Hume and Hovell Track, November 2020
The main reason I wanted to do this trail was that I had previously seen the super cool track markers and I looked forward to walking along looking out for them! The logo is probably intended as a tribute to the historic basis for the track route, but to me it is a picture of a pair of pensioners hell bent on getting to the pub for a pint.
This Hume and Hovell Track doesn’t have the best reputation among bushwalkers. It has too much road walking apparently and the track is not well maintained. It seems to me that the current track bears little resemblance to the journey undertaken by Hume and Hovell in 1825 when they walked, basically, from Sydney to Geelong, and only tiny parts of the track are close to their route. Right now several long sections of the track are closed due to bushfire and flood damage.
I had run a section of the track near Tumbarumba (twice) and liked that so I was curious to see more. The terrain offers a mixture of farmland, eucalypt forest and high country. Logistically it isn’t the easiest track to do because it passes close to very few towns for resupply but I reckoned I could do the section between Yass and Tumut if I was prepared to walk a couple of hours into Tumut when I came off the track. Another complication is the need to take a boat across Lake Burrinjuck on the third day of the hike, which has to be booked in advance and doesn’t always operate. On the plus side there had been plenty of recent rain so getting enough water from creeks on the hike was not going to be an issue, even with the weather forecast in the mid thirties.
I intended to leave my car in Tumut and start by taking the bus (actually two buses) to Yass. Technically the hike starts at Cooma Cottage outside Yass but I couldn’t see any pleasure in walking extra kms along a busy road, so I elected to start in Yass which is where the track used have its start line when first conceived in 1988.
November 25 I had stayed on the wrong side of Yass, the Cooma Cottage side (ha ha) giving me an extra couple of kms to walk to reach the town, get through town and then out the other side on an industrial road. Yass motels were all full because the Victoria/NSW border had only just reopened so I had to stay at the only place with a vacancy. It was an improvement when I turned off after 6 kms for a quieter road, partly sealed with a few cars, properties near the road, lots of sheep, kookaburras, distant hills. I crossed several creeks, all with plenty of water. It was very warm by 8am. I stopped after 14 kms then every hour. The road narrowed and went into patches of bush. It was hillier than I had expected.I got to The Captain campsite at 2pm, and could easily have missed it if I hadn’t been looking out for it and noticed a stile by the roadside. There was a covered picnic table, toilet and water tank and it was a pleasant grassy area with trees. I read from the log book that the last people had stayed 16 days ago. The neighbour farmer came over to chat and told me a lot about local farming. I enquired about bushfires and he said everything was too damp for fires. The mozzies were really bad. 28.2 kmsNovember 26 After several more kms of dirt road and then a sealed portion I turned onto a 4WD road which was much nicer, through bush with noisy cockatoos, and the going was rough and rocky. I had glimpses of Lake Burrinjuck then followed a narrow trail around the lake edge, with a steep drop off towards the lake. There were hills all around the lake.
I came down on a dirt road passing logged pine plantations then went into the forest and followed a creek with bad infestation. The trail was just grass and at times really indistinct. I thought I would never reach camp. It was nice to hear a creek flowing as I walked along very slowly. I was hot and tired, and I got to Log Bridge camp just after 6pm. It was an idyllic campsite by a creek in a state of disrepair (broken tables and fireplaces), but sleeping to the sound of trickling water is always a treat. I promptly ate a rather late lunch followed immediately by dinner. 27 kms
By the time I made it to a clearing in a pine plantation the going became easier with some 4WD track and some paths through eucalypt forest. There were occasional light breezes which were really welcome. The creek was quite noisy and also the cicadas were deafening. After a long hill, hard going as it was really hot by midday, I came to Micalong campsite, right on Micalong Creek by little falls. I had expected to arrive at 9.30 but got there after 11.
I took a long break and only left when I could face the heat again, although it was definitely not 36 degrees yet. Shortly after there was a sign about a broken bridge and it would be necessary to detour, but the pensioners were only doing the original route so I followed my GPS along some derelict fire trails and hoped for the best. I followed a winding dirt road high above the creek with nice views of nearby pine forest and was pleased to be away from the blackberry. It got windy and I heard thunder, then there were a few drops of rain, then a wet thunderstorm without lightning for 15 minutes. I had been absolutely sure from the forecast that this was going to be a hike without rain. I came back down to the creek and could see track markers in the distance, but first I had to cross this creek which was more like a river. So a big detour to avoid a broken bridge and I had to wade across anyway.
All afternoon there were on and off showers and it was windy. At night I had a big thunderstorm with lightning. 22 kms. Every day has been longer than expected.
Soon after crossing a little creek on stepping stones I got confused at a farm and went a bit off the track because there was a sharp turn required but no pensioners to inform me of this, then climbed steeply into bush, and Kosciusko National Park, to a grassy saddle where I ended up on the wrong side of a barbed wire fence. The pensioners weren’t at all in evidence around here either but I was able to follow narrow tracks across to grazing land and a brand new bridge, where I was supposed to be,