Start: Evan’s Look Out
End: Govett’s Leap Look Out
Time taken: 2 days
USP: Canyon, rainforest, Acacia forest, Blue Gum Forest, wild swimming
Another long weekend in New South Wales had us scanning blogs and websites for an overnight walk to get stuck into. The good thing about ‘Straya is that not all camp sites are bookable, meaning we could still find a spot over the public holiday; we just had to hike to it first! In some of the more remote camping spots, you can pitch for free and there’s a good chance you’ll have the place to yourself.
We set about looking for somewhere accessible by train, with a walk to the site that would take a day, a great campsite location, and another days hike back out. After a lot of searching we settled on Acacia Flats camp ground in the Grose Valley, starting from Blackheath station.
Being mid summer we knew this would be a hot one, so we packed enough water for 24 hours and researched the safe creeks to refill from. Luckily, Orang Utan Creek, only a short walk from Acacia Flats, had a catchment outside of any urbanised areas making it a good option if we found ourselves running low at the start of day two… which we did.
We entered the walk from Evan’s Lookout, 5km from Blackheath train station. The lookout has a great view down the Grose Valley, to the North East. Our camp for the night was nestled deep in the folds of the valley, somewhere in the misty blue haze. At this point it looked a very, very long way away.
The walk down the cliff is fairly easy going. Zig zagging back and forth and easy to follow thanks to the stone steps carved into the mountainside. Part way down we reached Beauchamp Falls and stopped for a rest. The waterfall tumbles for 15 meters or so into a jumble of oversized boulders. Eastern Water Dragons were sunning themselves on the rocks and butterflies circled just above our heads.
As we headed deeper into the forest, the sky morphed from brilliant blue to leaden black and thunder started to roll around the steep sides of the valley. We were in for a soaking and quickened the pace, trying to get lower before it hit.
Most of the walk in and out follows a bubbling creek, providing an amazing background of gurgling and crashing as the water meanders around boulders, under fallen logs and over rocky outcrops. The trail crosses the creek several times, giving great views into the gin clear depths, catching glimpses of bright red Sydney Crayfish.
Just as we hit the valley floor the storm caught us. The sky darkened, lightening flashed across the sky and the thunder sounded like the cliffs were falling down. Rain soaked the chest high vegetation and flooded the narrow path in front of us. Heads down we pushed on, hoping our backpacks were as waterproof as they’d said in the shop.
After six hours of hiking, two of that through the storm, we reached the clearing of Acacia Flats camp ground. Engaging auto pilot we pitched the tent in record time, pulled out the stove and did what all good English people would do when soaked to the skin in the middle of no where… made a cuppa. As we drifted off to sleep we could hear the storm moving out of the valley and the nocturnal fauna starting to croak and whistle around us.
Day two dawned clear and still. We brewed a coffee, whisked up some porridge and headed to the creek for a swim. Low cloud still hung in the higher reaches of the valley as if caught in the forest tops. The creek was cool and soothed aching feet. The storm from last night now forgiven.
From Acacia Flats camp ground it’s well worth a short side trip to the Blue Gum Forest. In 1931 the area was slated for a Walnut Plantation, but a group of local hiking and wilderness enthusiasts had a whip-round and raised $130 to buy the patch of land and preserve it. Their sterling effort can now be seen in the towering white trunks of the ancient Blue Gums, some of which are said to be 300 years old.
We knew we were in for a tough climb out. Heading along Govett’s Creek and out through Govett’s Leap lookout, the trail notes said 662 meters of climbing over 6km. That’s a lot of up. With only a litre and a half of water each and a cloudless, summer sky above us we made a pit stop to Orang Utan Creek to refill a bottle. If we got desperate we could boil it and have an extra supply to keep us going.
There’s no denying the walk out is tough, but the trail is amazing. Govett’s Creek tumbles over waterfall after waterfall. When the water’s not falling through thin air, it’s rushing around moss carpeted boulders. We took numerous breaks to drink and eat and just appreciate an amazing piece of forest.
Tired, extremely sweaty and very stoked we reached the car park at Govett’s Leap Look Out. Peering back into the valley we could see just how far we’d come. From above, the forest looks completely impenetrable but there are numerous intertwining trails and paths criss-crossing the Grose Valley, all waiting for another long weekend.
As we turned our backs on the valley and headed towards civilisation (and waiting beer and pies) the sky began to darken, heavy rain drops started to dot the pavement and a huge clap of thunder rumbled over the forest…