Mount Bushwalker – An Accessible Day Hike in Stunning Morton National Park
As you drive south down the Princes Highway from Sydney past Jervis Bay and on towards Milton, you might notice some green signage indicating that the land on the right is known as the Morton National Park. What you might not know is that this is the fifth largest national park in NSW and is about the same size as the entire ACT. Bounded by the Ettrema Wilderness to the north, Jerrawangala National Park to the east, the Tianjara Ranges to the south and the Bungonia Conservation Area to the west, it is a stunning and pristine tract of land.
In recent years, with the growth in interest in bushwalking and adventure photography, some of the landmarks in Morton have begun to get mainstream coverage. Geological features such as the stunning Castle, Corang Arch and Byangee Walls are now being explored by a new generation of explorers looking to photograph locations that have not been captured a million times over. Many of these locations are at least a day’s hike, often two into the park and, in the case of locations such as the Castle, require some basic mountaineering skills and the use of ropes. So, to be honest, they’re not for everyone.
If you’re not up to walking with a full pack into the wilderness and climbing with the aid of ropes then you can still experience some of the beauty and peacefulness of the park, thanks to the awesome Mount Bushwalker track. This well marked track proceeds into the park from Porters Creek road and takes you to the edge of Hidden Valley overlooking many of the park’s best known features. It’s a short 3.5km walk each way and includes boardwalks over the swampier bits of the track and sheltered tunnels through the denser parts of the native bush.
The track is accessed via Porters Creek Road which is close to Lake Conjola. The road is sealed until about the half way point and is unsealed all the up the escarpment into the edges of the park. While it is unsealed in the upper sections it’s not the sort of road you’d need a 4WD for – any family saloon could make it though it might get a bit slippery after very heavy rain. There’s space for about 10 cars in the carpark at the trailhead and an information board that outlines exactly what you’ll see and how to get there. It’s such a well marked track that you won’t need any apps or maps – just follow the obvious yellow dots and signage and you’ll get to the lookout without any problems.
As the track is a relatively short 3.5km each way this is the sort of walk you can easily complete in a morning or an afternoon. I explored it during the winter, but there’s plenty of shade to be had along the way and so it’s also a walk you could do in summer without too many dramas. You won’t need walking boots, just a good pair of trainers and plenty of water.
The walk out to the main lookout is well marked by boardwalks, obvious paths and yellow dots and signage painted on the rocks. I only got confused once on the way out and that was because I wasn’t paying sufficient attention to the marker dots, a short backtrack and I was back on course. I was stopping a lot to film and take photographs and the trip out only took about an hour – the return trip was much less.
The walk ends at the Mount Bushwalker lookout, signified by a large yellow dot on the rocks. Once there you can enjoy sweeping views in 270º direction out to the west and north. You’ll have clear views of Mount Nibelung, Mount Cole, The Castle and Long Gully and, just peeking over the Little Forest Plateau you’ll also see the summit of Pigeon House Mountain. Hidden from view you can see the impact that Clyde River had made forging the valleys here at its origin before heading south towards Batemans Bay.
Unlike some bushwalks it’s actually pretty easy to go off-track here and explore. Better still, because it’s a plateau it’s also quite hard to get lost. I enjoyed exploring along the escarpment edge in the direction of Folly Point and didn’t run into many obstacles. There is also a side-hike here to the south and Ngaityung Falls, which I fully intend to check out before the summer heat gets too oppressive.
The return walk proved to be much faster than the outbound journey, despite the fact that I took a wrong turn, down which two young ladies (who were a short distance behind me) followed me. I missed a small yellow arrow on the ground and was back on track quite quickly. I spent some time out there taking photographs and video but I saw a few folks who were obviously just doing the hike for the exercise and didn’t linger at the lookout before returning. Whatever reason you’re heading out into the park for, Mount Bushwalker is a terrific hike that’s easy on the leg and should be possible for most members of the family without too many dramas.