Sunday, December 21, 2014

Savusavu, Fiji - January 2013

This will be a fairly little post as not a lot happened this day! My one over-riding memory of the day was of the stifling humidity. Before we were off the ship the captain was warning the guests about going ashore due to the heat and humidity. Being the hardcore cruisers Sam and I are, we went ashore anyway, jumping off the tender we noticed straight away the lines of punters waiting to get back to the air conditioning on the ship, hmmmm.
Punters coming ashore in a tender.
The tender dropped us at the Copra Shed Marina and Sam and I decided that we would take a bit of a walk around town to check the place out. Savusavu is the only entry point for yachts on the island of Vanua Levu so there was no shortage of boats bobbing about in the harbour.  After checking out the shops and the yachts to the east of the marina we headed west along the main drag for awhile. We had heard about some hot springs so we thought that we would check them out. The hot springs were situated behind a sports oval and were literally boiling hot, not somewhere I'd even dip my toe.
The water in the harbour at Savusavu was almost dead calm, with no breeze the humidity was oppressive.
There was a little bit of rain around which only made it more oppressive.
Some of the local kids playing on the jetty.
With the sweat dripping off us it was time to admit defeat and head back to the ship, judging by the queue to get back on the ship it looked like everybody else had the same idea. The ships crew did a fantastic job handing out cool towels and looking after some of the people that had been over come with the heat. Before long we got on board a tender and set of across the still water of the harbour that had an oily dead calm appearance to it. It was with some relief that we got back on the ship and we certainly savoured the air conditioning, anyone who knows me would be surprised that I am talking up the heat as it normally doesn't worry me but that particular day the heat and the humidity combined to make it very uncomfortable.
A little more rain on the way.
Savusavu harbour from the ship.
The Dirt.
Savusavu is the main city on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji, I get a feeling that I didn't see the best of the place. Next time I go there I'll try to organize a dive tour, at least that way I'll get out of the heat for awhile. The main street is along the waterfront and you can walk from one end of town to the other in less than thirty minutes. The hot springs are behind the oval and aren't signposted, don't think you'll be swimming there as they bubble up into a very shallow creek.

The clouds provided for a great sunset.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Trephina Ridge Top Walk, Trephina Gorge Nature Park - April 2006

The Eastern MacDonnell Ranges are often over looked by people visiting Alice Springs, and while they aren't as spectacular as the Western Mac's they have a few hidden gems buried away. One of those gems is Trephina Gorge, dig a little deeper and you'll discover John Hayes Rockhole, my plan for the day was to do a loop walk from Trephina Gorge out to John Hayes Rockhole via the Ridgetop Trail before returning to the troopie via John Hayes Creek and then finally Trephina Creek.
Trephina Gorge at the start of the walk.
Leaving the troopie parked at the Trephina Gorge car park at 8:00 am, I picked up the trail which climbed high up on the eastern cliffs of Trephina Gorge. The day was already fairly warm at this early hour and there was a bit of dust haze in the air, I was carrying all the water that I'd need for the day but was hoping that I'd find enough water on the track somewhere to have a bit of a swim, time would tell.
Looking across Trephina Creek as I climbed the cliffs above the gorge.
Leaving Trephina Gorge the track now headed generally westerly, eventually attaining the ridgetop for which the track is named. I followed the ridge all the way out to Turners Lookout, the desert looking very dry and forbidding with all the dust flying around. Doubling back a little from Turners Lookout I picked up a track heading generally south easterly, this was my route into John Hayes Creek and its gorge.
Looking west from Turners Lookout.
Looking to the North West from Turners Lookout.
While the gorge in John Hayes Creek isn't as high as some in the territory it is fairly long and I spent the next couple of hours rock hoping and scrambling down the gorge. Sometimes the route would have to leave the gorge completely to bypass waterfalls, other times I could find a safe route to scramble down the dry waterfalls. The cliffs of the gorge provided welcome shade as I made my way down.
The gorge cut by John Hayes Creek.
The bed of the creek provided fairly easy walking.
There were a few waterfalls to scramble around.
Nearing John Hayes Rockhole the track once again scaled the cliffs to by pass a series of waterfalls that ended with the waterhole at the bottom. The place was deserted, in fact I didn't see another person all day, so I stripped off and jumped into the freezing waterhole. I passed the next few hours on rotation between swimming in the freezing water and baking on the hot red rocks, I was in no hurry to head off from this spot because the next 6 kilometres back to the troopie would be a bit of a road bash.
This one looked a bit festy, I think I'll leave it for the wildlife.
With the sun getting low on the horizon I eventually decided that I'd better head off. Initially I followed a 4wd track that follows John Hayes Creek back to its junction with Trephina Creek, the track alternated between the sandy flats beside the creek and the creek itself. It was all fairly easy going though and in under an hour I was back on the access road to Trephina Gorge, turning north I was back at the troopie just as dusk was coming down. Just over an hour later I was back at the hotel enjoying a cold beer.
John Hayes Rockhole.
After a bit of  a swim I'd follow the line of trees towards the top left of the photo.
The Dirt.
The walk is in the Trephina Gorge Nature Park in the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges about an hour out of Alice Springs. I walked about 21 kilometres on this walk although if you had two 4wd's you could cut out around 6 kilometres. The walk is a medium walk, although don't attempt it in summer when it would be baking hot. There are a couple of other short walks around  Trephina Gorge that are worth a look. I didn't use any notes but it would be worth checking out Take a Walk in the Northern Territory's National Parks by John Daly as he may have written the walk up by now, by book wasn't around when I did the walk.

I had to circle around the rockhole before I could get down.

One more look at the view from Turners Lookout.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Haycock Point to Barmouth, Ben Boyd National Park - December 2010

Sam and I were up in Eden a couple of years ago doing the Light to Light walk in Ben Boyd National Park, with an afternoon to spare before we set off on the Light to Light walk I thought I'd go and check out a section of the park to the north of Eden. The Haycock Point to Barmouth walk at around six kilometres sounded like it would fill in the afternoon, so that's how I came to be parking the ute at the carpark and picnic area above Haycock Beach.
From the headland above Haycock Point looking south along the wide expanse of Haycock Beach.
The first point of interst on the short walk was a side trip out onto the rocks at Haycock Point, with the tide being fairly low I was able rock hop out a fair way. The views down the wide expanse of white sand on Haycock Beach looked particularly tempting but I was hoping to find a quieter beach later on  the walk. After scrambling around for awhile I retraced back up onto the headland above the point and took off towards Barmouth.
About as far out on Haycock Point I can go without swimming.
A rough route leads down of the headland.
The next section of track more or less followed the low cliff line, there were plenty of views to the north. The native bush also seemed to provide a perfect home for Eastern Grey Kangaroo's as there were mobs of them. There was also no shortage of Lace Monitors on the walk, although they climbed the nearest tree as soon as I got close, which I suppose is better than them trying to climb up my leg with their massive claws.

Mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos on this walk.
A few Lace Monitors as well.
After around half an hour I reached the turn around point at Barmouth Beach on the mouth of the Pambula River, heading back over some slabs of red rock I got to a tiny beach that I had passed above on the walk in. Seeing that the place was deserted I stripped off and enjoyed the water for awhile, we live in a great country where you can find such a pristine little beach between our two most populous cities and find it deserted in the middle of summer.
Barmouth Beach.
The red rock slabs between Barmouth Beach and my little swimming beach.
After drying on the rocks I pulled on my clothes and boots and climbed up onto the outward track, from there it was only thirty minutes back to the car. The only people I bumped into on the walk were in the car park at Haycock Beach.
My little beach.

The Dirt.
I walked around 6 kilometres on this walk and according to the guide book I climbed a massive 35 metres. Speaking of guide books I used John Daly's Take a Walk in Southern New South Wales & the ACT book. The book had an adequate map for such an easy walk. If you want to spend a day at the beach bring water as there is none on the walk.

A few shags.

Haycock Point in the distance.

The little joey didn't look to stressed with my presence.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Wog Wog to The Castle, Morton National Park - November 2014

Well I've finally finished writing up my crazy guy journal so I thought I'd write up a quick synopsis on the blog. Morton National Park is north of Canberra so as usual the trip started with a bit of a road trip, a ten hour road trip, and as usual with leave being at a premium I headed off after work on the Thursday for the drive. I pulled up at the Wog Wog camp ground just before midnight, so it wasn't too bad. After grabbing a few hours sleep in the tent I was woken reasonably early by the sound of logging trucks rumbling along Mongarlowe Road, from where I was lying it sounded as if they where about to rumble over the tent. After ascertaining that I hadn't pitched the tent in the middle of the road I tried to snatch a little more sleep with limited success, eventually I decided to get up and have breakfast. By around 9 am, after procrastinating as long as I could I decided that I'd better start the hard work for the day and start walking.
Heading up the Hume after work.
The camping area at Wog Wog.
Day 1,  19.6 kilometres.
Day 1 is really a story of two halves, the first half over a elevated plateau and the second half through some heath filled valleys. Leaving Wog Wog the route quickly drops to cross Wog Wog creek, the last water for the next three or so hours. Once leaving the creek the route takes an undulating u shaped route arcing to the south and keeping to the higher ground. The walking starts off very easy through dry eucalypt forest and gradually gets harder as the forest slowly turns to scrubby heath land. After awhile I found myself pushing through scrub using my head as a battering ram, every now and again I'd break out onto rock slabs which provided a reprieve from the scrub and also a bit of a view. Nearing Korra Hill I arrived at an area that had recently burn't in a bushfire, this had knocked back the scrub a bit but meant that I was quickly covered in charcoal. After climbing over Corang Peak I descended to probably the most photographed feature of the walk Corang Arch.
Getting into the area burn't by the bushfire around Korra Hill.
There as plenty of wild flowers out.
Pigeon House in the distance.
Corang Arch is just off the track to the west and it provided a good excuse to drop the pack for awhile, scrambling around I tried to find an angle that I hadn't seen before with no success, I did find a nice cave to sit in for awhile out of the sun. Leaving the arch I soon descended the conglomerate rock ramp down to Canowie Brook, which provided a great place to re fill my water bottles and have a late lunch. I was now walking along heath filled valleys and the track was fairly level, although very braided. From Burrumbeet Brook the route slowly climbed up the valley to eventually sidle the northern slopes of Bibbenluke Mountain, eventually I came to a benched unmarked track heading to the north which I figured had to be the track to the Bibbenluke Mountain camp, sure enough after a few minutes I got to the small flat area that I would call home for the next two nights. After setting up camp I was in the tent nice and early as tomorrow promised to be a bit of an epic.
Corang Arch.
Looking down on my on going route, Canowie Brook is in the valley.
The Canowie Brook valley.

Day 2,  23.4 kilometres,  43 kilometres total.
I was up early today as I wanted to get to The Castle before a promised front came through with its predicted showers. After a quick breakfast I was off with just a small day pack, quickly descending through the scrubby saddle between Bibbenluke Mountain and Mount Cole, from the saddle the route skirted below the cliffs of Mount Cole almost circumnavigating the mountain to the north, for some reason I'd imagined that the track would be a little better through here but in reality it was a scrub bash all the way until I dropped into the moist environment of the canyon in Monalith Valley. The rainforest didn't last long though and after passing the route to Mount Owen I quickly climbed back up into the scrubby heathland again. Around lunch time I found myself at Castle Saddle, now the fun would begin.
Descending into the canyon in the Monalith Valley.
Monalith Valley.
More weid shaped rocky turrets in Monalith Valley.
Pigeon House from The Castle.
Climbing away from the saddle on the unmarked pad I kept just below the crest of the ridge on the east side, after passing a couple of camping caves the route got serious. The climb of The Castle involved a lot of scouting around looking for a safe route, some spots had climbing ropes left attached but being a fairly hefty bloke and not knowing the condition of the ropes I wasn't to keen on trusting them, instead I trusted my myself on the rock faces but it certainly focussed my mind, particularly the last exposed section. Almost as soon as I reached the top the predicted front came through, I was now having trouble even standing in the gusts of wind so after a quick call to Sam to tell her 'all was well' I made a hasty exit from the summit plateau. Luckily for me the showers held of until I was back in the Monalith Valley. The next leg involved climbing over a saddle between Mouint Cole and Mount Owen, after finding my way out of the Monalith Valley by a series of ledges it quickly became apparent that this was going to be slow going, the route was marked by a vague series of cairns meandering around a rocky labyrinth and it involved a lot of scouting around looking for the correct pad, Sitting down on top of one of the rocky turrets I had to make a decision, push on and risk not getting back to camp before dark or turn around and head back down to the Monalith Valley and retrace this mornings route back to camp. In the end it wasn't a hard decision and I headed back the way I came arriving back at camp around 7pm.
The 'tail' of The Castle, with Mount Owen and Mount Cole in the distance.
The bit that looks like a cliff is the descent route.
At the bridge in the Monalith Valley.
The route over Mount Owen had its share of scrub bashing, note the cairn.
In the saddle between Mount Owen and Mount Cole

Heading back to Bibbenluke Mountain camp late in the day.
Day 3, 19.1 kilometres, 52.5 total kilometres.                                                                                Once again I was up early, today I was going to walk out and then hopefully complete the ten hour drive home. So after finishing my breakfast and having a chat with Ann-Marie and Judy, a couple of local ladies who had shared the camp with me, I set off. The track seemed easier today, probably because the pack was lighter, and I made very good time back to Canowie Brook where once again I had an extended break and re filled my water bottles. Canowie Brook really is a beautiful spot with the lush green growth post bushfire giving it a park like appearance.
Ann-Marie and Judy at Bibbenluke camp.
Mount Tarn at sunset from camp.

Climbing away from the brook I headed up the conglomerate rock ramp which got the heart rate up a bit but in reality it wasn't too bad, Once back on what I've loosely termed the plateau I bypassed Corang Arch and Corang Peak, the later on a section of new duck boards which provided fast easy walking. Reaching Korra Hill I stopped to take in my last extensive view for the walk, soon after leaving here I reached the scrubby section that hadn't been burn't and once again found myself pushing through the vegetation. As I was retracing my route from a couple of days ago I at least knew that there was light at the end of the scrub tunnel which is probably why it didn't seem quite so bad on the way back. With some relief I started to get back into the dryer eucalypt forest which, with its open under-story, provided quick easy walking. I was back at the ute, washed and packed and heading to the bakery in Braidwood before 2 pm, arriving home around 11 pm that night.
Re filling the water bottles, Canowie Brook.
Climbing the conglomerate rock ramp near Corang Arch.
The Dirt.
The walk as I did it is almost exactly as what's written up in Lonely Planets 'Walking in Australia' edition 5. I didn't quite complete the section over Mount Owen and returned via the Monolith Valley. I also used the Corang 1:25,000 topo map and the Budawang Committee sketch map. The walking in the Budawangs can be anywhere from an easy stroll on duck boards to a bush bash through thick scratchy scrub, and it can change in a very short distance. The climb up The Castle involves very steep exposed scrambling and is not for everybody. The route over Mount Owen was slow going as the cairns are very sparse and the topography means that they take a fairly convoluted route, having said that I'll be back with a bit more time up my sleeve one day to have another go. If you want to see more photos, or want some more detail check out my crazy guy journal.

Looking back towards the Pacific Ocean from near Corang Peak.

The memorial near Wog Wog camp celebrating the inclusion of the Corang Peak addition to Morton National Park.

Mushroom Rocks, Baw Baw National Park - June 2016

I mentioned in my last post that I was heading out and doing a snow walk next and indeed that's how it turned out. The weather in Me...