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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stirling Ridge Walk, Stirling Range National Park - December 2011

I'd looked at the Stirling Ridge Walk for a long time but never found myself over in Western Australia at either the right time or with the right gear to have a go at it. In Christmas 2011 the opportunity opened up, I was meant to be doing the Cape to Cape walk but a fire around Margaret River had wiped out a large section of the track, so with my leave already booked I looked around for something else to do for a few days. After some phone calls to the ranger I decided to head over and have a go at the Ridge Walk, the ranger was OK with the plan so long as I took into account the forecast and pulled the pin if the weather looked like it was going to heat up too much, he wasn't keen on trying to evacuate a crazy walker if a fire threatened.
My mud brick cottage at the Stirling Range Retreat.
First up I had a bit of a drive to get there, leaving Melbourne early in the morning I got through the city before peak hour and then just pointed the ute west, Adelaide came and went, Port Augusta, Ceduna, I eventually pulled up off the Eyre Highway between Mundrabilla and Madura in the early hours of the next morning. The sun woke me up after five hours and it was time to head off again, after breakfast at Madura I kept heading west on the Eyre Highway, eventually turning south west at Balladonia and following a rough as guts dirt road down to Esperance about 2800 kilometres and 35 hours from home. After buying all my supplies in Esperance I headed off on the third day on the last 450 kilometre stretch to the park.
The Stirling Range Retreat is just inside the tree line.
I'd organised a cabin at the Stirling Range Retreat, so I headed there to check in. After checking out my cabin I went for a quick swim in the pool to freshen up a bit, before jumping back in the ute and heading up to the Bluff Knoll car park to check things out and get a bit of a lay of the land. Returning to the retreat I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing for the walk, organising a lift to the start, and then chilling out watching the sun set over the range from the farm land adjoining the retreat. After dinner it was early to bed, tomorrow promised to be hard work.
The Stirling Range in the late afternoon light.
Day 1.  9 kilometres.
I've written a crazy guy journal about the walk so I want go into a blow by blow account, I'll post a link to the journal at the end of the post if you want more information or photos. Needless to say today was hard work, after getting dropped off at the Bluff Knoll car park I had to climb to the highest point in the Stirling Range, Bluff Knoll, the day was around the mid twenties so it wasn't too hot but I was carrying 8 litres of water, this was the minimum I figured I could survive on if I didn't find water on the range.
Looking back down to where the walk started from the summit of Bluff Knoll.
On Bluff Knoll, all warmed up now after a 700 metre heart starter.
Looking back towards Bluff Knoll from East Peak.
After warming up on the walk to the summit of Bluff Knoll I now headed east, more or less off track, every now and again I'd pick up a faint pad but the walking was generally pushing through the low heath and finding my way around the numerous cliff lines. I pulled up in the shade of some Mallee trees at the saddle before Moongoongoonderup Hill (I kid you not!) for lunch, relishing the chance to lighten the load hanging on my back.
'Bum Cam' from my lunch position in the saddle before Moongoongoonderup Hill.
The view of Isongerup Peak from near Moongoongoonderup Hill.
I was lucky to find some water on the climb up Isongerup Peak.
Heading off again I had a stroke of very good fortune climbing Isongerup Peak, I heard what sounded like water trickling in the scrub, dropping my pack I investigated and sure enough there was a trickle of water, enough to re fill my drink bottles and allow me to drink to my hearts content. From the top of Isongerup Peak I had some easy ground as I pushed on to the final challenge of the day, climbing up to my camping cave on the First Arrow. The climb up First Arrow wasn't too bad, a little bit of ledge work and I made my way up to my cave. The cave at First Arrow was fairly small but quite comfortable, I was able to make dinner gazing out over the flat plain to the north, I was also able to give Sam a call back in Melbourne to let her know that all was well.
Looking towards the Arrows whilst descending Isongerup Peak.
About to descend into the She Oak col before the climb up First Arrow.
Looking back to Bluff Knoll, it had been a tough 9 kilometres!
My cave on First Arrow, home for the night.
Day 2.  20 kilometres     29 total kilometres.
Today promised to be a lot hotter, I'd decided to head off the range today as I knew I'd struggle to much in the heat that was coming. First up though I dad to complete the traverse. This morning started with a bit of a roller coaster of a walk, in quick succession I climbed First Arrow, Second Arrow, Third Arrow, and Bakers Knob. The good news was that I got some more water from the barrel high up a gulley near Third Arrow so water shouldn't now be an issue.
The (slightly crappy) view towards Ellen Peak from my cave.
I was sweet for water now after re filling from the barrel between Second and Third Arrow.
After climbing Bakers Knob I now commenced the roughest section of the walk along the base of the cliffs on the south side of Pyungoorup Peak. The route along here involved staying as close to the base of the cliffs as possible resisting the temptation to take what appeared much easier routes that descended to the south. After an hour of very rough walking I got to a large camping cave, this would be an awesome spot to stop, although no good in a southerly wind. From the cave I climbed a few exposed grassy ledges, eventually arriving at the saddle underneath Ellen Peak, the decision now had to be made whether to climb over Ellen Peak or traverse her cliffs to the north. I was pretty well rooted and the day was getting pretty warm, so that combined with the fact that I still had around twenty kilometres to go to get out made up my mind for me, I'd have to come back another day to climb Ellen Peak.
Having a rest in the shade on the climb up Bakers Knob.
Looking back towards Third Arrow, Bluff Knoll is to the left of the photo in the distance.
On the descent track from Ellen Peak.
Traversing under the cliffs I met up with the descent route coming down from the summit of Ellen Peak, I now had to follow that to the north for 4 kilometres until I met the fire track that runs along the northern boundary of the park. The good news was that I was on a defined track for the first time since I'd left Bluff Knoll yesterday morning, the bad news was that the heat was intensifying as I descended. I got to the North East Track in early afternoon, it was this fire track that I would follow west for just over twelve kilometres back to the retreat. Once on the hard surface of the fire track the heat seemed to intensify again, it was looking like it would be a very hot and hard walk out. After a few hundred metres the track crossed Woolaganup Creek and I couldn't believe my eyes, the creek was not only flowing with cool clear water but there was a spot deep enough to soak in, it took me about a nano second to strip of and jump into the cool water. The next hour was spent soaking in the cool water and drinking as much as the body could process, life was indeed good! All good things have to come to an end eventually however and in the late afternoon I shouldered the pack again for the final section of the walk back to the retreat, by now the worst of the heat had gone out of the day so the walk along the fire rack wasn't to bad, to my left I ticked of the peaks that I had climbed in the last day and a half. Arriving back at the Stirling Range Retreat I grabbed some dinner and a cool drink and then headed to the shower, it had been a great, testing walk.
I was descending down the spur towards the tree line.
Almost at the North East Fire Track, looking back towards the range.
Shit, another twelve kilometres of this on a baking hot afternoon.
But then I found my version of paradise, Woolaganup Creek, deep enough to soak in.
The Dirt.
I wrote up the walk in a Crazy Guy Journal, it has some more detail and some different photos. I stayed at the Stirling Range Retreat, the owners were very helpful with my plans, they have limited food and supplies but can provide transport to the trail head, I'll definitely go back and stay there again. The Stirling Ridge Walk is in the Stirling Range National Park, in the south west of Western Australia. The ridge walk is a fairly hard walk and not for everybody, a lot of it is off track, with a lot more following very faint pads. The vegetation is the typical Australian scratchy type, and there is no reliable water on the range, there is a fair bit of scrambling, some people use ropes in a couple of spots. I used John Chapman's notes from his Bushwalking in Australia book as well as A.T.Morphett's book 'Mountain Walks in the Stirling Ranges Part 2, both are highly recommend. I loved this walk and would do it again if the situation arises. For the whole walk I covered 29 kilometres over two days so that gives a little idea about slow going it is on the range.

'The Finish photo'.

A perfect sun set ending a perfect day.

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...