6 of the best: NSW
4WD Touring Family camping Rock climbing Hiking
Hike, bike, camp, climb, road trip and paddle NSW
Best time: All year (note: summer can get quite hot)
More info: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
WHEN PEOPLE THINK OF multi-day, hut-based hikes, NSW barely rates a mention. This is why we reckon the four-day Green Gully Track, in the southeast corner of the magnificent Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, near Walcha and Port Macquarie on the north coast, is one of Australia’s best kept hiking secrets.
The Green Gully Track is a 65km loop for independent and fit hikers (group size 2 to 6; $90 p/p for 4 nights, $140 p/p for 5 nights. Your bed is reserved for each night on the track) that starts and finishes at Cedar Creek Cottage; in between you stay at restored stockman’s huts each night. It is these historic huts that link the track and provide a wellearned sleep each night on the track. Their restoration – and the resultant walk based on them – is a huge and much appreciated achievement by NSW National Parks.
The track is steep and challenging. Distances each day vary, ranging between 13.5km and 18km. The first day from Cedar Creek Cottage to Birds Nest Hut is undulating but eases you into the days ahead; the highlight for day 2 is the climb to Birds Nest Trig (1200m above sea level) followed by that 900m descent to Green Gully Hut, while day 3’s creek-filled (literally) route is awesome, with the chance to spot water dragons, brush-tailed rock wallabies and more. By the last day from Colwells Hut back to Cedar Creek Cottage – and after its mammoth 600m ascent – you’re ready for a cold beer at the end. The rewards for this effort, however, cannot be understated: this national park is one of Australia’s most picturesque, and the track’s route will take you through high-altitude forests, gullies smothered in huge tree ferns, past waterfalls and across alpine creeks and rocky outcrops as you explore the Apsley-Macleay gorges, one of Australia’s largest gorge systems.
The Green Gully Track’s uniqueness – especially in Australia, and most notably NSW – is that it is a hut-based walk, so you can leave the tent behind and look forward to having the huts all to yourselves and your group only. These carefully restored huts are close to the true stars of the track; the huts are just a few of an estimated 18 in this park and its surrounds that were used by cattle graziers (the O’Keefe and Youdale families originally owned the land and built the huts the track utilises) and are spectacular in their own right. Cedar Creek Cottage is the most modern and offers all the conveniences – it is also the startpoint for walkers and the endpoint. All the huts, however, are very well set up; each hut has indoor and outdoor fireplaces (and firewood), six camping chairs, six stretcher beds and mattresses, twoburner gas ring; billy, frying pan, coffee percolator (yes!), and saucepan. There’s also an outdoor picnic table at each hut and a paved area, as well as a toilet, rainwater tank (boil water first) solar lighting and the crockery and cutlery. All you need to bring are your outdoor clothing, sleeping bag, backpack, water bottle(s) or bladder, as well as your food for the four days. Green Gully Hut spoils you with a hot shower, while Cedar Creek Cottage ups the ante again and includes hot shower, innerspring mattresses on bunk beds, wood fire inside/fire pit outside, outdoor gas barbecue, fully equipped kitchen and a massive verandah – ideal for sitting back at trek’s end with a few coldies to celebrate the fact you’ve just walked what we rate as head-and-shoulders the best multiday hike in NSW.