"Watagan mountains" Top 5 Page for this destination Australia Off The Beaten Path Tip by iandsmith
Australia Off The Beaten Path: 423 reviews and 697 photos
We’d been to the Watagans; my bushwalking partner Ken and I, but we’d basically botched it. I hadn’t done my research and was relying on memory, at my age something one should know not to rely on. As such we took a couple of hours just to make what should have been a 40 minute trip. This time though I’d been to the library and gotten some decent information, something that is surprisingly difficult unless you know what to ask for.
7751 hectares is a big area to get misplaced in but we managed to locate Boarding House Dam, the single most popular tourist site in the Watagans and did the easy walk there which takes you past the famous Moss Wall and downstream on Congewai Creek a little way, across a couple of bridges and into a dark, canopied section where one could imagine deep spiritual thoughts taking place if one was that way inclined. It even rates a mention in a weird site called yowiehunters.net but then again, it’s the kind of site where nothing would surprise.
Though we also managed to do Heaton, Hunter and Maclean Lookouts and their expansive views over different part of the Hunter Valley, we left knowing that there was a lot more to see. There’s actually an 8km walking trail between Maclean and Heaton that is rated one of the finest in the region but I was after something where water could be found.
Initially used for timber (especially railway sleepers) the forest these days is reclaiming its own, despite horror bushfires in 1939-40, though here and there the scars remain. The rainfall is only 2/3rds of what Barrington Tops gets so watercourses aren’t all that frequent and don’t normally carry much moisture at all.
I’d found some information on a place called Gap Falls (nee Browne’s Falls after the landowners) and that sounded promising. Even better, I had some instructions on how to get there and we located the area off Mount Faulk Road without any difficulty in less than 45 minutes, a considerable saving in time on our previous effort. Mount Faulk Road used to be known as “unemployed road” because it was built during the 1890’s depression that hit the town of Cooranbong hard because the railway had now been built and it not only bypassed the town but also negated the need for railway sleepers.
While the weather had been threatening it still wasn’t raining when we alighted at the camp at the end of Bangalow Road and headed off into the rainforest. It’s only a few hundred metres in before you reach an intersection and the left hand fork of our choice takes us down to the base of the falls.
The name Cooranbong means rocky bottom creek in Awabakal aboriginal dialect and could aptly apply to many spots around the area, Gap Falls for one. It’s steep to reach the bottom but not that far and it’s a rewarding effort, especially if you have a camera.
Vines hang languidly from branches on high and odd shaped trees reflect a troubled upbringing as we walk the path splattered with leaf litter beside eucalypts with a dozen colours etched into their bark. Somewhere in the background are Bangalow Palms, from whence the road in got its name. Then, behind their branches we get the first glimpse of our goal.
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