Budawangs July 2003 - Part 1
Budawangs - July 2003 - [Backdated entry]
The Budawangs are to NSW bushwalkers what the North Pole is to a compass. A place they often look to, but rarely get to.
It is one of the great bushwalking areas and is hardly used. Perfect for that get away from it all weekend. Even during school holidays there may be only one or two other groups in your area at any one time.
But be warned, once you have walked the 'wangs, you will be rendered flaccid by almost all other NSW national parks. Its that good!
The beauty of the Budawangs lies in two parts. Firstly, the place is littered with caves and dry cliff overhangs negating the need to carry a tent, as enchanting camping sites can be found with relative ease. Secondly it’s an undeveloped park; therefore some portions of the walks are the traditional bush-bashing, which really enhances the feeling of that locked away ancestral pioneering spirit.
The Budawangs are the southern half of Morton national park, in between the Norwa-Braidwood road and Batemans Bay-Braidwood road. Coming from Sydney, the ideal aim for Friday night is the Nerriga pub on the Nowra-Braidwood road. The quickest way is to come down the Hume to just before Goulburn and turn south to Bungonia and on the Nerriga. Some parts of this are dirt road but passable all year round.
Otherwise, head down the coast to Nowra, then inland on the Nowra-Braidwood road (take the Albatross road from Nowra). This is a slightly less well-maintained road.
The Nerriga pub is almost the classic one pub village (population 11 at last count), that has almost vanished from the Australian landscape after drink driving laws were tightened in the early 80's. Maybe the secret to its survival is the locals desire to keep it in use, or the lack of coppers to do breath testing, but long shall it live. This is not redneck territory; in fact the locals are all very “country comfort” friendly. There are a few farm stays around Nerriga, and the pub has one room (room 7) otherwise known as the “drunks room”. The only time it might not be available is if the local copper decides to dust off his breathalyzer. Enter into hard negotiations with the publican after a couple of beers, and it should be yours. If Barry the wood chipper is already in there snoring like a Massey Ferguson, sleeping in the car outside is always a fall back. Be sure to drink heavily before retiring to make it more comfortable.
If not much is happening in the pub on the social front, it does have a pool table and a TV so settle in anyway. Its not like you have anywhere else to go!
The Budawangs has many great walks, and the bible for Budawang walks is the "Bushwalking in the Budawangs" book by Ron Doubson. The walk here is based around walk 28 in the book with one climb omitted to make navigation and the walk a tad easier.
Along with the book, another great resource is the legendary 'Budawang sketch map", a 1:50,000 scale map showing most walks and landmarks. This is not enough detail to be useful when walking, but gives a great overview of the region. Hard to find, but Map World in Pitt Street has it, or inquire at any good outdoors store.
The Nerriga pub has the sketch map on the wall, and the book behind the bar (I know, I sold my copy to them). Neither leaves the pub.
What you will need is 1:25,000 scale map called Endrick. Its shows everything in spine tingling detail, and since part of this walk requires off-track navigation, don’t leave home without it. All outdoor stores have these maps.
What to take:
This is a winter walk, so keeping dry and warm are the main concerns. That comes down to some warm clothes, raincoat, a sleeping bag, and a woolly hat.
And don’t forget a compass and the Endrick map. Familiarize yourself with compass and map use before leaving, and refine those skills on the first day which is mostly on tracks and impossible to get lost, before off-track on the second day. One of the great things about this walk is that if you get lost, walking in either a NW or NE will get you back to a fire trail and back to civilization, but you'll need to have a compass to know which way NE or NW is.
You'll also need a sleep mat, a backpack, and a billy for cooking on.
Leave the tent and camping stove at home for this walk.
Surviving off the land was never easy at the best of times in Southern Australia. Sure there are those out there who salivate at the thought of roasted Koala marinated in Wollemi pine sap, but seeing as most Koalas have the clap and it takes about 35 ring barked Wollemi pines to produce the required quantity of sap, dinner preparation can significantly eat into your weekends timeframe.
With the variety of today’s lightweight meals available from the supermarket, it’s almost always easier to buy it before hand.
The amount of food you will need to carry for a weekend walk is 2 lunches (Sat and Sun), one dinner, and one breakfast. Lunches tend to be fairly light, a bit of bread, some topping, some muesli bars, and chocolate will suffice. Breakfasts can be a couple of those small, assorted packets of cereal, plus a small pack of long life milk. These are your staples.
Dinner is where you can really do some impressive work. You will be settled in a cave, a good fire roaring, and you’ll have time to prepare and enjoy. A good start is a couple of packets of continental pasta meals, with added dried peas/corn, and a small can of tuna. Bringing an onion and frying it up before hand is the sort of decadence most mortal bushwalkers dream of.
But remember, you’ll enjoy the walk a lot more with a light pack and simple food, than a heavy pack and gourmet food. Although heavier stuff like fruit can be taken on the first day if it’s consumed that day.
Emergency rations: If you sprain an ankle or someone breaks an arm, your progress out may take longer than expected. No real emergency, just a day late. You’ll need something to eat in this unlikely event. This is where you need some bare minimum, tasteless, extremely light weight stuff as 95% of the time you wont need it. A packet of dried vegetables or noodles is usually enough, plus whatever is left over from the other meals.