19-21 December 2016
Day One: Everyone arrived at Gordon station at the expected time, which meant we were able to catch the earlier train at 7:44am rather than 8:03am. We said our goodbyes and boarded our train, which arrived at Heathcote and 9:22am. We through the streets and found the start of Goburra Track easily. We walked onto Pipeline Track and enjoyed the reassurance of the large pipe to indicate we were going the right way. We walked behind a large group of walkers for about 15 minutes, as both groups had to descend a steep track. We past Mirang Pools and decided to have recess close by. After the break, we had to leave the fire trail and walk onto Goanna Track. By this time, Aisling had found that her pack was too heavy. Mitch offered to take her tent, and she found it much easier to carry on afterwards. We continued walking, with Elliot’s music playing the entire way. We stopped on a rocky clearing, where we had a spectacular view of a waterfall and river below us. We eventually turned onto Lake Toolooma Fire Trail, which was much longer than we anticipated. On our right was a splendid view of the lake, along with lily-pads, a dam and a rusted piece of machinery. We reached Camp Coutts at 2:30pm, where we rested on some wooden benches for half an hour. We were greeted by the camp warden, who chowed us around, and we picked our campsite. We began to set up our tents, which proved difficult on the rocky ground. Lukas found a tick on his back, which Elliot successfully removed. After some antiseptic spray, we told him to update us on how it felt. Dinner was made at 5:30pm, though not everyone enjoyed it. The rest of the evening was spent throwing tennis balls, exploring the area, listening to music and playing cards. Everyone went to bed at 8:30pm.
Day Two: Everyone was quite tired in the morning, which lead to a slow pack-up and late start to the hiking. We left Camp Coutts at 9am, where we were reminded by the camp warden that a storm would be hitting us in the afternoon. We were surprised to end up in suburbia so quickly. Instead of taking Lake Toolooma Trail again, we had accidently turned onto the Camp Coutts walking trail and had put us back on schedule. We reached the start of Uloola Fire Trail at 9:22am. We spent a few minutes relocating the track along the Waterfall Oval, but were back on track soon enough. The fire trail had few places in the shade, and the temperature was rising. We had to take drink breaks often, to ensure everyone was staying dehydrated and had put on plenty of sunscreen. We ate recess under some trees on the side of the track. The fire trail then became very rocky, which lead to both Mitch and Ashton slipping over. Both boys got up straight away and didn’t complain, but Elliot and I had to take a look at Ashton’s cut hand. The fire trail ended and stopped at the communal toilets for a quick break. We then headed onto Karloo Track, where we quickly found some large pools of water. Elliot decided to take a more adventurous way over the water, and walked along a tree rather than the path. We couldn’t find the path, so we had to ask some fellow walkers. We then found the right track and continued walking. We reached Karloo Pools, where many people were swimming and playing. We set our bags down under some rocks and spent a few minutes exploring. We dipped our hats in a stream to cool down, then continued on the path. The path was very rocky and the ascent was long, and everyone was very hot and gradually running out of water. Elliot gave an inspiring pep-talk, which helped everyone continue up the hills. The rocky path then turned to bush, which made some people question our whereabouts. However, we could hear traffic, so we continued on the path and eventually popped out a few metres from the Karloo Track entrance. We had the track to the left of Karloo, but both tracks had the same destination. We headed across the highway, and stopped to get some cold drinks, as most people didn’t have any water left. We arrived at the J.H. Kaye Training Centre at 3:30pm, and had to wait a few minutes for the camp warden to arrive. He showed us our campsite, and we began setting up our tents, which was much quicker, as we were on a grassy area. Aisling was exhausted after the hike, so spent most of the afternoon asleep. Dinner was made at 5:15pm, and everyone much preferred it from the night before. Elliot, Ashton and Lukas then began to build a fire, which took a while to get started. Eventually they got it burning, but it started to rain. As we extinguished the fire, the rain got heavier and we took cover on the porch of one of the buildings. It was pouring for about twenty minutes, and the lightning was extremely close to us. We were informed that the lightning was still close by, a severe weather warning was in place in the area and that similar storm would hit in a few hours. We decided it was not safe inside the tents, and camped inside the building that night. Everyone went to bed at 9:30pm.
Day Three: We packed up slightly earlier and left the campsite at 8:30am. There were multiple signs directing different tracks to Audley, but we followed the map and continued behind the Heathcote houses, until we found the right track. We walked along the bush for a while, then had recess on a rock clearing and 10:30am. We spent a while trying to find the track, as we were at the intersection of multiple waterways and it was very thick shrub. We asked a man who told us directions, and we found the track again. We were heading the right direction, but the problem was that the path zig-zagged up the hill, which confused us. After a difficult walk up and down the hill, we reached Audley much quicker than expected. We took a break on some picnic tables while I went to the National Parks Information Centre to ask about tram tickets. There was some uncertainty about the ticket purchasing, and everyone was worn out, so we decided to skip the tram. We crossed the weir and started on the Honeymoon Track, which was a tiring, rocky ascent. We reached the National Park entrance at 12:08pm. The entire patrol was exhausted from the hike, but proud of their achievement. We arrived safely home at 1:15pm.