NE Peak and North Peak from the South
This full day walk is the longest in this series, although the terrain for much of the walk is not as challenging as some of the other walks. NE Peak and North Peak can also be climbed from the northern side of the range, which would be a significantly shorter route. However, this route from the south has benefits from traversing below the cliffs and caves of Bungalbin East, which provides optional opportunities for forays up the slopes to explore some of these features.
The start of the walk is just south of the end of the trafficable section of the main access track that traverses the range. Find a suitable parking spot off the track near the junction with the side track that runs out below the Bungalbin East cliffs and caves. The first part of the walk follows this side track so makes for easy travel.
At various points, some of the larger cliffs and caves are visible on the slopes above. The GPX file for this route includes an optional excursion up to the largest and grandest of all these caves and is definitely worth the extra effort, despite the steep climb up from the side track and back down.
Continue on the side track until it ends just to the south of East Peak. From here the route is cross-country, first by crossing the low ridge radiating east from East Peak. The ground is rough around here, but once this low ridge is passed the route drops down into the tall woodland of the sand plain.
The going is easy for the next couple of km, before the lower slopes of NE peak loom ahead. Ascend the increasingly steep and rough east ridge of NE peak from the south, cresting to the east of the summit and then follow the ridge line up to the peak. The ground along the ridge is stony but also mostly quite open with abundant ground cover of Neurachne annularis, which is a local grass that grows in distinctive annular rings. The grass is very fragile so please be careful and avoid treading on it when passing through, since it will die and never recover if damaged.
The remote summit area of NE peak offers grand vistas in all directions; with particularly magnificent views back over the main range and over the western hills to Mt Jackson on the horizon. Standing somewhat distant from the main range provides a great perspective, with East Peak and North Peak dominating the view and the rest of the Helena and Aurora range behind stretching into the distance.
Gazing to the east, south and north the sand plain extends to the horizon, occasionally punctuated by distant ranges, most notably Die Hardy and Mt Manning to the north/ NW.
The route from here follows the SW ridge downhill. Cross the valley separating NE and North peaks and then ascend ahead to a low saddle that splits the east ridge of North Peak, passing a small hill on the left. Turn west and climb onto the crest of this ridge.
A delightful ridge walk through mostly open vegetation follows, as you gradually ascend to the summit of North Peak, passing up and over a couple of minor summits on the way. At a few spots the vegetation thickens somewhat, but never greatly impedes progress.
The summit of North Peak is partially vegetated and quite flat, so the best views are obtained by moving to the edges of the plateau. The main range from East Peak to Bungalbin Hill appears like a wall dominating the landscape between the SE and SW horizons.
Start the descent down the west ridge before diverting SW and then south down an increasingly steep slope. Once down on the sand plain, it is an easy traverse to the main vehicle access track, which could be used as an alternative starting point for a traverse of the North and NE peaks. Follow this track back up hill to the major saddle dividing the range at Bungalbin East before descending the very steep and heavily rutted track back to the start.