For the October long weekend 2016 The Champ and I did our first overnight hike to Acacia Flats in the Blue Mountains National Park NSW. Acacia Flats campground is free to camp, that said, you must walk at least 8kms to get there and the only amenities to speak of is a single bush dunny. Apart from toilet donations, everything you bring in must go out with you so careful thought was given to what we really needed and what we could live without for two days.
Govetts creek provides cold water for thirsty hikers and sweaty faces. In decades past you could drink straight from the creek without a moment's hesitation, but the clear waters of the pristine Blue Mountains are no longer immune from the damaging effects of urbanisation. We took a water filter and used that to purify the creek water before drinking it. It worked well and was pretty light although a little bulky. Still, a little bulk is easier to carry than enough water for two hot days.
The walk in from Pulpit Rock (elevation 991m) was 11.9km of mostly steep and technical descent through charming forest. It took us 5 hours to get to the campground (elevation 377m) including a 1 hour lunch break plus lots of photos and stopping to allow other walkers to pass.
While the track is challenging, it’s possible to do the entire walk in a day, even with children. We saw at least two families with primary school aged children scaling the ascents with day packs and smiles. They appeared to be experienced walkers and knew the area well.
At the campground we were surprised to find several other tents already set up, their occupants sleeping away the afternoon or reading a book, breathing in the fresh mountain air and listening to the birds.
Campfires are prohibited in the area so we fired up our Soto gas stove to boil the water for our first ever instant, freeze dried, super lightweight hiking meal. We had chosen tandoori chicken (serves two) by Outback Country Cuisine. It wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated but I was still hungry afterwards. Thankfully I’d brought lollies which we ate for dessert.
One of the rewards of hiking into a secluded camping spot deep in the forest is that you’re only joined by other keen hikers, people who treasure the natural environment and value their peace and quiet after a hard day of play. Mutual respect for tranquility means everyone gets rejuvenating rest far from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We woke early, feeling refreshed from the sleep and a splash of cold creek water. Weet Bix breakfast biscuits in hand, I supervised the Champ who packed up the tent in minutes. I could feel my legs from yesterday’s trek but this didn't diminish my enthusiasm for the 7.6km of uphill hiking to Perry’s Lookdown. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was hoping to see some classic Aussie characters on the way up. The koalas, roos, echidnas, wombats and snakes must have made other plans because we didn’t see a single one. There was however a rare and special species waiting just past Perry’s Lookdown, a tall, brilliantly red waratah graced the side of the fire trail leading back to Blackheath. Perry’s lookdown has drive-in camping and some of the best views in the park. It felt good to reach the top and look over the spectacular sandstone cliffs and valleys, the warm air thick with the smell of eucalyptus.
The day prior, we had parked at Pulpit Rock track as close to the start of the descent from Govetts Leap as we could manage. The walk back to the car seemed long and boring, at least it was relatively flat. I was glad to unload the weight of my pack. The wind had picked up and the sky was turning grey. Hungry, we stopped at the only fish’n’chips place on the main street in Blackheath for a late lunch. If you’re going to stop for a bite at Blackheath, this is probably the place to go. It’s not amazing but it’s not awful either. With little competition in the way of food, that’s about as good as it gets in Blackheath.
I highly recommend this overnight hike. It was easily one of my most enjoyable camping/hiking experiences and a great way to spend a weekend away.