WHERE: Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, NSW; turn off an hour east of Walcha, or 130km west of Port Macquarie. WHAT: The Green Gully Track, as it is sometimes or probably always called, is a spectacular 4-day hike that traverses Green Gully, with simple huts at the end of each day’s wanderings. The loop track starts on an escarpment but plunges some 900m down into the gully, following Green Gully Creek during Day 3 before climbing back to the starting point on the final day, where a trusty cottage awaits.
GROUP SIZE: You undertake the walk with a maximum of six people, booking it for your own group with the benefit of ensuring you have the huts and the track to yourselves for the duration.
COST: $80 per person, with a recommendable second night’s stay at the main cottage for an additional $40. Remember that you may decide to organise equipment such as a satellite phone or emergency beacon, so consider factoring these costs in as well.
LENGTH: 65km total, taking 4 days of walking (with some rest either side!).
TERRAIN: There are hills. There are very long hills and there are very steep hills. There are also a few bits without hills and these are nice but they are kind of nestled in between the hills. (Hence, ‘gully’).
FITNESS REQUIRED: Whatever it takes you personally to deal with hills. Also maybe toughen your feet up a bit beforehand; try walking on rough gravel or broken glass or, hey, why not hot coals several times a day for a month or six. Tough feet help prevent an otherwise impressive blister count.
WEATHER: Winter can be challenging, with the multiple creek crossings on Day 3 meaning frosty legs are inevitable, but each hut has a fireplace and dry firewood ensuring a cosy night. In summer the steep climbs can presumably be sweltering (I wasn’t there in summer) and unfortunately the rustic huts and solar-powered electricity don’t extend quite as far as air-con. The start and the end of the walk offer a slightly cooler setting, whilst Days 2 and 3 are in the more sheltered gully, without the cool breezes.
THE DOWN SIDE: Day 2’s walk; after the ‘undulating’ struggle of Day 1, the steep angle becomes quite alarming as you are almost tumbled towards the underworld.
THE UP SIDE: Day 4’s walk; because having gone into the gully you have to get out again, and that means going up!
SURPRISES: The hot shower at the second hut. The team bonding that occurs. The wild pig that came through at night squealing and screaming (though failing to wake half the crew).
HOW TO DO IT: Book through the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). I imagine they have a website or some such useful resource. It’s a reasonably popular walk so you may not get your first preference for dates but keep trying; not everyone gets what they want, okay?
THE EXPERIENCE? Going around in circles might not be everyone’s cup of tea
but it sure is mine. The Green Gully Track will take your breath away (literally, them’s some damn steep hills) but will also give you a breather, in perfect glamping (glamorous camping) style: a rare detox that hits the ideal medium between a challenging walk, a healthy duration away, and the amenities provided. Mice included.