Start: Wondabyne Station
(You have to request the stop when you board the train and flag the train down when you head back to the city)
End: Wondabyne Station
Time taken: 3-4 hours
USP: Feels remote, great waterfall and wild swimming
Distance: 10km return.
This is one that we had been eyeing up for a while. Several wet weekends rolled through with lashing rain and storm force winds before we finally got the break we needed to tackle it. It’s not a big walk in terms of distance but there were a couple of interesting features that would make it a good’un.
It was a good job we’d read up about this walk before setting off. Wondabyne Station is remote enough that the train doesn’t actually stop there unless you ask the driver! The area used to house a Sandstone mine which has long been abandoned, leaving little reason for people to need the station.
And it does feel remote. There are a few ramshackle homes, a boat pontoon and a whole lot of forest. Each end of the platform ends abruptly in unkempt grass. As the train thunders off north, you’re left with the tinkling of bird song and wind in the trees.
From here things maintained the ‘wild’ theme. A short, sharp climb up onto a ridge took us through a wood carpeted with long grass. Things were pretty damp after all the recent rain and on reaching a clearing at the top, several of us realised we’d picked up some blood sucking hitch hikers… leeches!
Cue pulling off boots and lots of hopping around on one foot before they could wriggle their way through boot eyelets and walking socks. Successfully de-leeched we stomped our way towards the destination, Kariong Brook Falls. The going was easy, but the insect wildlife was abundant. Ant nests littered the path, with huge soldier ants rearing up as we approached, brandishing their mandibles. A type of day-time moth we’d never seen before that squeaked like a bat as it flapped past. And on turning one corner we came face to face with a very active bees nest.
Thanks to the proceeding week of heavy rain, the water fall was in full flow. The surrounding trees sat below several meters of flood water and the brook cascaded over the 8 meter drop. We found a number of boulders above the water line and free of insects to sit on and enjoy lunch. One of our group even jumped in to cool off!
Once we stopped moving around, we realised we still weren’t alone. An Eastern Three Lined Skink was making regular trips out of it’s hiding hole to gobble up dropped pasta and as we got up to leave, we realised a HUGE Huntsman Spider had been watching us from the nearby cliff face. Time to get going before the forest closed in on us!
The walk back is a straight forward case of retracing your steps. Now accustomed to the wildlife lying in wait, we consciously avoided the long grass, deftly side stepped ants nests and tip-toed past the busy bees. Despite our best efforts, several people still ended up ripping off boots and hopping on one foot as yet more leeches did their best to hitch a ride back to Sydney.
As the next weather front moved in and the blue sky gave way to grey we arrived back at Wondabyne Station. The train appeared around the corner causing us to all start frantically waving at the driver. Just as you have to ask the train to stop on the way out, you have to flag it down on the way back…
If you don’t, you could be spending a night with the local wildlife!