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Monolith Valley - Morton National Park
31 May - 1 June 2003
Saturday and Sunday, 31st May - 1st June. Monolith Valley via the Castle walking track from Long Gully.
Arriving at the Long Gully camp ground at about 1:00am we found a few other people there still setting up camp as well. The road in from Milton was still a bit dodgy from the recent rain, and the amount of flood debris on top of the bridge at Yadboro Flat suggested a scary amount of water had been through there recently!
Saturday morning began with a cold wind but a clear blue sky that lasted the whole weekend (the wind and the blue sky). The walk got started with a cold, knee deep, fast flowing river crossing. One slip there and a dip in the river would have made for an uncomfortable weekend...
The walk up Kalianna Ridge is nice, and then you come to the first rock scramble complete with a fixed rope. There's a slightly less steep non roped alternative close by, but the roped climb is not as bad as it looks.
From there the trail is fairly rugged and slow following the base of the cliff line, with some small waterfalls raining down on us along the way. And as you head further north the views of the cliffs below Mt's Owen and Nibelung are awesome.
Shortly before the track begins to head up to the Castle in earnest, it crosses a small creek next to the entrance of a really impressive deep cave, worth a stop to look inside. And in our case a good lunch stop.
From there it's a steep slog up to the northern point of the Castle, and the tunnel through to the eastern side. Not having enough daylight to enter Monolith Valley or to climb the Castle, and aiming to camp at Cooyoyo Creek, we decided for fun to go through the tunnel rather than take the easier track to the saddle below Mt Nibelung. It's a very tight squeeze with big packs!!
We made camp at Cooyoyo Creek with time to find water and wood and watch the sunset, before the gourmet cooking began in earnest.
Sunday morning we all got up to watch the sun rise then set off for Monolith Valley, leaving our packs (except one loaded with lunch) in the saddle below Mt Nibelung.
The valley itself is very spectacular!! We walked through to the northern end, through the beautiful rain forested Green Room, and out to a rock platform between Mt Cole and the Seven Gods Pinnacles. You could easy spend a good few days exploring that whole area. It's a truly amazing part of the Budawangs!
Retreating from Monolith Valley we paused for lunch in the grotto at the beginning of Nibelung Pass, before heading back down to Long Gully with daylight to spare.
Then off to Nowra RSL for the all you can eat buffet. Highly recommended after a weekend of bushwalking!
Monolith Valley and the Castle are located in Morton National Park, in the Budawangs, south of Sydney.
They are covered in the Corang 1:25000 topo map. The Northern Budawang Range sketch map, published by the Budawang Committee is also excellent and has detailed information such as camp site locations and walking tracks.
Ron Doughton's book, Bushwalking in the Budawangs has excellent descriptions of the Castle and Monolith Valley walks and many other walks in the area.
And a quick google search will find lots of information and photos on the internet.
Text and photos by Chris Collier.
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