6 of the best: NSW

4WD Tour­ing Fam­ily camp­ing Rock climb­ing Hik­ing

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Contents - – Justin Walker

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.

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