I’m looking forward to another bushwalk led by Yuri, which promises a few swimming holes and waterfalls along Tootie Creek, in Wollemi Natonal Park.
T3 Trail to Tootie Creek via Cascades Peak (3.6km)
It’s an early start (by my standards!) as we park at the end of the T3 Trail around 8:15am, and descend in an easterly direction from the firetrail towards a narrow ridge. There’s some nice views almost immediately to the east.
We soon reach the start of a fairly narrow and rocky ridge, which we follow in a north-easterly direction.
There’s the occasional easy scramble as we negotiate some enormous boulders along the top of the ridgeline: the temperature is still fairly cool and the walking relatively easy.
We’re soon at the top of the first small peak along the ridgeline we’re following, where we have a short break and enjoy more views to the east, towards the Colo River.
Although the route we’re taking seems fairly flat when you’re looking at the elevation profile, we now drop – quite steeply at times – down to a saddle between two peaks along the ridge.
Between us and Tootie Creek is another small peak – informally named Cascades Peak by Yuri – which we need to traverse.
The saddle doesn’t have too much scrub – but it’s the first of many patches of Native Tobacco (Nicotiana suaveolens) which flourish in areas that have been recently burnt by bushfires.
Another climb past the aptly named “Jaws Cave” brings us to the summit of Cascades Peak.
This is our last view (for a while) over the seemingly never-ending Wollemi wilderness and many of its rugged peaks. Thanks to Nicole for the photos below, identifying some of the more prominent peaks.
It’s all downhill from here, as we carefully make our way down the initial steep ridge, push our way through some thick scrub and finally alternate between scrambling and sliding on our bums to reach Tootie Creek.
Upper Tootie Cascades to Tootie Cascades (3.4km)
We emerge onto Tootie Creek right at the Upper Tootie Cascades, another informal name for a series of small cascades which are dwarfed by steep sandstone cliffs.
Tootie Creek drops a couple of feet through a narrow channel, before continuing over a wide rock platform.
At the bottom end is a deep pool. At least, I think it’s deep… before I have the opportunity to undertake some meticulous testing of the depth, Yuri tells me we need to get moving!
So after a quick break and a few photos, we follow Tootie Creek downstream. It’s fairly easy walking along the creek, with the occasional scramble around or over boulders – but with the day warming up it’s little tormenting being so close to a series of inviting cascades and water holes.
At about the halfway point, we stop for another short break next to a deep pool – and we’ve got just enough time for an invigorating plunge into the cool water.
We cross back across Tootie Creek just after the pool, staying on the southern side of the creek and following a series of
elevated rock platforms.
As we get closer to the Tootie Cascades, there are some narrow slots, large overhangs and short tunnels we need to navigate over and through.
With the temperature now very much feeling like the forecast maximum of 32 degrees, we’re all glad to reach the Tootie Cascades around 2pm. It’s a spectacular spot, with a wide waterfall above the main pool.
Just below is The Spa, where Tootie Creek cascades into a narrow channel.
Tootie Cascades up to T3 Trail (3.1km)
After a long and relaxing break here, we reluctantly prepare ourselves for the 500m climb back to the cars. The ascent begins with a steep climb up a spur to the south east.
As we gain some height, we can see Cascades Peak (where we descended to Tootie Creek) to the south-west, and the Cascades below us, almost hidden by the bush.
After the initial steep section, it’s easy walking along the wide ridge as it ascends gently – “easy” being a somewhat relative term, as the ease of the gentle ascent is offset by the stifling heat.
There’s one last steep and rocky section before we reach the top of the spur.
At the top of the spur we reach the T3 Track, and enjoy some more expansive Wollemi views.
The last 1.5km or so of our route is along the T3 Track, a rough but (mostly) distinct pad that follows a ridge back up to the firetrail. There are frequent gaps in the trees that provide sweeping views to the west, and over the route we took this morning.
We’re back at the cars at 5pm; it’s taken us just under nine hours, with a distance of about 10km.
Getting to Tootie Creek
The loop bushwalk starts at the end of the T3 Trail, a firetrail which is accessed via Mountain Lagoon Road from Bilpin. The T3 Trail is suitable with care for a 2WD vehicle, but an SUV/AWD or 4WD with a bit of clearance is recommended.