Category Archives: Bushwalking

Rockpile & Mitchells Pass (1 July 2018)

We got the new financial year off to a good start with a fine adventure off Narrowneck. Probably a bit more excitement and bush-bashing than originally expected. Tom had previously attempted Rockpile Pass and failed, so he was hoping to knock it off this time.


Enjoying the views on another wonderful winter’s day

Supposedly the hard bit was after the rockpile but we didn’t manage to locate the rockpile to start with and ended up traversing around into the next gully (with plenty of delightful banksia bashing). Once below that set of cliff lines we were soon back around at the rockpile which we’d missed coming down to – very obvious from the bottom!


The rockpile


Stanley checking out the route


Morning tea in the sun

After morning tea we found the rest of the pass (where Tom had got turned around previously). There were some fixed lines in place which made it pretty obvious where to go. Much to the horror of the rest of as the last person in our party was descending there was a noise you never want to hear. We were round the corner out of site (and out of danger of rockfall) so didn’t know what had happened except it sounded bad. The fixed line had completely severed sending Jon flying. Fortunately asides from some bruising and a heavy landing on his ankle he was ok. We still had a second drop to negotiate but we were much more circumspect about using the rope that was there (and is no longer).


Climbing up a slightly sketchy slab (which we later had to reverse)


A very exposed shale ledge traverse (which we later had to reverse)

After getting through the pass we followed along the upper cliff line, over a series of obstacles, until we got to a drop we could get past. Oops. So we had to reverse everything we’d done for the last half hour or so. Then we had a decent chunk of off track under the cliff lines, broken by lunch, around to Mitchells Creek.


Pretty Mitchells Creek

Mitchells Pass is an interesting pass! There are a series of giant spikes in a tree. The spikes are not in particularly convenient positions and the higher you get the more awkward it gets. We all negotiated it with no issues fortunately.


Scott on Mitchells Pass


Stanley near the top of the tree

From there we had some quite unpleasant bush bashing up Mitchells Creek. Eventually Alex pioneered a route out of the creek which got us on the tops quite nicely.


Climbing out of Mitchells Creek


Almost at the top of the ridge

Once we attained the ridge it was only a couple of hundred metres back to the firetrail. We managed to time our return to the cars right on sunset. An interesting and challenging day out. There was mutterings of needing 10 years for the memory to dull and think of a repeat trip!

Boars Head (24 June 2018)

It had been 13 years since we’d last done Boars Head and with a still, sunny winter’s day upon us it was a perfect opportunity to revisit. My memory of the previous visit was a windy precarious position which I didn’t enjoy very much – it was pretty early in my outdoor adventuring days though.  The track work leading out to Boars Head is pretty impressive – presumably the efforts of the local climbers.


Tom on a perfect winters day above the first drop


Tom on the first abseil

As I was preparing to abseil a couple of climbers arrive. After exchanging hellos one of the guys thanked us for efforts with the website and how much he’d used it over the years. I was a little taken aback – not that I don’t get recognised from Tom’s photos – but it normally takes more than a few seconds! I guess I was in the position I’m likely most photographed in – going over the edge of the abseil, with my helmet complete with name tag on!


Tom traversing around to the slot


The somewhat precarious slot


Tom exiting the slot


The 4th (?) abseil


Tom on our final abseil


Now how do I get down from here?

We had a bit of an explore above Devil’s Hole before enjoying a late leisurely lunch in the sun. A beautiful day in the mountains.


Not sure about that rope…


Blue Mountains adventuring (May/June 2018)

While we haven’t been doing a much walking as we usually do we have managed to knock off quick a few shorter walks around the mountains across May and June. A selection of photos from the various adventures below.

Bottleneck Pass – 26 May


Tom above Bottleneck Pass (once we found it!)


Hmm, this wasn’t what you described to me


Closest we’ve come to canyoning in months


Are you sure that’s a good idea?


Well, that was a bit of an adventure


No sign of the Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii?

Perrys Lookdown – Blue Gum Forest – Govetts Leap – 2 June


Moody Mt Banks at the start of the walk

Popes Glen – Evans Lookout – Rodriguez Pass – Perrys Lookdown – 10 June


Could almost be the Kimberley?? If only we added 20°C :)


Fog rushed in at the end after what had been a lovely day (if cold)

Ross Cave – 11 June


If you had to live in a cave it wouldn’t be a bad one

Hyde Park Reserve – 11 June


Another almost Kimberley-esque spot


Evening light

Browne’s Path – 23 June


Heading off track


Come on Tom you can get closer to the edge that that!


Browne’s Path

KI and getting there and back (May 2018)

We hadn’t done a road trip in our own car since 2005. After winning the bidding at a charity fundraiser for a couple of nights accommodation on Kangaroo Island we had some planning to do. Discarding thoughts of flying we realised we’d be able to go to our favourite wine region in Australia – Rutherglen, visit the best climbing in Australia – Arapiles, and get to a not-easy to access wine region – Coonawarra. Add in visiting friends in Adelaide and the plan had legs.


We started off with a night in the nation’s capital visiting Laina & Ross. This conveniently broke up the drive to Rutherglen. We hadn’t been to Rutherglen since our Sydney-Perth road trip in 2005. There had been a lot of talk about getting back here but with it being just a bit far for a weekend from Sydney it hadn’t happened. Needless to say we were pretty excited to be here!


The sign says it all really


Tom with some of the line up at Chambers

We started off at Morris, then took advantage of Chambers being walking distance from our accommodation to squeeze in a tasting before closing time. Chambers hasn’t changed much over the years and is the only cellar door I’ve ever been to where you self-serve.

The following day I insisted we hire bikes to cycle around the wineries. I was acutely aware that unlike most of our holidays exercise was not front and centre – we needed to do it when we could otherwise we were going to come back lard balls! So we hired bikes and set off to Anderson Winery. Then we came back into town and joined the Murray to the Mountains rail trail. Rutherglen is very flat so the cycling was easy – which was just as well because the hire bikes were not very comfortable!


Mountains to Murray railtrail art

Second stop was All Saints, followed by a platter next to their lake in the lovely autumn sunshine.


Recovering at All Saints after a couple of big tastings


Rutherglen sunset

Last, and furthest away, was St Leonards next to the Murray River. After tasting we did a short walk down to the Murray behind the cellar door. From there we just needed to ride back into town – around 10km. Normally this would be pretty easy but not being quite the right fit for the bikes we had two different approaches – Tom’s was to ride as fast as possible to minimise the amount of time on the bike, mine was to amble along to avoid putting too much stress on my various body parts. Given this it was unfortunate we turned too early and ended up adding another 2km to the route home! On the plus side the weather was gorgeous all day and we were treated to a lovely sunset as we rolled into Rutherglen.

The next morning we decided one last winery was in order on our way out of town so we spent a couple of hours at Campbells which was excellent. Despite Arapiles being a key part in our planning process it became apparent it wasn’t the best destination for us. We’d been climbing regularly in the lead-up and I was excited to see if I would enjoy this visit more than our short-lived one in 2005. However with strained fingers, sore wrist and slipped rib between us we concluded going to Araps would sadly be a waste of time. Instead we headed to the Northern section of the Grampians. We arrived on dark so didn’t get a chance to do any activities the day we arrived.


Tom on Mt Stapylton

The next day we were able to do a great bushwalk up Mt Stapylton. The signage has said it was a difficult walk and I was questioning the grading, but the final section to the summit did involve route-finding and scrambling.


views over The Grampians


Tom on the summit ridge, Mt Stapylton

After our jaunt up Mt Stapylton we did a short walk to an Aboriginal art site – Gulgurn Manja for lunch. Tom as always wanted to go exploring, mainly to find out where all the climbers must be from the cars in the car park. And so we found ourselves in Summerday Valley. This would been the perfect crag for us, or even for me to do some top-roping, but mentally I was already on the road to the Coonawarra so we didn’t stick around. Hopefully we’ll return another time as the Northern Grampians looks like somewhere you could potter around for a few days. Soon we were driving through Horsham when the car didn’t feel right. I pulled over only to find that the back tyre was completely flat. Well… if you’re going to get a flat tyre then the middle of Horsham mid-afternoon, almost over the road from a tyre place is probably the best you could ask for.


Tom trying to locate the same brand tyre to replace the one we could no longer use

The tyre got fixed but then a small bulge was noticed (I’m sure there was a technical term for it) that was a weakening in the tyre wall and too dangerous to drive on… so we had to buy a new tyre. And that all took longer than it should of because the guys at the repair place couldn’t read my writing so couldn’t call us to tell us what was going on! Eventually we were on the road to Coonawarra resigned to not getting any wine tasting in… until we realised that with the time change from going between Vic and SA made it 4:30pm and not 5pm! Bonus. A quick stop at Rymill was excellent. The weather set in over night with heavy rain and wind making us very glad we weren’t camping!

The next day was all about wine-tasting. We didn’t think we’d get through more than 3 after our Rutherglen experience but the wine lists were generally much shorter, and we weren’t trying 12 different fortifieds at each winery, so we ended up making it to 5: Balnaves, Majella, Wynns, Patrick, Katnook. My favourite was Majella.


Tom outside Katnook Cellar Door


Recovery coffee after 5 winery visits

The wild weather continued as we headed out of town the following day. The car was battered by the wind, with occasional bouts of hail and fairly constant rain. Arguably a good day to mainly be driving? Other than the unpleasant driving conditions…


Tom in a rare sunny (but still very windy) section of the Corong

Having missed out on the Primo tasting in Sydney this year Tom insisted we detour via the Primo cellar door in Mclaren Vale. We were cutting it fine arriving not that long before they closed but we managed to get the premium tasting in, as well as their fortified (The Fronti) with an espresso. Fortunately for me Tom was on driving duties through to Adelaide, where we stayed with Nic for the night.


Primo tasting

Eventually, more than half way through the trip, we made it to Kangaroo Island. The crossing was a bit choppy but I’m sure a lot better than the previous day! We started our KI adventure with the Ironstone Hill Hike. We saw plenty of Tamar Wallabies but sadly no dolphins as promised by the signboard. After driving around a bit trying to find a nice place to eat lunch we conceded defeat to the weather and headed to the cottage we’d hired for the night at Cape Willoughby.


Thomas at Thomas Cottage, Cape Willoughby

Cape Willougby is the Eastern most tip of Kangaroo Island and it was super windy. We did the Heritage Walk not long before sunset. Saw some Kangaroo Island kangaroos and then I swiftly retreated inside out of the wind.


Kangaroo Island Kangaroos with the Cape Willoughby lighthouse in the background.


Cape Willoughby Lightstation Heritage Walk


Kangaroo Island kangaroos


Cape Willoughby Lighthouse


When staying in a lighthouse keepers cottage of course you need themed bed-side lights

The next day had an action packed agenda so we got an early start. Our first stop was the Bald Hill Hike. This was a massive climb of approximately 25m to a small rise overlooking the Murray Lagoon. There were lots of birds around. We continued some of the way around on the Curley Creek hike before backtracking to the car as we needed to get to our next stop; the Raptor Domain. This had come highly recommended to us and it didn’t disappoint. We attended the bird show and reptile show. Both were very interactive – Tom has some much better photos from his fancy camera. The bird show opened with a magpie that had been taught to pick up rubbish and only got better.


Tom with Casper the friendly owl


Not sure the snakes had names


But they sure were friendly


This one was a real squirmer

We hadn’t sated our wildlife appetite for the day so the next stop was Seal Bay. Here we did the guided walk down onto the beach to see the Sea Lions.


Sea lion

We had toyed with trying to fit in a wine tasting but decided we were out of time and headed for our accommodation at Vivonne Bay instead. Shortly after we arrived one of the other guests spotted a koala in a tree in the car park which was pretty good. But then the next morning there was a koala in a tree basically right next to the buildings. Tom was fortunate to see this guy out of the tree, having a drink and then wandering off to wherever koalas go…


Doing what koalas do best

Kangaroo Island gets most of its rain over winter. So when there was a “Winter Waterfall Walk” I figured the waterfall wasn’t likely to be giving us much action in late autumn. Despite this our first activity of the morning was this walk. We saw a couple of the rare Glossy Black cockatoos as well as plenty of other birds and of course Tamar Wallabies.


Tom and the winter waterfall

What got us really excited was that the wind has stopped and there was sunshine!


Winter waterfall walk with blue sky!

After checking into our cottage at the Cape Borda Lighthouse we headed out on what seemed to be one of the more challenging bushwalk on KI; the Ravine des Casoars. Or the Valley of the Dwarf Emus.. or something like that. Much easier to talk about dwarf emus – which were extinct on KI before permanent white settlement apparently. This was a pleasant  walk. Tom got quite excited as there was a Cape Barren Goose on the beach, but it flew off before he got any decent photos.


Ravine des Casoars hike

Not content with two walks under our belt, we did the Clifftop hike just before sunset. We just couldn’t get enough of the pleasant weather!


Clifftop walk, Cape Borda


Hartley Hut, Cape Borda

It was a lovely sunset, and we had views from the kitchen window.


Sunset and Cape Borda lighthouse

The highlight of the trip was playing Scrabble that night. I don’t play Scrabble very often because I’m not very good at it. I opened with OVARIES, and later on Tom very conveniently put down FOYER allowing me to create BEAUTIFY. I’m not sure I’ve ever cleared my rack before so to do it twice was exciting. The cherry on the cake was that I beat Tom :)

scrabble board

The scrabble board

The next day we were back to the grey weather we were used to, but at least there was no wind. We started off visiting Scotts Cove Lookout.


Beam me up Scotty?

Then we did the Harveys Return Hike – definitely the biggest hill of the island.


Track down to Harveys Return


The old crane stand for unloading lighthouse keeper supplies


zebra schist

The road through to the Flinders Chase National Park office was the worst of the dirt roads we drove on, with a lose surface and lots of corrugations. After getting our Parks Pass we headed out to Remarkable Rocks which were indeed remarkable.


Num, num, num


Remarkable Rocks

The Admirals Arch Walk next to the Cape du Coedic lighthouse is next to the a Long-nosed Fur Seal colony. The boardwalk around to the Admirals Arch got us quite close to the seal pups (see Tom’s photos). They were good fun to watch. We spent two hours watching them before heading to our accommodation at May’s Cottage (our third heritage accom). We pulled into the driveway for May’s Cottage and there was a Cape Barren Goose so Tom thrust the camera at me and I’m trying to take photos from the passenger seat. It wanders off so we give up and drive in. Only to find there are hundreds of them on the lawn outside the cottage… so that lost Tom for the rest of the afternoon.


Two of the many Cape Barren Geese outside May’s Cottage


Heritage accom – from when men were shorter!

I probably should have pulled Tom away from the geese earlier as the sun was already setting when we set off on the Platypus Waterholes Walk. Despite being dusk and there not being a lot of water in most of the waterholes we didn’t see any platypus. It was well and truly dark by the time we made our way back to the cottage. Fortunately we had taken our torches but the myriad geese, kangaroos and wallabies that were scattered across our route were less than impressed with being disturbed!

The next morning we did a repeat of the Platypus Waterholes walk – this time not marching to beat the dark. Sadly the only platypus we saw was the one in the picture below.


The closest we got


Platypus waterhole. Come out, come out, wherever you are

We spent the last couple of days eating, drinking and relaxing as a result of our charity auction accommodation.


The photographer in action


Coastal walking


Coastal walking – Cape Younghusband

We did manage to do a section of the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail between Cape Younghusband and Hanson Bay.


A different sort of KI kangaroo

We snuck in a visit to The Islander tasting room before our ferry. The return trip was much calmer than the way over which was nice.


Back on the mainland

We had a great time catching up with Nic & Craig in Adelaide that night. The rain was coming down when we left the next day, but stopped not far out of town. We had morning tea in Murray Bridge, lunch in Renmark, before eventually making our way to Mildura where we’d been lucky enough to score free accommodation (thanks Chris’ Mum!).


Latte art in Murray Bridge


Lunch on the Murray in Renmark. Before Tom was surrounded by seagulls and a duck.


Sunset on the Murray in Mildura

Once we’d headed inland we enjoyed having some sun and blue skies after what felt like a very grey week on KI. After ticking off Jaycee Park Markets, Lock 11 and coffee in Mildura we didn’t end up getting to Mungo National Park until almost midday. No time to waste we almost immediately set off on the 70km self-drive loop of the park.


Utah or Mungo?

Emus were a bit of a novelty for us and there were plenty in the area.


Lots of emus around the park


Namibia or Mungo?


“Walls of China”


Sunset on the Walls of China

The stars were excellent as you’d expect. The following day we finished reading all of the information boards at the Zanci Woolshed and the Visitors Centre before heading to Balranald. We had lunch in Yanga National Park and then visited another historic woolshed. Then we visited Yanga Lake for a walk and some bird spotting. We spent the night in Hay. Both of us were awake at 5:30am (despite an intended 7am alarm) so we ended up hitting the road in the dark. Breakfast in West Wyalong at 8am seemed quite reasonable, followed by coffee in Cowra at 11am, then lunch in Bathurst (with a visit to Gaby). We had dinner in Blackheath before eventually getting back to Sydney about 9pm. A big day of driving.

From To km cumulative
Sydney Canberra 322 322
Canberra Rutherglen 389 711
Rutherglen Rutherglen 0 711
Rutherglen Northern Grampians 501 1212
Northern Grampians Penola (Coonawarra) 228 1440
Penola (Coonawarra) Penola (Coonawarra) 45 1485
Penola (Coonawarra) Adelaide 508 1993
Adelaide Cape Willoughby 146 2139
Cape Willoughby Vivonne Bay 130 2269
Vivonne Bay Cape Borda 120 2389
Cape Borda Flinders Chase National Park 80 2469
Flinders Chase National Park Hanson Bay 20 2489
Hanson Bay Hanson Bay 0 2489
Hanson Bay Adelaide 246 2735
Adelaide Mildura 430 3165
Mildura Mungo National Park 193 3358
Mungo National Park Hay 308 3666
Hay Sydney 752 4418

Most expensive petrol – Vivonne Bay 182.9c/l

Burra Korain Head (April 2018)

A lovely walk out along Burra Korain Ridge gave us speccy views of the Grose Valley in several directions.


Gross Valley views


Tom at our morning tea spot

After morning tea we retraced some of our steps and the headed west towards Victoria Creek.


Pagodas galore – who knew?

We had lunch on the cliffs above Victoria Creek.


Carl & Tom at our lunch spot

After lunch we left Tom to head back the way we came and the rest of us headed steeply down into the creek.


It wasn’t all views, there was some creek bashing


And some very pretty sections of creek


Victoria Creek

After we got to the creek then it was up the other side. The vegetation was fairly challenging.


Some fairly arduous bush-bashing

Before we made it to the base of the cliff line which we followed round until a break.



And I finally got to Odin Head the way I had planned to go a couple of years ago. We met a couple of other bushwalkers there who we had a good chat with.


And then views back to where we came from

And luckily for us when we got to Victoria Falls Road they offered us a life back to our cars (Tom was meant to pick us up but had gone adventuring on his way out so was running a little late).

Easter 2018

We may not have had a particularly active Easter this year (by our standards) but it was a lot more active than the last 3 Easters where I think we managed one day walk across all three long weekends!

We met up with Andy on Friday and after much deliberation while we crawled in traffic up the mountains eventually settled on Mt Piddington for our climbing. Andy’s climbing skills are far superior to Tom & mine, but he graciously humoured us by leading some easy/moderate graded climbs.


Views from above the Piddo Crag



Andy leading S.S.C.C.1 *** 14


Tom on S.S.C.C.1

Somehow with our late start, 3 people climbing, and no particular deadlines we managed to get to late afternoon having only climbed SSCC1 and Hocus Pocus.

On Saturday we did the Grand Canyon Loop bushwalk with Andy, Chris & Liz and family. The car park was pretty insane but despite that the walk didn’t feel too crowded. It was the first time I’d actually done the full loop – even though I’ve walked the section from the bottom of Jugglers Canyon to the Grand Canyon abseil at least half a dozen times.

Sunday post-Easter Egg hunt was adventure time for Mala! Mt York the venue for her first abseiling experience (incidentally the same place Tom taught me to abseil some 14 years ago).


Prepping to abseil


Mala and Liz abseiling

After that Andy and Tom set up a couple of top-ropes. Liz & I warmed up on Lishenback (** 10) then eventually both made it up Birds Nest (15). We farewelled Liz & Chris & fam then escaped the beating sun at New York.

Andy led up Spoonbender (15) for me. Then I had a go at following him up Illusory (19) but eventually conceded defeat.


Andy leading Illusory (19) (I think!)

I watched with interest as he climbed a couple of routes which looked pretty impossible (to me).


Andy on Spanking de Sade (*** 21)


Clipping the final bolt on Spanking de Sade


Andy on Are You Loathsome Tonight (*** 20)

With the daylight savings change it was almost dark when we got back to the cars and were most surprised to have to crawl back to Blackheath in the heavy traffic!

An most enjoyable weekend with great friends.

Box Vale Tramway (March 2018)

We needed to back in Sydney for a social engagement in the evening so this walk in Mount Alexandra Reserve near Mittagong was the perfect length. After a fair bit of rain in the preceding weeks the creeks were flowing, the tracks were slippery and the leeches were out in force.


One of the old cuttings


Following an old tramway makes for gentle flat walking!


Tunnel under the rocks


View from the tunnel


Views down the Nattai River Valley


The steep incline down to Box Vale Creek


Crossing the Nattai


Fallen trees made things a bit trickier in places


The Natural Arch obscured by a large amount of flood debris


Tom at the top of Forty Foot Falls


The cave behind Forty Foot Falls


Tom taking a shower


Hidden Valley (March 2018)

It’s always nice to explore a new area – no one on the trip had been into this area of Morton National Park before. The first challenge was finding the Sassafras entrance and driving along the road.


The gate at the turn-off on Braidwood Road


At the NP entrance

That successfully negotiated we then had a long and fairly boring fire trail bash, though Dee and Alex did manage to have a ‘swim’ in a small creek we passed along the way. Things started getting more interesting when we got nearer to The Vines and the vegetation changed from low heath to rainforest.


Clive in the forest (trying to avoid leeches!)


As usual a plume of smoke follows Alex around


Alex surveying the land at lunch

It was nice to be on a track rather than fire trail as we headed down to the Hidden Valley turnoff.


Hidden Valley turn off

Five of us headed into Hidden Valley, visiting Dark Brothers Cave and scrambling up onto Sturgiss Mountain where we enjoyed wonderful views.


Dark Brothers Cave (I presume?)


Views from Sturgiss Mountain – Pigeon House unmistakeable in the distance


Descending Sturgiss Mountain, views over Styles Plain


Clive on a scrambling section of the descent

Returning to our packs at the Hidden Valley turnoff we headed to Styles Creek where I was hoping we’d find a campsite. Fortunately there was – quite a luxurious one at that! Having been in Eucalypt forest for much of the walk it was great to come out onto the flats where there were great views of the surrounding features.


The team at camp


Sturgiss Mountain at sunset


Quiltys Mountain overlooking Styles Creek

The temperatures indicated we’d tipped into Autumn with most of us slightly under done on the warmth front overnight. There was a lot of dew but my borrowed bivvy bag did a good job of keeping me dry.


Breakfast time

The second day we just had a retrace of our route (minus the Hidden Valley excursion) from Saturday.


Alex crossing a side creek. Is the log an old bridge?

It was a long, hot walk back along the fire trail.


The long, hot fire trail bash back to the cars

We were all very happy to get to the pub in Nowra for a beer and dinner!

A great walk to get a feel for the area and start planning some further walks.

Arabanoo Creek (Feb 2018)

This was Vivien’s third attempt to run this trip with extreme heat and wet thwarting the previous two. I was a johnny-come-lately to the event not having been on the list for either of the earlier trips. Injuries and life brought our starting line-up down to 5, some defectors in a rival party of 5 taking a much easier trip to Box Creek Falls.

Alex started the weekend well by forgetting both his bushwalking clothes and his sleeping bag. Fortunately Tom had brought two sleeping bags up to Kanangra so Alex was able to borrow one. We were away from the Walls carpark just after 8am. Sierra had never been out on the plateau and was soon pointing out landmarks to us… just the completely wrong ones.  We took our time enjoying the views from the plateau lookout before heading off towards Coal Seam Cave.

We had an early first morning tea at Cottage Rock and then we were off track down to Arabanoo Creek.


Jo taking in views below Cottage Rock

We were joking about whether there would be any water in Arabanoo Creek and were pleasantly surprised to arrive at a pool. The going was pretty straight-forward as it was largely dry and we could in the main just march down the middle of the creek. I managed to trip over and land heavily on my right hand so we decided it might be a good time to have morning tea.


Jo on one of the trickier sections

There were a couple of scrambly sections which we had to negotiate fairly early. With my right-hand somewhat out of action this upped the difficulty level for me. When it came to skirting round pools for the sake of keeping my feet dry I, for once, was the first to plunge in. At one stage Alex decided he was going to throw his pack across the pool… after a few swings he realised the pack wasn’t going to make it and tried to stop… next minute both Alex and his pack were in the pool having lost his balance. Fortunately nothing hurt other than pride.


Vivien still laughing over Alex’s fall into this pool (from about where Vivien is standing)

After that pool I decided to take the high route and managed to avoid getting more than knee deep but the others went down the creek getting chest-deep wet. After his unintended ‘jump’ Alex decided it was time to hit the heavy stuff – out came a can of berry cider (never to early to start drinking?!).


Other than the hat you’d think he’d got lost from the streets of Newtown


Vivien admiring one of the more dramatic sections in Arabanoo Creek


Our only mandatory swim


A planned jump this time

After a slightly canyon like section the creek flattened out. Then the snakes began. Red-belly black after red-belly black after red-belly black. Ever pool had a snake. We learnt that if the person in front was taking an odd line down the dry creek it was probably because there was a snake in the obvious line.




Not sure if this guy was alive or not, certainly wasn’t scuttling away

Eventually we made it to Christys Creek which had perhaps even less water than Arabanoo Creek. Then a few hundred metres to the junction with the Kowmung where Vivien had promised a “decent campsite”. I was less than convinced of the ‘decency’ at the stony spot we initially ended up at, but fortunately Jo discovered the real campsite slightly upstream. The Kowmung was in a pretty sad state – no flow, just large, somewhat unappealing, pools.


Relaxing at camp

Vivien & I did manage to find a pool that was over waist deep for a swim which was fantastic. With a Park Fire Ban in place there was no fire to ward off the mosquitoes that were out in force. The women seemed to receive a lot more attention from the mossies than the guys and ultimately that was what sent us all off too bed. I had a bivvy on loan from Bill which the others were pretty disparaging off. After some initial difficulty sorting out how to best have my pack propped up to keep the bivvy off my face it came good. I had a brilliant night, safe from the mosquitoes and not having to swelter in my sleeping bag.


Given how miniscule Alex’s sleeping mat & pillow are I can see why he doesn’t bother sleeping on them.


The mighty Kowmung. Or where it should be.

The next day was going to a be a long slog back up to the cars so we got an early start. The first bit of uphill was the most unpleasant as we were directly in the sun.


Early steep climb on Stonehag Hill


The most technical section of scrambling we did, on Stonehag hill


Views over the Kanangra-Boyd wilderness


Morning tea and trying to match features to the map. Mt Colong of course is unmistakable through the trees.


More scrambling to get to Arabanoo Peak


Lunch in a cave below Mount Colboyd


Descending into the saddle at the other end of Mount Colboyd


Grass trees on Marrilman Heath

The Box Creek party were waiting for us (well, out at the lookout) at the Walls carpark when we got back. We had dinner in Lawson on the way home – a good weekend had by all.

Mother Woila – Jillaga Creek (Jan 2018)

I think John had been planning a revisit to Deua National Park every since our last trip in 2015. We had 5 returners from the 2015 trip plus Alan to give us 6 which is a good party size. This time John had a 4 day route in mind – to deal with unfinished business with Mother Woila on the first day, then see some new parts of Deua for the rest of the trip.

Most of us drove down the night before and camped. Some took the opportunity on the morning of day 1 to read the email with the details for the first time… and realise that we were meant to be carrying water for the first 2 days! Fortunately between extra water in cars and Currambene Creek everyone was able to load up sufficiently (though there was some disagreement about what the ‘right’ amount of water was). The first challenge of the day was getting cars to Dampier Trig. We all made it, but John’s car was smelling quite unpleasant and issuing smoke by the time we arrived. Oh well! That would be a problem for 4 days time!

And so we were off. We quickly picked up an old fire trail off Dampier Trig which took us out towards Mother Woila.


Following an old firetrail from Dampier Trig

Gladly dumping our heavy packs we set off on a side trip to get onto Mother Woila. A couple of snakes in quick succession (black? & tiger) made us a little jumpy but it wasn’t long before we were having morning tea overlooking our objective.


Sierra at morning tea with views of Mother Woila

We headed down to the saddle where there was some discussion about how to ascend. In the end Alex & Alan headed off to the right-hand side while the rest of us skirted around the left with the intention of heading up the gully between Mother Woila and Little Woila. The siren-call of the cliff face drew us in though and before we knew it, despite having good beta that there was no easy route up this face, I was half way up a cliff with Bill valiantly following me. I was hoping John & Sierra would get to a similar spot by an easier route and we could take their route down…. unfortunately (or fortunately?) they had backed off much earlier and so were at the bottom. I was now at a vertical face I had no chance of getting up and I didn’t really fancy reversing what we’d just done, but that was what needed to happen. Fortunately I had the only handline in my pack. A few pitches with the handline around some marginal trees we were back at the bottom of the cliff. By this point Alan & Alex were already at the top waving at us… guess they were going to be waiting a while!


Bill bravely following me up an ill-advised attempt to get up Mother Woila

We eventually made our way up the gully, after a couple of attempts up minor gullies, and out to the rocky outcrop on Mother Woila. It had been very warm and humid as we’d made our way up and thunder rumbled overhead as a storm brewed. A few photos, an essay in the logbook by Sierra, and then we decided we’d better get off before it started raining. We were pretty happy that Alex & Alan thought they had a suitable route for the whole party to descend rather than reversing our longer approach.


Views of the approach ridge from Mother Woila


Tabletop from Mother Woila


Not many (different) visitors to the log book in the last 2 years!


Chocolate + hot day = winning combination


Bill in the top of the chute descending off Mother Woila


Looking back up the top of the chute


Sierra in the lower chute

The rain largely held off until we were back in the saddle.


Alex in the saddle as the weather closes in


Moody Tabletop

With my unsuccessful climbing foray, and the heat taking its toll, we didn’t get back to our packs until 4pm. As it was raining we figured it was best to get to Horseshoe Point rather than have lunch. Finally at Horseshoe Point at 5pm we had lunch – has food ever tasted so good? The storm had cleared by then so we enjoyed drying out in the sun.


After the storm clears Sierra at Horseshoe Point


Mother Woila through the trees from Horseshoe Point

We had a pleasant time around the fire before turning in fairly early. The rain came back not long after we went to bed.


Camp at Horseshoe Point (yes, Bill is available for fashion advice any time)


The weather comes in again

We had a long day ahead so we got away from camp at 7am. The ridge between Horseshoe Point and Tabletop gave excellent views in the early morning light.


Looking out to Scouts Hat


Sierra scrambling with Mother Woila in the morning sun


The ridge to Tabletop

Even with the early start it was oppressively humid and it was soon clear our original objective was out of the question. A new plan was hatched which eliminated several kilometres of ridge walking and took us to Jillaga Creek sooner than expected.


Looking back on our route: Tabletop (left) and the ridge to Horseshoe Point (right)


Something didn’t like this tree!


First view of Jillaga Creek, and what a sweet view it was

We hoped that Jillaga Creek would be running and it was music to the ears when we heard the flow before we could even see it. The easiest walking was in the creek so that’s where we walked. It was a beautiful section of creek surrounded by ferns and easy walking on the rocky bed.


Easy walking in the upper reaches of Jillaga Creek

Another storm came through as we walked down the creek. We kept going keeping an eye out for campsites. There were a number of single sites but not much for 6 people. With the rain still teeming down we settled on a site about 4pm.


Another storm comes in

After standing around waiting for the storm to blow through for quite some time we eventually decided to set up. Teamwork made for a relatively dry set up and it was amazing how good it felt to be under the fly (even if it was in the mud) and out of the rain.


Bill setting up the biv in ‘dry’ conditions

Eventually the rain did stop but everything was soaked through. Bill did a grand job getting a fire going and drying out wood. I was a little surprised to pull out my silk inner liner from my pack and find I could squeeze a considerable amount of water out of it. Note to self: pack liner is useless! Fortunately with the heat from the fire I was able to dry it and my Thermarest out quickly. In the end we had a pleasant evening and there was some damage inflicted on the 2 litres of port which Alex had brought.


Drying out after the storm


Camp night 2


Delicious dehy meal Nicole made me as a thank you for lending her our dehydrator

It was interesting to see how much the creek had risen from when we arrived to the next morning. After the fact reviews of the weather data showed Snowball had 13mm and Bendethera had 21mm so I guess we got somewhere in between those numbers. (and our first day Snowball had 9mm, and Bendethera had 2.4mm)


Jillaga Creek early on day 3


Love a party where everyone brings a map!

We kept walking downstream on Jillaga Creek until we reached a junction with a major side creek. This junction was our original planned night 3 camp, but we were here for morning tea on day 3 instead. At this point we split the group. John & Bill headed down Jillaga Creek towards Bendethera with the hope of getting a lift back to Dampier Trig. The rest of us set off on the planned day 4 exit.


Parting of the group

The first part of the exit was walking up the side creek. It was beautiful with lots of little cascades, a few deep plunge pools and a lot of extremely slippery rocks.


Alex enjoying our side creek


Sussing out exit options at another lovely cascade


Sierra and I take a high route to avoid getting out packs wet



We expected to hit an impassable waterfall which would be our cue to head on to the ridge, and sure enough we did.


Don’t think we’re getting up that…


Shower time

We backtracked downstream and had some lunch before filling up water and scrambling up a steep loose slope to attain the ridge proper.


Heading back downstream to an exit


Just before we exited on to the ridge

The rest of the day was all about going up. We were at about 400m in the creek and we needed to get to Dampier Trig at 1239m. And there was a fair bit of undulating on the ridges as we went. We were fortunate it was overcast and somewhat cooler than the previous 2 days, even so I was constantly dripping with sweat as we made our way up.


Spectacular country


Very smooth (& colourful when wet) eucalyptus


Nice ridge walking


700m of climbing done, only a couple of hundred metres of vertical to go (thank goodness!)


Conglomerate outcrop

I was running on empty by the time we made it back to the old fire trail leading up to Dampier Trig. It was great news to find that John was already there. They had made good time down Jillaga Creek and then John had got a lift back to the car while Bill had walked most of the fire trail from the Bendethera Ford and was only a couple of kilometres away. Soon we were all reunited just in time for yet more rain. With the dirt roads successfully navigated back to the main road most of us headed to the Braidwood Pub for dinner and a very late, yet a day early, arrival back to Sydney. An excellent few days in magnificent country with a great group.

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