The Wondabyne Years


When I was a kid, me and my mates would spend most weekends exploring the National Parks around the Central Coast; camping, climbing trees, swimming in water holes, all that good stuff. Then we grew up and less important things like work and girls got in the way, and life got sanitary and boring. I wanted to get back to those long days in the bush.

A few days ago I packed my bag for an overnight trek along some of the same paths I walked as a kid. The planned route was from Wondabyne to Somersby, a 26.2km hike through unspoilt wilderness, up steep cliffs and along remote creeks. What could possibly go wrong?

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The start of the walk is a real lungbuster, as the trail leaves tiny Wondabyne train station and scampers straight up a mountain. I’ve been through Wondabyne thousands of times in my lifetime, but have never stopped there, and it’s a really pleasant spot. The views are impressive, as is the eerie blanket of silence that settles over the sparsely-populated (and almost certainly inbred-infested) river village – only to be shattered every 15 minutes when a train come roaring through.

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Walking along the ridgeline towards Mooney Mooney Creek provides some awesome sights, and the opportunity to appreciate the vast expanse of wilderness that separates the Central Coast from Sydney. Trees spread out in every direction and the clear blue sky opened out forever as I stopped to have a bite to eat (and check Tinder – getting away from it all is a lot different now that 3G is available pretty much everywhere. And if you’re wondering, three new matches).

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After a few hours of wandering through the scrub, I came across the Phil Houghton Bridge, a metal suspension bridge spanning Piles Creek. Dunno who Phil Houghton was, or what he did to get a bridge named after him. My friends and I camped there plenty of times back in the day, and when the weather was warm enough we’d jump off the bridge into the murky water below. While crossing it this time, I came to the conclusion that when I was a teenager I was a fucking idiot, because it’s pretty high. I resisted the temptation to relive my youth by attempting to break my neck by plunging off the swinging structure, and continued on my way.

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It was getting dark by the time I reached Mooney Mooney Creek and passed under the Mooney Mooney Bridge which, at 75m above the water, is the tallest road bridge in Australia (thanks, Wikipedia!). By the time I’d trundled a few clicks further along the water to my campsite, it was fully dark, and my blind attempts to put up my tent were only slightly more successful than my attempts to sexually satisfy women.

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The next day promised another 12km of walking through stunning scenery, but when I woke up, all I could see was rain. It was absolutely pouring down, the campsite was starting to flood and the wind was picking up. I hung around in my tent for as long as I could, willing the weather to improve, but it just got worse. It was as wet as Ian Thorpe’s arsehole outside, and I had to make a move.

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So, being the rugged bushman I am, I did what I had to do – I called my mum to come and pick me up. Poor dear must wonder what she did to deserve a son who still needs to be picked up from the middle of nowhere at 32, but at least I’m not on drugs or into crossdressing or anything, so she can’t be too upset.

Alright, maybe there’s been some crossdressing

Despite the second-day failure, it was a brilliant adventure and the first of many that I will have in the near future. I highly recommend getting out there and walking along the thousands of kilometres of trails Australia boasts, enjoying the scenery and just escaping all the traffic and fast food and fat people and Ricky Martin dancing that clogs up day-to-day life. For walks around New South Wales, I highly recommend visiting (shit, if I keep handing out info like that, this’ll start to look like a proper blog.

With my pack on my back, I can go pretty much anywhere… just as long as there’s not a little bit of rain.

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