Category Archives: Bushwalking

Compagnoni Pass (2017-08-12/13)

I organised a weekend trip in the Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness with SBW. I had a lot of takers, probably because it was a Q (Qualifying) walk for Prospective Members of the club. Despite being full weeks in advance there were a number of pull-outs (including Tom – now blacklisted!) so in the end there were 6 in the group which was a good number.

Our route took us from Kanangra Walls Lookout out to the plateau. We had made very good time initially and had an early (9am) morning tea at Cottage Rock.

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Enjoying views from the plateau first thing Saturday morning

We had a second morning tea at the Roots Ridge turn-off before continuing down Gingra Range. A slight navigational error on Fourth Top gave the group an extra 120m of ascent/descent, for which they were highly grateful, before we had lunch on the ridge between Fourth and Fifth Top. After lunch we descended to the Kowmung River where we filled up on water for the rest of the trip.

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Darryl contemplating having to carry 5 litres of water up the hill for a high camp

With considerably heavier packs the last couple of hours were a 650m slog up Willa Spur. We made camp in a nice cave just on 5pm. Wagyu biltong was the highlight of happy hour (Tom wished he’d come along after I told him about that). I threatened no one was allowed to go to bed before 7:30pm and despite the solid day in the legs we all made it through till 9pm!

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Tent City, Darryl & Helen in “Werewolf Cave”

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Early morning light hitting the cliff

The first task of the morning was ascending Compagnoni Pass. It would have been a much simpler ascent if the rock wasn’t covered in Casuarina needles.

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The bottom section of Compagnoni Pass

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Helen climbing the lower section of Compagnoni Pass

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Helen at the very top of Compagnoni Pass, along with the waiting paparazzi

From there we traversed Ti Willa Plateau before having morning tea on Cloudmaker.

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Bill & Helen on Cloudmaker

From Cloudmaker we were in well-trodden territory and it was straight-forward, if undulating, walking for the rest of the day.

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Beautiful Kanangra

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Helen climbing Gordon Smith Pass

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Helen, Bill, Nigel, Sebastian, Darryl

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Almost back to the cars. Seasonal burn-off smoke in the distance.

We made it back to the cars at 3:15pm. An excellent weekend in beautiful country.

Kakadu (July 2017)

After our walking and paddling in Katherine Gorge we had a couple of days off before we joined our SBW group in Darwin. We spent a very enjoyable day at Umbrawarra Gorge – lots of rock-hopping down a gorge which just kept getting deeper and deeper.

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Are we having fun yet?

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Tom trying to get around a pool

Tom didn’t believe me that we might get wet but there were some compulsory wades – no great hardship when it’s over 30°C.

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Conceding defeat and wading!

Back in Darwin we met up with the other 9 people in our group and hopped in a mini-bus which dropped us off at Maguk (Barramundi Gorge). We had a short walk before we made camp. The real walking started on day 2. Disaster almost immediately as we managed to become separated from 2 members of group within 20 minutes of leaving camp! Many ‘day-o’s’ later we were reunited and actually on our way. Much of the first day was on a fairly well-formed (but unmarked) track.

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Day 2 – the start of the real walking

We had a delightful lunch at the “Jade Pool” before spending most of the afternoon at Picaninny Pools.

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Tom cooling off in Jade Pool

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David pointing out Picaninny Pools where we spent much of the afternoon

I’m not sure what possessed me but I did a 6m jump – but I wasn’t standing at the top waiting for the photographers to get in position – I was either going straight away or not at all!

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Peter’s makeshift trivet and contraband stainless steel billy.

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Tom enjoying the daily ritual of rum and lemon barley

Day 3 we left Barramundi Creek and headed across to Gronophyllum Creek.

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The party at the point where we left Barramundi Creek

There were many beautiful waterholes on this creek but we pushed past many of them to have a late morning tea at the “Lap Pool”. [Though it seemed there were multiple “Lap Pools” depending on who you spoke to]

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Everyone enjoying the lap pool

More swims in crystal-clear water before lunch at another delightful pool. We camped earlier than intended as progress had not been as fast we would have liked.

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Our campsite on night 3

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Dawn over Gronophyllum Creek

Day 4 we intended to get going early so were up well before dawn. One of the party had taken some heavy falls the previous day and wasn’t faring too well. We waited for a helicopter to take him out. Subsequently we started walking a fair bit later than planned. Eventually we were on our way down Gronophyllum Creek before crossing over the flood plains (very quickly as they had been burnt) to the exquisite Cascade Creek. Up until this point I’d been a bit ho-hum about the trip. I felt that the creeks we’d walked through in the Kimberley were as good, if not better, than what we’d been passing.

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Mary walking next to the Gronophyllum Palms which feature heavily along Gronophyllum Creek (hence its name)

Cascade Creek is spectacular. Unfortunately as we were trying to make up time from the previous day we couldn’t spend too long here – only 2 hours to enjoy the many jumps, water slide and beautiful pools.

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Tom above the first few pools in Cascade Creek

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Peter showing us how the water slide is done

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Patsy jumping

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Kim jumping (and Alex not jumping… it was meant to be a synchronised jump)

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Alex jumping

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Grace preferring to sunbake

Mid-afternoon we reluctantly headed upstream through an attractive gorge with lots of rock-hopping.

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Walking along Cascade Creek

Again we camped earlier than intended as it was getting late in the day and we were still over an hour from our planned campsite. Our spontaneous campsite was attractive but a little slopey.

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Grace getting rum & lemon barley ready at camp on night 4

We had an early start on day 5 to to continue making up lost time from the previous two days. The party split – 3 of us continued up the gorge, with an expected compulsory swim (pack float), while the remainder headed cross-country to cut off a bend. With some judicious scrambling we managed to avoid swimming but subsequently missed some art work which we were looking for ‘after the packfloat’.

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Patsy and Tom carefully edging around a pool

Patsy got through all the tricky sections only to slip on the last climb-down and took a full dunking (with a non waterproofed pack!). The others had beaten us to the rendezvous point by a few minutes, where they were ‘camelling up’ for the cross-country trek to come. The first 8km or so was easy walking through burnt or low vegetated country. I was feeling confident we’d get into camp in the early afternoon which would be a nice change from the previous few days. We had a dry lunch at 1pm and then continued on. The country got more difficult, progress slowed in a tangle of small tributaries and head-high spear grass. It was after 4pm when we finally found ourselves at the top of the (dry) waterfall we were planning to camp at. There wasn’t a lot of water at the top but a large pool at the bottom. Peter and I headed down to check out the camping options – I was relieved to find an acceptable flat campsite next to the pool. It was a long, tough day with no swims so we were happy to get into camp and have a wash.

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Everyone happy to be at camp after a tough day

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The dry waterfall and large pool

Day 6 surely had to provide some relief. This wasn’t the trip I was expecting!? Where were the early arrivals at camp, followed by multiple cups of tea, swims and general relaxation for the afternoon?

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More cross-country walking on day 6

Fortunately we made good time in pretty easy walking country and were at a lovely campsite by 1:30pm. Everyone enjoyed the chance to chill out after some pretty long days.

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Tom about to do some washing (hence being fully clothed) given we had the afternoon to dry everything

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Grace about to produce a very tasty paella

Day 7 started with a short walk to the start of Koolpin Gorge (Jarrangbarnmi).

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Crossing Koolpin Creek

Once in the gorge some of us opted to pack float where we could while others boulder-hopped. Some people’s packs were more waterproof than others…  fortunately a leisurely lunch break provided time to dry out wet sleeping bags.

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Julie-Anne pack-floating while Alex looks on from dry land

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3 of the non-pack floaters choosing their own adventure above the water

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Tom doing a ‘depth test’ jump

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Having checked the depth he now jumps from about 7m

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Having done his fun jumps he now jumps in from a lower ledge with his pack

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Looking out over the floodplain from near the end of Koolpin Gorge

Our last camp was on the flood plains so we savoured the final swim above the last waterfall before making camp in the late afternoon.

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Final swim in Koolpin Gorge

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Following the tourist track out of the gorge

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Final night camp

The last day we only had 5km to get to Flying Fox Crossing on the South Alligator River where the mini-bus would pick us up. It was good walking and we made it with half an hour to spare. From there it was what felt like a long drive back to Darwin. The trip finished with the buffet at Seafood on Cullen taking in the sunset over the water.

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Sunset in Darwin

 

Katherine Gorge (July 2017)

We signed up for a week-long SBW trip going to Kakadu and figured it was a waste to come to the NT for just a week. So what else was there to do? Having just bought packrafts Tom suggested we could packraft Katherine Gorge. We decided to spend 2 days walking along the tracks on the Southern rim, and then 3 days paddling in the gorge. The downside of this plan was that we were going to be carrying heavy packs to start with as we would have all our food plus the packrafts (~3kg including paddle).

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So we set off with around 19kg packs (lots of drinking water as well) from the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre early on the first morning. We got good views of Gorge 1 & 2 from Pat’s Lookout and Jedda’s Rock.

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Tom with Gorge 2 in the background

The first day was hard work, with our heavy packs, and 34°C temperature forecast. We were glad to get to the Lily Ponds for lunch and a swim. After the Lily Ponds we still had a bit of walking to get to Smitt Rock our campsite for the night. The bushwalkers campsite at Smitt Rock is set high above the gorge with excellent views. We were pleased to find the creek next to the campsite running so didn’t have to worry about drinking water. To have a swim we headed down the marked track to the river.

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Tom demonstrates his preferred way of entering water of unknown depth, with Smitt Rock behind him.

After lounging around in the shade by the river for a while we pioneered a different route back up to camp. We climbed a couple of waterfalls in the small creek that was running past the campsite to return more directly.

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Campsite at Smitt Rock

There were plenty of sites at Smitt Rock and we were the only ones there. We choose the site closest to the cliffs which had lovely views for happy hour and sunset. It was the first of four very warm nights – not sure if it was a micro-climate thing near the gorge but it never really cooled down.

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Sunset from Smitt Rock campsite

On our second day we walked from Smitt Rock towards 8th Gorge. The track is marked with arrows the whole way. There is not much of a track on the ground and we spent quite a lot of time looking for the next arrow.

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Arrows mark the route every 50-100m. Not always that easy to spot!

Having morning tea shortly before the junction with the Jawoyn track we met another group of bushwalkers. They had been at 8th Gorge the previous night. We had a brief chat and they mentioned there was a small stagnant pool at 8th Gorge and when quizzed said there was no running water.

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Tom with his heavy pack (the yellow thing is the packraft)

Despite it being a hot day and both of us feeling the effects of the heat and our heavy packs we decided to go on a side-trip to Jawoyn Valley. Glad to ditch the packs we found some of the art sites that were shown on the map, and maybe some that weren’t shown.

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Tom with some of the Jawoyn Valley art

Tom decided we should go ‘off piste’ on the way back rather than follow the trail. We walked down a fairly uninspiring dry creek but were delighted when it turned into a few beautiful waterholes. Only problem we hadn’t brought lunch with us so couldn’t linger for too long!

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Enjoying an unexpected waterhole!

We spotted the toilet at the 8th Gorge campsite far sooner than expected. And then were most surprised to come to a large waterhole which had a waterfall running (ok, maybe trickling) into it. So much for the small stagnant pool and no running water! It just illustrates how different people’s perceptions can be based on their experience.

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Tom filling water bladders from the running waterfall, next to the beautiful waterhole.

About 50m downstream was a waterfall dropping 30m or so down to the river. It was a beautiful spot for happy hour. I’d left dinner rehydrating in a ziplock bag underneath my hat. Unfortunately the crows were smart enough to find it so on return from happy hour some of dinner was spread across our sandy campsite. We salvaged what we could and resolved to be more careful of crows in the future.

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Happy hour spot, looking down 7th & 8th Gorges

The next morning we dumped everything out of the tent. Tom went off to take photos from the happy hour spot and I went off to the toilet. When I returned the crows had been at it again. My small ziplock bag of toiletries had been dispersed across the sand. Beware of the crows!

I was excited to change gears from bushwalking to paddling. While the bushwalking had been good it was very hot and being on the water would (hopefully!) be cooler. Down we went to the gorge and pumped up our packrafts.

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Tom inflating his packraft

It wasn’t far upstream to the 9th Gorge campsite. We tried to put our packs where they’d stay in the shade and then continued upstream. Today was just about exploring upstream from 9th Gorge as far as we could get. We had a few portages but the packrafts are pretty easy to tuck under your arm so they didn’t take long – particularly since we only had small daypacks with us. Eventually we came to a big boulder block up in the gorge. Tom explored up a little way and concluded there wasn’t much point taking the rafts any further. We continued on foot.

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Final stop upstream for the rafts

It was a fun section of river to negotiate on foot. We climbed up to a high point for expansive views. I’m not sure what gorge number we got to – maybe 11 or 12? The remote feeling was somewhat tarnished by the frequent helicopters buzzing around with tourists. They were a constant feature every day – quite intrusive.

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Tom above part of what would be a long portage section

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Looking downstream from the boulder block-up. The rafts have been left on the rocks where the water starts in the foreground.

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Tom paddling back to 9th Gorge

The 9th Gorge campsite is a big sandbank on the river. It gets full sun most of the day and only has one small tree for shade. We got back mid-afternoon and decided to hang out in the shade on the other side of the gorge until the sun had lost a bit of its intensity.

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Tom waiting for the sun to go down a bit

9th Gorge Campsite is the only official campsite that doesn’t have a toilet. I guess that means it doesn’t get too much traffic. Climbing out onto the rim in the morning was a good excuse to get some photos.

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Looking downstream over 9th Gorge campsite. Our tent/Tom’s raft visible middle-left.

It was a full moon the day we started the walk so we got some lovely views with the moon.

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Sunrise from the cliffs about 9th Gorge Campsite

The next day was a short one! We only had to get from 9th Gorge campsite to 6th Gorge campsite. The timings on the official canoeing guide were generous – and on the portages we were a lot faster with our light rafts. We gave ourselves a leisurely start but even so were at the campsite by 11am. If we were planning the trip again I’d either combine our day 3 & 4, or else plan to camp at the canoeists campsite at Smitt Rock on night 4 instead of 6th Gorge.

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Tom not going anywhere fast on some not quite deep enough rapids.

It had been quite breezy on day 3, and the wind got more intense on day 4. After arriving at 6th Gorge Campsite we had a bit of an explore. There was a small waterfall (or spring?) running at the back of the camp (would have a pool earlier in the season) which was good for drinking water. We then climbed up on the cliffs to get some views down the gorge. As the wind was unpleasant we retreated back to the waterfall and lazed about there for the afternoon where it was a bit more sheltered.

The previous 3 nights we’d had the campsites to ourselves but not long after lunch another couple arrived. They had paddled up from Gorge 2 with a large esky – which meant they were well provisioned. Turned out they run a EPIRB and satellite phone hire business and I had hired a sat phone from them 2 years ago. I don’t think the kayaks were designed to include 2 people and an esky! It was quite amusing to see them return the next day – the esky got a seat in the kayak and one of them sat on the back with their legs dangling in the water.

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We tucked ourselves away in the trees at 6th Gorge campsite to try and get out of the wind

Our last day was bigger than we would have liked. As the National Park no longer allows paddling in Gorge 1 (due to potential saltwater crocodiles) canoeists have to get the ferry out. I’d tried to book a ferry but was told as we had our own canoes we would have to walk out from Butterfly Gorge. I didn’t pursue the reason for that so I’m not sure if there was any flexibility in that policy.

We had an early start which was lovely, there was no wind and some long paddling sections. I spotted a freshwater crocodile sunning itself near Smitt Rock. When we arrived at the end of Gorge 3 it was a bit of shock. Having seen almost no one for 3 days it was like we were in Pitt St Mall! All of the paddlers who had come across on the 7am ferry were on their way up the gorge. There must have been 50 kayaks, plus a couple of tour boats (and don’t forget the ever present helicopters). Fortunately they were all on their way up the gorge so once we passed them it was back to relative solitude. We stopped for morning tea at Butterfly Gorge and enjoyed chatting with a few day walkers.

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Tom in a long paddling section in Gorge 3

Then it was the final paddling leg to the start of Gorge 2. After drying off our rafts and deflating them all we had left to do was walk out. The ranger we had got our camping permits from told us about an unmarked route we could take from Gorge 2 up to Pat’s Lookout. I’m not sure we followed the exact route she intended but we found our way up a gully and onto the track. We had lunch at Pat’s Lookout and then it was just a few kilometres walk back to the visitor’s centre. A very enjoyable trip.

Prince Regent NP, The Kimberley (June 2017) – Part II

Continued from Part I

The falls were spectacular and we were relieved to know the hardest 2 days of the trip where out of the way.

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Melissah with views down the gorge

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Grace checking out the falls

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Looking down the falls from the top

Ro had ensured happy hour was good on night 6 with a 2L cask of wine in the food drop. That had been her main concern when the bag had rolled off the boulder – did the wine stay intact? It had, the main complaint seemed to be “where was the second cask?”.

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Happy hour on night 6

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Mike holding court

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Sunset over Garimbu Creek

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Camping above the falls on night 6

Unusually there had been a bit of cloud around on day 6 & 7. This provided a magnificent sunrise on day 7.

The morning of day 7 we had a few things missing. Apparently there’s a quoll out there that likes gingernuts, women’s knickers and steel wool.

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Sunrise on day 7

Mike came up with an excellent plan of doing a one-night trip up the creek and then returning to the top of the falls the following day. This meant we could leave a lot of our food behind and avoid heavy packs for a couple of days. The food bags were re-hung (in a more accessible tree) and we headed upstream.

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Views of Garimbu Creek

With a fairly short day ahead we had a leisurely morning tea with lots of jumping by Mike and Tom at a great waterhole.

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Beautiful morning tea spot

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Some of the many wildflowers that were out

Our camp on night 7 was our most intimate of the trip. It was at a wonderful waterhole, almost the definition of serenity (other than when Tom was jumping in!).

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More jumping at camp on night 7

We explored a bit of the nearby country that afternoon.

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Interesting rock formations nearby

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Wandjina art

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Tom about to destroy the reflections… diving for once instead of jumping!

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Camp on night 7

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Camp on night 7

On day 8 we headed back downstream following a slight different route.

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A tricky section of Garimbu Creek

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Grace does a narrow sidle above Garimbu Creek

We camped in a different spot above the falls on night 8 as the spot we’d chosen on night 6 had been a bit of a wind tunnel. The weather which had been quite cool up until night 6 started to warm up so we had a much more pleasant night second time round.

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Camp above the falls on night 8.

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Tom with the falls in early morning sun

On day 9 we descended below the falls – via a side creek a couple of kilometres downstream. We got some great views of the falls on our way out.

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The full falls

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A very pretty, easy-walking, side creek to get back into Garimbu Creek

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Easy walking in the side creek

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Our wonderful campsite for nights 9 and 10

We did a day trip upstream to below the falls in the afternoon. There was some good rock art along the way.

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Tom & Peter checking our some rock art

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Rock art

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Tom jumping below the falls

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Heading back to camp

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Camp night 9 & 10

On day 10 most of us did a day trip downstream to see how far we could get before we would have to swim. The section below was the only time we got wet until the final canal.

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Grace wading

The final canal where swimming was your only option stopped us. We had morning tea and a swim. Tom swam part way down the canal and then climbed up the wall and did a jump (if you look carefully you can see his silhouette in the photo below).

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Looking down the final packfloat at the end of the gorge. If you look carefully you may be able to see Tom jumping part way down.

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Gorgeous waterhole where we swam on the way down and the way back up

Our final day of walking we exited up the side-creek we’d come down on day 9 and then across into another side-creek which cam back to Garimbu Creek below the canal we’d walked down to on day 10. It wasn’t the most pleasant terrain and the temperature seemed to be up a few degrees on previous days. We were all losing the will to walk by the time we got to camp.

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Final night campsite

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Falls below the final campsite

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Final night campsite came with a spa pool

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Sunrise day 12

Our final day we just walked back upstream 100m or so and waited for the chopper to arrive. We were taken back to Mitchell Plateau airstrip, and then a flight back to Kununurra.

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The chopper found us!

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Waiting for our connecting flight

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Very comfortable flight back to Kununurra

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About to land on Lake Kununurra

Back in Kununurra we had a lovely dinner at The Pumphouse, and later that night (with much help from google) we finally finished the crossword we’d been battling with all trip!

crossword An another excellent Kimberley trip. Many thanks for Mike for leading, particularly after Ro left us prematurely on day 4, and to everyone for their excellent company.

Prince Regent NP, The Kimberley (June 2017) – Part I

Getting to The Kimberley region of Australia is a logistics challenge in itself. For Sydney-siders like us, it generally involves flying to Darwin (having to overnight there due to the flight schedules), flying to Kununurra (maybe having to overnight again) and then some other transport to wherever you’re walking. This year’s trip was in the Prince Regent National Park, west of Mitchell Plateau. Once we finally got to Kununurra the adventure started with a 1.5hr flight from Kununurra to the Mitchell Plateau Airstrip.

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Preparing to depart Kununurra

We got great views of the region on the way.

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Views from the plane

From the Mitchell Plateau Airstrip we were then transported by helicopter into the Roe River, via a food drop on Garimbu Creek. We were planning to be out for 12 days/11 nights with us due to get to the food drop on night 6.

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Arriving on the Roe River and our first camp site

We didn’t have far to walk on the first day! In fact we were camping where the chopper dropped us off, which was nice given our packs were full of 6 days of food.

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The other half of the party arriving

Day 2 we started walking down the Roe River.

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Walking down the Roe River

We didn’t get far before we hit these major falls which were a great spot for morning tea and a swim.

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Tom above the falls

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Tom on our way down. The rest of the party sidled down further round on the true right. Tom & I took a more direct route down (which had a couple of tricky sections).

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Tom getting his first (?) water jump of the trip in.

That afternoon we visited the original “Bradshaw” art works.

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Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) rock art

And then we settled down to camp on night 2. The weather was a lot cooler than we were expecting and most of us were cold on the first few nights.

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Night 2 campsite. Lots of almost flat rocks!

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Reflections

Day 3 saw us go cross-country to cut off a couple of loops on the Roe. Unfortunately we saw quite a few cows, including some herds. In theory DPAW does some culling but from the numbers we saw it’s not that effective.

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Cross-country walking day 3

Lunch was had at this lovely set of falls.

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Lunch spot day 3

There were lots of pot-holes around. This one fitted Tom in it!

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Tom in a pothole

That afternoon there was generally easy walking down the river.

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Easy rock slab walking down the Roe River

We found some lovely shady overhangs, which unsurprisingly had rock art in them.

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The party checking out the rock art

And we had a delightful spot to camp for night 3.

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Tom in the kitchen at night 3’s campsite.

Day 4 we continued down the Roe River. The rocky slabs gave way to more sandy country. It was fairly easy going but not particularly exciting. Tom & I went on a detour up Wyulda Creek where we found some lovely waterholes and had a swim.

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Tom on Wyulda Creek

Expecting to find the rest of the party at camp we were surprised when they flagged us down only a short distance from the Wyulda Ck/Roe River junction. Unfortunately one of our group had broken her wrist and the decision had been made to activate one of the PLBs. A chopper picked her up within 90 minutes of the PLB being activated. And so then there were 7…

Subsequently we got to our intended camp later than planned. We were a little surprised when the creek we intended to follow cross-country the next day was a very small, dry channel. Tom & I headed up it to see what was going on and found the larger creek (with some water in it) actually joined the Roe 500m downstream rather than what was shown on the map.

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Our depleted party at camp on night 4. Note the salami, cheese, crackers & olives for entrée.

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Night 4 – our only sandy camp. Not sure if it was due to the sand but it was a very cold night, with plenty of dew.

We had groups dinners on the trip. Each evening’s food was allocated to one person to prepare (everyone doing 1.5 nights over the trip). Night 4 was Melissah’s night and we had a delicious laksa, followed by damper which we filled with honey for dessert.

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Peter & Mike concentrating hard on their damper.

Day 5 we left the Roe to start our cross-country route to Garimbu Creek. DPAW had been burning in the park in May and when we encountered those sections the walking was a lot faster.

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Crossing burnt-out country made the going much easier

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Rock art

Where vegetation hadn’t been burnt then things were slower as you normally couldn’t see where you were putting your feet so a lot of concentration was required.

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An unburnt section

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Scrambling down a creek

We’d had an early start on day 5 as we were going across the tops on what could have been a long day. The going was reasonable, but we’d been looking for a campsite for a while with no options coming up. We were pinning our hopes on a permanent waterhole marked on the creek we were descending. When we arrived at the waterhole it wasn’t quite the picturesque camp we were hoping for. Having been walking for over 8 hours we weren’t keen to walk much further. It wasn’t too bad; there was some sand we could flatten out to sleep on and the water was ok if you cleared the scum off the surface….

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Potential camp on night 5

I had a bit more energy left then most of party so I decided to push on another hundred metres. To my joy and amazement what had been an exclusively bouldery/rocky creek, with little surface water, suddenly gave way to large rock slabs with running water and even some waterholes big enough to swim in! Amazing. Everyone was pretty happy.

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Tom at the lower waterhole which was deep enough for some water jumps

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Our amazingly comfortable campsite for night 5

Day 6 we didn’t have much distance to cover but we were expecting difficult terrain. The terrain didn’t disappoint, we spent 5 hours covering 5km (including breaks). The worst of it in ‘tiger country’ where we were going about 0.5km/hour through deep spinifex and boulders. We were pretty happy when we got to Garimbu Creek and our food drop. When the food drop had been hung in the trees at the start of the trip one of the bags had rolled off a boulder and got a couple of tears in it. We were a bit concerned that this may have made it vulnerable to animals, but while there had been some gnawing the animal seemed to have mainly had a penchant for plastic bags. The only food casualty was a twiggy stick (salami).

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Our food drops hanging in the trees as we had left them 6 days earlier.

go to part 2

Russells Needle & Rocky Waterholes Creek (2017-05-13/14)

I wanted to put a trip on our bushwalking club’s program and I was searching for inspiration when I stumbled across Tom’s list of ‘future walks he’d like to do’. Russells Needle was on it and from there I had the seed for my trip planning. I’d read a couple of trip reports about sketchy ascents of Russells Needle but I figured it was an out and back so if things got beyond people’s comfort level they could just stop! Planning a route out Rocky Waterholes Creek seemed the obvious choice to avoid backtracking. I found a few more sketchy trip reports of people trying to go up Rocky Waterholes Creek so it seemed like a great adventurous option. And thus it went on the program – all pretty unknown.

In the two weeks leading up to my trip I received quite a bit of information regarding the ascent of Russells Needle and also exits out of Rocky Waterholes Creek. While it is great to have information suddenly it didn’t seem like so much of an adventure!

Saturday morning arrived and 7 of us set out from the Wattle Ridge Carpark. With another bushwalking group also setting out at the same time we had to use overflow parking spaces. The weather was beautiful for walking and it wasn’t long before we were dropping packs at the track junction with Slott Way and the Ahearn Lookout track. We took the opportunity for a side trip to Ahearn Lookout so everyone could get expansive views of the Nattai Valley, and particularly our target for the day – Russells Needle. Russells Needle is an unusual sandstone spine which sticks out into the Nattai Valley, a knife-edge ridge separated from the main cliffline by a deep saddle.

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Tom & Jo looking out over the Nattai Valley

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Matthew enjoying morning tea

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Tom looking towards Russells Needle and Mt Jellore

Back to our packs we made quick time down Slott Way which was (too?) well marked with pink/yellow tape and blue metal markers on what felt like every second tree.

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Tom & Matthew at a lookout half way down Slott Way

The Nattai is still fairly easy going after the floods which scoured it out in mid-2016. Lunch and our campsite was a large sandy bank on the Nattai not far downstream from Needle Creek. After lunch we set off with day packs to ascend Russells Needle. Prickly bushes (blackthorn?) made the initial slopes unpleasant and of course the group were constantly advising the leader that ‘the ridge over there looks nice and clear’ (they were ignored). Once we’d broken through that we were soon skirting the upper cliff line. It took a while to reach a break in the cliffline, which looked easy, though turned out to be a little less so. The rope was deployed for those that wanted it. This brought us on to the knife-edge ridge.

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Gaining the spine of the ridge to Russells Needle

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Jo on her way up with spectacular views up the valley

Now we were almost at the real deal – we picked our way up the rocky spine until we got just below the summit. Soon the majority of the party were standing on the summit plateau.

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Alan & Tom on the last exposed scramble (later discovered the unexposed route to the right of this section)

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Trying to coax the rest of the party up the final scramble

Some were more comfortable with the considerable exposure – Matthew lounged on the true summit rock for quite some time. After a decent period taking in the views and giving everyone who wanted to the opportunity to get to the true summit we started heading down. It was only then that I discovered the easy (unexposed) route up to the summit rather than the more exposed route we’d taken up the boulder.

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Matthew absolutely fine with the exposure on the true summit!

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Jo & Matthew on the true summit

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Looking down the northern spine of the needle

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Looking back to Tom & Jo from the summit

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Tom on the true summit

On the descent we took the ‘clear ridge’ that everyone wanted to be on during the ascent. I’m pleased to report it was just as full of blackthorn… Back to camp around 4:30pm, after picking up water from Needle Creek, we settled in for a pleasant happy hour and evening around the camp fire.

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Our campsite complete with views of the Needle!

Sunday always had the most unknowns – not least what the weather was going to do. The forecast during the week had oscillated between 0-3mm to 5-10mm almost daily. The most recent forecast was fortunately back to 0-3mm and Sunday dawned clear which was a good sign.

Away from camp at 8:30am we walked down the Nattai a few hundred metres before crossing over to Rocky Waterholes Creek.

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Jo crossing the Nattai

Similar to the Nattai there was significant flooding impact so the going was reasonable – as reasonable as it can be when you’re boulder hopping and scrambling. The creek varied between large boulders which were a full body work out to get around, flatter sections with beautiful pools (though only Matthew was keen to swim!), and some delightful cascades over rocky slabs. The clouds started building but other than a few drops at lunch we were spared, which was fortunate as some sections of the creek were slippery enough without extra moisture from above.

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Relatively easy going in the early stages of Rocky Waterholes Creek

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Mucking around with an unusual rock we found

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Tom & Melinda in a very pretty section of creek

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Near the junction with Iron Creek there was a shale (?) band of rock which made for some interesting colours

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Tom & Glenn near the junction with Iron Creek

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Melinda and Jo making their way up Rocky Waterholes Creek

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Lovely lunch spot – even a cup of tea for those that were keen

Shortly after lunch we hit the side creek at 625986 that we hoped to ascend. Alan had kindly scouted it for us during lunch and was able to confirm we could get up. I’m always a bit concerned about whether Alan’s routes will work for the whole party but he assured me he did it with his “Melinda hat” on. We scrambled up the true-left of the creek around a number of waterfalls and then bashed up from the true right to one of the many fire-trails that exist on the ridges in the area.

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Glenn & Tom making their way up the canyoniferous side creek

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Jo might be a little tired…

Those that were keen headed down the firetrail to the skinny ridge which pokes out into Rocky Waterholes Creek, giving spectacular views of where we’d spent most of the day.

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Alan & Tom enjoying the views over Rocky Waterholes Creek

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Lunch was somewhere down there

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If you look very carefully you might be able to see Tom’s red shirt out on the point of the ridge on the right. An interesting finger which extends out into the creek.

From there it was just an easy walk following firetrails and a track skirting the Wattle Ridge property. We arrived back at the cars at 4:30pm – no sign of an epic! An excellent weekend of adventuring in a lesser visited part of the world.

Corang River Loop (2016-10-29 & 30)

Emmanuelle had a walk on the club program which was to an area I didn’t know anything about. It was great to get out to a different part of the world. It was a beautiful walk.

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Tom on the other side of Goodsell Creek

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Graham contemplating a magnificent waterhole

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Gorgeous section of creek. What a spot to be on a hot summer day.

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Anyone would think we were in Kakadu… except for the amount of clothes we’re wearing!

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More beautiful cascades. Corang River is a stunner.

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Heading up Canowie Brook. Evidence of recent fires is obvious.

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After dropping packs at camp a few us decided to head to Yurnga Lookout. The weather conditions almost made us turn back given our chances of views were slim…

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Fortunately we persisted as the cloud lifted to give us amazing views across to the Castle and Pigeon House Mountain

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There was also an interesting chasm to explore

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Wildflower season!

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Crossing Canowie Brook on Sunday morning

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On our way up to Corang Arch

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The party enjoying Corang Arch from many different vantage points

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Tom on Corang Arch

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Wildflowers

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Wildflowers

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Wildflowers

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Wildflowers

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Wildflowers

 

The Heads of Asgard Plateau (2016-10-08 and 2016-10-09)

After visiting the Four Heads of Asgard Plateau a couple of months earlier for Nicole’s fondue weekend I decided it would be a good walk to add to the SBW program. We had explored the various heads over a couple of days, but I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to work out where I was going on a day walk.

The walk proved a popular one on the program and I had to turn away quite a few people once I hit my (self-imposed) cap of 12. On the day we had 11 and despite the forecast predicting a cloudy, cool day it was pretty warm and humid.

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Head #1: Ikara

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Crossing the creek near Girraween Cave

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Lots of waratahs were out

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Head #2: Valhalla

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Views of Asgard Swamp

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on the way between Valhalla and Thor Head

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Awesome lookout on the way to Thor Head

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Catching up on some sleep at Head # 3 (Thor) after the early start

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Exploring MacKenzie Mine

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Views on the way to Asgard Head

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The magnificent Grose Valley from Head #4 (Asgard)

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rock formation on our way down

After deciding to put the Four Heads on the program I wanted to run another trip nearby on the Sunday. After scouring the map and having a look at some of the trips in Micheal Keats & Brian Fox’s Upper Grose Valley book I decided the weekend would only be complete with a visit to Odin Head (the fifth head) on the Sunday. Odin Head can be accessed by an easy, relatively flat walk along an old fire trail and would likely be less than an hour and a half return. I needed something more! Instead I decided to descend into Victoria Brook and follow that to Victoria Creek before ultimately ascending the cliffs below Odin Head. Perhaps unsurprisingly I had a lot less interest in my Sunday walk, perhaps because of the 3 for Terrain in the grade (for the non-SBW readers that means “Sections of rough track and/or off track and/or creek crossing and/or rock scrambling for long periods and/or thick scrub“).

In the end we had 6 starters for Sunday. After a brief jaunt along the road we soon plunged off track and down into Victoria Brook.

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Finding the easiest way through one of the scrubby sections in Victoria Brook

It wasn’t long before we gave up on keeping our feet dry. At one point Tom declared the water was only up to mid-thigh, unfortunately for most of the party this meant closer to waist deep. In a couple of places we elected to go up and around rather than go through where the water was deeper – sadly this meant missing the most canyon-like sections.

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A small canyon section which we went around as the next section involved a deep pool.

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An open section of Victoria Brook

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Victoria Brook

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Amazing overhang in Victoria Brook

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Adrian checking out the arch in Victoria Brook

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Adrian in a canyon-like section of Victoria Brook

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Petros checking out the best way down a very slippery waterfall

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Tom photographing ancient graffiti

Progress was fairly slow and we had a late lunch a few hundred metres before we hit the junction with Victoria Creek. The original plan had been to continue down Victoria Creek for another km or two but in the interests of time we decided to try our luck getting through the cliff line above the junction. The climb up to the cliff line was straightforward but the traverse along until we found a break was less pleasant. Fortunately we managed to make it up a steep muddy pass and soon were on the ridge having a mandatory shoe clean out.

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Lots of waratahs out on today’s walk as well

The party were suspicious about whether there was even going to be a lookout at Odin Head as I led them out on what was now an out and back instead of a glorious ascent at the head itself. I assured them that all information I had led me to believe there would be a lookout… but it was definitely a relief to get to the cliff edge and views of the Grose Valley. We spent a while enjoying the views before heading back along the old fire trails to the cars, getting back just after 5pm. A solid day in the bush.

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Tom at Odin Head

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At Odin Head looking down the Grose Valley

Bashed by the Blue Breaks (2016-09-30 to 2016-10-03)

A long weekend is always a highlight on a bushwalker’s calendar – the opportunity to get to places which are prohibitive for a normal weekend. Tom and I tossed up various options and finally settled on the Blue Breaks with an extra day of leave to make the long drive to Yerranderie worthwhile.

After my only other trip to Yerranderie I had no desire to do the drive again but the road was in good condition and nowhere near as bad as I remembered. The first major decision of the trip was whether to run it on pre or post daylight savings times. After considerable discussion we agreed to move to Daylight Savings Time as of Friday morning and so OTT (Official Trip Time) was set on all time-keeping pieces before we set off. This meant we had a very late start of 11am! The first couple of hours we followed an old fire trail down to the Tonalli River where we had morning tea around midday OTT. Time for those not familiar with Alex’s twig stove to have their first experience with it – much amusement for all along with the requisite plumes of smoke.

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The twig stove gets a workout

From the river we followed the remains of another fire trail, though this one was full of kangaroo thorn.

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On the way to Tonalli Pass

It was quite windy so we opted for lunch in the saddle between Tonalli Pass/Lacys Gap and the detached section on the end. During our post-lunch exploration of the detached section no one could be tempted to make the jump across to the final detached block.

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Tom not making the leap across to the final detached black

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Smiffy & views of Lacys Tableland

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Lots of wildflowers were out

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Scramble down off the end of Tonalli Pass

From there the walk to our camp was straight-forward and we were glad our camp cave was out of the howling wind. We visited Terni Head and enjoyed the views.

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Smiffy on the final scramble up to Terni Head

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Smiffy & Alex scrambling Terni Head

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Magnificent views

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Tom enjoying the solitude at Terni Head

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Fields of flowers to navigate back to camp

Somewhat optimistically we headed up to the cliffs for happy hour but once on them we concluded we’d enjoy the views for a few minutes and then retreat out of the wind to eat. Amusement was had throwing things into the wind and watching them sail back over our heads – until Alex started throwing large branches that didn’t go over us…

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Camp cave on night 1

After a relatively leisurely start the next morning we set off along Lacys Tableland. The topography of the plateau means that most of the walking is inland away from the cliff edge and views. The walking wasn’t particularly quick as it was quite scrubby though thankfully we had left the kangaroo thorn behind after ascending the pass. It was another overcast, windy day but the cloud cleared occasionally to give us a bit of sun.

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A rare moment on the cliff edge on Lacys Tableland

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Views

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Recognising features in the distance from an unfamiliar viewpoint

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Umm, do you know what you’re standing on?

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Tom came off second best with a flicking plant. Also note the singed eyelashes.

A squally shower came over as we were starting lunch so we retreated to an overhang. Alex was looking for a visitors book when he spotted an unusual pile of rocks stuck into a hole and behind them was a sealed glass bottle full of notes. It looked like some sort of time capsule project, it said the jar was placed in 2003, we left it as we found it.

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Alex with his buried treasure

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The sealed jar of messages

A small canyon on the plateau provided post-lunch exploration and we checked out quite a few overhangs in the creek before continuing north.

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Tom in his element

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Choose your own adventure!

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More cliff edges and views

A flat spot not far from our intended pass was camp for the night. Fortunately we found water in the nearest side creek – though I’m not sure that you would rely on it being there if winter hadn’t been so wet.

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Nicole happy to have running water tonight

We managed to survive happy hour on the cliff edge without getting blown away. The wind was still blowing strongly but Tom had, much to Alex’s disgust, checked the weather forecast on his phone and he assured us that the wind was scheduled to die down about 10pm (not OTT).

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Happy hour views out to Lake Burragarong

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Happy hour

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Happy hour!

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Happy hour

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Smiffy’s not happy with his hair length and has an impromptu haircut

The next morning dawned clear and still – a pleasant change from the overcast windy conditions of the previous two days. We almost made an 8am start – somewhat apprehensive of what was to come after some scouting of our intended pass by Toni, Smiffy and Alex the previous evening.

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Breakfast on Day 2

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Descending the well vegetated gully

The gully was healthily vegetated but we managed to follow some pig (?) tracks initially, and avoid the head-high nettles. The promised lawyer vine was fairly sparse but nonetheless we were glad for a break from the vegetation under a strangler fig. From there the vegetation changed to more traditional ridge scrub and we headed down. Our intention was to navigate across a number of ridges & gullies to avoid spending too much time in Green Wattle Creek. Our initial foray put us into fairly impenetrable scrub so we headed further down the ridge. This meant the gullies were deeper and more effort to cross; at our last one faced with a bluff we decided we’d take our chances with the creek. Relieved to reach the creek after 3 hours of fairly hard slog we sunk into the ground where we could… until Smiffy realised he’d put his pack on a jumping jack nest.

Moving again up the creek we wished we’d walked upstream a few hundred metres before taking morning tea as there were some pleasant rocky slabs but with still a lot of hard territory to get through there was no time to enjoy them. The merciless leader pressed the group on past pools that may have just been deep enough for a swim much to Alex’s disappointment. After what seemed like an age we reached the bend of Green Wattle Creek where we intended to leave it. Lunch was had and we guzzled water knowing we wouldn’t have easy access to it again for a few hours. We were so happy to find the ridge had normal levels of vegetation!

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Happy to finally be on an open ridge!

The climb seemed to go on forever – probably contributed to by some optimistic map reading and the warm, still day. Eventually we all made it to the top of Broken Rock Range. We had a break to recover and take in the views before we set off on our traverse. The walking was lovely and the views excellent. We enjoyed afternoon tea near the high point of the ridge. We debated whether the ‘broken rock’ marked on the map actually existed – once in the vicinity we couldn’t see anything resembling the map feature.

Then it was a steep descent and some tricky navigation to try and pick up the southern spur. Alex’s disappointment with the party continued when it was revealed one party member used a GPS for navigation!!! The GPS showed we were on the spur next to the one we had hoped for but it didn’t really matter so we continued to descend. Amazingly the tributary we descended into was flat and grassy and we made quick time down it to the junction with Green Wattle Creek.

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Easy walking in the side tributary

Toni & Alex had generously given the leader an extra 15 minutes before it was happy hour because we’d started 15 minutes after the designated departure time in the morning. The leader delivered deciding on a campsite just before 6:15pm (OTT). Though with firewood collection, setting up camp and general faffing it was closer to the 7pm before we settled down for some very well deserved happy hour around the fire. At this point Nicole pulled 4 oranges out of her bag – which we will all more than happy to eat though very glad we hadn’t been carrying them. Nicole’s happy hour part 2 was after dinner where she whipped up a cake batter (complete with an egg that she’d managed to carry without breaking for 3 days) that then was poured into the orange skins and baked in the fire. Amazing!

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Beautiful eucalypt looming over our campsite on night 3

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Tom happy (?) to be at camp after our hard slog 10-hour day.

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Tom looking slightly chirpier the next morning

Given we hadn’t made it to the planned campsite for the day we knew day 4 could be long. Just over a km of Green Wattle Creek took us more than an hour in very thick scrub. We were glad we hadn’t decided to push on the night before! We filled up water at the junction of Butchers Shop Creek and Green Wattle Creek, de-leeched and started up the ridge to Vengeance Peninsula. The sun was out though the wind was back – the views from Vengeance Peninsula were outstanding.

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Many excellent views from Vegeance Peninsula

Tom & I had been somewhat apprehensive about the “thin bit” especially given the wind – fortunately it was nowhere near as exposed/difficult as we’d been anticipating with only the one exposed downclimb. We stayed there a while taking lots of photos. Alex took the direct scrambling route up the nose with the rest of us opting for the easier route to the left.

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Tom spotting Nicole on the exposed downclimb

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The “thin bit” on Vengeance Peninsula

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Window under the “thin bit” on Vengeance Peninsula

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Nicole happy to be across

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Smiffy much more comfortable with exposure than I am!

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Looking down on the others on the “thin bit”

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Looking down at the others on the “thin bit”

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Views back to our walking from the previous 2 days

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More wildflowers

We had been aiming for lunch on Axehead Mountain but Alex’s protests on Bull Island were heeded given it was 1pm. The twig stove was in action again! Smiffy lost his hat over the edge in the wind, but fortunately was able to retrieve it.

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Lunch on Day 4

We were supposedly in familiar territory for most of the party now – with Smiffy & Toni having done this section on a trip in 2013 and Rachel & Tom had traversed the Axeheads from the north in 2011. Our collective memories were not particularly helpful as we had to do a bit of route finding.

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Scrambling off Bull Island

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Scrambling onto Axehead Mountain

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Scrambling on the Axehead Range

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A familiar position for Alex…

A brown snake was keenly photographed. The wind was continuing to pick up and by the time we got to Gander Head it was a struggle to stand up in it. Not a time to linger on the tops. We soon found the route down and had a short afternoon tea when we got to the fire trail. Then it was just a few km of along the fire trail. Despite most of the party’s aversion to fire trail walking it was quite pleasant after the amount of scrub bashing we’d done in the previous 4 days.

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Walking back to Yerranderie

Back at the cars just before 6pm, a quick change and then the start of a long drive home.

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Finally back at the cars

Six Foot Track in a day (2016-08-13)

I think anyone who is vaguely interested in bushwalking in NSW has heard of the Six Foot Track. It is an iconic walk and when I started bushwalking back in 2004 I wanted to walk it. Tom talked me out of the idea, telling me it was predominantly fire trail and I would find it boring.

Some time later I heard you could mountain bike it. “Perfect”, I thought. “That wouldn’t be boring”. Then we walked the section between Megalong Valley Rd and Coxs River – I couldn’t mountain bike that! I’d spend most of the time carrying my bike, so that was the end of that idea.

Then we joined Sydney Bush Walkers and I heard about the annual Six Foot Track in a day walk. Great! I could walk the track without getting bored.

In 2013 I was doing Oxfam Trailwalker. “Perfect”, I thought, “it’ll be a great training walk”. But they were scheduled for the same weekend so that was the end of that idea. In 2014 we were inconveniently swanning around the Dolomites. And in 2015 I had signed up but then had to withdraw as the try-outs for the Australian Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team were the same weekend. Drat.

Six Foot Track

Finally, we get to 2016, surely I can knock it off! Yet I had done very little walking in 2016 as I had been training for the World Ultimate Frisbee Championships that were held in June. Returning from the World Champs I threw myself into a few training walks to try and get some walking endurance fitness. I was filled with apprehension that the day approached.  I was pretty sure I’d make it but I didn’t think my body was going to be very happy with me by the end. I spent a lot of time thinking about nutrition and not really being sure if I had the right food plan. I photocopied the many sections of different maps so I had the route identified.

 

The day finally dawned… well actually I was up well before it dawned as we were meeting at the Explorers Tree at 6am. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was still going to be dark. I had my torch ready in case of a late finish, not because we were up before the sun! There were 25 walkers this year, along with 7 support crew. It was a little like herding cats with everyone milling about in the dark, trying to work out which car to put their bag in and what layers to have on to start walking. After a briefing by Robert and the traditional round of names (though I doubt anyone was going to remember 31 names, especially given it was dark!) we were off by 6:15am. The group spread out fairly quickly with the descent down Nellies Glen.

start of the day

It wasn’t long before we were all together again at our first support stop at the Megalong Valley Road enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.

first support stop at Megalong Valley Road

The next section through to our morning tea stop (unsupported) at the Coxs River Campground was one of the most picturesque.

beautiful walking conditions

It was a beautiful day, perfect walking weather and the time passed quickly until we got to Bowtells Bridge. As the Coxs River was flowing strongly from a lot of rain in the preceding weeks we were crossing using the bridge. Only one person can use the bridge at the time, so there was a small wait as we got everyone across.

crossing bowtells bridge

Leaving our morning tea (270m) spot at 9:55am we set off on the fire trail up to Mini Mini Saddle (730m), then down to Little River (550m), before another big ascent to the Pluviometer on the Black Range (980m).

on the way up to minimini saddle

I’d been vaguely thinking if this walk went well I would try K2K in a day so I used the ascent to push myself. This meant I was third to the top at 11:50am and soon tucking into more coffee from our wonderful support team and inhaling lunch.

support party at lunch

I’d not eaten (or drunk!) much so far on the walk so it was good to get some food in. It was not great to see there was only about 0.5litres of my 2l bladder gone. I made myself drink half a litre of water before I could start the next section. As I’d got to the Pluviometer earlier than many people I was ready to set off before most. I was hoping some others might join me but I was the keenest so off I went.

wattle

The fire trail along the Black Range passed quickly. I enjoyed using my map and compass to work out which bend I was on and estimating the time it would take to get to various landmarks. The support crew drove past me just as I got to the 15km to go marker.

Two thirds of the way there

It was good to know I was two-thirds of the way there and my body was feeling good. I got a bit of shuffle on in some of the downhill sections and before I knew it I was at the Black Range Campground at 1:50pm. My fluid intake hadn’t improved so I gladly downed a couple of glasses of orange juice from the support crew. The temperature had plunged and it was quite chilly sitting round and stretching at the rest stop. I needed to either put a bunch more clothes on or get walking again. I decided on the latter.

refreshments

I’d been told it was all downhill in the final section so it was a rude surprise to find a couple of short, sharp uphill sections but at least I warmed up pretty quickly! I was also pleased to find that the 4km from the Black Range Campground didn’t parallel the main road – which is what the NPA notes had implied. I had a brief chat with a couple who had been playing the ukulele and singing at our rest stop before passing them. I was now on a mission to get to the end.

eucalypt forest

Apparently in previous years some of the group would run this section so I tried to jog where the terrain allowed. Not so fast that I didn’t see this lovely echidna on the side of the track.

echidna

The fire trail turned quite rocky near the turnoff to Mt George and I couldn’t safely run, but further on the foot track turned to smaller gravel and I was able to jog again. Not having done the route before I was surprised and impressed when I got to Carlotta Arch. I started meeting tourists walking up from Jenolan Caves. I must have looked like a bit of mad woman with my map around my neck, holding my walking poles, jogging down the hill. It was 3:40pm when I stepped into the reception at Caves House feeling pretty good… so that means I might have to contemplate K2K in three weeks time. The other walkers arrived over the next hour or so all pleased to have made it.

 

Having now done the Six Foot Track after so many years of contemplating it I can say it was far more enjoyable that I was expecting it to be. Yes, there is a lot of fire trail but it is pleasant surrounds and nice views. It was a great day, big thanks to Robert Carter for organising everything and to our support crew for making sure we were well looked after.

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