Bushwalking to Gap Creek Waterfall in New South Wales

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Watagans National Park

After a weekend of pure indulgence in the Hunter Valley, I decided that Jude and I needed to burn off the 1,000,000 calories we’d consumed and get some fresh air in Watagans National Park. All in search of a waterfall I’d found on Google (I assumed it was still in business).

A few days before jetting into the Hunter Valley we’d caught up with Jude’s sister Esther, a school teacher. She’d been filling us in on her recent excursion chaperoning a group of 20 school children through the New South Wales tropics for seven days, detailing the lengths that she went to to avoid Australia’s equivalent of bears: leeches.

“What are leeches?” I asked.

Having grown up in South Australia I had no comprehension of the blood-sucking slugs, but as we were having the conversation I had a strange feeling that I needed to be paying attention.

Arriving at Gap Creek Campground

Fast forward four days and bush bashing to a waterfall seemed like a good idea until I discovered a horrific amount of cobwebs and huntsman in the toilets at the Gap Creek Campground. I hadn’t exactly come prepared clothing-wise to encounter some insect friends, naively wearing shorts and a flimsy t-shirt. I decided to sacrifice my good, dress leggings that were in my suitcase and tucked these into my socks, content that at least my legs were protected from any parasites. I was talked out of wearing the hoodie.

Slowly inching my way through the rainforest, I realised how wimpy I was behaving when a group of kids came running past, with no shoes on and no dress leggings. So I tucked my fear into my socks and pushed forward.

It was beautiful being lost in this lush waterfall gully, and all only 90 minutes out of Sydney. You can hear the thundering 40-metre waterfall before you see it, and it was well worth the trek. So powerful, you feel as if you’re caught in a rainstorm. So there I am, sheltering from the ‘rain’ underneath a tree, as I watch the same group of kids crash through the water, clamber up a cliff face and casually walk along the ledge behind the waterfall.

Gap Creek Waterfall

On the walk back to the car, I felt content that I’d been immersed in nature for the afternoon and, feeling some serious thigh burn, surely hiked off my wine damage from the Hunter Valley. I also felt something in my shoe, which I convinced myself was a ‘rock’.

We get back to the car and I sit on the tailgate so Jude can help me take off my shoes, like I’m a child. Just not a barefoot, mud-stomping child, who’s not afraid of rainforests. And sure enough out of my shoe and onto my foot jumps a leech, wiggling around madly looking for its next meal. Fortunately, I flicked it off, which I’ve since learnt is the worst thing to do, and then refused to hop down off the tailgate. Instead catapulting myself through the boot of the car into the safety of the cabin.

NSW leech

Despite the screaming and squirming, Gap Creek Waterfall was without doubt a highlight of my Hunter Valley trip.

Gap Creek Campground
nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/watagans-national-park/gap-creek-campground/camping

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