BUNGONIA GORGE – A DAY HIKE

Bungonia Gorge, Bungonia National Park

 

Bungonia NP lies 140 km north-east of Canberra and 35 km east of Goulburn, NSW and is on the edge of the Southern Tablelands.

I have hiked Bungonia Gorge several times in the past,   always in a clockwise direction, going down on the Red Track and exiting up the White Track and over Mt Ayre.   This time we walked it in the opposite direction which I think is the better way to go, especially if it is hot,  as this direction gives more shade and the exit up the Red Track is much shorter than the White Track.  However,  even on a mild day going down or coming up on either of those tracks is hot work with the sun beating down on one and the heat reflecting back at one off the track.  The previous time I did this walk one of our number collapsed from dehydration and heat exhaustion more or less at the bottom of  the ascent up the White Track.

We left Canberra at 8.00 a.m. and commenced walking at about 10 am.   From Mt Ayre, which is only a few minutes from the car park, the views are splendid, looking down over Bungonia Creek to its confluence with the Shoalhaven River and its gorge as it flows northwards.   There are also splendid views upstream along the Shoalhaven River.

Looking down on the Shoalhaven River from Mt Ayre, with Bungonia Creek flowing into it.

Looking down on the Shoalhaven River from Mt Ayre, with Bungonia Creek flowing into it.

Mistletoe living off an Acacia sp near summit of Mt Ayre

Mistletoe living off an Acacia sp near summit of Mt Ayre

Missletoe on acacia

 

From Mt Ayre we descended some 450 metres to the junction of Bungonia Creek and the Shoalhaven.   This descent is steep and very loose and is a track to be avoided when it is hot.  Great care must be taken in descending the track.

Eventually one reaches the confluence of Bungonia Creek and the Shoalhaven. This is a lovely spot, with a very nice beach lined with Casuarina Trees.   It is a great spot for a swim.   Here we stopped for morning tea.

Nearing the confluence of Bungonia Creek and Shoalhaven River at the bottom of Mt Ayre. This narrow, steep-sided ridge separates a sweep of Bungonia Creek on the right from the Shoalhaven on the left

Nearing the confluence of Bungonia Creek and Shoalhaven River at the bottom of Mt Ayre. This narrow, steep-sided ridge separates a sweep of Bungonia Creek on the right from the Shoalhaven on the left

Walking down the beach alongside Bungonia Creek at its confluence with the Shoalhaven River

Walking down the beach alongside Bungonia Creek at its confluence with the Shoalhaven River

Confluence of Bungonia Ck (foreground) with the Shoalhaven. Note the lovely She-oaks (Casuarina sp) lining the river, the needles soughing in the slight breeze

Confluence of Bungonia Ck (foreground) with the Shoalhaven. Note the lovely She-oaks (Casuarina sp) lining the river, the needles soughing in the slight breeze

Beginning our walk up Bungonia Creek after morning tea

 

After tea we commenced the walk up Bungonia Creek towards the slot canyon which offers a lot of fun. Initially we walked up the boulders and slabs of the creek itself, but then found a faint foot pad  on the true left bank of the creek  At the slot the cliffs on each side are high and very close together.  The slot canyon is filled with huge boulders, piled on top of each other.   There is no track or marked trail through the slot, and one has to find a way, sometimes squeezing through narrow openings and tunnels in amongst the boulders, at other times having to scramble up and over.  It is a matter of finding your own way through.  Great fun.

Before coming to the narrow slot we intersected the Red Trail from the car park up on the Tablelands.

On the way through the slot we came across a fairly large party from the Shoalhaven Bushwalking Club coming down in the opposite direction.   Also, as we were passing through the slot we spied two rock climbers high above us on the orange cliffs on our left, one of whom appeared to be upside down at one point as he negotiated the ceiling of an overhang.

The beginning of the walk up Bungonia Gorge

The beginning of the walk up Bungonia Gorge.   Note the white scar, centre skyline, where there is a viewing platform.

 

Note the white scar at top left, on skyline. Here there is narrow viewing platform projecting over the void, known as THE DIVING BOARD

Note the white scar at top left, on skyline. Here there is narrow viewing platform projecting over the void, known as THE DIVING BOARD

Walking through the trees and scrub on the true left bank of Bungonia Gorge we came across a huge Monitor Lizard or Goanna.

Walking through the trees and scrub on the true left bank of Bungonia Gorge we came across a huge Monitor Lizard or Goanna.

 

Bungonia Gorge.

Bungonia Gorge.

Bungonia Gorge. Approaching the close-walled slot canyon

Bungonia Gorge. Approaching the close-walled slot canyon

 

A closer view of the downstream end of the slot canyon

A closer view of the downstream end of the slot canyon

Entering the slot canyon, Bungonia Gorge

Entering the slot canyon, Bungonia Gorge

Bungonia Gorge, Slot Canyon

Bungonia Gorge, Slot Canyon

In the slot, Bungonia Gorgia

In the slot

In the slot

Sometimes one goes up and over and hope "it goes"

Sometimes one goes up and over and hope “it goes”

At other times one goes down and through tunnels and hope "they go".

At other times one goes down and through tunnels and hope “they go”.

 

At the top end of the slot canyon

At the top end of the slot canyon

 

Eventually we passed beyond the piled boulders and walked along a completely level “beach” just before coming to the spot where the Red Track takes one out of the gorge.  At this spot , sitting in the shade of semi rain forest, we had our lunch.   Here we also saw  a couple of Lyre Birds which were not overly concerned by our presence.

After lunch we ascended the very steep and rough foot track of the Red Track back to the cars. This was a hot climb in full sun.

Climbing up out of Bungonia Gorge on the Red Trail

Climbing up out of Bungonia Gorge on the Red Trail

Cliffs beside the Red Trail as we climb out of Bungonia Gorge

Cliffs beside the Red Trail as we climb out of Bungonia Gorge

Native Passion Fruit, Passiflora herbertiana, beside the Red Trail. Its fruit is delicious

Native Passion Fruit, Passiflora herbertiana, beside the Red Trail. Its fruit is delicious

Looking back down the Red Trail

Looking back down the Red Trail

View from "the diving board" lookout looking at the downstream end of the slot canyon

View from “the Diving Board” lookout, looking down to the downstream end of the slot canyon

View from "the diving board" lookout looking at the downstream end of the slot canyon . I have delineated the near side of the slot canyon

View from “the diving board” lookout looking at the downstream end of the slot canyon . I have delineated the near side of the slot canyon

 

A most enjoyable day.

(note, one or two of these photos were taken on a previous trip)

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4 thoughts on “BUNGONIA GORGE – A DAY HIKE

  1. Thanks, Solohiker. You will enjoy it. My suggestion though is not to do the hike if, say, the Goulburn max. forecast temp. is above 25 degrees C

  2. Hi Barrie
    Great pictures.
    Back in 1960 our school went to the gorge and got stuck when a storm came across – only one track back then – took hours and darkness fell – most of the students took hours to reach the top – no outside help either!

    • Hi Margaret, thanks for your comment. Have you been back since then? It’s a great walk, but one to be avoided on a warm day – coming out of the gorge can be a real trial then. always good, too, to have a swim in the Shoalhaven. Might see you down there one day!

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