Blackfellows Hand Track/Firetrail

Submitted: Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 17:42
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Hi All,

Black Fellows Hand Track is part of a firetrail route from Lithgow to Newnes, NSW. I last drove it about 7 years ago with a Kia Sorento and a CT. It was a relative doddle. Would like to do it again with a friens, me with a Prado and he with a LC200, both with Kimberley Karavans.

(For those that don't know, the KK is very off-road capable, the same width and track as the tugs, about the same height, big ground clearance and entry and departure angles, independent suspension but a bit heavy at 2200kg. All good until you get to steep slopes with wet clay.)

Can anyone advise the current condition of the track. After all the rain we've had in recent times I suspect it may not be a doddle any more :-).

Thanks

Frank
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Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 19:17

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 19:17
G'day Frank,

I haven't been down there for 6 months but it was ok then.
That was after the worst of the rain we've had in recent times.
The roughest part is right down the bottom after you go through the switch back with the big rocks beside you.

That section was washed right out about 12 months ago with 6 foot deep wash outs but it's a lot better now.

Have you considered heading further north as well, through to Baal Bone Gap.
The entry is almost straight across the road from where Black Fellows Hand Track comes out on the main road. The climb up to the top is testing but the views along the edge are spectacular, to say the least. There's another bit further on that climbs down to Baal Bone Gap but it's worth the effort.

Steve
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 20:32

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 20:32
Thanks Steve,

No, I hadn't yet looked at Baal Bone Gap. The Karavans are 2200kg. Doable, do you think?

I've taken my Karavan to Bendethera from Moruya. Was scrabbling a bit on the humps coming out, pretty much on the limit of traction. OK in the dry, on the limits, but I'd be there for the duration if it was wet. Does that equate in any way to the Baal Bone Gap climb?

6 foot washouts are a bit beyond us - what was your experience with that "improved" bit?

Thanks for your repy.

Cheers

Frank



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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 21:05

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 21:05
In October it was much better, almost back to normal.

The Baal Bone Gap has options.
The steepest climb is about 400 metres east of where you come out of Black Fellows Hand Track. There is another entry through Long Swamp which is about the same distance west and that is pretty easy up to the top. There is a fairly steep downhill which can be slippery. I've never seen anyone have any trouble through there but it is "interesting".
The views up the top give you huge views over the Wolgan Valley. It's the 2nd biggest canyon in the World. It's views are heaps bigger than the views between Katoomba and the Bells Line of Road.
If you can get your hands on a copy of Boiling Billy Publications' "4wd Treks Close to Sydney" they have all the trek notes and heaps of information. Worth every cent and it's available in the ExploreOz shop.

Hoo roo,
Steve
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 22:05

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 22:05
Thanks Steve, great info.. Have a winch and recovery gear, but always a bit conservative. I'm not into breaking gear just so I can say "I did it". Will have a think.

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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 22:40

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 22:40
Quote
"If you can get your hands on a copy of Boiling Billy Publications' "4wd Treks Close to Sydney"" End Quote

Steve, I have that book but my copy is pretty old, 3rd Edition, published 2001. It's what I used on my first trip on BFH Trail.

Agree, it's excellent. Just need up-to-date track condition info.

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Reply By: Member - Rob S (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 21:32

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 21:32
Hi Frank
I have been going up there for over 30 years,You will notice a change after 7 years .
a Group of us from the ExplorOz forum here had a day trip up there in 2009 about 15 vehicles in total.
During the drought and it was certainly a Doddle, if you kept to the main tracks.
I was up there in April with my son to test his recently purchased Hilux.

Boy things have changed after the wet weather in recent years.
And the popularity of more 4WD These days. Bunglebooricamp ground was a quagmire and littered with piles of rubbish.

Black fellows hand trail has been renamed to some more suitable indigenous name but i can't remember it,though some of the original signs still exist, just a tad confusing in the beginning of the track, plus tracks appear to go of every were.

The track is ok, just a more corrugated and lot slower and few more water /bog holes usually can drive around these.
As Steve said the roughest part is at the end of the track were it drops of the plataue
Down into the valley,though not that bad and will not be an issue with the Prado or 200 series even with camper.

The Gardens of Stone National park Baal bone track as Steve suggested is good and very good views, if you want to test your skills though i would not try to drag the KK camper up there. in 09 it was easy just graded.
Today the track up is challenging My 80 series had no problem, had to winch the Hilux, though a little track work would have got it up,wanted to test the winch.
And would recomend a chain saw if you came across a tree across the track as going back Baal bone gap would be a challenge.If you didn't exit at Ben Bullen.

Black Fellows Hand trail






Baal Bone Gap trail






Rob
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and that's when I thought I was wrong!

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Follow Up By: Member - Rob S (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 21:45

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 21:45
Though i think there might be alternate track up to the Baal Bone Plataue looking at the map, as we saw a Nissan Xtrai l up there and no way in earth it would have gone up the way we did.
Looking at the map maybe another access track few klm towards Lightgow from were the Black fellows hand crosses the Newnes Rd??
The track we went up, more or less directly across from the Black fellows hand trail.
And you would never turn around or back down the climb up with a trailer, wouldn't like to even try that with out a trailer lol.
Though if you could leave the campers say at Newnes, well worth Drive.

Rob
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 22:12

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 at 22:12
Thanks Rob.

We are experienced outback tourers, but don't do much difficult steep track work. As I said to Steve, we're not into busting gear just to prove a point, and this is my mate's maiden voyage in his KK, so will carefully consider and try not to get in over our heads. The photos are great, but suggest it's not suitable for a heavy trailer.

Thanks again

Frank

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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 01:21

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 at 01:21
Rob,

that other track would be through Long Swamp.

On one trip we got up the top and there was a Corolla parked up there. I know Toyotas are good but a Corolla!!!

There's another track that comes in from the Highway to the Baal Bone Gap itself that's easy to drive.

Steve
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Reply By: Arwon - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 06:40

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 06:40
I did the track about 3 weeks ago, was a slow trip due to the state of the track and recent rains, all two done in two wheel drive. There is a hairpin turn just before reaching the Newnes Rd that may prove a challenge if your van is long.
If your doing it on a weekend, lookout for motorcycles.
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:19

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:19
Thanks Arwon, and thanks everyone for your responses. Great info, and enough to plan/decide with.

Cheers

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