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The Mount Royal National Park was once a state forest of NSW. It became a national park in October 1996. The park is located south-west edge of the Barrington Wilderness Area.The park's size is 4 726 hectares.
To reach the park you need to travel the new England Highway to Singleton and then turn off onto Bridgeman Rd (the road passes Lake St Clair) and via Mount Royal Road. It is 50km north of Singleton. There are some that suggest a circuit route through the park by linking up with Cassels Road, however the National Parks and Wildlife Service says that the Cassels road is not suitable for 2WD vehicles and is open only for actual residents of the area. There are several sections of the road to the Youngville picnic and camping area that are in a bad condition, yet are still passable with a little common sense for all vehicles.
The national park includes areas of rainforest and various other forms of forest. You will see Pademelons (a form of wallaby), Lyrebirds and even koalas and Platypus in the park.
It should be noted that is does snow at times in the Winter months in Mount Royal National Park, so visitors should be prepared for it. There is also a lot of rain, especially in the summer months.
Youngville is the site of the former state forest camping area. It is able to be used for both picnic and camping, with a water tank, gas BBQs, shelters and toilet being present at the site. There is also an information board (as there is when you enter the park).
From Youngville and nearby are the trackheads for the two main walks currently available in the park. These are the Pieries Peak Track and the Carrow Brook Track. Walks can also be made to Mount Royal itself.
A good map of the area and a compass/GPS is also a wise idea.
PIERIES PEAK TRACK:
This track leads off to Pieries Peak from the road (back down from Youngville). It is very difficult to actually locate the track. It is a steep climb to the peak itself. From the top there are views of the Hunter Valley and Lake St Clair.
CARROW BROOK TRACK:
The walk to Carrow Brook and back (from Youngville) can best be described as a very difficult work and is not for those of poor fitness. The walk can take about 6 hours to complete, following fire trails down and back to Youngville. Have a good meal and carry plenty of water - you'll need it! A good idea for this walk is to also wear long pants and shirt, as the track is very overgrown in parts. It can also be difficult to follow and find at various points.
The link below will take you to a set of track notes (a pdf document that can be printed off):
Given the remote nature of the national park, the following maps should be used when walking within the national park:
- 1:25 000 Carrabolla 9133-I-S
AUGUST 8 AND 9, 2003 VISIT:
This particular visit was decided on the actual day of departure. I decided to leave after I got home from work and headed off about 3.30pm (having purchased a copy of the 1: 25 000 map mentioned above). I arrived at the park not long after 5. 30pm. The road in was good for the most part, but several sections were in bad repair and required extremely slow driving in my Magna.
Having arrived at Youngville, I quickly got a fire going as it was beginning to get dark and also cold. This done fairly quickly, I then set about putting up the tent and getting the necessary gear into it before it got too dark and cold. I was amazed at just how quickly the cold set in (it had been above 20 degrees Celsius during the day), quickly dropping to freezing. With that happening, I decided on a very early night (about 7pm) and therefore an early start. I quickly discovered that it wouldn't be a bad idea for such trips to actually have a foam mattress for several reasons:
- The ground was very uncomfortable to sleep on (and I've known this for ages of course).
- The ground quickly became extremely cold.
Next morning I was up at about 5.30 am. Of course, the fire was away again very quickly, it being very cold of course. With a wind blowing through the night there was no frost or wetness underfoot, which was a real bonus. Of course, this was the time of some extreme foolishness (another thing I have done before), for I had no breakfast (the effect would become greatly enhanced later on by the fact that I had last eaten at lunch the day before) and took no water on the walk I set out to do (the dreaded Carrow Brook walk). Why this insanity? Well I reasoned with myself that it was so early, I would be back before too long and it wouldn't be warm for ages. BIG MISTAKE!
The walk set off at about 7 am, beginning at the closed gate just above the camp ground. The trail quickly began to descend through the forest. I took a mental note that the way back was bound to be very difficult, for it was heavily mulched with all manner of organic material, over grown in a number if areas and difficult to locate at times. I saw wallabies and lyrebirds. The rapid descent continued for an hour, arriving at Carrow Creek just after 8am. So far so good I thought, I had this walk licked, just as I planned.
I then decided to follow the stream for some way down stream (probably about 3km). The walk was great, a very beautiful little stream. There were no waterfalls, just a mountain stream making a steady journey through the mountains.
At one point I came across a large pool in the stream and noticed to my surprise a Platypus. Sadly it stay above the water for very long, so I failed to get any decent photos of it (the two I took were very dark and useless, the pool being in deep shade). Still, I was able to observe the little creature under the water and making its way into its hiding place. So the pool became in my mind the Platypus Pool and I took a mental note for future visits to the place. There were several other pools of similar appearance to this one, so the population may be more than 1 or 2.
Not long after the stream was joined by a lesser stream and I decided I better begin turning back. It was at this point that I realised I was in a little trouble with fatigue. The fact I had just got over a bad flu (worst I've ever had) and had had no meal and carried no water made my situation immediately obvious to me. The climb back up would be a gigantic struggle (as it proved to be). I arrived back at the actual track back up at about 11 am, and already I was near collapse. I took a quick break and took in a fair bit of the mountain stream water (there was still plenty left). I then began the climb out.
Slowly but surely I made my way up the mountain, stooping with increasing frequency for breaks. With about half the climb completed I basically collapsed on the ground, my legs refusing to do anymore work for me (my arms were close behind). I quickly concluded that a good break was needed here and actually lay on my back on the trail. Thoughts began to fill my head of what I could eat when I got back to the car.
Eventually I was stirred as the cold front I was expecting later in the day arrived early. The temperature began to plummet and the clouds began to roll in overhead. It was time to move and that as quickly as possible. I wasn't going to get stuck in the rain or worse yet, any snow. My legs soon responded with more energy and I began to make good progress (there were still many breaks of course). Eventually it was time to do the whole collapse thing and I really didn't know how I was going to get going again this time. But they came good after about 15 minutes (I think I actually nodded off at one point) and I was on my way again. Thankfully, a tin roof appeared toward the top of the rise and I knew I was going to make it, for that had to be a picnic shelter at the camp site. Suddenly a fresh wave of enthusiasm hit me and I quickly made it back to the car, and the food and drink came shortly after that. I had made it, at about 1.30pm.
With the cold front well and truly arrived, it was time to head home, for the road would surely become impossible if wet and icy. How cold was it quickly becoming? Too cold! So off I went. Soon the legs were cramping badly on me and I found it painful to actually drive. So a number of stretches (in the car were done).
Will the lessons I had learnt on more than one occasion to actually be learnt this time round? I hope so, because I don't want to go through all that again.
Photos of Trip
ACCOMMODATION AND RESOURCE LINKS:
Kevin's Wilderness Journeys Homepage
New South Wales
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