Rafting the Eastern Cudgegong (NSW)

Highlights

  • Rafting a river with a pre-historic feel.
  • Unique rock formations.
  • Caves.

The western side of the Wollemi National Park truly is an explorer’s paradise with many unique landscapes all within a stone’s throw. This time I was heading to Dunns Swamp about a 4.5hr drive from Sydney. It’s a great campground to take family, friends or even a solo trip as the place has a great diversity of unique camp site options. I took the Friday to Monday off and drove up on Thursday night to get the best spot right on the lake. The Family were coming up too so I was looking for a day / half day adventure where I could escape my lovely family just for a bit heh. It rained quite heavily on the Friday night so I knew the Cudgegong was calling!

The Cudgegong River is the only river in the Wollemi national park that flows westward. It continues on into Dunns swamp where an old cement works weir dams it up and then eventually runs into the Macquarie River. The obvious put in point was a part of the bi centennial trail (Dewey’s 40) which crosses the Cudgegong. So after a bit of a sleep in and some breakfast I packed up my trusty Alpacka Raft, got in the car and drove east along Coricudgy road. After about 5minutes I got to the locked gate where the bicentennial trail runs along a property boundary and the national park. The walk down the trail was easy going and took about 20minutes to reach the river. When I got close my excitement level skyrocketed as I noticed that the river was indeed raftable it was deep enough and just wide enough to fit the one man raft.

As I headed down the river there was a gentle flow and the only rapids present were shallow pebble races that I had to walk over. It was early spring, the water was quite cold and the weather was a little cloudy so I decided to put on my wetsuit to make the trip more comfortable. Many trees had fallen over the river, some new some old the majority I could just fit under but quite a few involved me getting out of the raft and climbing over the logs so the wetsuit definitely helped when getting wet was mandatory.

The scenery was spectacular as the river winded through the rock pagodas of the area little waterfalls were flowing down off the high cliffs into the river as it had just rained the night before. Caves and strange weathered rocked formations were everywhere. As lyrebird bird jumped from one rock to anther over my head it felt like I was on a Disney ride meandering through a prehistoric landscape.

As I got closer to Dunns swamp the water reeds created a maze through the river as it eventually opened up into the lake and I made my way back to the campsite. I was lucky enough to get a lift from my uncle who dropped me back at my car but you could either ride a bike back along the road or there is a more direct route along a small powerline trail that hits the Dewey’s 40 trail half way between the locked gate and the river, although I have never traversed this trail myself. The whole trip took about 4.5hrs (add at least an extra 1hr if walking back) and was difficult in parts were the river was blocked by falling trees and debris. A lower river level could be beneficial as you could slip under more of the blockages although this might be negated by areas where the river was naturally low like the pebble races. All up I would have had to get out of my raft about 20 times to negotiate obstacles. All worth it though, a great little trip

Essential Gear

  • A small raft. Preferably of good quality. Could be walked if it does pop.
  • Wetsuit especially in the colder months.
  • Topographical map 25k 8932-32N OLINDA
  • GPS or offline map phone applications like Maps.me has the river marked
  • Waterproof bag
  • Dry set of thermals in cooler months just in case
  • A paddle
  • Sufficient food and water for a day not too sure about water quality of the river. There are a couple of farms upstream

How to get there

Travel to Rylstone about 4 hours from Sydney. Then take Glen Alice road turn left onto Narrango road which then turns into Coricudgy Road. To get to Dunns swamp you turn left onto the Ganguddy Access road. To access the put in point it’s about a 5 minute drive to the start of the Dewey’s Forty Trail further east along Coricudgy Road.

Activities

  • Swimming (summer)
  • Rafting
  • Caves

Skill Level

Intermediate

Distance covered

Roughly 7-8km. Took me 4.5 hours with many photo and cave exploring stops