Where the River Runs Wild
By Garry Sonter
Sitting on a rock to allow my body to recharge, I have to think if I’ve imposed an impossible task upon myself. I have been carrying, dragging, pulling, lifting, levering and pushing my kayak and gear for nearly two days now, and there appears to be no signs of it getting any easier. My knee is beginning to give with the hard labour I’ve demanded of it and I haven’t yet paddled a stroke. Blisters have started to appear on identical spots on both my hands from pulling the rope attached to the kayak. Being mentally prepared for such a trip was paying off, as thoughts of turning around were not taken seriously. Why would I want to deprive myself of the Wollemi Wilderness? To leave this place for the sake of a few blisters and a sore knee would be a crime under my ‘Wollemi Constitution’. It is the thought of new things, adventure, beauty, a sense of wonder and not knowing what I will discover next. This is what keeps me moving on.
Nestled deep in the Wolgan Valley north of Lithgow is the old township of Newnes. Once the location of thriving shale mine, Newnes is now known for its ruins, beautiful valley, hiking trails, canyons, rock climbing, camping grounds and a little river named the Wolgan. It is here during the cooler days of March I have come to venture into the wilderness alone, following the Wolgan River until it meets the Colo River and then continuing through the Colo Gorge and finishing at an old timber bridge at Upper Colo on the eastern side of the Wollemi; covering a distance of more than one hundred kilometres. I have been on plenty of expeditions along the Colo River in the past, but this trip will be by far the longest distance travelled, and for the first time I am travelling solo. I have put my trust in a little red inflatable kayak to carry myself and supplies through safely.