A Gorgeous Scramble // Bungonia Gorge (NSW)

If rock scrambling through a stunning slot canyon sounds appealing then Bungonia Gorge might be just your thing. Couple this fun walk with a late night wine and scrabble sesh and you’ll have everything you need for a splendid overnighter, which is easy to access from Sydney or Canberra.


Highlights

  • Physically demanding steep walk with rock scrambling
  • Awesome scenery
  • Wildlife

The Preamble

My first visit to Bungonia Gorge in Bungonia National Park near Gouldburn, aeons ago, involved aid climbing. We had an awesome weekend of scaring ourselves silly in between lugging tons of ironmongery up and down steep hillsides.

Returning recently, minus hardware, we rediscovered the joy of scrambling.

Arriving late Friday night, we sleep late and breakfast long. After many pots of coffee we finally leave camp just after 11.00am. Being mid-winter, this means we only have six hours of daylight left.

Our intention had been to follow the White Track up to Mt Ayre and then down to the Shoalhaven River, then to bush-bash along Bungonia Creek to join up with the Red Track through Bungonia Gorge.

Not keen to finish walking by the light of headlamps, we opt instead to follow the Red Track down to Bungonia Creek and the slot canyon. Being contrary by nature (or perhaps fuelled by caffeine), we decide to reverse the suggested direction and head down the Mt Ayre side.

The Amble

Orange and grey rock faces loom as we descend, past the signpost to Mt Ayre, through eucalypts and xanthorrea, disturbing the occasional rock wallaby. At one turn in the path we find ourselves level with a Wedge-tailed Eagle, cruising the thermals.

Down at creek level, green pools look picturesque, reflecting gorge and trees, but up close they’re slimy and still.

Following Bungonia Creek upstream, pebbles grow into rocks, rocks become boulders, until the gorge is blocked by a tumbled maze of house-sized boulders.

Scrambling through, under and over the maze is the highlight of an awesome day. It is almost disappointing to come down to the canyon floor, to walk again on gravel and rock and sand.

The challenge isn’t over yet though, with the final leg-burning ascent out of the canyon still to come before we can head back to camp for chocolate, wine and scrabble.

The Verdict

Excellent. Go to Bungonia Gorge. Walk. Don’t sleep too late though!

Essential Gear

  • Water
  • Snacks/food
  • First aid kit
  • Headtorch (just in case)
  • Shoes with grippy soles
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen

How To Get There

From Sydney it’s just over two hours driving. Turn off Hume Highway at Marulan South (Jerrara Rd) and follow signs to Bungonia State Conservation Area then National Park.

From Canberra it’s about an hour and a half. Turn off Hume Highway at Goulburn (for the Big Merino), drive into town along Hume St, turn left into Clinton St and after a few minutes follow signpost to Bungonia State Conservation Area and then National Park.

See here for a map of the area.

Activities

  • Walking
  • Climbing (aid, trad, sport & boulder)
  • Caving
  • Bird watching
  • Photography
  • Camping

Skill Level

This particular track is graded hard, but there are a variety of trails in the park ranging from easy and moderate to hard (mostly due to the steepness of terrain and quality of track). For information on this and other walks at Bungonia National Park, see the NSW National Parks and Wildlife website.

They have a downloadable brochure with marked trails.

Distance Covered/Elevation Gain

5km/440m. The walk took about four hours (including many photo stops).

Where To Stay

Bungonia National Park has a great campground (with hot showers!). Sites are well-spaced with plenty of bush in between. Some even have their own picnic table. For those without cooking gear, there is even a camp kitchen. Book through the National Parks NSW website.

 


Get stuck into more gorges…

5 Day Escape To Carnarvon Gorge // Carnarvon National Park (QLD)

Gorgeous Gorges // Road Trip in the Red Centre (NT)

Gorges and Waterholes // Crows Nest National Park (QLD)

Gorge Trekking // Kalbarri National Park (WA)