Our first attempt to reach Youdales Hut from Racecourse Trail was ended abruptly by a large fallen tree across the road. Some months later we returned to try again. A sign at the top of the trail advises you to engage low range now, and that the trail is not suitable for trailers. Steep, narrow, with rollovers and precipitous drop offs, the trail to Youdales Hut in the valley some 900 metres below is an exciting drive! You will want to stop to admire the views across the Oxley Wild Rivers wilderness, and see if you can spot the road far below.
Alan Youdale was a local stockman who built first a simple A-framed bark hut in the ’30s, then a slab hut from local timber about 1941. The roof was made of corrugated iron, transported down into the gorge by pack-horse. The Youdale family grazed up to 1200 head of cattle in this gorge country for 50 years, before the land was purchased by Parks in 1986.
The original hut was later restored by NPWS, but burnt in the 2019 fires. NPWS built a new slab hut on the site in 2022. You can’t stay in Youdales Hut, but you can sleep in similar huts along the Green Gully Track, and learn more about the early pastoral life in this area.
Roads were not built into this area until the late 1950s. The West Youdales Trail that you can drive on was originally a bridle trail, on a line surveyed by Youdale. East Youdales Trail links to Coachwood Road, but is now a management trail, closed to the public. Before roads, access was up Kunderang Brook from the Macleay. The Bicentennial National Trail passes through here, so you may see horse riders and hikers.
The beautiful Kunderang Brook rises near Racecourse Swamp, then flows into the Macleay River. This is the country of the Dunghutti people. Youdales Cave, downstream of the hut, has evidence of aboriginal occupation dating back 1,500 years. The Dunghutti took refuge in the gorges when they were displaced by early European settlers during a period of frontier conflict. The Kunderang massacre took place around 1840.
There is a lovely campsite near the hut, with grassy shaded sites near the river. This is a remote campsite and bookings are required as there is a locked gate high on Youdales trail.
After leaving Youdales, we thought we might take the road to Cobcroft Picnic Area then Fenwicks Road to return to the Oxley Highway. Once again, nature obstructed us when we met a large gum splattered all across the road. So back we went to Kangaroo Flat Road. Later we discovered a bridge across Fenwicks Creek, close to the Oxley, so we were glad we turned around earlier.