Hut Hopping at Tantangara

With sourching hot weather forecast over the Australia Day long weekend, heading to the high country made a lot of sense. Driving past Adaminaby around lunchtime Saturday, the outside temp according to the car, was 36 degrees. Ummm… OK.

I had originally planned a 3 day walk but due to the weather, I changed my plans and decided to split the walk into 2 overnight walks and headed to the Tantangara Dam, parking at the Circuitts Trail head. It was now a cloudy 30 degrees but a nice dry heat and there was a light breeze.

Around the Lake and along the Murrumbigee River, there were only a handfull of people camped out. A nice option away from the youthful revelry that accompanies many campsites on Australia Day.

Starting the Circuitts Trail is hardly a hill but it was hot so I wondered up and got my first view of the Gulf Plain and then had an easy walk through the Gum trees before reaching Circuitts Hut.

Circuitts Hut
Circuitts Hut

Circuitts is a good size hut and after having a look around, I sat on the porch as the Sun came out and the temperature went to another level of hot. I couldn’t see any water around. There was a small dry creek to the South that would have water at times but the only water I saw, was at a crossing just before I reached the hut.

The cloud came back over and I headed to the Pedens turnoff and then onto the Gulf Plain which was covered in grasses and wildflowers. Love walking out in these open spaces alone and the firetrail was grass for the most part. Passed the Townsend Hut turnoff and continued onto Pedens.

Crossing Gulf Plain Creek was easy, I picked up some water and enjoyed the walk around to Pedens Hut. I wasn’t overly impressed with the hut when I got there, no water and no view but it did have a toilet.

The Murrumbidgee

I thought about it and decided to walk down to the Murrumbidgee River with my pack, pick up some water and maybe find a camp site down on the River. It’s a nice cross-country walk down to the river, maybe 500 metres. The river looked beautiful but the river bed was reedy and muddy. I found a few rocks, near some trees, that were good enough to stand on and collect water. Didn’t see any good camp sites so I headed back to the hut for the night.

Once settled in I was liking the hut a lot more but not the March Flies. A couple of Wallabies basically ignored me while enjoying grazing on the green grass around the hut. There was plenty of bird life and as the Sun went down, the rain and lightning started.

Pedens Hut
Pedens Hut

After skimming the Log book, and the one at Circuitts, I was left in no doubt this was horse riding country. Anyway, some Miso soup along with some Gyulai, Cheese and Mountain bread, I feel asleep while the rain tinkered on the roof.

The next morning was cloudy and warm but not hot. I packed up and headed for Townsend Hut after farewelling Pedens.

Must have been too hot for the Brumbies yesterday because they were everwhere on the open Plain this morning, I spotted at least 6 mobs in a couple of hours of walking. A lot more than when I was on the Cooleman Plain a couple of years back but strangely, the Gulf Plain wasn’t badly damaged like the Cooleman.

Townsend Hut
Townsend Hut

I had to take off my shoes to cross a creek leading to the hut but after that, got there in short time. Townsend has a lovely porch to sit out on, with a filtered view between the trees. Couldn’t see anywhere suitable to pitch a tent and once again, no easy access to water. The hut inside has been fully renovated so no old world charm but a very comfortable place to stay all the same.

Heading back to the car, I bumped into a nice couple and their child at the creek crossing. It started raining lightly on and off and got heavier once I reached to car.

With the rain now pouring, I decided to drive up to the Currango. I knew the Causeway was closed but with the Dam level so high, it was hard to believe you could ever cross. It looked like a boat ramp, not a causeway.

Stopped by the roadside to check out a wild dog, talked to a fellow hiker sheltering from the rain in a shed protecting an old steam tractor and then had lunch at the Nungar Trail head.

Wild Dog at Tantangara

After a while, I figured bugger it, I’ll walk to Schofields Hut in the rain and hopefully tomorrow will be better.

I drove up to the locked gate, reversed, turned and parked my car. There is no car park, so you’ll need to find a park nearer the road. I’d just started walking when a Ute stops and says Hello. They had keys to the gate and were coming back from cleaning Circuitts Hut.

They were three women KHA members and we chatted for a short while. I mentioned how many horses were around and the driver was quite happy about them being there and suggested, with a rye smile, they should let cattle and sheep back in the park. I laughed and didn’t take the bait but we all agreed that trapping Brumbies and selling them would be a good thing.

It rained on the way to Schofields, another lovely hut. Once I got there, it stopped raining so I sat outside, had a few Rums and then felt incredibly tied. So I blow up my mat and fell asleep, only to wake up in time to witness an amazing sunset. I wished I had have been at Brayshaws Hut, overlooking the Plain. It would have been spectacular but thinking “Red Sky at night, Shepherds delight” I had dinner and fell asleep looking forward to tomorrow.

Schofields Hut

Another grey day greeted me on the Monday morning but is was cool, perfect for walking. A couple of mountain bikers dropped by doing a recon for the following week. The plan was to skip Brayshaws and head for Gavels Hut via a pad across the Nungar Plain.

The pad starts just before the Schofields/Circuitts intersection. Obviously was a firetrail at one time and you can see the overgrown ruts from time to time but the pad itself, runs a few metres to the North and makes for one of the nicest walks I’ve been on. You walk out of the tree line onto this wide open Plain, brimming with wildflowers, the going is easy and soft under foot. At times I just had to stop and look around this vast expanse, there where no Brumbies, no people, it was just me by myself.

Nungar Plain

Eventually I reach the creek, pick up some water and divert off the pad, past some old fencing and head towards Gavels Hut. I reached the hut and the Heavens open up within minutes of my arrival. I had lunch, blew up my mat and rested, while waiting for the rain to stop.

By 2:30, it’s still raining so I decide I can’t wait any longer and got ready to leave. Believe it or not, it stops raining! This is turning out to be to good to be true.

Gavels Hut

There is a Horse track up to the Gang Gang Mountian saddle and then over to Wares Yard. The track starts directly behind the hut and is the easiest ascent you’ll find anywhere. Unlike the rutted out Horse tracks you see around Sydney, this track was slightly concaved and filled with leaf litter.

Before I knew it, I was up on the saddle, in the clouds and rain and wind. I wasn’t quite prepared with a poncho and rain kilt but except for my arms, I was warm. I thought walking out to the Mountain will have to wait for another day.

I followed the track behind an unnamed peak, startling a pair of King Parrots and was then diverted by a firetrail that headed steeply downhill and ended up a k or two South of where I needed to be. Following the powerlines North, I saw a number of very large Grey Kangaroos. After a few ups and downs I stumbling across another similarly nice Horse trail, leading to the Schofields trail. As I walked I was entertained and mesmerised by a pair of Eagles gliding on a nearby ridge before reaching the car.

Because it was a hot Saturday and a wet Sunday, Monday, the walk turned out to be a bit of a bludge. It wasn’t the most spectacular walk either but I’m thinking one of the most enjoyable for sure.

As beautiful as Gulf Plain was, I may never go back there but I will revisit the Nungar Plain. Hopefully to catch a similar sunset at Brayshaw’s Hut, to enjoy the view from Gang Gang Mountain and fall in love, once again with the wide expanses of the Nungar Plain.


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