- 7 MUST-READ tips for safe bushwalking
- Scroll to the bottom for more safety advice
If ever there was a cracker of a walk in the Illawarra, this is it. It’s got it all; mesmerising waterfalls, luscious pools and gorgeous rainforest – and just enough scare factor to keep the adrenaline pumping!
The Bushwalk the Gong crew joined Scott and his crew from Dapto History in Photos to start our adventure at Clover Hill.
The walk begins demurely along a gated parks’ road leading through rainforest and a few very large trees that managed to escape the logging here a century ago.
The kids in the group led the charge and the big kids followed, enjoying a chat along the easier trail. We copped a few spots of rain, but being in a rainforest it was fitting and a cool relief from the muggy weather.
Reaching the old dairy farm, a little fog was settling in and we set down the old logging trail to the banks of the Macquarie Rivulet. Immediately we are presented with stunning falls and a tribe of canyoners disappearing into the abyss.
So here starts our adventure. Without abseiling gear or ropes we clamber down a slippery, steep embankment. It’s at this point a few people start thinking, ‘‘What the hell did I get myself into?’’ - and rightly so! Everyone nails it at their own pace and we continue to rock hop and wrestle boulders down the Rivulet.
We absorb pool after pool and incredible vistas the whole way. The kids follow the lead of our botanist and nature-man Marcus and continue along barefoot and through the creeks with a spot of yabbie fishing.
The rest of us eventually give up on the dry shoe idea and just walk right through the creek at those tricky sections. The action doesn’t stop, with some good spills on the slippery rocks and bonus points for stylish or prim landings – well done, ladies!
We walk with the canyoners in sections, before Scott leads us up the embankment. We scramble into some dense rainforest as the storm clouds and some ominous thunder close in.
We’re almost in complete darkness, barely being able to see our feet in front of us as we duck and weave through hanging vines and watch our footing through steep slippery leaf litter trails.
The crew work together and we hold back vines for each other, point out the wobbly rocks and always reach out a steady hand or two to ensure those rock hops are safe and not so scary.
We are doing well; naturally the kids are nailing it like little ninjas and the rest of us are just taking one rock at a time (apart from Marcus, who is now shirtless and wading through the water somewhere downstream, possibly catching fish with his teeth).
We now take a little snack stop as the sun starts to peak through and enjoy some banter and some rays together. We’ve certainly used some energy, but this fit bunch is taking it all in their stride and ignoring the sweat beads.
With the trail flattening out a little we start getting into some drier sandstone. Alleviating the pressure of slipping, we enjoy the last 20 minutes down to Jump Rock. Along the way we all enjoy some very tame water dragons, who happily let us take a photo – a nice bonus for everyone. We take the last climb up and over an embankment and settle into Jump Rock with the rest of the crowd hanging out there. It’s definitely popular, but it’s lovely to see a mixed group hanging out and just having a good time.
At this point, everyone is getting a little weary and we inform the crew the way out is easy and short. It’s not long before we get the evil eye when faced with skinny trails, big drops, ropes and slippery mud. OK, so it’s ‘’easier’’ than where we’ve been, just to clarify! We pick up a nice pace and all relax back into the road at the bottom of the pass to our cars after five hours of solid fun.
I re-clarified that the walk specifically stated ‘’adventure’’ as my disclaimer, but thankfully all agreed it was a fantastic, challenging walk and was much better than a standard average trail. Success.
We went above and beyond our comfort zone and walked out with barely a scratch … well, maybe a few bruises, leeches and nettle stings, but isn’t that what adventure is all about?
Bushwalk the Gong would like to say a special thank you to Dapto History in Photos and the NPA – Illawarra Branch for their support and guidance.
Visit the Bushwalk the Gong Facebook page for more information.
Bushwalking safety advice from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Plan your walk
- Research your walk and make sure everyone is comfortable with the planned route
- Go at the pace of the slowest person and don’t overestimate your abilities
- Walk in groups of 3 or more people – in an emergency one of you might need to wait with the injured person while the other gets help.
- Check the difficulty – some walks require rock scrambling and abseiling skills. If you’re note sure of the difficulty, contact the local NPWS park office.
- Check weather forecasts and park conditions and be aware that weather conditions can change.
- Give route details to your friends and family or the NSW Police. Tell them about any medical conditions and when to expect you back.
- Check in when you return
- The NSW Police Force and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service provide bushwalkers and adventurers in the Greater Blue Mountains and Kosciuszko National Park with a free loaned Personal Locator Beacon. Find out more about the Think Before You Trek initiative and how to complete a trip intention form before your wilderness adventure in these areas.
Stay on track
- Walking tracks in NSW national parks parks are not always signposted or maintained, so be sure take care.
- To protect our landscapes for generations to come, please ensure that native plant and animal communities are disturbed as little as possible.
What to bring
- You may not have mobile phone service; if you’re really heading bush, consider taking a locator beacon which can be used as a last resort.
- For longer walks take plenty of water, snacks and a first aid kit
- Wear or take appropriate clothing and closed-toe footwear and always take a windproof and waterproof jacket
- Take a topographic map and compass and be confident with how to use them
- If you're camping take a good tent, sleeping bag, insect repellent and a torch.
- In a natural environment there is sometimes no escape from pests including mosquitoes, ticks and insects. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing to prevent bites, spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellent and reapply as directed, particularly if camping – and be sure to close that tent flap at night. More information is available at NSW Health
Staying safe near water
- Beware of fast-flowing water, submerged objects and deep water.
- Check the conditions – ask someone who is familiar with the area.
- Beware of slippery banks or paths near waterfalls
- Never swim alone – ensure that someone else is there to provide or get help.
- If you are caught in a rip or current, float on your back and travel downstream.
- If you get into trouble in the water, stay calm. Signal for help, then float and wait for help. Float with a current or undertow if in a river.
- Always check the water depth before entering
- If you feel cold in the water, get out as quickly as you can.
- If someone needs help in the water, stay dry and reach out to them with a stick or throw a rope.
- In some parks, high levels of blue-green algae can occur in lake systems under certain conditions. Please avoid direct contact with blue-green algae in the water and as surface scum. Warning signs will be displayed when algae levels in the lakes are high. Algae can exist in the shallow muddy bays and sediment disturbance in these areas should be avoided at all times.