With Allan and Jude Savins generously providing transport from where I left my car at the finish to the starting point at the Somersby store, I took the opportunity to grab a coffee before beginning my walk.
From the store, the GNW follows Wisemans Ferry Road across the bridge over Peats Ridge Road, the latter being built in the 1960s as an interim link from Calga to Ourimbah to bypass the twisty Old Pacific Highway’s route across Mooney Mooney Creek. Being a single lane undivided road, this circuitous stretch quickly became a highway black spot, claiming many lives in head-on collisions before it was finally replaced by the more direct M1 motorway in the 1980s.
A few hundred metres on, my path left Wisemans Ferry Road to continue north along Kilkenny Road. Just before the end of the road, it crosses a causeway that still had a fair bit of water flowing over it in spite of the recent dry weather. The surface was very slimy and splippery, as I soon found out when my feet went out from under me and I ended up on my back in the water.
Wet but otherwise unharmed, I soon reached the end of the road and the beginning of the bushwalk through Palm Grove reserve.
From here, the track skirts around the back of a farm before heading down into the valley.
Heading out along a spur, I was soon in amongst the palms.
Leaving the ridge, the track descends into the valley past mossy rocks and fallen trees.
Down here, even the rocks have palms growing out of their heads!
After a steep descent, I reached Mill Creek, a tributary to Ourimbah Creek, where the leeches were out in force. Being barefoot, I was able to feel them wriggling about before they’d latched on and no blood was lost.
Just the other side of the water is a huge fig tree, a giant of the rainforest.
From there, the track climbs back out of the valley through a series of switchbacks, returning to the top of the ridge where there are remnants of earlier logging activities.
Near a campsite at the top is another walkers’ register which I duly signed, noting that a group from Switzerland had been through a few days ahead of me.
From there, the track descends through an open dry eucalypt forest towards Ourimbah Creek.
All too soon, my day’s walk was over, taking me about two and a half hours to complete the 6km hike.
From here, the GNW heads northwest towards Yarramalong. Although only 19km, it involves a fair bit of road hiking (not good in bare feet) as well as substantial altitude gain as it crosses the intervening ridge, so I expect I’ll be following the guidebook’s advice to break it at Cherry Lane near Kulnura, which will also make the car shuffle a bit easier.
Coming up next: Ourimbah Valley to Kulnura.