Beginners’ Navigation Weekend, upper Wollangambe, Blue Mountains
This trip is already full
Date:02/05/2015 – 03/05/2015
Leader:Ashley Burke

This trip is for people interested and keen to learn how to find their way through the bush with map and compass and is now being held for the 10th year in a row.
Beginners and new members are welcome.
It is a full weekend trip where we carry all our gear and food and camp overnight in a picturesque sandstone labyrinth.
NOTE: The area where this trip will be held was burnt 2 years ago so we will be walking through regenerating bushland and scrub.
We will leave Sydney early on Saturday morning (7am at the latest) and will return to Sydney on Sunday evening, around 5pm.
The aim of the weekend is to provide the opportunity for people to learn and practise navigation with map and compass in a real bush environment where navigation skills are essential.
You’ll learn how to use your map and compass to work out your position, identify landscape features around you and to plot a course to our camp site.
On the Saturday evening we will enjoy an evening around a warm campfire in a sheltered location.
I have created an online navigation course on my web page and this is what you’ll be putting into practise on the weekend:
On the above web page you can also review trip reports and photos from previous navigation weekends. This will give you an idea of what we’ll be doing.
No prior experience is necessary, however you will need to bring your own walking/camping gear, your own map and your own compass.
You’ll need to carry your own pack with food and camping gear for the weekend. For information on what you need to bring, go here:
Please contact me by email if you’re interested in coming, and to assist with organisation please answer the questions concerning car pooling, previous experience, and any gear that you may not have or need to borrow.

Ashley Burke
Attendees: Me

It was about 9am when I turned into Sandham Rd, unfortunately I drove past the station and onto the unsealed road. I kept going until what seemed like a good place to turn around, but in my haste I got bogged… I spent about an hour jacking the car up to put rocks under the rear wheels (ferried in my pack from the train line) .

After an hour of failure, a lady and older man happened past and helped tow me out. I rushed back leaving my car where the asphalt ends (it was about quarter past ten at this point) and made my way as quickly as I could (actually jogging most of the way!) to the ‘Centre of the Universe’ where I hoped to catch the group… little did I know that you where actually doing an into to navigation at the train station (I recall I was a little perplexed at only finding faint shoe prints that were clearly quite old). I stopped at the summit of the pagoda and after several cooees I thought it best to pick a direction that you may have gone… I figured the final destination would be Gooches or Wollangambe Crater. I have never really walked in this area, but had read about a good overhang to camp in near the Wollangambe Crater, so thought that would be as good a destination as any.

I soon picked up a good walking track with an (over)abundance of rock cairns. At spot height 978 I ran into a cliff-line (parallel to the two creeks), but quickly found a way down. From the last hill, instead of heading east a headed NNE and soon spied the large overhang I had read about – it was a beauty! I scrambled down with little difficulty and using some well placed fallen trees promptly dumped my gear. After lunch, I headed over the ridge into the crater where I saw quite a lot of gear sprawled about; I thought for a moment that I had found the rest of the group! but it turned out to be some people from Blue Mountains TAFE who had walked in from the other (Dumbano/Yarramun) side. I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed by the crater…

I explored down the Wollangambe for a few hundred meters, consolidating my feelings that a trip down the upper sections was definitely a must!

(left) looking down at the overhang where I would spend the night. (right) cool fungi on the side of a burnt tree. (below) more cool fungi!

I almost made the decision to head to Gooches that afternoon, but the rain picked up and I thought the others might be getting here via an alternate route, so I ultimately decided to spend the night where I was. I didn’t bother with a fire as it wasn’t cold and I had enough other food. I spent some time looking at the aerial imagery marking a few interesting spots for tomorrows RoGaiNe.

In the morning I got a small fire going, had some fruit and headed off. Not far downstream I located a great pass onto the ridge above my camp and started heading north. I crossed a small feeder stream following it west where I crossed the larger creek at the junction (a climb to get up the other side – needed to take pack off) and then up onto the ridge with a firetrail.
  • I followed this a short way north before dropping down a little creek (that had a cool section where it went under a large rock) and then found a canyony creek before again heading up the next ridge
  • Then headed to the northern end of the next (west) creek (entered via the East, then reversed part of the West – found a good camp cave at the junction of the two).
  • Headed West to check out the swamp, found a small CC there and some weird bugs on the surface of the rock pools, then headed north staying high. A couple more great CCs here. The one furthest up the right branch should be quite sheltered. Exited via the Western creek head.


The next creek to the West was the one I had most been looking forward to (I think I even dreamt about it!). There was an obvious drop on the areal imagery and I almost didn’t get in. The first 2-3drop I managed to scramble along some ledges and then climb down a tree. The next drop however was a 12m waterfall! reversed a bit and climbed up a pagoda so I could contour around and climb down the other side. I got down most of the way quite easily. The last bit required a climb down between a dead gum and the rockface.
This spot was magical! It was a giant sheltered amphitheatre with a stream running through part of the overhang. Plenty of room for sleeping heaps of people. The trip downstream was great! Nice camp spot and canyon just before meeting the Wollangambe – had lunch here.

 (left) part of the amphitheatre. (right) the waterfall.

(above) further downstream. This one’s my favourite!


Just before reaching the Wollangambe – nice camp cave on the left of image.
  • Was hoping to find an exit to the north a couple of hundred meters upstream, but after belly high wading, and precarious ledge climbing to avoid yet deeper water it became apparent that there wasn’t a way out to the north, so wanting to avoid getting any wetter I managed to scramble out to the south. Once I was out, it looked like you might be able to exit the other side by contouring upstream and then heading up the nose…
  • I quickly hit the walking track where I was tempted to call it a day, but instead I dumped my pack and headed back down to the Wollangambe.
  • Just to the right of where the track peters out I found a great spot to drop through the cliffline and up the other side (to avoid a swim).
Where I crossed the Wollangambe – it’s much more impressive than I would have imagined!
  • I dropped down the other side a short way up the tributary (should be able to get on top of the ridge too). Instead of reversing the tributary I decided to try and gain the top via the a pass on the right… I made it some way up and it was quite nice, but I ran into a 2-3m slot. I followed the eastern cliff around climbing up to a spot between some pagodas where I found a hidden creek disappearing into the Wollangambe far below. The easiest way up was to climb up a pagoda and jump this 1m gap. It was scary, but in the end I made it across and clinging to the rock edged my way to safety.

(left) looking out of the window where the hidden creek drops. (right) the gap I needed to jump over.

  • Continued up the ridge and then over to the top of the main creek. This one proved to be the trickiest to get into. The main watercourse had a drop at the top; I reversed and followed a smaller course (to the east). I edged down a slippery dip and found myself at the top of another drop. To bypass this one I again climbed up on the left and then down a bit. This time crossing over the feeder creek before dropping down the last bit.




I was happy I had achieved all the goals I had set the previous night (taking about 9hrs). I crossed back over the ‘Gambe (same route), collected my pack and headed back stopping at the ‘Centre of the Universe’ on the way.

I was tired when I reached my car, but was pleased at what I had found but was also a littel sad about the trouble I got myself into yesterday morning as I was really looking forward to meeting everyone (both new and old).
I later called Ashley to apologise and confirmed that they where all still at Bell station when I headed out, and they did indeed go to Gooches Crater.