Protecting Wilderness and National Parks


Colong Wilderness Walk - Dunphy's Kowmung Adventure

The wrap-up video as presented at the IUCN World Parks Conference discusses how the 1914 walk was inspiring to Myles Dunphy and led him to develop the plan for protecting the Greater Blue Mountains.

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100 Years Ago

In October 1914 a young Myles Dunphy and Herbert 'Bert' Gallop set off on an adventure into the heart of the southern Blue Mountains. Their aim was to trace the length of the Kowmung River. 

Leaving Katoomba, they walked via the Six Foot Track to Jenolan Caves. From here, armed with advice from the local cave guides, and very rudimentary parish maps with more blanks than drawn sections, they entered into the unknown. During the next three weeks, they gained an understanding of the importance of the area through which they had travelled. Their journey concluded at Picton, taking 21 days to complete. Along the way they:

  • Walked the length of the 6 Foot Track to Jenolan Caves, descending from Katoomba by candlelight.
  • Slept in the first Japara tent to be made in the country.
  • Dealt with multiple crossings of the Kowmung River in full flood, with some taking over 40 minutes.
  • Journeyed through land untouched by contemporary maps and not marked by tracks (though undoubtedly traversed by local indigenous people and graziers).
  • Sighted the mighty Morong Falls, which they believed to be the highest falls in the country.
  • Climbed up Mount Despond in the pouring rain.
  • Visited the silver mining town of Yerranderie, where supplies were bought and Bert purchased patent leather dress shoes to replace his boots that had worn out.
  • Witnessed the destruction caused by rabbits before the introduction of myxomatosis.
  • Passed bullock trains as they made their way through land  now under the waters of Lake Burragorang.

It was an adventure of epic proportions and soon after completing the walk, Myles founded the Mountain Trails Club, the first bushwalking club in NSW, and the genesis of the state’s bushwalking and conservation movements.


In 2014,  five young Adventure Teams re-traced Myles Dunphy and Bert Gallop's historic 1914 journey. Some stages allowed others to participate in the journey – as walkers, to camp or just sit around a campfire to celebrate.

The walk showcased how voluntary efforts of early bushwalking clubs led to the dedication of large national parks and, consequently, wilderness areas in the Blue Mountains. It celebrated the pivotal role of wilderness in the protection of nature in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. In November 2014 the walk and its legacy were presented to the World Parks Congress.