After the heat of January, the rains of February and March, my April trip to Lord Howe Island and then Easter, I finally had the chance to resume my barefoot trek to Newcastle. Meeting Allan Savins at the well-concealed Cedar Brush Creek finishing point, he drove me back to the Yarramalong trackhead where I’d hoped to grab a coffee before starting the walk, but alas the shop was closed for renovations.
Disappointed but not undone, I set off west along Yarramalong Road, soon crossing the new concrete bridge over Wyong River.
Motorists in these parts need to watch out for the wildlife, although wombats are mostly nocturnal and are unlikely to bother GNW hikers.
Shortly I came upon the quaint St Barnabas chapel built in 1885, these days a popular venue for wedding services. No-one tying the knot today though.
On the left the countryside opened up across the Wyong River valley. A few years ago I spent a week working at an electromagnetic compatibility test range just along here, but it’s not visible from the road so I don’t know whether it’s still operating.
The road surface is gravel embedded in tar, not ideal for barefoot hiking although the volume of traffic along here has mostly smoothed it out and in places I was able to use the grassy verge. About 3km into the walk I came to the Cedar Brush Creek turnoff.
Some inquisitive cattle on the left gave me a good look as I passed.
From here the going became easier, with plenty of freshly mown grass to walk on and a lot less traffic to contend with.
There are some unusual letterboxes in these parts.
There are horses too on some of the properties, and like the cattle are enjoying the lush fields after all the late summer and early autumn rain.
Speaking of autumn, the exotic trees are putting on a fine display of colour as they lose their foliage in anticipation of the snow that’ll never come. A bit sad when you think of it that way, but the fallen leaves felt nice underfoot.
It’s starting to get cool for our reptilian friends too, with one of them seeking out the warmth of the road surface.
As the road headed further up the valley I came to Fernances Country. Now all I need to do is figure out what a Fernance is.
The road crosses Cedar Brush Creek at Yorky’s Bridge where it was time for a snack stop.
Just the other side is the end of the bitumen, with the road becoming a pleasant recently graded dirt surface with minimal gravel.
One of the neighbours has a quirky sense of humour. I wonder what they do there if it isn’t a pharm.
Another five hundred metres along I saw a familiar vehicle lurking on the side of the road.
Opposite is the Cedar Brush Creek trackhead and the end of today’s journey.
I’ve now covered 146km and there’s just another 104 to go to Newcastle. Immediately ahead though is the steep climb up into the Watagan Mountains and what will probably be a four day traverse across the wild country to Heaton’s Gap, where the track returns to civilisation with the descent to Teralba railway station.
Thanks once again to Allan for getting up early on a Saturday morning to do the car shuffle.
Coming up next: Cedar Brush Creek to Watagan Creek.