Start: Pigeon House car park
Finish: Pigeon House car park
Time Taken: 3-4hrs including rests and lunch
USP: Breathtaking views
From where we were staying in Mollymook Beach, we were sandwiched between the sparkling ocean to the East and a wall of carpeted hills to the West. After a few days exploring the beaches and surfing, we couldn’t wait to get into the hills for a hike.
After a few Google searches, one name kept coming up from other hikers: Pigeon House. Maybe not the most inspiring name but the images people were sharing from the walk were all we needed to see.
The first half of the drive out was easy enough, but once we turned onto Clyde Ridge Road we were in for 12km of dusty, twisting dirt track through dense forest. Speeds were reduced to 20kmh and we started to feel very far from civilisation. No phone signal and only an occasional 4×4 speeding past, leaving us to keep crawling along in their dusty wake.
Just before the point of giving up hope and turning around we arrived at a fork in the track and a sign for Pigeon House car park. We hadn’t even got out the car yet and it already felt like an achievement just arriving
Surprisingly the car park was already full. It was a Sunday afternoon on the Queen’s birthday weekend, so perhaps a little busier than usual for this time of the year. Although we started the walk with a number of groups in-front and behind, they soon dissipated, leaving us in a world of our own.
The start of the walk is reasonably hard-going, very steep and involves a lot of scrambling over well-worn rock. It continues like this for about 30mins, before you’re rewarded by a breathtaking view to the right. It’s worth looking out for, as several people huffed and puffed right past it. Looking out, the layers upon layers of hills and forest rippled like fabric as they extended to the ocean. Concealing all manner of untouched creeks and lakes in their folds. After a much-needed slug of water, and a few photographs, we continued the climb.
Here the path is a little less arduous, and starts to even out in places. Still feeling fresh we steamed ahead, but there’s no rush. Many young families were taking their time walking up the hill, trying to convince each other there would be an ice-cream shop at the top… unfortunately there isn’t… be sure to pack butties!
The path flattens out a little more, and curves to the left. Here the the tall, majestic Gum Trees from the lower slopes are replaced with a thick brush of squat shrubs, giving us tunnel vision as we kept up a steady pace. As the path twisted and turned we started snatching glimpses of Pigeon House itself ahead of us. A huge cathedral of bare rock, bursting out of the vibrant greenery.
As we drew closer to the natural monolith we saw the final ascent would be up metal ladders and walkways. Sitting in the shaded side of the cliff the hand rails and rungs were still cold from the cloudless night before and crisp morning air. Jumpers were pulled over hands as we started to climb. All the time hearing people further up sharing words of encouragement to shaky friends and the obligatory “Don’t look down”!
Each passing point is an ideal spot to stop, blow on cold hands and enjoy the view as other walkers go past. Always promising great things of the final reveal at the top where they’ve just been. The metal ladders are arguable not for those with vertigo, but what waits at the top is well worth going outside your comfort zone for.
After 1 and a half hours of walking, scrambling and climbing we found a rocky platform of our own to sit on and enjoy our, slightly squished, sandwiches. Our view split in two by the cobalt blue dome above and a never ending sea of dark green forest below, spilling away from the sheer cliffs in all directions.
After spending a good 45mins at the top taking in the 360 degree views, we started to make our descent, again taking in the view as we climbed down the metal ladders.
We took the walk down easy, taking more time to look for birds. Matt soon spotted some small warblers high in a stand of Gum Trees. While he was concentrating on them Kat had snatched glimpses of a Wedge Tailed Eagle drifting over the canopy and away to the East.
As we dropped down the trail the sun dipped lower, having to work harder to penetrate the mass of trees. As the temperature started to rapidly drop and with hands still climb from the metal ladders we were glad of the flask of coffee stashed in the hire car!.
Definitely some of the most incredible views we’ve seen yet. We headed back content, and with buns of steel…