It is the strangest sensation, to stand by a fast flowing river and hear nothing of its movement - no sound of water over rocks or gravel or bank. The Colo River makes not a whisper of noise as we set up camp on a wide sand beach. A lyrebird, foraging beneath the river oaks, gives an occasional squark but the river moves swiftly and silently by.
Cutting its way through Sydney’s sandstone basin the Colo River does have stretches where boulder and rock choke its narrow gorge and it becomes the same as any river - noisy and tumbling as water drops and weaves and crashes over small ledges. But these rapids are interspersed with long, flat sections of sandy riverbed and deep pools that smother and silence its voice.
Much of the Colo River, in its upper, upper reaches, is quite inaccessible. The 361,000 hectare Wollemi Wilderness is, in fact, the largest wilderness in New South Wales, as well as the largest in eastern Australia between Cape York Peninsula and Tasmania. Within this wilderness zone, the Colo River, as it travels eastwards, enters an incredible 69km long gorge of towering sandstone cliffs and high valley walls. Within this gorge, there are a few unlikely access points that can be joined together to form anything from a 2-day walk to more than triple that.