The Walks/Blog

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW

An excellent walk that passes through the atmospheric Tahmoor Canyon, and also visits the particularly scenic Mermaids Pool.

After 13 years of bushwalking around Sydney we are still doing new walks that exceed expectations. The Southern Highlands circuit visiting Mermaids Pool and passing through Tahmoor Canyon was one such walk. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it was fairly popular so it’s evidently not a secret. Mermaids Pool is probably the most scenic pool I’ve seen in NSW, and Tahmoor Canyon was deep and very atmospheric in places. Definitely recommended. Continue reading “Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW”

Cathedral Rock & Woolpack Rocks, Cathedral Rock National Park NSW

Lots of impressive boulders on this walk through Cathedral Rock National Park, and expansive views over the New England High Country.

This route climbs Cathedral Rock, the (almost) high point of the New England Tablelands at about 1580m, and goes on to visit the attractive Woolpack Rocks. There are various interesting boulder formations throughout the walk, and expansive views from on top of the two main rock formations. You start above 1300m, so only moderate effort required on an undulating track to visit these destination points. Continue reading “Cathedral Rock & Woolpack Rocks, Cathedral Rock National Park NSW”

Wollomombi and Chandler Walking Tracks, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park NSW

Spectacular gorge scenery on these two shortish walks along the edge of Wollomombi Gorge in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

Two shortish walks here that are filled with spectacular gorge scenery. The scenery is quite different from the valleys around Sydney, and one of my Instagram followers thought it reminiscent of the Italian Alps. I’ve never been, although I see plenty of the Dolomites on Instragram, and I think she was referring to the preponderance of steep rocky slopes. There are big waterfalls here as well, and in fact Wollomombi Falls is the third tallest in Australia, however we didn’t see a single falls with water in them on our trip, due to dry conditions. Definitely worth the visit nevertheless. Continue reading “Wollomombi and Chandler Walking Tracks, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park NSW”

Apsley Gorge Rim Circuit, Oxely Wild Rivers National Park NSW

A very short and accessible walk around the rim of Apsley Gorge, with good views of Apsley Falls and the vertical walls of the gorge. 

A very short and accessible walk around the rim of Apsley Gorge. There are good views of the falls, and of the vertical slate walls of the gorge. We arrived at this spot in twilight so we were unable to do the slightly longer walk around the other side of the gorge, but I did manage to get a few shots in before the sun went down. Track notes at the end.

Continue reading “Apsley Gorge Rim Circuit, Oxely Wild Rivers National Park NSW”

Seeing our partner in a new light

Hiking together with my wife is a pleasure, but there are benefits to us sometimes hiking alone. Musings on relationships originally published on my friend’s blog for adventurous couples.

It’s an early autumn morning in the Australian high country. I’m above the treeline, surrounded by clusters of granite boulders dotted around a grassy plain. I can see the skeletal branches of a few fire damaged snow gums on the edge of the valley below. Australia’s highest ground stretches out to the west, peaking at 2228m above sea level on Mt Kosciuszko’s modestly domed summit. My target for today though is Mt Tate, whose colourful east face rises steeply from Guthega Creek to my left.

Continue reading “Seeing our partner in a new light”

Cloudy Peak ascent, Central Otago NZ

A great sample of Central Otago’s unique scenery on this long and relatively unknown walk to the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m), north-east of Cromwell.

Quintessential Central Otago scenery on this long walk to the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m), not far from Cromwell. Once you begin the ascent onto higher ground there are great views of golden tussocked and wrinkly hills and valleys, contrasted with flat-as-a-pancake plains in the distance, and from the summit you have partial views of the attractive St Bathans Range. Continue reading “Cloudy Peak ascent, Central Otago NZ”

Crown Peak ascent, near Arrowtown NZ

Excellent winter scenery on the ascent up Crown Peak (1735m) from in Arrowtown, near Queenstown. 360 degree views from the summit are a highlight.

The walk up Crown Peak (1735m) from Arrowtown is yet another underrated hike near Queenstown. There were excellent 360 degree views from the summit rocks, and a variety of scenery with Central Otago’s roly-poly mountains and wrinkly ridgelines, some pointy peaks, valleys, the Wakatipu Basin, and a nice angle on Lake Wakatipu itself. Continue reading “Crown Peak ascent, near Arrowtown NZ”

Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m (winter), Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

The 360 degree views from point 1290m just above Sugarloaf Pass, near the start of the Routeburn Track, are amongst the best we’ve seen in New Zealand. So on our trip to Queenstown in winter 2019 we decided to do this walk again, hoping that the rather modest snowfall in the first weeks of winter would nevertheless add to the already fabulous views, and we weren’t disappointed.  Mt Earnslaw/ Pikirakatahi is a highlight, as are the Humboldt Mountains. And the beech forest on the ascent and descent was even prettier than I remembered, with some friendly birds adding to the experience. Continue reading “Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m (winter), Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), near Arrowtown NZ

The wrinkly mountains and valleys at the back of Arrowtown are a highlight of this walk up Brow Peak (1456m).

This walk up Brow Peak (1456m) was a real find for me when I first did it in the summer of 2018/19. A really high quality walk that I hadn’t done yet, just out the back of Arrowtown, and so only about 25 minutes drive from Queenstown. At that time I started the walk in the afternoon, finishing not much before dusk. The fading light cast shadows over numerous wrinkly mountains and valleys, which made for excellent views on the way back in particular. In winter you pretty much get this lighting all day, plus some snow to top it all off (literally).

So I took a few too many photos again, which justifies another post. If you want to see what it all looks like in summer, albeit later in the day, then you can view the original post.  

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (in winter)

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
A frosty start. This part of Arrowtown is in a bit of a shadow so it was bloody cold.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
The track runs along Bush Creek.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
They have a wilding pine tree problem around Arrowtown.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
I was a bit slow to get my camera out and would have preferred to get this hot air balloon more in the centre of the mountains. Nice enough shot though. Double and Single Cone peaks of the Remarkables behind.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
On the Big Hill Track here.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Approaching Big Hill Saddle, where we began the climb towards Brow Peak.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
The view from Big Hill Saddle.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
I loved these knife edge ridges. Mountains are a never ending source of fascinating natural aesthetics.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
After the steep climb up onto the ridge it flattens out until another steep section near to the summit.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Looking towards Brow Peak.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Deep Creek Valley in the foreground and what I presume are peaks of the Southern Alps in the background.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Brow Peak. I liked the chunky shapes and deep shadows in this shot.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
A false summit here that is somewhat camouflaged in my other photos. The actual summit is bit further on and is less pointy. You might be able to see Sophia to the right of some rocks on the upper right of the picture.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Looking back along the ridge towards Big Hill Saddle (on he left).

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Sophia on the summit of Brow Peak (1456m).
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
I loved the wrikled shapes and washed out colours in this shot.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Chunky mountains to the north east. Possibly Mt Soho, although I didn’t take enough notice of the direction at the time so not sure.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
The Wakatipu Basin.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
This ridge is steep on the south side, but in normal weather there’s never any real exposure to worry about.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
No prizes for guessing which is the south side of this ridge.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Sophia in the foreground for scale.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
My attempt at an artistic shot.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Lake Harris and the Remarkables as the sun went down.

 

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

An ascent of Mt Alaska (1965m) in winter. This walk was an instant favourite when I first did it in summer 2018/2019, and winter added a whole new dimension.

I did this walk for the first time in the summer of 2018/19 and it became an instant favourite. When Sophia and I came back to Queenstown the following winter it was first choice to kick off the holiday, and it did not disappoint. Much of the scenery was unsurprisingly enhanced by snow, although I just went back to see my photos from summer and realised the colours were very nice then, so you can’t lose really. Continue reading “Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ”