Thursday, September 28, 2017

Remote Camp Walk, Black Flat to Remote Camp via Lake Brambruk, Wyperfeld National Park - September 2017

Porcupine Grass and Cypress Pines.
With only around three weeks to go before I start my walk to Canberra on the AAWT  I was looking for a final multi day stroll just to make sure everything was in working order. Not having done a long walk up in the Mallee this year and with the weather heating up, my chances of walking up there were getting slimmer as the weekends were slipping by. So anyway, as you've probably already worked out, I decided to make the long drive up to Wyperfeld National Park and do a three day loop deep into the park. Now a walk in the semi arid environment around Wyperfeld didn't really sound as though it would be much of a training run for my alpine walk but as things turned out this stroll ended up being a pretty solid workout.
Black Flat Car Park, time to head off.
Now before I start what will know doubt be another rambling post I want to jump ahead a little and talk about something that has been niggling me for awhile. Late in the afternoon today found a slightly shattered Feral walker sitting on a log under the sparse shade of a black box tree, when I glanced down at my GPS, mainly to take my mind off the ache in my feet.  Nothing too unusual in all that really, but what I saw when I looked at the GPS was interesting. My GPS was struggling a little to pick up satellites, probably because of the tree's canopy and while it struggled to get a fix it was moving my currant position for kilometres around the area. While I was sitting on my arse under the trees my GPS managed to clock up 8 kilometres, yeah good for my ego but shithouse for keeping any stats! Over the years it's been commented that my distances are a little over the odds and while I agree, it's been a little hard to work out why, the thing is I reckon this happens quite a lot although mostly I think it's only a few metres at a time, it adds up over the course of a day. The thing that is still a bit of a mystery is why mine seems worse than most others, I'm wondering if it's because of the DSLR slung around my neck next to the GPS throwing out some electrical interference? The really strange thing is it seems to happen with any GPS that I have used. My other theory (that's backed up to some degree by some online GPS groups) is that because I tend to wander around off-piste a bit, the GPS can get a little confused when the satellite fix gets a little crappy, anecdotally this kind of makes since as my Wyperfeld meltdown happened when I was sitting on a log twenty metres or so off the track. Anyway from now on I'm going back to the old school methods of working out distances off maps or notes, if I do use a GPS figure then take it with a grain of salt.
I took almost an identical photo last year, but hey it's not bad so here's another look.
Alright enough of my self indulgent first world problems, it's time to head off. As I mentioned Wyperfeld is a fair drive from my house so even with a 3:30am wake up call (yeah that's not a typo unfortunately) I didn't actually start the walking bit of the day until 11am. I started off through some fairly familiar country as I'd walked here with Sam last year, heading out along the Tyakil Nature Walk for a few hundred metres. Now when I talk about creeks and lakes on these Wyperfeld posts I'm talking about bone dry creeks and lakes, with the exception of a couple of small festy looking puddles I didn't see any surface water for the three days that I was wondering around the park. So anyway after a few hundred metres I turned onto Cameron Track and headed out onto Black Flat Lake, the baked hard black dirt of the lake making for very easy progress. Shuffling across the dry lake bed it was hard to imagine that our indigenous people lived here thousands of years ago, the permanent freshwater lakes back then supplying the local people with all they needed. After crossing the lake I continued on Cameron Track up to the intersection with Everard Track, Cameron Track was now largely snaking it's way through low sand dunes more or less following the bed of Outlet Creek.
After a few hundred metres along the Tyakil Track I turned right here along Cameron Track.
Cameron Track crosses Black Flat.
The walking along Cameron Track is very nice.
I even have a few of the locals checking me out.

Outlet Creek is a feature that would figure in each of the three days that I was up here, this is the creek that needs to flood to fill these dry lakes. The dry channel of Outlet Creek links all the lakes that I'd be visiting together, unfortunately the Wimmera River hasn't had a big enough flood for the water to get this far since the early 1970's, even the biblical Grampians flood of a few years ago only had the water reaching the more southerly Lake Hindmarsh I think. Trudging along on my meandering route I eventually arrived at Everard Track, I swung west along this sandy track for next three kilometres. This was another section that I'd walked before so the soft sandy surface wasn't a surprise to me, but with the day now well into the mid 20˚ and an overnight pack on my back it was a solid enough walk. The good news is that once again I wasn't far from Outlet Creek and it's red gums, just to the south were some nice sand dunes, so the walking along here is fairly pleasant on the eye. It was early-afternoon when the water tank at the junction of Everard Track and Meridian Track came into view, sitting down in a sea of daisies it was time for lunch.
The junction with Everard Track signalled the start of some harder walking.
The tank at the junction of Everard Track and Meridian Track was pretty welcome.
From the water tank I was heading up Meridian Track northwards towards Lake Wonga, now I've never been up here before but my limited notes suggested that firm sand makes walking easier as you follow Meridian Track northwards.....all good then! After topping up my water bottles I shouldered my pack which seemed to have got heavier even though I'd just eaten lunch, and set off up Meridian Track. The easier walking lasted around...oh...around zero metres. I was straight into soft, deep, powdery sand and after around 100 metres my route started climbing through what seemed like a never ending series of dunes. Where the walking so far had largely followed the grain of the land Meridian Track is definitely against the grain and to top it off with the route now crossing sand dunes it meant that the canopy of red gums and black box had gone, all I had now for a bit of shade was the occasional cypress pine. Still I wanted a bit of a training walk so I suppose I couldn't complain, at least that's what I muttered to myself as I made my way up past Lake Wonga.
Meridain Track was a soft sandy slog for a lot of it's length.
Occasionally I was able to just wonder along beside the track, the grass being a lot firmer.
Around Lake Wonga the sand dunes stopped for awhile.
The Lake Wonga environs actually provided a bit of a respite from the soft sand as the track past over the flood plain. Trudging northwards I gave the side trip to Lake Wonga a miss today, pencilling it in for my return journey on Sunday. Soon after passing the track to the lake my route once again resumed it's roller coaster journey though the dunes, it was along here while resting in the shade that I observed my GPS going slightly off the reservation, hmmm. Not too long after assuming my journey again The Freeway Track joined from my right, the good news was that the soft sandy track improved slightly from here on. The other thing that was improving was the scenery as I got further north, the cypress pines and porcupine grass are a favourite of mine that I never seem to get sick of.
Meridian Track north of Lake Wonga, I was looking forward to getting to camp by this stage of the day.
The Freeway Track coming in from the right signalled a marginal improvement in walking conditions.
The scenery was pretty sweet.

After crossing one last dune I arrived at the huge Remote Camp on a flat between the dunes. There is a sign marking the camp so you can't really miss it. Shuffling into the deserted camp I dropped my pack and soon found a nice grassy flat spot for the tent. Once the tent was up I had a bit of a poke around the immediate area, Remote Camp not only features lots of open grassy spots to pitch a tent but also has a fire place, water tank, table and toilet, all the comforts of home really. Setting up my kitchen on the picnic table, dinner was soon on the go, only interrupted as I stopped occasionally to get another photo of the Mallee sunset. With the sun dropping below the horizon the mozzies came out so it was time to crawl into the tent, it has to be one of the best feeling finally lying down after a big days walking...well for me anyway.
I'm just arriving at Remote Camp...if you squint you may see a signpost in the shadows.
Happy days! Remote Camp.
The Dirt.
Ok, like I mentioned earlier my GPS went a little of tangent today so I've used a combination of methods to get these stats. I'm thinking that I walked 21.8 kilometres today and climbed around 155 metres, that doesn't sound too bad does it? The thing is that the last half of the day had me following the very soft and sandy Meridian Track and that was fairly hard walking in the heat of this spring afternoon, I'd have to rate today's stroll as a medium grade walk due to the sand. Being a semi arid environment water is one of the biggest concerns, there is no water at the car park at Black Flat, my first water on the walk was a few hours in at the tank at the junction of Meridian Track and Everard Track, from there on there is no water until I arrived at Remote Camp and it's tank. I checked with the local rangers about the availability of water before I set off on this stroll and I'd highly recommend anyone else doing the walk does the same.
Relevant Posts.

Mallee Sunset, Remote Camp.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Pyramids Loop, Girraween National Park - January 2017

A typical scene in Girraween National Park.
On our way home from Brisbane last Christmas I broke the road trip with a walk in Girraween National Park, I decided to check out The Pyramids Walk. I'd heard stories of Girraween for years and have always wanted to visit but I always seemed to be passing by on journeys further afield, today though was my chance to check the place out for myself. Girraween National Park is a bit of a granite wonderland, with all manor of rocks, hills and tors to be explored. Pulling up at Bald Creek day use area in the early afternoon, I left Sam snoozing in the ute and headed off to explore a bit.
The tracks are well sign posted in Girraween National Park, although there are a lot of them around the day use area.
There are a lot of tracks around here but I just headed west until I arrived at the Bald Rock Camping Area, from here on the way forward was a bit more obvious. Leaving the camp I continued on, the path alternating between crushed granite and huge granite slabs. I was on the Bald Rock Creek Circuit now and after a few minutes I arrived at the more or less dry Bald Rock Creek, while the creek wasn't really flowing much here the huge granite slabs and large pools of water still offered plenty to please the eye. 
Easy walking on my way to Bald Rock Creek camp.
That's The Pyramid in the distance.
My first crossing of Bald Rock Creek was enlivened by some photogenic pools of water.
After crossing Bald Rock Creek the route climbed a little and headed on a bit of a convoluted journey back up stream along the north bank of the creek. The walking here was through dry eucalyptus forest interspersed with quite a few native pines, which are a bit of a personal favourite of mine, so all was pretty good in my Feral world. Now whilst I was generally heading upstream beside the creek for the most part the creek wasn't really visible from my route, the route meandering around the sides of the broad valley taking in points of interest. The next interesting feature marked on my map was the Granite Arch, the track builders here having routed the track between two huge granite boulders with another massive rock balanced overhead, hence the arch, gee you wouldn't want to be here in an earth quake.
Heading back up the valley parallel to Bald Rock Creek, featured more big rocks.
The Granite Arch.

Safely making my way under The Arch my route dropped a little and passed what would be my return route to the ute, I headed left though towards The Pyramid. Initially this track dropped gently crossing a branch of Bald Rock Creek before starting a fairly unrelenting climb up to the top of The Pyramid. Even for a fat old bloke like me the going wasn't too bad to start with, the track climbing a seemingly never ending series of steps. The numerous weird and wonderfully wind warn granite rocks along here kept my mind off my red lining heart beat, and what do you know, every time I ran out of breath there was conveniently something to photograph.
Climbing up the seemingly never ending steps towards The Pyramid.
It seemed that every time the heart rate got a bit high there was something to stop and take a photo of.
Eventually the steps ended and I climbed up onto the bare granite slabs of The Pyramid, this is the crux of the walk as from here on the route sticks to the steep granite slabs, it seems like a lot of punters content themselves with the views from near the base of the slabs rather than tackling the steep incline. Being your intrepid Feral walker though I pushed on, following the splashes of paint on the granite which marked the safest route to the summit. I think that the initial section of the climb is probably the toughest bit as the route climbs very steeply up the granite towards some long slabs of rock that have broken away, there is no natural protection on this bit so it can feel a bit exposed on the bare rock. Once the route meets the long slabs it never feels quite so exposed, although there are definitely some very steep sections they are generally either pretty short or there is some natural protection in the form of big granite boulders. 
This section is probably the crux of the climb up to the summit of The Pyramid, there is very little natural protection on the bare slabs.
But the views are pretty good even if you don't make it to the top.
Native Pines and big rocks, my kind of walk.
While I was on the summit I actually got a few drops of rain which hastened my departure a little.
Reaching a bit of a broad plateau the route doubled back a bit and I climbed up to the summit proper. The view from up here was pretty sweet, although the overcast conditions meant that my photos are a  bit flat really. If you ever find yourself up here take a bit of time to explore the summit area a bit, backtracking I dropped down slightly and headed into an area of massive granite boulders, the many caves and crevices offering plenty of opportunities for exploration. Coming out of the boulders I found myself looking across at the huge bare granite slopes of the imaginatively named Second Pyramid, this is the largest single granite slab in the park and is only accessible to climbers. With the weather threatening to rain on me at any minute I figured it would be a good time to get down before the rock got wet, so it was time to leave.
There is a great area of huge granite boulders to explore just below the summit.
The Second Pyramid is rock climbers territory.

The feared rain thankfully never came (well until I was back in the ute and heading for Coonabarabran anyway) so I managed to get down the rock safely. My route back to the ute was a bit of a retrace initially, descending the long series of steps and crossing the Bald Rock Creek tributary. Once across the small creek I took a left fork and dropped down to the Bald Rock Creek, following it down stream for awhile before crossing the creek on some slabs of rock and then doubling back up stream. Now I could of headed straight back to the ute from here but I decided to check out a swimming hole that I'd seen from the other side of the creek and it proved to be a good move. The swimming hole in Bald Rock Creek is a peach, bugger me there is even a pool ladder to help fat bastards like me enter the water with a little dignity intact! Soaking in the cool water for awhile was a great way to finish what had been a good walk, yeah it would have been a little better with some sun and blue sky but at least it didn't rain and even though it was overcast it was still pretty warm. Sweat free after my little swim I returned to Sam and we headed off on our trip back to Melbourne.
Heading back down to Bald Rock Creek.
After crossing the creek I doubled back up stream for a swim.
Yeah, it's a hard life!
Hey Hey, I even got some patches of blue sky as I floated in the water hole.
The Bald Rock Creek waterhole was a very civilised swimming hole.
The Dirt.
I walked 6.8 kilometres and climbed 295 metres on this medium grade stroll. I used the mud map and notes out of Melanie Ball's book Top Walks in Australia as well as my GPS. Melanie is one of the newest guide book writers and her books are published through Explore Australia, her notes are generally very good and she has written up some walks that either haven't been written up before or it has been awhile since they have been written up. This walk would be an easy walk if it wasn't for the final steep climb up the granite slabs, while the granite has pretty good grip the exposure worries a lot of people, the good news is that the view from near the start of the steep slabs is pretty good so you can just turn around and head back if it all gets a bit freaky.
Relevant Posts.

Here's another look at the dodgiest bit, this lady had decided that she'd give it a miss.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Aspley Gorge, Douglas - Aspley National Park - April 2010

The view from the lookout looked promising.
Over the years I've had my eye on a little known track down in Tasmania called the Leeaberra Track, a three day walk through the Douglas - Aspley National Park. While this stroll has always been in the back of my mind the logistics have always pushed it into the too hard basket. This is another of those one way walks and to make it even more difficult the northern end of the track is a fair way off the highway along fairly rough roads. All those issues combined have basically sucked all my enthusiasm for the walk away, so when I heard that there was a short walk in the south of the park that was fairly easily accessed I decided that I'd head in and check it out. With us on a short break down in Tasmania in early 2010 it provided the perfect opportunity to check out, what ended up being a surprisingly rugged Aspley Gorge.
The Aspley Gorge walk is a rugged little walk.
I'll be struggling to pad this post out to any great length as this was a fairly short walk done a fairly long time ago. What I do remember though is that Sam and I had spent a few days over at Freycinet and were on our way down to Hobart, so the short detour up to the Aspley Gorge wasn't too far out of the way. As seems to be a bit of a habit Sam decided to stay in the car while I headed off on the walk. This walk crosses through some private land before arriving at a lookout high above Aspley River. The lookout gave me the first view of the rocky river bed as well as my first look at the very tempting turquoise pools that would torment me for the rest of the walk, this is another walk that I've now earmarked for a return visit on a warm day with a bit more time up my sleeve to enjoy some of these magnificent swimming spots.
The Aspley River was barely flowing on this visit.
After climbing over the end of the spur that the river gorge curves around, the tracked dropped down this gully to the river.
I passed straight over the river today though, almost immediately passing the end of the Leeaberra Track I started a fairly easy climb. The climb passed through fairly dry forest before I topped out and started a steeper benched descent back down to the Aspley River. I was now at the north western end of Aspley Gorge and from here on the scenery would ramp up as I rock hopped my way down the  rocky river bed. From here until I arrived back at the bottom of the gorge the walk was effectively off track, although with the dolerite walls of the gorge hemming me in there was no real navigation problems. The rock hopping and large slabs, along with the frequent pools of water gave me plenty to admire and the gently trickling river didn't hold any terrors for me on this early Autumn day. After around an hour of rock hopping the gorge opened up a little and I once again found myself back at the big pool beneath the lookout, all that was left to do now was to retrace my route back to the car while I plotted in my head how I could get myself back here for a longer visit, something that I've yet to manage...
Once back in the river it was just a matter of rock hopping my way down stream through the gorge.
I really enjoy this type of walking.
The Dirt.
According to my old guide book I walked 6.1 kilometres and climbed 190 metres, although these are Chapman measurements so you probably need to apply the Chapman factor. I'd rate this as an easy walk although it does involve a rough off track section through the gorge that wouldn't be suited to everyone. As I mentioned this walk was written up by the House of Chapman in their Day Walks Tasmania book, I used the first edition but assume that it's in the latest edition as well. I think this walk would be a good one to do in the warmer weather, the swimming spots in the Aspley River looked very tempting and I'm guessing that it doesn't get as crowded here as it does on the east coast beaches over summer.
Relevant Posts.
I had to pass by numerous excellent swimming spots....not an easy thing for me to do on a warm 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...