Sugar Pine Walk // a Land of Giants (NSW)

Highlights:

  • Incredible light through the trees during sunset/sunrise
  • Easy yet breathtaking walks
  • The sheer wonder of a Pine forest

Waldeinsamkeit.

It’s not gibberish, it’s German.

“Waldeinsamkeit. (n) the feeling of being alone in the woods.”

It’s one of those beautiful words that the English language would do well to borrow. It’s also what you’d expect when you visit the Bago State Forest, or more specifically, the spectacular Sugar Pine Walk.

17 something photographers gathered to venture out to the hidden gem that is Laurel Hill. Four cars, a lot of cameras, and a small town called Tumut – about 5 hours over the horizon.

As our trip began, and Sydney became a speck in the mirror, I could swear the air became clearer, easier to breathe. The sky opened up, with a furthered horizon. I felt as if a cloud lifted from my head, a weight gone, from my shoulders, and my eyes opened. Quite literally, away from the big smoke.

I was one of the few first timers to Laurel Hill, the home of the Sugar Pine Walk, so the only expectations I had were what I’d seen on Instagram and from other photographers that had been before. The main inspiration for this trip was the freak snowstorm that happened a few weeks prior. Snow falling to 800m, and lots of it, meant the Sugar Pine Walk was transformed into a Narnia-esque winter dreamscape. A wonderland. However with the rising temperatures and the rainfall before we headed, the prospect of snow quickly disappeared – along with my dreams of Waldeinsamkeit. Camera shutters, directions being thrown around, noise, laughter, chatter. Fantastic things, though things that would crowd that feeling of isolation. Or so I thought.

Honestly, it didn’t bother me much. The business, the hustle and bustle. The creative vibes flowing were high. With such an awesome group, in an incredible place, it was bound to be an incredible time in the forest regardless. Excitement followed – and we’d only just stopped by Tumut en route to the forest.

Winding forest roads, fog, the dying light. Dirt roads, mud, a heavy camera bag. Two steps into the trees, one look up.

No expectation, no hashtag, no finely combed photograph of a model amongst the trees could have done any justice to seeing those pines with two human eyes.

Ineffable awe, in a land of giants.

The shutter clicks, the noise, the chatter. It all slowly disappeared and blended seamlessly into the trees. I ventured down the walk itself, to the sides amongst the pines, over stumps and under logs; so many enormous, ancient trees, with only the odd second of someone else walking amongst them.

Further, further the noises became, as the light at the top of the hill came nearer. What would be up there, at the end of the path? I envisaged being atop a ridge, looking over a vast valley of pines and fog. Endless nature, untouched and as ancient as the titans that surround me.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

A field of splinters and stumps, crudely torn apart by the muddy yellow excavators and logging machinery that lay scattered amongst the dead valley. A reminder of the destruction humans can cause. So casually uprooting the trees that would remember many a generation before our own.

Waldeinsamkeit.

(n) the feeling of being alone in the woods. I thought about that word again…

Sugar Pines are the largest pines on the planet, and the Sugar Pine Walk walk itself is only a small 500m long section of protected forest, planted in 1928. Being part of the Bago State Forest – it’s not a national park. Most areas within the State Forest can be logged, turned into a mine or completely razed and hunted. I thought – Perhaps it’s not us, but rather the pines of that area that feel most alone in the woods.

A turn of the heel, and the despair was out of sight. However, long yet till it were to be out of mind. Fading light, and the final walk back down the path to where we came.

Being a State Forest there’s some advantages. You can do the stuff you normally can’t do in a National Park! You can take your best pal (your dog), you can ride horses through the 100’s of kilometres of track, go fishing, boating, swimming or just relaxing by the Blowering Dam, on the edge of the forest.

We stayed in a caravan park because our car was already loaded up to the roof in snow gear as we were heading onwards to the slopes, however there’s many secluded camp spots throughout the forest and by the edge of the dam’s lake, where just on the other side, is the incredible Kosciuszko National Park, where you can choose to explore – or turn around an head home.

Essential Gear

  • Good walking shoes
  • First Aid – There’s sticks everywhere.
  • Food/Water (It’s quite a rural area, so bring comfort snacks.)
  • Camera gear
  • A sense of wonder

How to get there

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The Sugar Pine Walk is about half a kilometre down Kopsens Rd, off Batlow Rd, Laurel Hill.

Activities

  • Pet Friendly, Free Camping/Hiking o Horse Tracks
  • Bike Tracks (Mountain and Moto) o Fishing
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • 4WDing (2WD access most places unless it’s been very wet) o Hunting (visit Forestry Corporation for info and permits)
  • Fossicking (visit Forestry Corporation for info and permits)

Skill Level

Beginner along the Sugar Pine Walk itself. Intermediate/Advanced if you link up to other walks (take a map).

Distance/Elevation

The Sugar Pine Walk itself is only a straight 500m long, with an elevation gain of around 15m.