Lyrebirds call in the valley below as the dawn sky changes from pink to peach; ripening to day. I sit up in my sleeping bag, having built a nest of essentials around me – cup of tea on my right, notebook, pen, binoculars, gloves. A rock plateau stretches away in front to where it suddenly drops in a cliff edge. Beyond that is a vast, magnificent view.
For half an hour before the sun rises, the land is filled with the best light we have seen for weeks. Last night's sunset was nice but not spectacular. The morning is both. Distant cliffs lines glow with reflected light. Even the deep valleys are infused with this soft colour. At 7:09am the sun cracks the horizon behind me and everything changes, contrasts arise, colour strengthens. I pick up my pen and notebook, take a sip of tea, and write: 'Wow'.
Every bushwalker, hardcore or novice, needs to go to Mt Bushwalker. It is, afterall, Mt Bushwalker. It is named for us. And, it is by far one of the most spectacular views in New South Wales. Some go further: "This walk is definitely my favourite one day walk and boasts some of the best scenery in New South Wales, if not all of Australia. I have spoken to many people and they agree that the view down the Clyde Gorge from Mount Bushwalker is the best they have ever seen. That is a bold statement coming from walkers who have hiked in Tasmania, the Snowy Mountains and the Blue Mountains." – Peter Ellis.
It's not really a mountain, just a high point on a sandstone plateau with easy access along a wide, marked track. But, well, wow!
I didn't notice how long it took us to walk out to the plateau edge. Clock watching in the wilderness always feels like an intrusion. We planned to bivvy out on the sandstone escarpment for the night, so timing seemed irrelevant. On the walk out there was a profusion of honeyeaters, spinebills, robins, rock warblers and two dead antechinus. Is it mating season? There was no breeze and clear blue skies. The track was quite wet but there are boardwalks, stumps for stepping, then yellow dots to follow across the rocks and one big yellow dot marks the end. However, it is easy to stray; distracted by the stunning view down the Clyde River Valley.
From the big yellow dot the valley stretches southwards. To the east is a long stretch of cliffs that leads out to Gadara Point and beyond that, Mount Talaterang, and peeking over the top is the distinctive crown of Pigeon House Mountain. On the west side of the valley, far, far away is The Castle, a huge block of rock that dominates the vista. Below it, to the left, you can just make out Byangee Walls.
We pull out the fabulous 1:50,000 map published by the Budawang Committee in 1990 which I found in my father's shed. It is nearly as beautiful as the landscape itself. It takes in The Northern Budawang Range and the Upper Clyde River Valley. With the map properly orientated we name the rest of the view: Castle Head, Folly Point, down to Shrouded Gods Mountain, Mount Cole, Mount Donjon, Mount Tarn and beyond to Currockbilly Mountain. Everything is just forest, broken only by the rugged cliff lines.
"It's an outstanding walk and you get a view of pristine wilderness without expending too many calories. The terrain in the valley has never been disturbed. There could be fairies down there. Well, that's what the locals say." - mymuddyboots.
This is also one of those lookouts that feeds adventure – fantastic looking options peel off left and right. There are tracks to Little Forest Plateau and on to Pigeon House. Hidden amongst the rock ledges and shrubs, is a way down Jailhouse Pass, a track that descends to Claydons Creek. And just before Mt Bushwalker lookout, a faint track veers south offering tantalising walking to Gadara Point and Mt Talaterang. From there, options fan out even further taking you into the heart of the Clyde Valley wilderness.
After bivvying out and enjoying the morning light we explore this track south and find secret overhangs and caves, more spectacular views, and shallow horizon pools on the weirdly sculpted and pitted surface of the cliff tops.
Eventually it is time to retrace our steps. Back along the yellow dots, passing tall banksia flowers of rich orange hues. It is such a short bushwalk, such a tiny 'mountain', and yet it is everything a bushwalker could hope for. It is, afterall, Mt Bushwalker.
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