TRIP: Deua National Park, Easter (6-9 April) 2007

PARTY: Jo Boyd, Jacqui Knox, Lluisa Murray, Tom Murtagh, Kris Plain, Kendy Burke, Ashley Burke


I have created a web page containing photos from the trip at


Deua National Park is a large area of rugged mountain country along the Great Dividing Range southeast of Canberra. Steep quartzite ridges, beautiful stands of eucalypts and pristine creeks and streams are some of its key attractions. The above party of 7 spent the four day Easter long weekend completing a circuit through some of the most spectacular parts of this National Park.

… in light of some recent commentary I hope the above accolade is not excessive … 🙂

The journey began at Pikes Saddle, the highest point on the road between Braidwood and Cooma. Our cars pulled in here late on Thursday night after the long drive down from Sydney. Deua’s eucalypts made an early impression. As soon as we switched off the headlights and stepped out the car we perceived the tall straight eucalypts surrounding us, their silvery trunks lit coolly by the Easter moon which was now high overhead.

It clouded over and began to drizzle during the small hours of the night and we woke to a cool and damp morning. Today’s walk involved following fire trails to Dampier Trig, although we decided to cut cross country for some of the way to avoid 4WD trails. This made for pleasant walking through cool, open alpine forest.

We reached Dampier Trig soon after lunch and admired the fantastic forest of silver trunked eucalypts that are found on the sides of this prominent peak. Unfortunately Dampier Trig is scarred by a fire trail and large turning circle right on its summit. At Easter time it is a popular pit stop for the 4WD convoys heading to Bendethra camping area. While we were there, orc like creatures on trail bikes destroyed the peace.

But now we left the fire trails behind us for good and headed into the serene wilderness to the south of Dampier Trig. We navigated to what looked on the map to be a possible good place to camp. The map showed a flat area near cliffs above Jilliga Creek with views out to Tabletop. We were not disappointed. The flat area offered perfect camping and the cliffs offered our first great views of the trip. The late afternoon lighting was soft and delicate, and in the distance, a rainbow appeared among the moody grey of approaching clouds. Dotted around us were white trees, gnarled and full of character. This was a special place. We had a great evening by the camp fire, and casks of wine and port were opened.

The morning dawned damp and misty but soon there was the glow of sunlight probing the gaps in the mist. The Jilliga gorge was lit in soft green hues. We descended a ridge to Jilliga Creek where we collected as much water as we could carry for the climb up to Tabletop. We climbed a spur which led us onto a long ridge that runs eastwards from Tabletop. Here we had lunch. Tabletop was a few kilometres away to the west. After lunch we climbed through dense forest to the summit of Tabletop and thence to cliff tops on the northern and western sides from which magnificent views were obtained.

A little further on and we reached another superlative camp site. Not far away were cliffs from which we gazed across to the twin peaks of Mother Woila and the sweeping valley of Woila Creek. To the south, the rugged spire known as The Scout Hat caught the last of the evening light. And just back from the edge of the cliffs, in amongst the trees were idyllic open spaces to camp. Last night the trees around were squat, white and gnarled. Tonight they were tall, straight and silvery, a different species. Another great evening was had around the camp fire and the rain held off until after we had gone to bed.

It rained overnight but it was a beautiful morning on the summit of Tabletop. Today’s walking involved a very steep descent off the southern side of Tabletop and the rocks and bushes were wet and slippery after the overnight rain so great care was needed to negotiate rock and scree before reaching a gentler ridge system lower down. We followed the ridge out to the spire of The Scout Hat, which involved a steep but easy rock scramble. Lunch was had on top of The Scout Hat and the sun was out.

Then it was a warm descent down a rocky ridge to Woila Creek where we camped in an open grassy clearing. Just upstream was a magnificent stand of ribbon gums. A few of us headed up into this forest to catch photos of the last rays of the afternoon sun filtering its way through the trees. Some of us took the opportunity to have their first proper wash of the trip in Woila Creek. Then we gathered wood, setup camp and enjoyed another great evening at the fireside.

The last day involved a huge long climb out of the Woila valley all the way up to Big Badja Hill. We stopped frequently on the way up and had lunch on granite slabs high up among alpine forest. It was late afternoon by the time we reached Big Badja Hill which we climbed to the top of for 360 degree views for hundreds of kilometres all around. At 1362m, Big Badja Hill is on top of the Great Dividing Range and from it you can see far inland and far out to sea. From here it was a short walk along fire trails back to the waiting cars.

The only anticlimax of the trip was the journey back, with a series of minor incidents resulting in frayed tensions. First, my car ran out of petrol 30km short of Goulburn, causing a 1 hour delay. Second, there was an altercation with an officious Goulburn policeman who had a problem with a U-turn that I did as part of an effort to follow absurdly garbled directions to some place where obscene quantities of meat can be consumed. Anyway, eventually we all were reunited for dinner in Goulburn where we were finally able to celebrate the end of our fantastic trip.

Great walking, great company, great long weekend. Thanks to the new members, Lluisa and Kris, for joining us.

The photos are here:

Ashley Burke