Wollemi Tour

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Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:40 pm

Mentioned by RonK on another topic today was the Wollemi tour on the cycleAustralia.info site:

http://www.cycleaustralia.info/cycling/wollemi.htm

I've long wanted to do this, having visited Newnes back in the early '80s and been fascinated by its history. The tour is classed as hard so I hope I'm not being too foolhardy undertaking it as my first overnight tour. Worst case I can always bale back to Lithgow and get the train home in disgrace.

As with all good things in life there were many obstacles to overcome:

- Lack of suitable bike: built one!
- Lack of time: long service leave!
- Lack of fitness: ....working on it.

I'll be beginning on October 26th, maybe spend an extra day in Newnes, and plan on taking the alternate routes from Newnes to Glen Davis via the BNT and Dunns Swamp to Widden via Nullo Mountain. If anyone's done these recently I'd love to hear about it.

In particular the BNT section between Baal Bone Gap and Glen Davis Rd through Pantony Station seems steeped in mystery to keep out the bogan masses. Still waiting on my BNT membership so I don't have the contact details of the relevant land owners and may have to seek forgiveness rather than permission. I'd prefer to avoid the extra 40km via Ben Bullen and Capertee (with associated mining trucks) but will reluctantly take it if the alternative is an arse full of shotgun pellets. Any advice welcome.

Dunns Swamp to Widden via Nullo Mountain looks a little more clear cut, and I may have a short day and bush camp near Myrtle Creek before reaching the private property in Widden Valley.

I'd planned to go at this time of year to avoid the heat, but based on the last week of weather it could be anything from mid thirties to three inches of snow.

If things go well and there's time, I'm considering pushing on for a few days from Muswellbrook to Wyong or Gosford via Broke. It'll make for a much shorter train ride back to Sydney.

I'd love to hear any advice, suggestions or polite abuse.
Last edited by trouserlord on Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by BNA » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:08 pm

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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby WarrenH » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:08 pm

G'day Mate. I'm a coordinator of the Bicentennial National Trail. The section that you want to do is the most spectacular section of the BNT in NSW, that a MTB rider can do.

When riders give me feed-back about their trip the first thing that they talk about is the Widden to Newnes section, without fail. Guide Book #9 Aberdeen(or Barrington Tops) to Jenolan Caves. Maps 3-10. The second thing that they talk about is getting lost in the Kroombits in Qld, again without fail.

Here are two accounts that you might find interesting.

Spoonies Grand Adventure by Craig Amor (travelling south to north) ... http://spoonboy.solonutter.org/blog/?p=365

... and the Friendly Ride by Andy Friend (travelling north to south) From Sandy Hollow to Wallerawang are on days 80-82 ... http://www.andyfriend.com.au/blog

If you haven't already? go to the BNT site and in Downloads in Guide Book Updates stick/glue the changes into your guide book, consistent with the edition of the Guide Book that you have. There aren't many changes for that section. The Guide Book has the contacts to get the combinations to locked gates and access through private property and for the campsites like Myrtle Creek and the TSRs. All the current phone numbers are in the guide book.

The coordinators for that section are Denise and Mal Keeley. Their contact numbers are in Guide Book Updates. They'll have a handle on the current track conditions.

A special note, when you get to the Phipps Cutting picnic ground. The old track at the back of the picnic ground goes to Phipps Cutting TSR. It is the old hand cut convict road. It is just over a kilometre long. MTB riders tend to stay on the main road and miss doing this bit. Don't miss it.

Good luck have a great trip.

Warren.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:47 pm

Warren, thanks for taking the time to respond.

My main concern is that since it was a late decision to take the BNT options (read: my own fault and lack of planning) I don't yet have the #9 Guidebook. And although I submitted my BNT membership application a little over a week ago, I've not heard anything back despite a follow up email. So I haven't even ordered the guidebook (no membership number) but might try to order it anyway and just stick "pending" in that box. Suggestions? Ooops, silly me, I only just noticed there is actually a phone number for the BNT Office, I'll try them tomorrow..

I'll also be sure to contact the coordinators as I know how quickly the track conditions can change.

I had a look at those links and the area does sound spectacular. Glad I'll be going South to North though because ascending Baal Bone Gap sounds like a killer. I'll be lugging a bit of kit, taking in the scenery and trying not to strain anything, so 50-60 odd kms a day is my goal rather than the ~100 or more mentioned in those accounts.

And thanks for the tip on Phipps Cutting, I'll be sure to take a look.

Cheers,

Ian.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:57 pm

Phoned the BNT Office number today, it seems they've just had their AGM so were a little behind.
The very helpful fellow I spoke to (sorry, didn't get his name) offered to chase it up and let me know if there were any problems.
No worries, if I don't receive the guidebook in time I'll make other plans.

It is nice to see that such a worthwhile organisation can still be run on a shoestring by generous volunteers in this day and age.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby omo » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:54 am

Hi,

You'll like the riding around there! We recently drove down from Brisbane and went riding in the area (actually inspired by the pictures on the cycleaustralia web site). We camped at Glen Davis and Wollemi NP.
We mainly stayed on the flatter areas, but the old coach road was probably one of the highlights!

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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:47 pm

My BNT membership arrived today thanks to a sterling effort by Josephine, the BNT Office Secretary. Thanks Josephine!

Guidebook 9 has all the info I needed so now I cannot wait to get going. It's definitely a must-have for anyone planning a tour through this area.

The start date's been bumped back to the 27th just so I have a bit more time to prepare.

Also, the weather is threatening to be somewhat unpredictable. Two weeks back there was 3 inches of snow, yet tomorrow the forecast is hot & windy and there's a total fire ban in the greater Sydney area..
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:23 pm

Well I finally found some time to sort throught the photos from the tour, although I've yet to do a CGOAB write-up.

A few photos though:

Day 1: Clarence - Newnes

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Glow Worm Tunnel Rd through Newnes State Forest

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Glow Worm Tunnel Track

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This is where things get interesting, the eastern entrance to the glow worm tunnel

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Glow worm tunnel western entrance

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Crossing the Wolgan River weir

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Sandstone escarpment as seen from Newnes camping ground

Day 2: Exploring Newnes

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Ruins of coke ovens

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Paraffin sheds

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Crude oil washers

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Pipework

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Newnes Hotel

Day 3: Newnes - Glen Davis via BNT

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Wolgen Valley Road

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View of Wolgen Valley from the top of Wolgen Gap

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Lookout over the Wolgen Valley along the BNT

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The first scary descent

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Descending Baal Bone Gap

More to come..
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:55 am

Day 4: Exploring Glen Davis

I decided to spend the day in Glen Davis to explore and recover from the previous day.
Glen Davis is another former oil shale processing town, largely abandoned when the facility closed in 1952.

Newnes to Glen Davis is 6.8km as the crow flies, 10km via the pipeline hiking track, 73km via Wolgen Valley Rd, BNT and Glen Davis Rd (the route I took) and 99km by car.

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View of the southern escarpment overlooking Glen Davis

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Fence made from old gas cylinders. I hope they were empty when welded.

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Disused shops

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Window display

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Most houses in Glen Davis were removed entirely or in ruins

Day 5: Glen Davis to Rylstone

I battled a vicious headwind all day from Glen Davis to Rylstone so decided to overnight there rather than go on to Dunn's Swamp as originally planned.

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Departing Glen Davis along Glen Davis Rd

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Rest stop in Glen Alice

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Glen Alice Rd

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Tractor seeking new home just outside Rylstone

More to come..
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby Aushiker » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:45 pm

Great photos trouserlord. Looks like a great tour.

Andrew
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby RonK » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:10 pm

Great pics Ian, I look forward to reading the full journal. The local history must be fascinating.

So you completed the trip on a touring bike - I'd thought this route required a mountain bike.

Glad the link I posted has proved useful.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby ozipom » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:57 pm

Looks like a great tour. I'm currently planning a tour for March 2013 (Mittagong to Windsor - The long way). Part of my trip will take me through some of the areas you visited, would be great to know what some of the dirt roads are like. I just installed some larger Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 28x1.75 last night to cope with the off-road sections, so hoping I don't need anything more substantial.

Brian
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:12 pm

RonK wrote:Great pics Ian, I look forward to reading the full journal. The local history must be fascinating.

So you completed the trip on a touring bike - I'd thought this route required a mountain bike...


It depends on your definition of "required"..

The bike I used was actually a mid eighties rigid fork mountain bike (Apollo Himalaya) turned tourer but with roadish tyres (Vittoria Randonneur Cross). To be honest, it was not really suitable for some of the trails which in places were sandy, rocky or exceptionally steep. The old railway trail from the glow worm tunnel to the Wolgen River weir and the BNT from Wolgen Valley Rd to the bottom of Baal Bone Gap were actually not rideable at all in a few places. Anyone following those particular trails would be better served by more offroad focused tyres and a front suspension fork. It would also be a lot more fun on an unladen bike as there were numerous sections so steep, washed out or obstructed by rock falls and trees where I had to unpack the bike and carry everything in three lots.

That said, I didn't die, didn't wipe out and the bike didn't break. I must say though that descending Baal Bone Gap on a loaded tourer with inadequate brakes, half of it during a thunderstorm, is something I won't forget in a hurry.

Ian.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:49 pm

ozipom wrote:Looks like a great tour. I'm currently planning a tour for March 2013 (Mittagong to Windsor - The long way). Part of my trip will take me through some of the areas you visited, would be great to know what some of the dirt roads are like. I just installed some larger Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 28x1.75 last night to cope with the off-road sections, so hoping I don't need anything more substantial.

Brian


Hi Brian,

I rode the Gloworm Tunnel Rd from Old Bells Line of Road to the gloworm tunnel car park and that section was pretty good. A bit loose and sandy in places but your tyres should be fine. Mostly its down hill so you can motor along pretty quickly. I was there on a Sunday and there were a few 4wds and noisy trailbikes around but didn't come across any logging traffic. Once you get to the carpark and the trail starts, you'll have to unpack your bike to get around a gate then there's a short rideable section before you get to a footbridge and some steep narrow stairs. So for this and a few more sections you'll have to unpack and lug everything. The track then becomes unrideable just before the entrance to the tunnel. The floor of the tunnel itself is a rocky creek bed so you'll have to push the bike through. Don't forget a bright headlight or torch and stop for at least 15 mins or so in the middle to get your night vision and appreciate the gloworms. Once on the other side the trail is a very rough, rocky creek bed, so you'll be doing a lot of lugging. There's water, rocks, fallen trees and washed out sections for the next 3km so it is really hard work. Eventually you'll reach an intersection of the railway trail, the old coach road, and a short road which descends steeply to the Wolgan River weir. This was quite gravelly and so steep that I stopped several times to let the rims cool down. After you cross the river it's regular dirt road to Newnes but there are some very sandy and corrugated sections to look out for.

I highly recommend a day in Newnes to explore the industrial ruins.

Heading out of Newnes the road actually gets worse once you pass the entrance to the Emirates resort and its helipad, probably because of the increased traffic. There always seemed to be corrugations at the bottom of every descent which were sometimes severe enough to bring me to a juddering halt. The road becomes sealed at the foot of the 3km climb out of the Wolgen Valley. I obviously did not possess the required fitness because with the loaded bike it took me 2 hours, half of it walking, to reach the top. There's not much of a shoulder here and a few rock falls but little traffic to worry about.

The only other dirt sections I rode which are on your map are a few sections of Glen Davis Rd and Glen Alice Rd. Glen Davis Rd is mostly sealed except for a few good smooth dirt sections, particularly between the Glen Alice Rd intersection and the town of Glen Davis. I think there were one or two muddy sections but nothing of consequence. Glen Alice Rd had a few long unsealed section both before and after Glen Alice with some loose gravel and a lot of dust. I rode this section on a weekday morning so there was some school / work traffic kicking up the dust. Nothing too demanding though.

Hope this helps,

Ian.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:25 am

Day 6: Rylstone to Bylong

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Bylong Valley Way out of Rylestone

After climbing all morning there was a spectacular descent into the Bylong Valley.

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Dead tree in the Bylong Valley

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The Bylong Valley features smooth roads and little traffic although I did have to stop to let a farmer move his cows across the road

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Sleeping Dozer

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This is pretty much all of Bylong; shop, sports field, tennis court and campground.

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Bylong chapel and cemetary

Day 7: Bylong to Muswellbrook

I was running out of time and there weren't too many accommodation options, so I decided to press on to Muswellbrook, 105km. This turned out to be hard work with a 15-25km/h headwind all day, so not too many photos.

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Bylong tractor

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Rail Bridge near Cox's Gap

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Rest stop at Honeysuckle Creek picnic area

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Rest stop at Phipp's Cutting

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First sight of wine country, near Baerami

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Desolate, windy and uphill, Wybong Rd at Castle Rock

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Checking for traffic, Wybong Rd at Castle Rock

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Bengalla Rd about 10km west of Muswellbrook

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Simpson Park Muswellbrook the next day, awaiting pickup

And that's about it. Full photo set at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66128141@N ... 272711975/

Ian.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby WarrenH » Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:18 am

trouserlord, top effort Mate. You hid your light under a bushell trouserlord, describing the descent of Baal Bone Gap, brilliantly humble.

The way you entered the BNT was good to see via Newnes. I'm sorry to read that the rail trail has become less rideable. In years past it was an amazing trail and even several years ago it was still in relatively good condition. The big rains of a couple of years ago washed away lots of sections of tracks. The BNT north of the Capertee River was closed for over a year and was only ridden again in late Autumn of 2011, after just adequate repairs were made.

Did you have a chance to ride on the old convict road behind Phipps Cutting?

RonK wrote:So you completed the trip on a touring bike - I'd thought this route required a mountain bike.


Having the wrong impression of what the 354.9 kilometres of BNT in Guide Book 9, from Aberdeen to Jenolan Caves is about, is not a good look for riders contemplating doing the the BNT.

trouserlord did 66.7 kilometres of the BNT main trail from Wolgan Road, to Glen Davis leaving the main trail at Glen Alice Road. The descent from Baal Bone Gap is insanely steep, the trail drops 340m in the first kilometre. It's very long and an extremely difficult section of the BNT main trail and obviously handled well. From Glen Alice Road to Widden Cutting, trouserlord was on the alternate cycle route of the BNT's main trail. Baal Bone Gap is only one difficult section of the main trail between Aberdeen and Jenolan Caves.

I was planning to go over the Alps, across the Brindies, on my next tour in the end of February, but doing a pictorial coverage Guide Book 9, might be more useful to future riders than having a fun ride ... I know of no photos between the Capertee River and Widden Brook of the BNT via Nulla Mountain and Myrtle Creek, taken by others that show the condition of the trail. Apart from the few taken by me and bushwalking photos of the Yodellers Range taken by David Lord ... http://www.david-noble.net/BlueMts/Widden/Widden1.html

Andy Friend took a photo near Watts Mountain in the heart of Wollimi National Park ... http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid= ... =3&theater

BNT Guide Book 9 access and exit points, could be at Aberdeen Station and north of Jenolan Caves at Rydal Station or at Lithgow. Coaches can be taken to or caught at Wallerawang or at Hampton ... easy enough to do if train or coach access makes it possible for some to attempt the route, Ron.

Warren.
"But on steep descending...Larson TT have bad effect on the mind of a rider" - MadRider from Suji, Korea 2001.

"Paved roads ... another fine example of wasteful government spending." - a bumper sticker.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:28 pm

Warren,

I'm heading up to the Wolgen Valley tomorrow to hike the Gloworm Tunnel trail from the Wolgen River weir to the tunnel and back again via the old coach road. I'll take a bunch of photos this time to show the trail's condition. I'm interested to see how the coach road compares and whether or not this is a better option for cycling. If I have time I'll head up the BNT from the Wolgan Rd and take a few snaps of the first steep climb or two. It's only a day trip so I won't be going far along.

At Phipp's Cutting I started to take the bike up to the convict road but stopped when the track got too steep and I really didn't feel like unpacking it. In hindsight I should have stashed the gear in the bush and taken the empty bike up for a quick ride. In the end I walked up and along it to take a look but didn't go far. Unfortunately I was pressed for time after battling a headwind all day and still had another 50km or so to reach Muswellbrook. Does the convict road meet up with the main road at all? I didn't see any intersection from the main road.

Next tour I'll plan for 50-70 km per day (on road) only and give myself a bit more time. Oh, and carry about half the weight..

I had intended to do Dunn's Swamp to Widden via Nullo Mountain but thought better of it after the Newnes to Glen Davis leg. I realised I was really carrying too much weight so took the road route via Rylstone and Bylong instead. I'd really like to do it some time but with more suitable gear.

Ian.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby WarrenH » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:40 pm

Ian, G'day. I hope things go well for tomorrow.

trouserlord wrote:... from the Wolgen River weir to the tunnel and back again via the old coach road. I'll take a bunch of photos this time to show the trail's condition. I'm interested to see how the coach road compares and whether or not this is a better option for cycling. If I have time I'll head up the BNT from the Wolgan Rd and take a few snaps of the first steep climb or two. It's only a day trip so I won't be going far along.


I remember the Old Coach Road as being excellent cycling (with some walking near the old bridges) going anti clockwise. You'll take the Pagoda Track(?) to link the Tunnel to Penrose Creek's western tributary/gully. Also when you enter the Tunnel (heading eastward) the glow worms are spectacularly more luminiferous. No one knows why exactly ... but they just are.

I've not ever been an A-B or a point to point cyclist. I go somewhere, multiple times to explore and try to understand a place to its fullest. I admire you returning, to enhance your recent expedition ... if you don't mind me saying?

trouserlord wrote:I had intended to do Dunn's Swamp to Widden via Nullo Mountain but thought better of it after the Newnes to Glen Davis leg. I realised I was really carrying too much weight so took the road route via Rylstone and Bylong instead. I'd really like to do it some time but with more suitable gear.


Dunns is a good swimming hole, in this heat. From the Never Never Trail, I'd be interested know if a trail goes across to Ganguddy Creek along the Gudgegong River from the Deweys 40 Campsite to reach Dunns Swamp, from North of the summit of Sheridan Hill . The maps show only a partial trail along the river from Dunns heading East. If you get there before me, I'd like to know, it would save a lot of doubling back on Coricudgy Road to rejoin the BNT.

Have an excellent trip and I hope the light is good for photography tomorrow.

Warren.
"But on steep descending...Larson TT have bad effect on the mind of a rider" - MadRider from Suji, Korea 2001.

"Paved roads ... another fine example of wasteful government spending." - a bumper sticker.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:04 am

Warren,

My good lady and I took a quick trip to the Wolgen Valley today, and fortunately did not require the services of Polair for the return trip. We hiked up the rail trail to the Gloworm tunnel and I took a bunch of photos of the trail, with particular emphasis on those sections where a loaded bike would have problems. I'll post these as soon as I've had a chance to sort them. The rail trail is a great walking track, an acceptable unlaiden MTB track (mostly) but not an easy one when lugging a load. After the tunnel we did the circuit as mentioned, via the Pagoda Track and Old Coach Rd. The Pagoda Track would also be pretty difficult as it's really too rough for a loaded tourer. However it meets the Old Coach Rd which is excellent, in good repair and with some spectacular descents and scenery. For a loaded bike best bring your disc brakes or bring your brown underpants.

So it looks to me that the best way to avoid all the gear lugging is to take Gloworm Tunnel Rd through Newnes State Forest, then the Old Coach Rd as it branches off to the right and avoid the Gloworm Tunnel car park altogether. Instead (and I've not yet ridden this section) proceed to the Old Coach Rd car park (as far as cars are allowed) then ride the 1.5km to the Pagoda Track intersection. Stash your bike in the bush and hike to the gloworm tunnel and gully on the western side (about 3km return) before returning and riding the Old Coach Rd to the rail trail intersection before descending down to the Wolgen River weir.

The Old Coach Rd actually continues another 8km to the eastern side of the ford at Newnes so this may be another option.

Ian.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby trouserlord » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:27 pm

Here are some of the photos of the gloworm tunnel rail trail taken last week. Except for the map (first photo) I've ordered them so they're what you would see riding from the tunnel to the crossroads on the ridge about 1km from the Wolgen River ford. The signpost below shows the various routes, with rail trail running through the tunnel from east to west, along the tunnel creek, then heading northwest, turning northeast and meeting the Old Coach Rd at the crossroads. The photos I've included here are mainly the more difficult sections, it's not all this bad and there are quite a few flat, rideable sections. For anyone interested, the complete set of photos is at: https://picasaweb.google.com/1027575710 ... directlink

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Map of the walks on signpost located near Wolgan River ford.

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Eastern tunnel entrance

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Track along Tunnel Creek

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Track along Tunnel Creek

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Washed-out section along Tunnel Creek

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View of the Wolgan Valley looking southwest

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The final run to the crossroads.

At this point the rail trail meets the Old Coach Rd (which continues on to Newnes although I don't know how rideable it is) and the short sharp descent to the Wolgan River ford at Wolgen Valley Rd.

As mentioned in the last post, I believe the easier ride on a loaded bike would be via the Old Coach Rd, with a hiking detour to the gloworm tunnel via the Pagoda Track if desired.

When I get a chance I'll post a few photos of the Old Coach Rd and Pagoda Track.

Next time I'm out that way I'll check out the rest of the Old Coach Rd to Newnes as this may be more a more interesting route than Wolgen Valley Rd.

Ian.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby omo » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:31 am

Great pictures! Bringing back some memories :) Hopefully we'll get back there later this year.
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Re: Wollemi Tour

Postby RonK » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:17 pm

Ah, now we can see why the difficulty rating is high - but it looks to be an interesting and scenic location and worth the effort to visit.
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