Party: Tim Vollmer, Michelle Vollmer, Tim Gastineau-Hills, Joshua Hill, Melissa Freer, Marta Bello, Joe Parkin and Michael Rose
It’s not every day you get to see a UFO on the way to a trip, but as we sped towards Kanangra Walls — about an hour before sunrise — we experienced exactly that, with a bright, swirling light racing across the sky to Sydney.
Of course it turned out to be an American rocket, but we didn’t know that at the time, so for all we knew Sydney had just fallen victim to an alien invasion.
Arriving at the walls for sunrise, we paused to admire the view before heading to Dance Floor Cave where we found the remaining five members of the group still fast asleep. So much for an early start!
We made good time across the tops, admiring the amazing views and the surging water in Kanangra Main thanks to recent rain, before heading across Maxwell Top, past the Coal Seam Cave, and to Cottage Rock for morning tea.
Here we not only enjoyed the amazing views across the Kowmung, but also took turns reclining in a surprisingly comfortable stone throne some bushwalker with too much free time had constructed.
Heading on, I took us down the wrong spur off First Top — determined to follow Dunphy’s 50-year-old sketch map that showed an old route via a cut siding further down Mistake Spur. Of course, half a decade is a long time in the bush, and we could find no sign of it, so we were forced to bash down the steep, fern-covered slope into Brumby Gully.
With the group on the verge of full-blown mutiny, we stopped here for lunch, taking advantage of a good supply of water, before skirting across to Brumby Saddle (where we should have been all along), over Brumby Mountain (are you seeing the common theme), and began the long downhill to Orange Bluff.
Michelle’s knees started to give out half way down, so being chivalrous I took her pack for the final steep stretch, using a carabiner to clip it onto mine, then endured the double load for the final run down the slope.
Orange Bluff is a stunning camp site. A large, grassy flat beside a beautiful section of the Kowmung River with an imposing cliff directly opposite that gives the spot its name.
Despite being winter we were all hot and sweaty from the walk, so most of us decided to strip off and plunge into the icy water. While some (like me) were wimps and didn’t last long, a few members of the group swam to the other side and back, oblivious to the low temperature.
We enjoyed a lovely night by the fire, with plenty of stars in the clear sky.
In the morning the weather was glorious. In fact, it was so unseasonably warm that not long after setting off Joshua and I decided this was the perfect weather for some nude walking.
Somewhat terrified, most of the group pushed on ahead, while the stragglers were punished by the sight of two Fat Canyoners in their full glory stomping up the hill.
Not far from the top the weather changed, with a cold wind blowing in and clouds covering the sun, forcing the return of the clothes. By lunch things were looking particularly grim, and we weren’t surprised when we received some light rain on the walk out.
With time on our side, we explored a bit more of the cliff tops on Kanangra Walls, admiring the deep gorge, stunning Thurat Spires, and plunging Kanangra Main canyon.
We watched the sun set on the walls from the lookout, before making the short final push back to the cars where we decided to head into Oberon for dinner.
It was here, at the Royal Hotel, where one of this trips most infamous moments occurred, when a very hungry Mike was clearing off the leftovers from the last of the plates. As the waitress went to remove them, the animal within took over, and Mike barked at her that he wasn’t done yet, forcing her to leap away in fear.
Needless to say, when she returned for the plates a little later, she approached very nervously, and from the other side of the table!