Quaint heritage huts, herds of thundering brumbies cantering across the plains and wild dogs howling in the night – a trip around the huts of northern Kosciuzko NP has it all and more.
We began at Currango homestead, donned our packs and took the easy walk along Port Philip trail where we met the large herd of brumbies grazing on the dry bed of Tantangara dam. Our presence was too much for the skittish horses with lots of foals afoot and they galloped across our track. We crossed the trickle that was the top end of the dam with the level falling, not rising as warned by the Tumut park office. Another track took us down to the lake’s edge where the not so mighty Murrumbidgee River flowed in. After fording the stream we followed the valley upstream along the very well maintained brumby trail. They do make it easy walking in this area if you are going the same way but it can also be confusing as the tracks are so distinct and look man made. We reached Hains Hut in a side valley with a lovely view over the valley.
It was cold in the night and we found out why in the morning with a light frost covering the ground. Mist was rising from the river creating a beautiful spectacle. We didn’t chance the brumby tracks upstream and followed the human 4WD tracks up to the top of the hill and around to another crossing of the Murrumbidgee River. We were following at Australian Alpine Walking Track but at this point it was untracked. After crossing the river we climbed steeply up the hill and up to a saddle where we found a marker. As we had passed a stream marked on the map we felt we must be at the 2nd marker and took our compass bearing from this. We followed a good track but it gradually led in the wrong direction and headed into a treed valley. Back to the marker and readjusting our bearings we made for a likely gully. After crossing a stream the good track quickly petered out and we found ourselves making our way up an untracked gully. At the top we veered back towards the plains and soon found ourselves back on the AAWT route. We worked out the next day that we had been at the 1st marker and not the 2nd so our compass bearings were taking us the wrong way! Luckily we could then find the elusive Miller’s Hut and didn’t have to walk on another 6km.
This was a hut full of character as it was made from assorted sheets of corrugated iron. It was very sturdy and for the 2nd night we had chairs to sit on. We heard dogs/dingoes howling but didn’t see any, others in the log book were more fortunate. It was a very pleasant stroll to Hainsworth Hut in the morning but as the day warmed and we had to climb over a saddle, the next section made us work for our lunch. We found a shady tree with no ants crawling underneath at the turnoff to Old Currango Hut, site of a previous excursion in this locality. Bill Jones Hut came up quicker than we expected which is always pleasing when you are walking.
The hut was in a lovely position amongst snow gums and on the edge of an extensive plain. It was home to a number of herds of horses who unfortunately had trampled the stream by the hut. We needed to climb up the hillside to find unadulterated water. Unusually the hut only had a dirt floor and as we had elected to save weight by not carrying a tent we decided to sleep outside. The drone of mosquitoes had us regretting our decision but by burying ourselves we managed to sleep until waking in the night to a star studded sky and the quarter moon rising above the trees.
A short stroll had us at the delightful Pocket’s Hut, a four room homestead with a fresh coat of paint. We were sorry we weren’t staying. More plains walking brought us to the part of the map marked ‘steep’ and it lived up to the warning. It was warm again and we plodded from one patch of shade to the next before taking a breather. Finally the top of the hill was reached and we then had to descend just as steeply to Oldfield’s Hut. We were rewarded for our efforts with an old style log slab hut where you could sit on the verandah and gaze across to Bimberi Peak, the highest peak in the ACT.
After not seeing another soul during the course of our walk, we then shared the hut surrounds with 19 others that night, a couple finishing the AAWT and their support party and a large group from the Canberra Bushwalkers. We were treated to the sight of the sun peeping out from the clouds to shine on Bimberi Peak and cause it to glow red. Bimberi Peak was a popular destination as we made our way there the next day along with the Canberra bushwalkers and a group of 3 who were so determined to spend the night on the top they bushbashed through the vegetation above Murray Gap in the dark taking 5 hours compared to our one and a half on the trail. The haze obscured the view of Canberra but we had butterflies zooming about in a mating ritual. We found some taking advantage of the huge pimelea flowers on our descent.
It was very quiet back at the hut when all the other groups had departed. I think the quiet encouraged the resident possum who visited us in the night via the chimney. The walk back to the car took us back over the hill and we then followed horse trails rather than the road back to the car, first on the Bicentennial Track and then the Currango horse trail.
We enjoyed this walk and others into the huts of this area so we are already planning future circuits.