Sunday, February 11, 2018

Four Mile Creek to Benambra Corryong Road, AAWT - November 2017


I was lucky last night in that even though I was camped right beside Four Mile Creek Track I didn’t have any 4wd’s rattling past my tent in the dark, always a good thing when trying to get a good nights sleep. Crawling out of the tent I was again greeted by a beautiful morning as I staggered to my feet and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. With a fairly short day in front of me today there was no real urgency as I ate my breakfast and dried out my tent fly in the morning sun. Eventually I got my Feral mojo on track, packed up my gear, shouldered my pack and set off again on my long, slow journey north.
Immediately after starting off this morning I had to negotiate the ford over Four Mile Creek.
My day today started with me continuing to shuffle along Four Mile Creek Track, I was now heading towards Taylors Crossing and my crossing of the Mitta Mitta River. As I mentioned yesterday the AAWT crosses the Fraser Tablelands today and wandering along the undulating Four Mile Creek Track I was starting to get a few views through the open forest of the green paddocks nearby. Maybe it was because today looked fairly easy on paper but for some reason everything today was a struggle, well more of a struggle than it normally is when I’m hauling my ample bulk through the mountains anyway. It seemed like it took forever for me to arrive at a short off piste section where I’d short cut the fire track.
It seemed to take forever to walk Four Mile Creek Track this morning.
Private cleared land, a slightly unusual sight on the AAWT.
I've finally arrived at the turn off from Four Mile Creek Track.
After dropping down the short off track section I almost immediately arrived at Taylors Crossing. Now you’ll know you’re at Taylors Crossing because it’s one of only a few occasions on the AAWT that you come across any substantial track infrastructure. Taylors Crossing is where the AAWT crosses the wide Mitta Mitta River and to make things a little safer for walkers there is a very substantial suspension bridge spanning the river, now anyone who’s reading this in New Zealand will probably be wondering what all the fuss is about but in Australia this is a fairly unusual occurrence. As I’ve already mentioned the bridge here at Taylors Crossing crosses the Mitta Mitta River, this marked my second crossing of this river, although last time I crossed it at the bottom of Timms Spur the river was called Big River and being a a fair bit further up stream, it was a fair bit smaller than it is down here.
Dropping off Four Mile Creek Track the AAWT was more or less off piste for a short section.
The scrub was pretty light though.
Towards the bottom I picked up a bit of a pad.
The Mitta Mitta River at Taylors Crossing.
Hey, hey, progress is still being made.
Crossing over the Mitta Mitta I dropped the pack in the beautiful picnic area and made use of the picnic table to have an early lunch. Today was actually starting to get pretty warm, a situation no doubt enhanced by me being at a pretty low altitude, not having been this low since way back near the Thomson River. After my extended break here I would now be following quiet dirt roads across the Fraser Tablelands for a few kilometres, which I had pencilled in for a pretty easy strolling. So imagine my horror when after leaving the picnic area Tablelands Road started climbing, and climbing fairly solidly at that! To top it all off it was pretty much the middle of the day so the open road wasn’t allowing me much in the way of shade either.
Taylors Crossing
This was my second crossing of the Mitta Mitta River, although last time it was called Big River.
The picnic area at Taylors Crossing was a pleasant spot for an early lunch.
Looking back down Tablelands Road towards the Mitta Mitta, on one of the many stops on the climb out of the valley. I hadn't visualised this climb too well when I was reading my notes!
Eventually my climb away from the Mitta Mitta River did ease off and my imagined easy walking materialised. It did make a bit of a change walking past green paddocks full of cows and judging by the cows bemused looks (err, can a cow look bemused?) they don’t see that many walkers shuffling along these dirt roads. Turning down Lower Tablelands Road I wandered past a collection of wild dog carcasses hanging on the fence, when I’d started my AAWT the wild dogs were one of the biggest concerns occupying the dark recesses of my mind. While on my walk to date I’d seen plenty of foot prints and scat, I hadn’t yet seen a live dog.
Now this is more like I'd pictured it in my mind:)
I'm about to swing left onto Lower Tablelands Road for another few kilometres of road bashing.
After following Lower Tablelands Road for a couple of kilometres I left the farmland and entered the Alpine National Park again and soon after arrived at my little AAWT marker post, indicating the spot to head bush again. The next little bit of the AAWT was a little convoluted as I climbed up to a ridge, dropped into a saddle and then headed down into the steep valley of Morass Creek, all on variety of old tracks. The warm day today was not only making walking a little more tiring but also the warm steamy atmosphere was brewing up a few more thunder storms this afternoon. While I’d copped a few heavy showers since leaving Mt Bogong a few days ago they’d normally been pretty light, but this afternoon there were some proper grown up storms around.
Unsurprisingly Lower Tablelands Road was pretty similar to Tablelands Road.
I wandered along Lower Tablelands Road, passing a chartreuse microbus hidden in the scrub no doubt hiding 11 long haired friends of Jesus...wtf ??       
Alright, the road bash is over.  I'm back in the Alpine National Park and the AAWT is heading bush, leaving Lower Tablelands Road.
Climbing onto the ridge above Morass Creek, the AAWT was a lot clearer than I'd though it might of been through here.
The afternoon storms were starting to brew up.
Watch out for the trip wire.....
It’s a fair descent down into Morass Creek from the ridge of almost 300 metres, the AAWT heads in and out of few gullies and passes across a few bluffs on the way down. The rocky bluffs allowing for some nice views down the gorge like valley, views that included big black clouds this afternoon. Morass Creek drains the farmland off the Fraser Tableland so I wasn’t planning on picking up water here this afternoon and to be honest this isn’t the prettiest spot along the length of the AAWT, so I was pretty keen to push on today. Before I could head off though I had to cross this little obstacle, the creek has a fairly wide swampy flood plain with a few channels of muddy water running through it and a lot of long tussock grass and by the look of it quite a few snakes were no doubt eking out an existence here in the long grass waiting for the occasional bushwalker to stumble through. So my usual tactic of walking straight through these bigger creeks in my river sandals wasn’t such an inviting option here, instead I was hoping to get across Morass Creek with my boots on. All was going pretty well as I awkwardly made my was across towards a AAWT marker that I could see in some old Hawthorn Trees on the eastern bank, that was until I was around 3 metres from dry land, I was now presented with a deep gutter flowing a banka with brown muddy water, bugger! So anyway I didn’t really have a choice now, dropping the pack on a tussock of grass and grabbing my sandals, I pulled off my boots while nervously glancing down at my seemingly now very exposed feet, half hidden under another tussock of grass. As you’ve no doubt already guessed I managed to get across safely without getting bitten by a cold blooded serpent or slipping into the turgid water, life on the AAWT was again back to normal!
I dropped off the ridge in this saddle and started what was a fairly long descent down to Morass Creek.
Morass Creek
On the descent down to Morass Creek the AAWT crosses a few side gullies that may have water in them.....you'd still want to do some treating before drinking it I'm thinking.
The AAWT passes over a couple of these rocky bluffs on the way down to the creek.
Maybe it was too normal though, because just as I dropped everything on the far bank and started to dry my feet the rain arrived, hmmm. Thankfully the old Hawthorn Trees were around and I was able to get a modicum of shelter under them while I waited for the shower to pass. Now I haven’t mentioned it yet but I was heading up to another food drop on Benambra Corryong Road today, so I was pretty keen to get up there and hook into a few luxuries in my food dump. I was pretty happy then when the rain passed by fairly quickly and I was soon re-shod and on my way up and out of the Morass Creek valley. The climb away from the creek initially climbs reasonably steeply, although the views back down to the creek and it’s rocky bluffs gave my plenty of reasons to pause, Morass Creek looking a lot better up here than down on it’s banks. Once out of the gorge like confines of the valley the AAWT climbs fairly gently towards Benamba Corryong Road, I was now in pretty familiar country again as I’d been here about a week ago putting in my food drop. Keeping a close eye out I picked up an indistinct side pad that led me to a beautiful flat grassy camp and my food drop.
I'm thinking this one might hit me....
Old Hawthorn Trees down on Morass Creek.
Morass Creek
It was bigger than it looks....honest! I bet every blokes said that at some stage in their lives;)
After retrieving my food drop along with a container of water that I’d also left I got the tent set up and then spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out. This camp was a good one, far enough away from the road that I couldn’t really hear any of what would of only been the occasional vehicle passing by, but close enough that it wouldn’t be an epic walk when I had to head back in to retrieve my food box in a few weeks. Sitting in the late afternoon sun snacking on some chocolate and downing some gatorade whilst listening to ABC local radio, life was pretty sweet. I managed to stay up until almost sun set tonight, finally being hurried into my tent by the mozzies.
The old Hawthorn Trees (I'm thinking) provided a modicum of shelter as the storm passed over.
The climb out of Morass Creek starts off pretty steeply but soon eases off into a very nice walk.

The Dirt.
I walked 12 kilometres and climbed 490 metres today on what was probably my easiest day so far on the AWWT, having said that I suppose I’d rate as a medium grade days walking. The AAWT stats after 22 days of walking are 366 kilometres along with 17,785 metres of climbing. After leaving Four Mile Creek water was available at the Mitta Mitta River, after the Mitta Mitta things get a little grimmer though. If you wanted to drink water out of Morass Creek or one of it’s small tributaries then you’d want to do some serious treating I think, it looks pretty unappetising. The issue here is that if you haven’t left any water in a food drop at Benambra Corryong Road then there is no more water until reaching the summit of Johnnies Top, 16 kilometres and about a 1000 metres of ascent away. Camping is very nice near the Mitta Mitta River, it would be possible to pitch a tent in the area around Morass Creek, although I wouldn’t. The site just west of Benambra Corryong Road is a good one, leave water with a food drop and it quickly becomes an excellent one! Navigation today isn’t too bad, the short cut down off Four Mile Spur to Taylors Crossing is more or less off track but the scrub is pretty light. Leaving Lower Tablelands Road and heading over to Benambra Corryong Road across Morass Creek the AAWT has it’s moments when it comes to navigation, but all in all it’s pretty well marked and cleared, way better than I thought it would be. 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.
The dry open forest near Benambra Corryong Road made for a very nice spot to camp.
My day shirt was looking and smelling a bit second hand by now.
Food drop, water, dry afternoon, flat grassy ground, early finish....there wasn't much not to like about tonights camp.

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