Sunday, October 29, 2017

Broken Nose, Wooroonooran National Park - September 2005

Looking east from Broken Nose, over the coastal sugar cane fields towards the Coral Sea.
Back in 2005 I found myself up in Cairns with a few days up my sleeve before Sam and Bel arrived and we headed down to Hinchinbrook Island. Now being the social creature that I am the bright lights of Cairns only held limited appeal to me, so throwing my boots into the car I decided to head down to the Wooroonooran National Park. My original plan was to climb Mount Bartle Frere but with my usual tardy start to the day it was lunch time by the time I arrived at the car park....hmmm. Quickly ruling out the short walk to Josaphine Falls as a little bit too easy, I instead decided to climb Broken Nose, a walk that I'd never done before. 

The track up Broken Nose starts off by following the Bartle Frere Track for around three kilometres. As soon as I left the car park I was enveloped in dense tropical rainforest, thankful to be away from the direct sun I made my way along what is a fairly good track. My main memories of this section of track is that after it crosses Majuba Creek the track climbs onto a fairly narrow ridge. Climbing the rooty track along this narrow ridge I could hear Majuba Creek in the gully on one side of me and Kowadgi Creek in the gully on the other side, the impenetrable wall of vegetation stopping any real views though.  On reaching the small open dirt area of Big Rock Camp I left the Bartle Frere Track and headed left towards Broken Nose.
Back in the day there was a taped track from Big Rock Camp to Broken Nose.
From Big Rock Camp the track gets a lot rougher and climbs very steeply. I was now sometimes using the trees to help haul my fat guts upwards, although you have to be a little careful grabbing a handful of vegetation in the rainforest, every second plant seems to want to leave its painful reminder on me. When I wasn't using trees to haul myself up I was weaving in and out of big rocks, a situation that only got worse when I reached a ridge and started to head south towards Broken Nose. After a kilometre of fairly hard going along the ridge I suddenly emerged from the rainforest onto the huge black sloping rock that is Broken Nose.
It is a steep walk in the north Queensland humidity though.
Once on the ridge out to Broken Nose the route starts to pass through a lot of these huge boulders.
At 962 metres Broken Nose is a fairly lofty spot situated at the end of a south running ridge, the best views being to the south and the east, although I could get a glimpse of the summit area of Mount Bartle Frere back over my shoulder as well. Apart from the all encompassing rainforest, the lookout also gave me a grandstand view of the Russell River snaking it's way through the mountains. Looking south-east away from the mountains the view was of the sugarcane covered flat coastal plains. The sloping rock of Broken Nose needs to be treated with a little respect though, it would be easy enough to lose traction here and you wouldn't be coming back from a fall. After taking in the expansive view for awhile while I got my heart rate back down it was time to set off on my return journey. Being a total retrace it was just a matter of easing my way back down the steep track, although now I was using the trees to slow me down rather than pulling me up.
The Broken Nose lookout is a large sloping granite rock, it would be very easy to go to far out and slip here...
The Russell River winding through the mountains below me.
The Dirt.
I walked around 10 kilometres today and climbed around 790 metres on this fairly hard walk, now as this walk was way back in 2005 then I'm getting my distances and elevation climbed out of old guide books and maps so they might not be the most accurate figures. The only guide book that features this walk is a book by Kym Dungey & Jane Whytlaw called Tropical Walking Tracks - The Cassowary Coast although I think this book is long ago out of print. For some current notes and map you could use the Chapman's Bushwalking in Australia book, it features an overnighter up Bartle Frere which describes the side trip out to Broken Nose. All my visits to far north Queensland occurred way before I even knew what a blog was unfortunately, I'm thinking it's time to head back up in the next year or so with a good camera and maybe do justice to some of the great walks up there.
Relevant Posts.
Thorsborne Trail, Hinchinbrook Island National Park, 2005.

Mount Bartle Frere from Broken Nose, what a beautiful day :)
I had a little more hair back in 2005.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Warepil Lookout Circuit, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park - August 2017

Warepil Lookout, Hattah-Kulkuyne National Park.
Most of the walks that I've done up at Hattah over the years have either featured lakes or the river, so it felt a little odd on this one to be walking away from the water and into the semi arid scrub on this walk. Thankfully the temperatures up at Hattah at this time of the year are generally pretty reasonable, this wouldn't be a walk to do on a hot summers day. This track starts at the Lake Mournpall Camp and initially follows the Lake Mournpall Circuit Track for a couple of hundred metres before branching off into the dunes to the west.
My route followed the Lake Mournpall track for a few hundred metres before heading off to the west.
Red dirt and blue sky, it doesn't get much better for me.
Like most tracks up at Hattah this one is a sandy swathe cut through the Mallee trees marked by fairly frequent track markers on recycled plastic poles. Apart from the track being a bit soft it's was pretty easy going as I struck out towards Warepil Lookout, the dunes covered with tussocks of Porcupine Grass and the occasional native Cypress Pine or Bullock trees. For the most part though I was passing through the ubiquitous Mallee Trees, the multiple trunks of the trees coming out of the ground are the give-away for those that aren't sure. The rangers have actually fenced off the lakes section of the park to control the local populations of macropods, the semi permanent water of the lakes leading to big population explosions in good years, which denuded the country. Passing through the fence it was obvious that the country on the outside of the fence was more heavily grazed, although whether it was by the local native animals or the cattle back in the day when the park was a cattle station I'm not sure.
There were some large patches of Porcupine Grass near the start of the walk.
As well as the occasional Bulloak tree.
The Kangaroo Fence.
After passing through the fence the track crossed a few slightly larger dunes, at one stage tracking along the top of one for a short section which allowed for a bit of a view over the undulating terrain. With my route slowly curving around to the south I kept thinking that I'd soon spot the lookout, from every high spot I'd look out at the sea of green but it wasn't until I was around fifty metres from the lookout tower that I could actually see it, this country is a nightmare to navigate through with just a compass as it's very hard to see any distance to take a bearing, thankfully the GPS makes things a lot easier and safer nowadays. Climbing up onto the lookout structure the view was slightly better than that on the top of the dunes, in one direction I could see the telecommunication repeaters beside the Calder Highway, in the other direction I could make out the bigger trees that live in the wetter areas around the lakes. Mostly though all I could see from the lookout was wave after wave of Mallee Trees receding into the distance.
The country on the other side of the fence was a little more denuded.
My route climbed onto the crest of this dune for awhile.
Before arriving at the fairly modest Warepil Lookout.
The view back towards Lake Mournpall from the lookout.
The lookout more or less marked the halfway point of my stroll and soon enough I set off on my return journey. The return trip was more of the same initially, crossing low dunes and tunnelling through sections of Mallee and Tea-Trees. Passing back through the roo fence I picked up an old fire trail, passing the Camel Pad Walk which heads out of the park to Hattah general store. Giving the Camel Pad Track a miss for today I continued to follow the old fire track, passing an old dam on a clay pan I soon arrived at Mournpall Track. This is the main access road through the park but it actually makes for a reasonable road bash, there wasn't a lot of traffic to annoy me and the wide smooth surface made it very easy to take in the surrounding bush. After cresting one last dune the ute came into view through the Black Box trees and my little stroll was over.
Heading back the track started of with more of the same.
Arriving back at the Kangaroo Fence I was met with a multitude of gates and fences.
After passing back through the fence line I followed this old sandy track back out to the more substantial Mournpall Track.
There's an old dam along here that may attract some of the native wildlife at sunset and sunrise.
This walk is extremely well sign posted.
The Dirt.
I walked 7.4 kilometres at an average speed of 3.9 kph today, with 109 metres of climbing involved then I'd definitely rate this as an easy walk. The track is well marked and sign posted at all the intersections so there is no navigational difficulties, the soft sand surface is probably the only real issue on the walk. If you really don't like walking you can actually drive to within a couple of hundred metres of the lookout tower if you head north along the gravelled Old Calder Highway, in my opinion the walk is the better way to access the tower though. Parks Vic have enough free stuff on line to complete this walk, the Daly's have also written it up in their Take A Walk in Victoria's National Parks book if you have a copy, or alternatively you could just get the Meridian topo map (which I recommend) for the area and use that.
Relevant Posts.
Lake Mournpall Circuit, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, 2017.
Wyperfeld Walk, Wyperfeld National Park, 2016.

Mournpall track, check out the Cypress Pine growing from the old Bulloak trunk.

I stalked an Echidna for while trying to get a photo but it buried it's head in the sand every time I had a chance so you'll have to settle for this Cockatoo. 

And that's another nice walk coming to it's end.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Claude Road to Mount Roland, Mount Roland Conservation Area - August 2002

There was a fixed rope of dubious quality in place back in 2002.
Before I even knew what a Blog was I'd already spent years criss crossing Australia, both behind the wheel of various vehicles and on foot. Now with me having no real idea that one day I'd be posting some of these adventures, actually some of these small adventures were actually done before the inter web was actually invented and most were done before I had any comprehension of the on-line possibilities that the inter web would provide. So anyway that's the reason why most of these old retro posts are a little thin when it comes to photos. Not only don't I have a lot of photos but the ones that I do have are were sometimes taken with fairly basic cameras, back then a 3 megapixel camera was pretty sweet! So anyway the reason I post these old trips is purely selfish really, I just like having a record on-line of the places that I've been and things I've done, kind of an on-line diary really, and besides it's always an interesting exercise comparing these old trips to current ones when I revisit these spots.
I'm looking a little flushed.....his photo was actually taken as I finished the walk.
Not only was my hair a little darker in these old photos but I was a little dumber braver as well. It was all about reaching the goal back then, so I wasn't very often deterred by bad weather and I summited quite a few mountains in total white outs, I'm a little more circumspect nowadays and generally will give the summit a miss if the weather looks absolutely crap. Today's walk up Mount Roland was one of those days, I set off from the trail head near the tiny town of Claude Road in crappy weather and things only went down hill from there. 
This steep gully provides access to the plateau.
This climb up Mount Roland is a steep grunt, initially I climbed through eucalyptus forest on a fairly well defined track as I made my way up towards the base of the cliffs that fortify the summit plateau. Once at the base of the cliffs things get a little harder (well at least they did back in 2003), my route jigged right a little and started climbing very steeply up a gully filled with scree. The steep climb was made a little easier back in the day with a fixed rope aiding progress, but still the steepness combined with the wet rocks and the limited visibility meant that it paid to concentrate up here. Eventually my route topped out on the broad plateau that is the top of Mount Roland, with the visibility somewhat limited I paid careful attention to this spot as this was really my only exit off the tops and this wasn't a place that I'd want to get lost. Once up on the plateau I followed a fairly well defined track as it weaved around through the low alpine scrub and rocks, around twenty minutes after I set foot on the plateau the summit trig materialised through the murk. Now normally there is a 360˚ view from the 1233 metre summit and today I to had a 360˚ view from the trig, although my view only extended for three metres! Anyway, after a summit shot I retraced my steps back down to the car park, happy enough that I'd bagged another summit.
The summit plateau of Mount Roland features mostly low alpine scrub.
I'm sure the view off the edge of the plateau is stunning.
There was actually an easy scramble as I made my way to the summit trig.
The Dirt.
I walked around 6.4 kilometres on this walk but that only tells half the story, I climbed around 850 metres with the majority of that in the first 2.5 kilometres. Yes the start of this walk is seriously steep so I guess I'd rate this as a medium grade stroll. The route back in 2003 was fairly well defined but it does cross areas of rock were you may need to follow cairns. As I mentioned above the plateau area is fairly featureless and if you lost the pad up there in bad weather it would make navigation a lot harder, although GPS would make things a little easier nowadays. I've been told that the view from the summit is extensive with Cradle Mountain being in view from the summit on a clear day, I guess I'll have to take their word on that. This walk was written up by Tyrone Thomas back in the day if you can get your hands on a copy of one of his old Tasmanian walks books.

The Mount Roland summit trig.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Walhalla Town Walk - October 2017

Alright, it's finally happened. As you read this quality offering from me I'll be inching my way to Canberra on the Australian Alps Walking Track. Before I could leave though I had one last food drop to stash in the hills. Sam decided to come with me today, probably because she wanted to make sure that the food drop went in safely and that she was really going to get rid of me for a few weeks;) I also bribed her a little with the promise of lunch in Walhalla after our morning driving around the hills. So, before first light we were on our way, yep Sam was real happy about that!
The Walhalla to Matlock Road was in very good nick on today's drive.
After my usual breakfast of champions, which we picked up at The Golden Arches, we soon turned off the highway and headed for the hills. I know this area fairly well as I use to come up here with the old man in the truck when the Thompson Dam was being built, it was a lot more comfortable drive in the ute than it was back in the day in the semi-trailer, that's for sure. We were heading up to Mt Selma Road this morning and I was very pleasantly surprised how good the condition of the dirt roads were, normally these roads are absolute goat tracks but today all was good. Incidentally, if anyone thinks that they might head up this way then use the road over the Thomson Dam Wall and not the road up from Walhalla-that one is still pretty rough. Anyway after a bit of poking around the scrub looking for the right spot I stashed my food, marking it with the GPS and saying a prayer that it's still there in a week and a bit.
Hmm, what are the chances of me finding these boxes again?
I'll be a hungry boy if I don't find them...
There was still a fair bit of snow in the hills, the snows about two days walk away.
With my food safely hidden in the bush it was time to head down to Walhalla and fulfill the lunch part of the day. Before eating though we decided to take a bit of a walk around this beautiful old mining town. Parking the ute at the northern end of town in the North Gardens Campground we climbed up a short steep pinch to access an old tramway that contours along the west side of the valley above town. This old tramway makes for very nice level walking and we slowly made our way south, stopping fairly frequently to admire the views through the trees down into town meant that we weren't doing it too hard today. After passing the old Long Tunnel Extended Mine we continued on to meet the Australian Alps Walking Track near Long Tunnel Mine, I figured that I may as well take a photo today as you never know what the weather is going to be like later in the week when I head through loaded shown with all my gear.
Leaving the North Gardens Camping Ground we climbed up onto the old tramway.
Fifty Shades of green today.
There are plenty of views down into town from the tramway.
Long Tunnel Extended Mine
I'd grabbed an old book by John & Marion Siseman to use for notes on this little stroll and with the book dating back to 1993 (yes, you read that right)  I wasn't exactly sure how accurate the information would be. The main thought that I'd had was exactly were was my last opportunity to descend from the tramway down to town level, my mud map was less than helpful. After passing Long Tunnel Mine, which came complete today with it's own bag-pipe player perched on an old mine footing serenading the town below, we continued on south along what was now the AAWT. With the town slowly passing us by in the valley below and with no sign of another track to get us down into town we eventually realised that we would have to retrace our walk back towards the Long Tunnel Mine, not a hardship really as we are only talking a few hundred metres.

The old tramway is benched into a fairly steep slope in spots.
We even had Billy Connolly err, a bag pipe player serenading us today.
Yeah I'm looking pretty fresh now, well see what I look like after 700 kilometres in December.
Looking across the valley to the cemetery.
After descending the unmarked old fire track that zig zagged down through the mine tailings we crossed Stringers Creek on some stepping stones. The rest of our stroll involved a gentle walk up and down the main street through town, first up though I convinced Sam to climb up the the old cemetery to check it out before we continued on to the railway station at the southern end of town, last time I was here I took the short trip on the old train from the Thomson River Bridge into town before I headed off on a walk and I'd highly recommend this little train trip.
This is the last easy chance to get down off the tramway at the southern end of town.
Stringers Creek
It's a bit of a stiff little climb up to the cemetery, but it's worth the effort I think.
The Walhalla Station at the south end of town makes a good spot to turn around.
Heading up Stringers Creek, mullock heaps cascading down the slopes on the other side of the creek.
Today though we we gave the train a miss and head back up through town to find somewhere to eat. Walhalla isn't a place that you have to be a walker to visit, there is a lot to take in even if you don't want to walk more than a few metres. With our appetites successfully sated we continued up through town passing the rotunda and the Star Hotel on the way. The beautiful old buildings continued all the way back up to North Gardens, the locals really should be proud of this little town as most of the historical building are immaculately presented, on a nice sunny day like today it's hard to take a bad photo here. Arriving back at the ute our afternoon's stroll was now over, all that was left was the two hour drive home.
The walk back up to the top of town is achingly beautiful in a quaint kind of a way.
North Gardens Camp Ground
The Dirt.
This is a very easy walk. We walked around 6 kilometres and climbed about 120 metres on todays stroll. I say around as my GPS didn't overly like the steep sided valley as we walked down the tramway and went into it's value add mode whereby it added distance to my stats while it struggled to get a good enough fix on a some satellites. I'd recommend a visit to Walhalla to anyone, there are enough things to keep the kiddies occupied - underground mine tours, old time lollie shop appeared to be favourites with the younger folk. The historical side of town will no doubt have the older generation enthralled and there are a few options for the rest of us if you want a drink or a feed. Like I mentioned earlier I used some notes written up by John & Marion Siseman from their old book Melbourne's Mountains, to be honest these old notes are of very limited use but really if you are not venturing out of town you can't really go too wrong wandering around Walhalla.
Relevant Posts.

We had an almost perfect spring day 

There are plenty of old decommissioned mine shafts around town if you look hard enough.

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...