Sunday, February 25, 2018

Stony Creek to Cowombat Flat, AAWT, Alpine National Park - November 2017

Looking across the infant Murray River to New South Wales from tonight's camp.
Tucked in to my little grassy flat on Stony Creek I had a good nights sleep last night. This was my first night for awhile that I wasn’t camping near brumbie pads, so subconsciously at least, I wasn’t as concerned with getting trampled in my sleep, a sub optimal outcome if there ever was one! I was up fairly early this morning too as I had a couple of things to look forward to, today I’d be picking up another food drop and then tonight, all going well, I’d reach the New South Wales border, a definite milestone on my AAWT stroll.
I had a short steep scramble up to re-join he AAWT first up this morning.
After a relaxed brekky I shouldered my pack and scrambled up the steep western side of the creek to pick up the AAWT again. Mr Chapman’s notes said to follow brumbie tracks staying within sight of the creek so once again I was braced for a bit of a tough walk, once again though conditions had obviously changed fair bit since Mr Chapman had passed through. The pad along Stony Creek was fairly obvious for the most part, the only sections that had me really concentrating was where the AAWT headed down to cross some of the creek flats, it was always a little harder to pick up the ongoing track when leaving these flats. So with the walking being a lot more enjoyable than I’d feared I was in a slightly euphoric mood as I ambled upstream, my revery was broken though as I glanced to my right and noticed a sun baking Copperhead Snake on the high side of the track at about waist height, yep that got my attention! It was more that I didn’t see the snake until the last minute that was the problem, the snake itself didn’t move a muscle as I leapt off the downhill side of the track to escape.
Old mate Mr Copperhead didn't seemed overly fussed about the Feral walker thankfully.
With my mind now super focussed every second stick littering the floor appeared like one of my cold blooded serpent mates ready to strike, it certainly kept the heart rate up a bit. After a short stretch along an old firetrack I dropped down to the old marble quarry that I’m guessing the road serviced at some stage. Stony Creek was now frequently going subterranean as I made my way up the narrowing valley, coming to the end of my creek side sidle I stopped for a minute to take a shot of the spur that I’d be climbing up to Cowombat Flat Track. It was while pointing the camera in the general direction that I figured that the AAWT would take me, that I was startled by a ladies voice yelling out. The lady behind the voice was Anne, I’d known that Anne was walking the AAWT from the north to the south at around the same time as me and she had said that she thought that we’d cross paths near the border, but it was still a very pleasant surprise to actually see her. As was usual for me it quickly became apparent talking to Anne that she was doing it a lot easier than me on the walk, Anne was powering down Stony Creek this morning to meet up with her partner and head into Omeo for a night of R+R so I didn’t hold her up too long. As I was leaving Anne she mentioned that my holiday was about to begin, I’d heard that the NSW section of the AAWT was easier but it was nice to hear it from someone who had just walked it.
The pad along Stony Creek generally contours along the western side of the valley.
This limestone bluff is a bit of a feature on the walk up Stony Creek.
I'm about to start climbing up to Cowombat Flat Track.
So with Anne’s words ringing in my head I almost bounded up the spur to meet Cowombat Flat Track…almost;) Reaching the top of the spur that had been my route up from Stony Creek I emerged from the scrub onto Cowombat Flat Track and was now in familiar territory again, not only had I been in here recently with Sam doing a food drop but this was also a spot that I had visited on a three day walk up to the Cobberas a year or so ago. It was the food drop that I was interested in today though, walking around ten metres down Cowombat Flat Track I headed bush again to the spot where my box of goodies was hidden, thankfully finding it undisturbed by the local population of marauding horses. Now I haven’t mentioned the weather today so far, over the course of the morning the clouds had been building up and now as I unpacked my next few days worth of supplies it looked like precipitation was fairly imminent. So with the weather at the front of my mind I didn’t linger too long here, sorting out my food and maps I soon had everything I needed to get to Thredbo in my pack and after stashing the bin I was off again.
Once again the AAWT was easy to follow and well defined as it climbed up to Cowombat Flat Track.
Emerging from the scrub onto Cowombat Flat Track, my food drop was only a couple of minutes away....happy days!
If you don't include Mt Hotham this was my fourth food drop on the AAWT.
For the rest of the day the AAWT would follow Cowombat Flat Track so I wasn’t expecting any real navigational issues this afternoon. With extra food in it, I swung my now somewhat heavier pack onto my shoulders and headed off again. For the last couple of days I’d been feeling a bit crook, I suspect due to drinking a bit of dodgy water. It’s almost impossible to get water along this section of the AAAWT that hasn’t been spoiled by the feral brumbies running around so everything needs to be treated, a situation that I was a bit slow to pick up on! So anyway while the walking along Cowombat Flat Track was pretty easy I didn’t have a lot of energy to burn as I trudged along towards the Cowombat Flat Carpark.
Easy walking along Cowombat Flat Track.
Heading into the Cobberas Wilderness Zone at the Cowombat Flat Carpark.
After another little rest at the carpark I passed through the locked gate and dropped down to cross Bulley Creek and pass through a second gate. The weather that had been threatening for a few hours now arrived as I shuffled my way towards Cowombat Flat, I was now engaged in a game of jacket on, jacket off as I tried to judge whether I was better off getting wringing wet with sweat or rain as the showers passed through. Cowombat Flat Track proved to be a fairy straightforward and uneventful walk overall, I got a few fleeting views through the trees over the deep valley that the infant Murray River flows through but part from that it was more or less a head down, chew it up and spit out the kilometres.
I got a few glimpses of the Cobberas through the trees along Cowombat Flat Track, this is Moscow Peak poking it's head out in the distance.
My walk along Cowombat Flat Track seemed to take an eternity this afternoon.
When I was walking it, my progress along Cowombat Track seemed incredibly slow, but arriving at the large green grassy expanse of Cowombat Flat just after 3pm, perhaps it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. Meandering down across the open grassy plain I pitched the tent around 10 metres from the infant Murray River. With camp set up I couldn’t resist wandering over to the river to jump over and set foot in New South Wales for the first time on this walk, I’ve swum back and forth across the Murray River quite a few times 100’s of kilometres down stream where the river is 50 metres or so wide so being able to step across the same river with dry feet was a bit of a novelty for me today.
There was a bit of weather around this afternoon.
I got a few glimpses to the west.
Dropping down to Cowombat Flat Track I got a look at The Pilot, now a lot closer.

Returning to camp I grabbed my chocolate that I’d picked up in today’s food drop and headed over to share it with Hilly and Libby, who were camped in a small copse of trees 100 metres away. My afternoon at Cowombat Flat passed fairly quickly as I chatted with the ladies and relaxed. Returning to my tent later that evening I made some notes about the day as I listened to the horses galloping up and down the valley around me, saying a silent prayer that they taken notice of my bright orange tent pitched on their runway.
Cowombat Flat
The Dirt.
I walked 21 kilometres today and climbed 780 metres on another hard day on the AAWT. Over the 26 days of my AAWT adventure so far I’ve walked 442 kilometres and climbed 20,965 metres. After leaving Stony Creek I picked up water at Bulley Creek, there was also water at Copperhead Creek, Mountain Trout Creek and a couple of other spots along Cowombat Flat Track (I was back up here at the end of February and these creeks were all either dry or just trickling). The infant Murray River at Cowombat Flat provided water for camp. Navigation wise today was more straight forward than I’d imagined reading my notes, the main issue was the first 4 kilometres or so up Stony Creek until the AAWT started to climb up to Cowombat Flat Track, the pad on the steep slopes above the creek was generally pretty well defined and easy to follow but when the pad descended to cross the creek flats things could get a bit vague with the multitude of brumbie pads around. Camping wise there are quite a few spots along Stony Creek and then along Cowombat Flat Track, the best spot though is easily the wide open expanses of Cowombat Flat. I didn’t get a mobile signal today. I used John Chapman’s notes and maps as well as Rooftop’s Bright - Dartmouth Adventure Map for an overview.

Relevant Posts.
AAWT, First day, October 2017.
AAWT, Previous day, November 2017.
Cobberas Walk, Day 1, October 2017.

Cowombat Flat is a very pleasant spot to spend a night or two.
Tonight's camp was a good one, that's the Murray River in flowing down that scrubby gully behind my tent.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Buckwong Creek to Stony Creek, AAWT, Alpine National Park - November 2017

Boots off for my crossing of Dead Horse Creek.
Early morning near Buckwong Creek.
After yesterday afternoons big storm the weather had once again cleared by the time I emerged from my wet tent this morning, while yesterday’s rain had soaked the outside of the fly the insides were now soaking wet with condensation after a very still and humid night. So with the sun slowly creeping into the Buckwong Creek valley I settled in and enjoyed a very relaxed breakfast as I shuffled the tent around chasing the early morning sun. By 8:30am I decided that once again I’d better start plodding my way north, Canberra wasn’t getting any closer unfortunately.
Once again the Buckwong Creek flats made for fairly easy walking this morning.
The trick is to find the spot the AAWT leaves the flats.
While the brumbie pads make life a little easier through the scrub, they can sometimes make navigation a little trickier.
Leaving camp this morning the AAWT continued up the creek flats for awhile, once again brumbie pads making walking a little easier but also confusing the navigation somewhat. I was now slowly climbing up to meet Misery Trail and to be honest once I’d left the creek flats and made sure I was actually on the AAWT and not a horse track, then the walking up here was pretty clear and obvious. Although the climb was a little convoluted to begin with as the pad skirted around some Tea Tree in a wet gully, but once I started to gain a little altitude the pad was clear and well marked, it is a fairly steep little 400 metre climb though and I was certainly happy enough to emerge from the Snow Gums onto Misery Track.
Once climbing the AAWT was steep but defined.

Misery Track heads along the crest of Davies Plain Ridge and far from being miserable, this old fire track made for very nice walking as it undulated along the ridge through an avenue of Snow Gums. I wasn’t feeling 100% today though, I seemed to be struggling a little with a lack of energy so every little climb was a bit of an ordeal today, so I was pretty happy to arrive at the high spot where Misery Track drops off the ridge to the west and drop my pack for awhile. With the sun out I managed to get a bit of tent drying happening as a recovered from the climb and enjoyed my first lunch. Now while I wasn’t feeling 100% I did have one stroke of good luck today, I managed to get a mobile signal so I was able to get a text message out to Sam letting her know that all was well, once again lifting a metaphorical weight off my shoulders.
The Snow Gums on Misery Track allowed me a few views.
Misery Track
Having smoko where the AAWT leaves Misery Trail (I got a mobile signal here).
After a good break in the sunshine I shouldered the pack and set off on a fairly long descent that I would eventually finish 600 metres lower down on Smoke Oh Creek. Chapman once again suggested that the going is a little vague down here but for the most part things on the ground today were pretty clear and well marked…..for the most part. Before the AAWT started to drop off Davies Plain Ridge I walked through an area that still had a fair covering of hail stones left over from last nights storm, something that I wasn’t expecting on what was now a pretty warm day. Passing through the hail stones the AAWT then began the descent proper, dropping to cross Macs Creek Track on the way I continued down to eventually enter a wide grassy gully. This gully is where things do actually get a little vague in spots but with the AAWT more or less corralled in by steep hills on either side it wasn’t hard to find my way down to Dead Horse Creek.
Looking across towards the Cobberas.
There was still a bit of hail left over from yesterdays storm.
Clambering over another fallen tree.
The last section down to Dead Horse Creek was a little vague.
It was hard to go to far wrong in this gully though.
After following Dead Horse Creek downstream for awhile I got to another boots off crossing, apart from the inconvenience putting my boots on and off I really enjoyed these crossings where I’d get my feet wet. Lingering for as long as I could stand the cold water I eventually climbed up onto dry land again, finding a nice grassy spot with a convenient fallen log to sit on while I waited for my feet to dry off a bit. With my energy levels approaching those of the average 90 year old I once again shouldered my pack and headed off, now following a fairly rough but defined pad that contoured along the hillsides beside Dead Horse Creek. I could see a couple of little plunge pools down in the creek that if I had a little more mojo I might of dropped down for a dip, today though it was just a matter of shuffling on.
That's the AAWT dropping into Dead Horse Creek on the far bank.
Just after the crossing of Dead Horse Creek the AAWT passes through some more Omeo Gums.
The Omeo Gums have a multi trunk set up, kind of like a Mallee Tree.
Crossing Smoke Oh Creek the AAWT now started to climb a little higher above the creek, the going along here was a little vague in spots, particularly where the brumbies had made their own tracks through the open scrub. Even though I had no energy this section was actually pretty enjoyable, being a fair way up the side of the hill the open forest was now giving my a few views of the craggy Cobberas, now a lot closer than the last time I’d got a glimpse of them. Around an hour after my crossing of Smoke Oh Creek, including a couple of sections where I was scouting around for awhile deciphering the correct route, the AAWT emerged from the scrub onto Limestone Creek Track and all was pretty easy on the AAWT again.
The AAWT heading down Dead Horse Creek.
There were a couple of nice little plunge pools along here.
There are a few grassy openings which the brumbies seem to love.
The Cobberas
Have I mentioned the horses...?
I'm thinking that's The Pilot.
The AAWT climbing easily up to Limestone Track.
It's spots like this where I had to be careful with navigation, it was very easy to head off on a tangent following a brumbie pad.
Almost as soon as I arrived onto Limestone Creek Track the fire track started to drop very quickly down to the Limestone Creek ford. Arriving at the creek I found Hilly and Libby already camped on the grassy shelf above the creek, they were certainly going better than me by the look of it. After stopping for awhile to compare notes and have a bit of a chat I decided to give the ladies a bit of space and head on a bit further to find a spot to camp. So after crossing Limestone Creek I trudged up the firetrack in the late afternoon light to Stony Creek. I was in the dark a bit about whether I would actually find enough flat ground to pitch my tent on here, but thankfully when I arrived I was able to push a few metres through some scrub to a bit of a grassy opening above the creek. Thankfully the sometimes subterranean Stony Creek was also flowing above ground here which made this a pretty good campsite, being in a steep, vegetated valley I was hoping that I’d be away from marauding horses over night too.
Dropping down Limestone Creek Track to Limestone Creek.
The Dirt.
I walked 16 kilometres today and climbed 700 metres on another hard day today. My AAWT stats so far after 25 days are 421 kilometres along with 20185 metres of climbing. After leaving Buckwong Creek this morning the next water was when I arrived down at Dead Horse Creek, after that it was Limestone Creek and then camp at Stony Creek. There are lots of camping options today, Dead Horse Creek and Limestone Creek are probably the pick of them…..although the Davies Plain Ridge would be good if you don’t mind hauling your water up. I camped 20 metres up stream of the Stony Creek ford on Limestone Creek Track, this spot is only really good for one tent. Navigation today wasn’t overly tough but there were a couple of spots that needed a bit of concentration. The first spot is where the AAWT swings down a wide gully to meet Dead Horse Creek and the second spot is on the climb up to Limestone Creek Track above Dead Horse Creek, there are a lot of brumbie pads along here. I got a Telstra signal today up where the AAWT leaves Misery Track to start descending down to Dead Horse Creek. I used John Chapman’s notes and maps as well as Rooftop’s Bright - Dartmouth Adventure Map for an overview.

Relevant Posts.
AAWT, Day 1, October 2017.
AAWT, Previous day, November 2017.

My Stony Creek camp.
Stony Creek

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...