“Seemed like a good idea at the time, didn’t it fellas?”
We agree, having a chuckle, but then we curse this group of clearly much fitter hikers as we quickly lose sight of them up the steep track.
Greg (my brother in law) and I have stopped for a drink, panting heavily, only about 10 minutes into the Pigeon House Mountain walk.
“Mate, this is like a baptism by fire,” I remark. “There’s no easing into the climb, is there?”
“At least it’s only uphill for half the hike,” he offers.
We continue upwards, struggling for breath, but still managing to hold a conversation for the most part. Living so far away from each other, it’s great to be able to get out and have some bonding time. He makes an excellent hiking buddy, especially since we’re both a bit out of shape.
As we approach the 500-metre mark, which feels like at least twice that distance, the relentless uphill dirt track gives way to a rocky scramble.
“Now we’re talking,” I exclaim. “I don’t mind the climb so much when it’s interesting like this.”
About halfway into the scramble, there’s a large flat rocky section off to our right. We’re both more than happy to have a break at this point, so we veer off the track to check out the views and catch our breath.
When we decide to start climbing again, we’re pleasantly surprised to find that the track quickly flattens out. It’s a welcome relief, so for another kilometre or so we happily stroll the winding trail between wattles and banksias.
Pigeon House Mountain summit
By Neil Saunders, on flickr
The local indigenous people, on the other hand, had long referred to the mountain as Didthul. This is said to be their word for its more obvious resemblance, so it’s probably no coincidence that the mountain was a special women’s place to Australia’s first inhabitants.
Soon the flat, winding trail gives way to another steep section, where wooden steps supposedly help prevent erosion and help walkers negotiate the trail. They don’t actually seem to achieve either of these goals terribly well. Despite this section being less steep than the beginning of the trail, the steps seem to make it harder for me.
We’re thankful when we find ourselves at the base of an exposed rocky escarpment, with a steep staircase as our only way up. After climbing that, we walk a short distance to a series of staircases and even a couple of ladders, which take us very quickly up a crevasse to a spot near the summit.
Knowing that we’re close to the summit now, we take our time and admire the views, the vegetation, and the wildlife. There are Monarch butterflies everywhere. We joke that all of our photos will probably be ruined because it’s hard to take one without a blurry butterfly or two in frame.
We spot a Cunningham’s Skink (one of the larger lizards in the Skink family) on the track in front of us and spend ages trying to get a decent photo of it without scaring it away. Unfortunately, we’re not very successful, so with the path to the summit unblocked we carry on.
On a good day, they say you can see everything from Jervis Bay to Bermagui from Pigeon House Mountain. I’m not that familiar with the area so I don’t know exactly what I’m looking at, but it’s all incredible.
Need to know – Pigeon House Mountain
Time: 3 – 4 hours
Grade: Moderate – Difficult / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Park: Morton National Park
Closest Town: Milton
Car Access: From Milton, turn west at the traffic lights or when you see the signs marked “Pigeon House”. Continue following the signs. The walk begins in the picnic area off Yadboro Road.
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