Walkers: Bruce (leading), Maria, Catriona, Philippa.
Date: 31st May 2015.

With exams looming as well as not the best weather, only 4 people applied and turned up. Still, it was worth a chance as although it was raining in Sydney, it appeared to have eased off over the Central Coast. So after the train trip to Wondabyne (where we noticed other walkers both getting on AND boarding the train (overnighters). we set off up the climb to the top of the ridge above Wondabyne Station.

The track was somewhat rougher and muddier than usual, as it had been damaged in the big April Storms and some steps had been washed away.
Not only that, but some remedial work had been done on the main fire trail to repair the anti-erosion “speed humps” and they were quite muddy and squishy to negotiate. Also, it had been raining as closed as Brooklyn on the way up, and the radar suggested that some more was possible before getting to Mt Wondabyne, the intended destination.

Philippa also had concerns as she wanted to get back to Sydney earlier than the predicted 5.40pm finish at Sydney, and asked if there was an “opt-out”point. The only one would be at the track junction after Kariong Brook and walking to Staples Lookout and get a taxi back to Woy Woy. There was an alternative however, and that was to do the shorter walk to Pindar cave. This track branches off the Great North Walk about one km north of Wondabyne. I hadn’t done this walk for over 10 years so it was worth a look.

So we took it and for a while it was a reasonably wide track. As it was along hanging swamps I looked out for the carnivorous plans which like to live in that environment, but saw none.

Then after another km or so the track started dropping down off the ridge a bit, via a pass which like the main track had suffered from the April Storms and had some rather big “steps” to negotiate. The track then started to narrow considerably after that, and as there has been no major fires in the area for 10 years, the track was very overgrown with overhanging scrub. Not only that, but the scrub was laden with water from the previous night’s rain, and quickly we got rather soaked. Although the track is mostly straightforward it is still necessary to watch the path carefully in some places to avoid getting lost on the scrub. Every now and then we encountered large rock shelves which are more common on the Mt Wondabyne walk. The track got worse as it came close to the pool near Pindar Cave, as it apparently runs close to the little creek which feeds the pool, and the water had invaded long sections of track. Some detours around the deeper sections have been made by previous track users.

But eventually we reached firstly the Pool, which is about 1.5 metres deep and a good swimming hole in hot weather, and then Pindar Cave itself.
Pindar Cave is a large overhang, more than a cave, which can easily accommodate (and sometimes does) large Scout parties.
So here we had lunch.

After lunch we retraced our steps – well, not quite. Exiting the area round the cave shows a lot of side tracks (perhaps made to other camping sites) and after a wrong lead we bush-bashed to find our way back to the proper track. This is not as easy as it sounds as the scrub is quite thick and hides most high landmarks.

We negotiated the flooded track section and at one point I also went in as I was using a scrub to swing over the track and the scrub turned out to be rather flexible! This is where wearing woollen socks paid off as I didn’t have any discomfort with the cold water in my shoes.

At one point Philippa asked how far were we from the station, and as if to answer a steam whistle immediately came up from below as a train approached the station! Eventually we reached the Great North Walk proper, and then back down to the Wondabyne station. Care was needed going down due to the track damage mentioned earlier. Luckily we didn’t encounter any rain on the walk apart for a tiny shower right at the start. Even so the water coming off the undergrowth made our clothes rather damp.

As the walk had ended earlier than expected, Philippa stayed on the next rain, but Maria, Catriona and myself got off at Hawkesbury River to look round Brooklyn and get a coffee and also Maria often for an early supper with the locally caught fish. This was welcome as it gave us a chance to dry off near the cafe’s space heaters, and we also enjoyed the view of the Bay. Then it was off on the next train an hour later back to Sydney.

This was an interesting if damp trip. It also filled in some missing info about this track.
No pics this time.

Bruce Stafford