Last weekend I flew to Canberra and walked the Yankee Hat track in Namadgi National Park with 9 wonderful women from Women’s Adventure ACT . A few months ago the group organiser, Kelli, invited me to talk about the walk around Australia.
It was a perfect day, sunshine, blue skies, a slight breeze keeping the temperature down to 23’C and great company.
Do not let the name of the track confuse you. The track walks to the foot of a mountain called Yankee Hat. There is no American heritage connected to this beautiful place. The two hills are shaped like a stetson hat.
Yankee Hat is an unique site in the Australian Alps. It is a Ngunnawal lithograph site, the only known rock art in the NSW and ACT Alpine area. This rock art is estimated to be at least 800 years old. There would have been other sites of rock art but the harsh environment of the mountains, wind, snow, frost, lichen, it is incredible that this is still in such good condition.
There is a creek running through the naturally treeless frost hollow. The swamp or alpine bog attracts a lot of wildlife, amphibious, reptile, birds and marsupial. Some of these are depicted on the rock.
One of the most interesting things about this site is the red and yellow ochre colours which can be found at old ochre quarries 100-200kms away. The white colour s made from local clay. Some ochre colours may also have been traded with other nations visiting the mountains.
The Ngunnawal Nation are the custodians of this land and shared it with several other nations who travelled into the mountains for spring and summer clan meetings, trade, ceremony, celebration and food gathering. The nations or clans who gathered in this part of the mountains included Ngarigo of Targangal (Kosciuszko), Yuin of Sapphire Coast, Wiradjuri of the Murray, Gundungurra of Southern Highlands and Wolgalu of the Lower Murray Darling regions.
It was not only the annual bogong moth harvest which attracted groups to the mountains. It was a far more diverse lifestyle through the warmer months. The moths were just a small part of the diet, an important part because it is high in fat and protein but it supplemented a diet of plants and animals. Yams were one of many edible alpine plants, collected and prepared into cakes which travelled well. Marsupials were hunted but the entire animal was used, furs were valued for survival and trade. There are sites in the mountains used for women’s and men’s business, sites for gatherings, trade, seasonal camps and “match making” (for want of a better term than marriage or trade). Some of these sites are known and accessible, some are known only to the traditional land owners and park rangers but not for public access. We are learning more about the human history of this area. I hope our respect of first nations sovereignty increases too.
It is estimated that Ngunnawal have been in this region for at least 23,000 years and there is a growing collection of evidence of far longer occupation of the mountains. In some parts of the mountains the traditional migration paths from the coast and rivers are still used by bushwalkers. One of the ancient Yuin and Ngarigo paths between Targangal (Mount Kosciuszko) and the coast has become a 365km walking track called the Bundian Way.
The Yankee Hat track is easily accessible from Canberra, 36kms south of Tharwa on the old Boboyan Rd. The carpark park has shade and a pit toilet. You need to take your own water, food and a bag to carry out rubbish (yours and any you find).
When you pack a bag for the walk remember it is the mountains and the weather can change very quickly, the temperature can plummet from fine to freezing and change just as fast the other way. Wear or pack base and top layers, thermals and rain jacket or waterproof windbreaker are essential for safety. Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat are a must as UV burns faster at higher altitude. Boots, long trousers or gaiters are a good idea for snake protection. Don’t worry, you probably won’t see a snake but they are about.
Always carry a map and compass, emergency beacon and first aid kit in your group. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Bushwalking 101.
These are a few of businesses in Australia who offer survival and bushwalking courses in Australia. (no kick backs or sponsorship, i just googled them to help save you time)
I am seeking an agent for public speaking so I am paid fairly for the experience and stories i offer but until then I will do this service for a reasonable fee or donation. If you, your group or business is interested in organising an event when I am travelling through your area please contact me directly so we can put something together. https://terraroams.earth/bookings/