Sunday, February 18, 2018

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

Jumping ahead of myself, sunset was pretty sweet tonight.
It’s amazing what difference a bit of sun can make, last night when I went to bed I was looking forward to getting out of this damp and cold valley. Crawling out of the tent this morning though I was greeted by a beautiful scene, a nice green grassy camp complete with a crystal clear mountain stream all bathed in warm sunlight filtering down through the thin canopy of the trees, I was wondering if I really had to head off into the hills again. After yesterday’s solid day over Johnnies Top today promised to be an easier stroll, so I was able to soak up the ambiance of this nice spot over a leisurely breakfast.
Emerging from my tent things looked a lot more pleasant this morning.
Packing up after brekky it was once again time to set off on my journey north. Now I’d mentioned yesterday that I was a bit disappointed to arrive down at Buenba Creek and find trees and tussock grass when pictured in my mind I was expecting grassy meadows, well after climbing over a low saddle on a spur that ran down to the creek, the promised land materialised. Yep, here was my hoped for green grassy meadows complete with Buenba Creek bubbling along beside it, numerous campsites and easy walking did indeed make this feel like a Feral nirvana, if only I’d pushed on for another twenty minutes last night. At least I know now for my next AAWT walk…..
Setting off I even had a bit of a pad to follow this morning.
Now this was what all the photos that I'd seen of the Buenba Creek Flats look like.
Meandering my way across the valley I picked up an old fire track and headed out to meet the dirt Buenba Road, turning left to head back down to the creek where the road crosses it, I picked up some water for the next few hours. After refilling my water bottles I could procrastinate no longer, it was time to start the climb up to Mt Hope Road which promised to be the days hard work. Wandering south along Buenba Road I picked up an old fire track that headed bush from the top of a low cutting in the road, after a few minutes on this old track I again picked up another track heading into the scrub, this was now going to be my route all the way up to Mt Hope Road. Now while Mr Chapman once again had me braced for the worst when he said climb steadily south-east following a broad spur through trackless, but open, bushland, on the ground today I found a clear and well defined pad to follow, today was getting better and better!
Water bottles filled, it's time to start the days hard work.
Leaving Buenba Road I picked up this very old road above low cutting.
After a few minutes on the old road I picked up this pad heading off left.
The 400 metre climb from Buenba Creek up to Mt Hope Road turned out to be the best walking of the day in hindsight. As I’ve already mentioned there was now a pretty good track to help ease my progress and the gradient of the climb meant that I was able to keep chugging along without too many stops to get the heart rate under control, the dry open eucalyptus forest allowing me a few views when I did eventually stop for a break. Around an hour after leaving Buenba Road I emerged from the scrub onto Mt Hope Road on a sharp corner, the biggest climb of the day over and it wasn’t even time for my first lunch. Chapman’s map has the AAWT following the crest of the ridge east along here beside Mt Hope Road, but with no pad, no markers and plenty of regrowth you’d have to be pretty keen to tackle this short section of the AAWT. While I don’t mind the occasional scrub massage if there is no other option, with Mt Hope Road heading to the exact same spot that the official AAWT was heading to I quickly decided that the quiet dirt road was the best option this morning.
The climb up to Mt Hope Road turned out to be the best walking of the day.
There was a pretty good pad up here.
I've just arrived at Mt Hope Road.

Shuffling along Mt Hope Road in the midday sun I was pretty happy when the Buckwong Track turn-off appeared ahead, I was even happier to find a shady spot beside the road to stop for awhile, although I would of been even happier if I could of found a spot without the ubiquitous ants. After lunch I set off again on what was a bit of a road bash along quiet fire tracks, initially descending very gently through Alpine Ash forest as I made my way along to the Mt Murphy Track turn off. I’d had all sorts of plans in my head before setting off on my AAWT stroll and one of those plans was to make the 4 kilometre round trip down to the old Mt Murphy Mine, but arriving at the turnoff today I took one look at the map and decided that the old mine could wait for another trip, my short term ambition today was to get down to Buckwong Creek and have a cool drink on what was now a pretty warm and humid day.
Buckwong Track heading off to the right, it was time for lunch...pity about the ants though.
Buckwong Track
The long range views were a little thin on the ground today.
Mt Murphy Mine is down the track on the left, I'm going right.
So, with the sniff of cold water in my nostrils I ignored Mt Murphy Track and set off down towards Buckwong Creek, the descent from the Mt Murphy Track down Buckwong Track gets a little steeper but it’s still pretty easy going really. I was pretty happy when I dropped down one last steep pinch and arrived and an old wooden bridge that was now half collapsed and submerged under crystal clear water, it was time for a long drink. It was at times like this when I’d arrived at a water source, hot and thirsty, that I seriously consider whether I was using the right method to treat my water, I was using tablets to treat the water but the disadvantage of the tablet method is that you need to leave the water for thirty minutes before drinking it, now that can almost amount to torture if you are out of water and are hot and thirsty. I’m thinking of buying a Steripen now, sure it’s something else I’ll need to lump on my back but the advantage is that I could drink immediately and therefore would be more likely to treat the water (if anyone reading this has any thoughts on the Steripen feel free to let me know).
This tributary of Buckwong Creek about one kilometre from Buckwong Hut was a welcome spot this afternoon.
After rehydrating I set off again, climbing over a low spur I passed an old alignment of the AAWT heading south, before I dropped down to Buckwong Hut on Buckwong Creek. Buckwong Hut is a private hut that’s locked to the public, it’s a pretty ugly looking hut and situated right beside a fire track it wasn’t a spot I really wanted to stop at tonight. After crossing Buckwong Creek on the road bridge I set off upstream along the lightly timbered grassy creek flats, these creek flats are home to the Omeo Gum Tree, a eucalyptus tree that I’d never come across in my travels. This gum can live in very cold climates and for this reason has apparently been exported to some of the colder areas of the United States (I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere, but it could be another Feral fact?), these gums have a multi trunk set up (kind of like a Mallee Tree) with a thick bushy canopy of roundish leaves.
Buckwong Hut
Omeo Gums on Buckwong Creek.
A little while after setting off up stream along the the flats beside Buckwong Creek I arrived at my last obstacle for the day, a large quartzite spur that was blocking the valley. With no real sign of anything resembling a pad along here I just picked a spot and scrambled my way to the top of the ridge, standing on top of the quartz outcrop I surveyed the valley ahead of me looking for a likely looking spot for tonights camp. Now while I did indeed see many likely looking spots to camp it was something else that gained my immediate attention, looking down into the grassy valley below me I saw a person, while I’d bumped into a few people on the journey so far I hadn’t seen anyone walking the AAWT since way back near The Viking. Waving hello I dropped off my quartz perch and headed over to meet my new friend, by the time I’d descended my friend had multiplied as a young lady walked out of the scrub. The young lady was Hilly who was also walking the AAWT, the older lady was her mum Libby who was walking the Taylors Crossing to Thredbo section with her daughter. This was very exciting, finally I’d met someone else doing the track. Hilly had actually left Walhalla the day after me and followed my footsteps over to Low Saddle, unfortunately due to an injury Hilly had to leave the AAWT for the next section, rejoining again at Mt Hotham when her injury got a little better. Hilly and her dad had actually given the bloke that I’d met retreating off Mt MacDonald a lift out from Low Saddle.
Wandering up beside Buckwong Creek the flats are blocked by this quartz outcrop at one point.
Libby and Hilly... love those pink crocs;)
Some Feral looking bloke.
Some looming dark clouds hastened my need to set up camp a bit, so I said good bye to my new friends and continued on up the valley a bit to find a spot to pitch the tent. Like Buenba Creek the valley of Buckwong Creek has a large population of feral horses running around so I was careful to choose a spot with out any brumbie pads or piles of horse shit around, it smelt like I was walking through a farm on long sections the AAWT between Buenba Creek and Thredbo. The horses were only part of the problem this afternoon though, my immediate concern was the dark clouds that were now blocking out the sun. With the tent up I managed to throw everything in just as the rain arrived, diving into the tent I zipped up the fly and settled in for the afternoons entertainment, dozing as thunder, lightning and rain pounded my little tent. Eventually a calm descended on Buckwong Creek again and I climbed out of the tent in the twilight to cook my dinner (well boil my water for my freeze dried!), eating dinner took a long time tonight though as tonight’s sunset was one of the best that I experienced on the whole AAWT adventure.
Tents up....but the rains coming.
Hmmm, this looks serious.
Tent o'clock was a little early today.
The Dirt.
I walked 15 kilometres today and climbed 600 metres on another hard day on the AAWT. After 24 days of walking on the AAWT so far I’ve walked 405 kilometres and climbed 19,485 metres. Once leaving Buenba Creek this morning I didn’t get any water until I arrived at the first gully about one kilometre before Buckwong Hut, once at Buckwong Creek water wasn’t an issue obviously, although it needs treating. Like the water situation camping is also best along Buenba Creek, the gully before Buckwong Hut and then almost anywhere along Buckwong Creek. Navigation today was a lot more straightforward than I’d imagined that it may have been, the climb up to Mt Hope Road was clear and well marked. It’s a wall of regrowth along the crest beside Mt Hope Road so stay on the road though. Leaving Buckwong Track at Buckwong Creek the AAWT is more or less off track but the open flats make for easy walking and there are enough markers around to make navigation OK. 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.

Eventually the rain cleared, initially things looked a little gloomy. 
Things soon started looking up though.
I almost tripped over the last AAWT walker to venture up here.

See you tomorrow:)

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