2-3 January 2006 Mt Kelly Photos
Maps: Rendezvous Creek 8626-1S Second Edition 1:25000; Yaouk 8626-2N Second Edition
Getting There

Max S planned and led this walk.  What a way to get rid of New Year cheer!  Camping permit # 1673; no fire permits issued so fuel stoves only.  We left Canberra at 6.45am and drove to the Yankee Hat car park.


I learnt several valuable lessons on this walk, which I probably would not take notice of other than by experiencing them (take warning, good reader!):

  • Too long - although Max planned and led this walk, it was probably on my initial idea, so I'll take the blame.  We planned to do around 33km and climb both Mt Kelly and Mt Namadgi.  I've day walked to Mt Burbidge and you just can't string 2 days of day walking together with overnight packs.
  • Pack weight - my pack weighed in at 21kgm (including 4 litres of water).  There were a few 'personal comforts' and techno-gadgets I could have left behind.  And there was water in creeks on the way (but hindsight is 20/20).  Max was smarter.
  • Boots - I have a new pair of boots which I thought were worn in, but not sufficiently.  Although I'd dressed my heels prior to setting off each day, they still ripped my feet to shreds.
  • Physical fitness - I didn't feel crook when we set off, but by Monday afternoon I was cramping badly in my thighs, both front and back.  Strangely, I lost 4kgm over the 2 day walk.  I was a real passenger - I estimate it takes another 20% effort to navigate and lead all the time, which Max had to do.
  • Separation - just when the cleared country of the Middle Creek mouth was in sight on the way out, we lost contact with each other.  I was really dragging the chain.  Being so close to home and both of us map, compass and GPS equipped, I decided to walk out to the car.  It cost Max another 1.25 hours in back tracking to look for me, before he decided to head out.  I should have just stopped.  But have an agreed plan for this situation and, of course, maintain contact!
  • Temperature - it was forecast 27ºC in Canberra for the 2-3 January, following on from a week of heat ending with 2 38ºC days.  Certainly Tuesday was hotter at 33ºC and, even at a couple of degrees cooler up there, it was mighty warm at the end of day 2 walking back across the Gudgenby grasslands.


Day 1 - 2 January: Yankee Hat car park via Gudgenby Saddle up Sams Creek fire trail to saddle below Mt Kelly

We were walking by 7.50am and headed down the Old Boboyan Road and into Frank and Jack's hut.  From there we followed a forestry track to the NW, just to go a slightly different way from the last time we went to Mt Gudgenby.  It then curved to the SW and we were in the bush by 8.45am (55 mins and 4.6km).  The grasslands bush flies left us soon after and the March flies, not knowing that they were two months early, began to gather.  My first experience of these green eyed beasts and the first bite came early.

We soon found ourselves on the footpad to Gudgenby Saddle, the first part of it marked by red tape.  Towards the Saddle, the tape stopped, but the footpad is more pronounced.  We were at the Gudgenby Saddle by 10.15am (1.5 hours and 2.9km).

A further 25 minutes and 0.96km saw us down the other side and the opportunity to get water from Naas Creek.

It took a few more minutes to find Sams Creek fire trail, 350m to the NW as we headed up Naas Creek, but we were on it by 10.55am.  It made for easy walking.  Wonderful views up to the southern and western flanks of Mt Gudgenby.

We followed Sams Creek Fire Trail as best we could to the NW for 6.3km, taking 3 hours.  By this stage it was fairly indistinct and, as we only had 2nd edition maps which don't show the fire trail, we lost it when we continued to follow Sams Creek to the NNE.  By this stage I was cramping very badly and it took us a further 1 hour and 10 minutes just to cover 1km up the creek.  At this point the creek bends to the west and we thought we could cut across a tongue of bush by heading north.  It wasn't a good call, as we missed the lovely open creek flats (which we later saw from near our campsite) and the flanks of the Scabby Range were scrubby and bouldery.  It took 50 minutes to do 1km in that terrain and in my condition.

We propped in the saddle at GR 70544558 (MGA94), which we reached at 4.50pm.  We went on a few tens of metres to where we could see Mt Kelly, Mt Namadgi, Mt Burbidge and Spot Height 1733 (marked on 1st edition map), but retreated to a better site, not under trees, well grassed and protected from the wind by a nearby boulder.

It was nice to set up tents and have a cuppa, as we'd really only snacked during the day and not stopped for lunch (all the stops I'd needed would have summed to much more than a lunch hour and a half!).

We went for a short wander and climbed a large boulder, which gave us uninterrupted views in all directions.  We first looked down into the top of Sams Creek and saw how our route choice could have been better (there's that 20/20 hindsight again!).  Then SW to the Scabby Range and Mt Scabby in the distance.  Mt Kelly reared close by to the NW.  To the SE was SH 1733, the SE leg of Scabby Range which heads down to Mt Gudgenby.  A magnificent view, well worth the trouble!

I enjoyed my tea, with plenty of time to cook up a creamy bacon carbonara pasta and sauce mix (not really fast at 10 minutes simmering) which I added to some freeze dried honey soy chicken, rice and vegetables.  Both were left over from my last Tasmanian trip and, although the freeze dried chicken looked like baby wombat poo, were very palatable with pre-soaking and longer, gentler simmering.  Washed down with a sachet each of McWilliams dry red and later a coffee bag.

Max had plenty of options up his sleeve to cater for my condition, including immediately walking out the next morning via the south arm of Middle Creek, as we'd done when we visited Mt Burbidge.  But I decided to take a couple of muscle pain tablets and review the situation in the morning.  The sunset from my tent was beautiful and we were bedded down in sleeping bag liners by 8pm.

The wind was quite strong from the west during the night, shaking the nearby trees noisily.  But the well chosen camp site meant that our tents hardly rattled.  My new Mountain Designs Positron 2 was a dream.

1 Southern face of Mt Gudgenby
2 Mt Kelly above Sams Creek
3 Camp site
Day 2 - 3 January: Climb Mt Kelly, then to Rotten Swamp and exit down Middle Creek

Up at 6am, I strapped my ankles and toes again, we had a quick bit of cereal and headed up Mt Kelly.  It took 30 minutes to climb the 830m along and 180m up to the wind-swept summit.  We signed the log at the high point marker - a collection of rocks and a weather-beaten pole.

A truly magnificent view!  Absolutely wonderful to look down over Rotten Swamp and up to Mt Namadgi!  Four cricket pitches were in place, a subsequent close-up inspection revealing them to be hessian covers over recovering sphagnum moss.  Further to the east we looked across to Mt Burbidge, then back to west of north down the Mt Kelly Spur with Coronet Peak in the middle ground.  Cranking up the camera to 10X zoom showed Mt Tidbinbilla in the distance, with Cotter Rocks and Split Rock in the middle ground.  Reducing the zoom, the view north showed Rock Flats up to Cotter Rocks.  Back to the east, to the south of Mt Burbidge, was the south arm of Middle Creek which we'd previously used to exit from that feature (Mt Burbidge is not named on first edition maps and was known locally as Mt X).  Swinging back to the west (I must have been that excited) we could see Mt Scabby and imagine, a valley or two over, the source of the Cotter River.  I took another shot of the top of Sams Creek, the beautiful green sward we'd missed yesterday.

I led for the only time on this trip, coming down from Mt Kelly.  The scenic route (ie longer and poorly chosen), a bit to the south of our upward leg, with plenty more fallen timber, rocks and regenerating scrub.  Back by 7.50am.

We broke camp and I made a decision from Max's options.  I've only made a few good decisions in life (like marry my wife, becoming a Christian, having two wonderful kids, bushwalking in Tasmania) - this time it was to leave Mt Namadgi for another time and head for home via Rotten Swamp and Middle Creek.  We left at 8.30am and headed down, reaching the edge of Rotten Swamp at 8.55am.  A lovely place (it must have been superb prior to the Jan 03 fires), with Mts Kelly, Namadgi and Burbidge towering over it.  We headed to near the NE corner, dropped our packs and wandered down a soak to a running part of Licking Hole Creek to top up water.

At 9.25am we started down the top of the central arm of Middle Creek, on the northern side.  Excellent views to the northern face of Mt Burbidge and the southern face of Mt Namadgi.  It took 1 hour and 45 minutes to cover the 2.7km down to the top junction of Middle Creek (where the north and central arms join).  Plenty of charcoal black standing saplings and fallen trees which had to have each weary leg lifted over.  We crossed to the southern side of the creek here and, keeping up away from the creek line, plugged on down to near the bottom junction of Middle Creek (where the south arm joins).  Another 3.9km and nearly 2 hours.  More of the same scrub, although Max didn't think it was half as bad as I did!

It was here that we became separated.  I was lagging well behind on the braided footpads, took a different path to my leader, saw him in the distance, gave a feeble yell and, when I next looked, he was gone.  I should have just stopped.  However, the open vegetation of the creek mouth was visible and I made the call to walk out, as we were each well equipped.  A further 3.6km and 1 hour, quite warm between trees over the Gudgenby grasslands.  The buck kangaroo at each tree was loath to give the shade to me.  Fetid water in Bogong Creek at the bridge, so I got back to the car at 2.15pm dry.  A guy came along spraying weeds and gave me some water - also pointing out that there is a rain water tank behind the toilet at Yankee Hat car park (the only useful thing to come out of this last error of mine).  Max arrived back 1 and a quarter hours later, having spent the time back tracking and looking for me.

To cap it off, the homing devices in the Esky in the boot of the car were tepid!

Stunning views!  Some valuable lessons for me.  I hope Max will walk with me again after my feet heal!

Distance: 31.2km  Climb: 1000m.  Time: 2 days. 

4 Rotten Swamp and Mt Namadgi from Mt Kelly
5 Looking down Kelly Spur with Coronet Peak in the middle ground
6 Mt Namadgi from top of Middle Creek