Leader: Graham Conden

Blue Mountains NP: Gooch's Crater and Beyond

17 April 2019

An 80 leaders walk

Photos top: Graham Conden

Group photo Brian Piper

Photos below: Lyn Hungerford



Graham Conden, Brian Piper, Ewa Jazwinski, Anne Corbett, Euna Levinson, Tony Hickson, Jacqui Hickson, Rogo Owens, Lyn Hungerford, Frances Hunt, Phillip Marsh

Walk description:

Magnificent Pagodas, caves, a small canyon and a perfectly formed crater. A hidden jewel. Mostly off track, gaiters/long'ns recommended. Rock scrambling and a minor rope assisted desc. Map: Wollongambe


The group gathered at the Clarence Zig Zag Railway junction where introductions were made and the day’s adventure outlined. We then proceeded along the Old Bells Line of Road and turned onto the Wollongambe Trail for our final approach to the track towards the Crater. Everyone successfully negotiated sections of the heavily eroded track before parking in the bushes
off Shay Ridge track. This was followed by a 2km walk along the trail, then off track to a prominent outcrop of sandstone where we scrambled to the top for morning tea and a view around the magnificent Pagoda country.

We could see right across to Centre of the Universe (route to Wollongambe Crater) and through to Mt Wilson, Mt Banks, Mt Irvine, Bell and of course due north to the World Heritage listed Wollemi. This outcrop also sits above the birthplace of the Wild Wollongambe River, a key artery of the southern section of the Wollemi Wilderness. This area is an explorer’s paradise, complex ridge and sandstone country and sinuous creeks which test one’s navigation, but delights one’s senses.

We then backtracked to Shay Ridge, took a compass bearing which took us to a Pagoda outcrop for our first view into the heavily incised complex of the Gooch’s Crater area. Our route traversed area not previously visited which drew unkind comments from one unnamed member as to the quality of the leader’s navigation! Just a more scenic route really? Following recent rain, the old pads that previously existed are now starting to disappear and a wary eye was kept out for an area with a certain snake risk. Offers of Leader training upfront went unresponded to.

We eventually came out onto the edge of Gooch’s Crater and the fresh growth had it looking very resplendent in its greenery. After photo sessions, we then commenced to walk around the crater lip before turning off and negotiating our way around and down into the Billabong canyon, complete with a resident Yabby. After regaining the high ridge, we then scrambled across a sandstone bridge above a cave complex and out to our lunch spot where there is a twin walled slot with a wonderful tapestry of sandstone weathering.

Following lunch we returned to the canyon wall, and with the aid of a rope descended a slot ramp into the large cave area (again, unkind comments regarding the leader’s knot tying capability) and down to an overhang complete with a red mud stalactite (mite?). The journey then continued up and through the collapsed wall of the lower section of the crater and across
the edge of the crater, again no response to leader training, and through the highly suspicious long grass with a healthy frog population, and up out of the canyon.

After gaining the high ground, it was another compass bearing out to the old firetrail and back to the cars.

Good weather and a nice group made for a very enjoyable day. A stop for refreshment at the “Pie in the Sky” on the way home brought our visit to the magical Crater and Pagoda country to a satisfying end.

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