and trying to capture the perfect panorama (see below), it's position to the north is too high up and far away to ruin the ambience or experience of hiking through the gorge.
Park fees are $7 per car/per day.