Bimberi Gap, Blue Waterhole and Bushbashing

Participants: Rose, Alex, Tory, Lym, Anna and myself

Based on: Cave Creek and Deadhorse Gap – John Evans

On the October long weekend Six of us decided to head out on an adventure in the Bimberi Wilderness, a section of stunning rugged wilderness that straddles the NSW and ACT borders. Starting out the weather forecast had seemed a little dire, with sub-zero temps and rain/snow forecast for the first day – but it was supposed to clear and my did it do that.

The walk started easily enough with snow on the drive in, and then a few kilometres of fire trail to get started. We checked out an old hut and had lunch in the sun (with warm jackets on though).

After lunch though we went up. Up and Up. We basically tracked a bearing due north, pushing through the scrub that has grown back after the massive Canberra bushfires 15 years ago, trying to pick the easiest route where we could. Our goal – Bimberi Saddle on the ACT NSW border. Mt Bimberi is the ACTs highest peak, and if we’d had time we would have climbed it. But the scrub was thick – we averaged about a 1.5km/hr that afternoon as we climbed until 5pm-ish.

The views from the top were worth it, and as we found a camp up on the top of an unnamed peak we forgot the climbing and just thought about the views and how cold it was!

 

Day Two – Bushbashing Galore!

The second day was set to be a tough day from the start, but geez we pushed through a lot of scrub. I like to think I am pretty comfy offtrack, but this was one of those walks when I was glad to have a second good navigator to share the load with, and was happy to see our fire trail after five hours and 8km of scrub. Honestly, as much as I loved it, I think the group was close to breaking point a few times and I would recommend people be aware of this going into the walk! There were some personal highlights including seeing a couple of Gang Gang cockatoos, some stunning views, and some excellent laughing as people attempted to climb over and under things!

Anyway – point is it took us most of the day to bushbash and hike our way through Cave Creek which was our campsite for the evening.

We got an excellent spot next to the creek where we spent the arvo swimming, meeting the locals and enjoying some whisky around the fire!

 

Day Three – Cave Creek and home

The final day started with a massive climb, but “luckily” wild brumbies and people had carved a very clean and easy track up the hill the whole way. After a day and a half of bush bashing it felt both a luxury and like cheating.

Once at the top we got our first views of Cave Creek, found a tonne of fossils which Lym (our resident geologist) explained and identified for us, and were soon at the gorge.

Heading up the creek was spectacular as always, and gave us the opportunity for another swim or two.

 

The last section of the walk from Blue Waterhole onwards took in the wide open snow plains and showed just how large the brumby population is.

Illawong Hut Weekend

In August friends of mine from Omafiets (see the Jagungal Ride) invited me to join them on a weekend snow-shoe trip out to Illawong Hut, a private hut that one of their friends is a member of. While it is not my usual style of snow trip, a weekend in a heated hut with food, books and games was not something to say no to!

It is only a short walk out to the hut itself, and the weather was pretty bas so we spent a lot of the time doing small little activities nearby including tobogganing, ice cave building and a small walk.

Here are some happy snaps!

 

And some happy videos

Major Mitchell Plateau – The Grampians

Over the June long weekend I went for a leisurely stroll through the Grampians in Victoria with a school mate Josh and his brother. Neither Josh or I had hiked there before, so in the end we picked the hike with the toughest description that formed a loop – and man we picked well!

The Major Mitchell Plateau walk climbs from the bottom of a valley up a long but gentle track that follow the side of a ridge line right up on to the Plateau. We picked the weather window perfectly, with rain for a few days before hand the area was lush and the creeks were all running. Plus we started the walk in dense cloud and fog  (which would come and go the whole weekend) so that until we were well up the side of the plateau we genuinely didn’t know what we were getting into.

The views when the clouds did seperate were spectacular!

On that first night the campsite was absolutely packed, to the point where a group of older club bushwalkers went around and hassled everyone to make sure that everyone had permits! Being jammed in did have the advantage that we met our neighbours and had some great chats – we got along particularly well with a group of outdoor ED people from Melbourne. They were telling us all about how they had a car at the end of the second day and were going to drive into town to get indian and beers for dinner. We of course put in an order, half jokingly.

The second day of our walk has a heap of hills, often quite steep so I am glad we had dry weather otherwise I imagine parts of the track could have been treacherous. However the track is in the process of being massively upgraded for the future Grampians Peaks Trail which I can’t wait to do once it all connects up. One section consisted of beautifully made stairs on the way up, and then sketchy(ish) narrow footpads on the way down,  so it will be really interesting to see what the final track is like.

We were treated to a lot more views on the second day as well which was a treat.

When we arrived at camp we were in for a treat. Our friends from the previous night had beers and snacks for us! They even brought us home some indian! Thank you so much crew!

 

 

Mt Jagungal Loop

On the Canberra Day long weekend four friends and I headed out for a three day stroll from Round Mountain to Mt Jagungal following the route described on Greg’s Walks Blog. For three of us it was set to be a relatively leisurely stroll with hills, and swims and lots of chats. For the other two it was set to be a three day run with some side trips to explore the more crazy approach routes etc. Luckily I was in the group of three taking it fairly easy!

We started very late due to a trip to see the balloon festival in Canberra in the morning so day one was more of a push than I had hoped. 16km after lunch was a bit of a shock to everyone’s systems but we arrived at O’keefes Hut to be met by the maintenance crew who were fixing windows, cutting firewood and wallpapering the walls with newspapers from the 1930’s to 80’s. An evening of port around the fire left everyone in a wonderful mood.

Day two was a late start with a leisurely stroll to the base of Mt Jagungal – a fairly big push up to the summit – and then a swim in the afternoon! What luxury!

Derschkos Hut was another great spot, and lying out on the grass at night we saw a meteorite come down quite low over the mountains which was something special indeed.

Day three was a splendid stroll out along the ridge lines. We were back at the car by lunch time and made a detour to Yarrangobilly before heading back to Canberra.

Mt Twynam Micro-adventure

Over the Easter weekend Rose and I went on a few little micro-adventures. The biggest micro-adventure was from Charlottes Pass up to Mt Twynam and back, while we also ducked out to my favourite rock in the Brindabellas.

Google made a movie of it for me. Thanks Google!

 

Mt Aspiring Hut Walk

After my walk along the Greenstone-Caples Track I met up with my friend Tol from SmilingLeaf for some more adventures. We headed up to Wanaka and then after some messing around for food (again) set out towards Mt Aspiring Hut. Now this was only a short walk of a few hours each way, with huts and such so we took it easy, carried some wine and dips and crackers etc. Really it was quite splendid and absolutely spectacular!

After the walk we headed back to Queenstown and hung out a bit more, with some ducks fo company.

Greenstone-Caples Track

The Greenstone-Caples was pretty much a last minute decision, and boy was it brilliant.

Prelude

I’d just arrived back in Queenstown after the Mt Alfred day walk which had left me with a taste for NZ hills and adventures. I had initially been considering spending a few days around Queenstown visiting wineries and such with my friends, but at around 5pm I got a message from my friend Tol saying she’d just down this walk and it was brilliant. I just had to do it. So actions stations it was. Somehow in 3hrs I managed to book a bus from Queenstown to Glenorchy,  another out to the trial head, shop for a four day walk and shower and wash all my clothes. To make everything easier I had the luxury of packing my bag and loading all my gear and then crashing in my friends tent for the night which was very convenient.

Day 1 – Greenstone Rd to Mid-Caples

By 7am I was up and at the bus pickup point in Queenstown ready for the ride out to Glenorchy. 8am-ish I was in Glenorchy sitting in the cafe ordering bacon and eggs and coffees while reading the guidebook entries for the hike I was about to head out on. Luckily the Greenstone-Caples doesn’t require booking and the huts are big enough that I had no issues getting a bed, although talking to the guides it can be an issue sometimes. Anyway at 10am the bus picked me up and dropped me at the trail head at noon.

The first days walk is splendidly cruisy, 4 hrs of gentle incline up through a wide river valley gives you a good taste of what is install, without giving away any of the spectacular scenery. I chose to start from Greenstone Rd because it was a lot easier to get to from Queenstown, and then all the advice I got was to go to Mid-Caples hut first as it meant you could enjoy the saddle on the second day.

Mid Caples Hut is pretty spectacular with great views up the valley but watch out for the sandflies – they are bigger and faster than anywhere else in NZ and give you no chance to put your shoes even before they start eating you.

Day 2 – Mid Caples Hut to McKellar Hut

This is the main day of walking, and the only one that provides any real challenge on the trip. It starts by walking up the valley before climbing up a spectacularly well made track of gentle gradient to McKellar Saddle (945m) before an incredibly steep decent down to Lake McKellar. The track passes through beech forest and open grazing land meaning you get a really nice mix of views and closed forest so there is always something interesting, while the gradient up to the saddle from this size means that you can just wind slowly up the hill.

Up on the saddle the weather closed in a little (only a tiny bit actually) and went from shorts and shirt through the low lands to full rain gear conditions up the top – mostly it was to stay warm, but also because there was mist blowing in somewhat horizontally. I imagine it wouldn’t be that fun in actual bad weather. I’d also strongly recommend considering lunch before you leave the tree line because there were a lot of people who walked to the top without taking many breaks only to be surprised by how little they wanted to stop for lunch up in the rain and wind. I have to give a lot of credit though to the pair who were huddled behind a tiny bush with their tent fly over their legs to eat lunch – that showed some determination to eat! I made it over the saddle and part way down the track before finding a nice rock to eat lunch on which seems like a bit of a luxury.

After you descent rapidly to the valley floor again you’re into the Greenstone Valley and the rest of the days walk is a deceptively long but rather flat stroll down to the hut.

That night at the hut I met a group of awesome people from England and the Netherlands. They had all come from different locations around the world to hike in NZ and as with all good hikers they were happy to make new friends. We spent the evening hanging out and teaching each other card games. I by some fluke new the best game (Diabolical) so we played a few rounds while chatting and getting to know each other. Have I mentioned ever that NZ huts are awesome?

Day 3: McKellar Hut to Greenstone Hut

Day 3 was described a relatively flat day but the undulations as the track passed around rockfalls and over the ends of ridges that pushed into the Greenstone Valley. It generally just passed along the river flats in between and made for a simply spectacular day. As an additional advantage there were far fewer sandflies.

An hour or two into the day I joined a couple from the group I’d been playing cards with the night before. As we walked along we talked and walked and I heard all about their previous adventures mapping rivers in the Amazon and camping on ice sheets in Norway.

At some point after lunch I strolled off ahead and ended up a fair way ahead, but as luck would have it I spent a little while exploring and detouring and found a lovely spot for an afternoon cuppa just as they were arriving. So, with a stash off coffee and stove in hand we  found a great spot, stripped off and swam out to an island in the stream were we splashed around in the rather fresh water, and then stood in the sun enjoying the amazingly sandfly free location.

The afternoon continued relatively uneventfully with a small interlude of watching horses cross a river.

Eventually I arrived at Greenstone Hut to enjoy the company of my new friends again.

Day 4: McKellar Hut to Greenstone Road End

I had a really early start to head out to the road end as I had arranged for a shuttle bus back to Queenstown at 12pm. I was also really keen to do the detour out to Lake Rere. The day was a fairly solid walk with no breaks which was a shame. Next time I will make sure I have more time!

 

 

The Queen Charlotte Track – NZ

The Queen Charlotte Track (or QCT for short) is a 4 to 5 day walk at the northern end of the the South Island of New Zealand. It is stupendously well built and managed track that is a cool collaboration between landowners and public bodies. The track is mainly well built, wide fire trail that makes for very easy walking that is not challenging except for the grade of some of the hills.

The walk is largely along the ridge lines that divide Queen Charlotte Sound and Kenepuru Sound. In good weather is it ludicrously beautifully, in bad weather the winds and rain on the ridges can be intense. On my trip I was lucky to have a wide range of weather including persistent rain for a few days, beautiful warm sunshine, and sunsets worth staying up until 10pm to see.

I am not going to write much about this trip because to be honest the walk isn’t one worth writing all that much about. There are views, hills, bays and sounds etc. There are fancy bars and resorts, campsites and the odd bench. Basically it is a super long walk along  headland – but that is not to say that it isn’t worth it. It is great. So, instead of reading have a look at some photos.

Wilsons Promontory – Another Amazing Walk – Part 1

Almost exactly a year after my last adventures at Wilsons Prom I was back down in this amazing national park for another wander. For this adventure I had a mates bucks party at Tidal River (the park’s main campground) and then a week until the wedding back in Melbourne, so rather than driving back up to Sydney I decided to make the most of the opportunity and see how I found a longer walk by myself.

As this adventure started with a two night bucks party (we won’t talk specifics) lets just say I wanted to have an easy start to the trip. Catching the bus from Tidal River up to Telegraph Saddle I started a slow meander down to Sealers Cove. Almost immediately I met a group of walkers who were all members of Friends of the Prom, a local conservation group who mixed bush regeneration and other conservation activities with their love of the outdoors. Happily they let me wander along the amazingly well constructed walking track with them, stopping very regularly to talk about what every plant and rock was. This was both fascinating and welcome given my state of exhaustion.

Eventually I found a little bit of a walking rhythm and left them behind on the descent down to Sealers Cove. The stead rain over the past week had made the track we and boggy, but heading down hill was fine – the Scout group I met coming the other way had different views.

Eventually I made it down to the beach and the campsite. For anyone who is considering going there – take aerogard! After a quick dinner I was in bed well before dark and enjoying a solid 14hrs sleep.

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Monday saw me reluctantly stirring from my slumber to discover a swarm of mosquitos between the inner and fly of my tent. Seriously there were hundreds of the things!

Eventually I got going and made my way to Refuge Cover which has to be one of the best campsites anywhere. It is a sheltered and well protected, with some much interesting stuff just lying around. According to the informative sign there is even a whale skeleton 50m of shore that is visible while snorkelling. Next time I am definitely taking a snorkel and a wet suit because when I got sufficiently tempted to strip off and splash in the water it was way way too cold to swim out 50m!

The next day consisted mostly of sitting around, reading books, and chatting to the interesting people around. It was particularly cool to meet a guy from Launceston who had sailed up in an open topped 16ft skiff by him self and was just camping out until the winds were in the right direction to head home, and a Canadian couple who were gradually working and sailing their way around the Australian coastline.

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Continued in Part Two of this Adventure….

Corang Peak – Burrumbeet – Corang Lagoon

Update: Corang Lagoon is now closed to the public as it is on private land.

Canberrans are lucky enough to have two long weekends in a row over the end of September start of October. For the Family and Communities Day weekend Alex, Rose and I decided to head out into the Budawangs for a Bushwalk. Originally we’d planned on heading into the eastern side of the Budawangs but luckily laziness intervened when I decided I couldn’t be bothered leaving on Friday night, or even particularly early on Saturday. As a result we headed to Wog Wog camping area early on Saturday morning (via the Braidwood bakery) packed for a 3 day walk.

The walk we’d chosen was described in a few blog posts but didn’t seem to be in anything  more formal. Heading out Wog Wog we aimed to climb Corang Peak, check out Corang Arch, camp at Burumbeet and then find a way through to Corang Lagoon which was described as having  a vague and difficult to follow foot pad before heading back to the car.

From the car park the track crossed a small stream (where Rose got her new shoes wet for the first time) and started the leisurely stroll along ridge lines. Our path took us around the south of Goodsell Basin, along the edge of Korra Hill and then to Corang Peak. We initially missed the turn that would have lead straight over the Peak, instead walking past to the junction and then heading back up without packs.

 

Following a little bit of a photo session at the top we headed off towards Corang Arch and then the Conglomerate Slope. Somehow we managed to miss the Arch itself, I guess that will have to be an adventure for next time, but had a great time wandering down the fun and fascinating rock formation to the bottom of the hill. Alex did a great job with a tricky decent which she never particularly enjoys.

At the bottom of the hill we found a large group of some what elderly bushwalkers set up at the Canowrie Brook campsites. Luckily we were headed to Burrumbeet Brook with its camp caves and drop toilets. The girls hadn’t quite believed me when I said we were going to be sleeping in a rock overhang without tents – luckily once we’d picked a spot they were more than just a little excited.

 

The next morning after a lovely nights sleep, a few minor wildlife sightings and such we wandered back to Canowrie Brook and then we’re pleasantly surprised to find a well formed footpad heading in the direction we wanted to go. This footpad, marked by cairns and pink spray paint, lead all the way to the Rock Ribs and then on to Corang Lagoon.

The Rock Ribs were spectacular, though the walk back out was similar to a canyon exit really.

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The Rock Ribs!

Corang Lagoon was astonishingly beautiful, and luckily it was our campsite for the night. A brief storm and showers didn’t stop Alex and I going for a swim, but did almost drown the tent .

 

Our final day should have been a fairly leisurely stroll out along a well formed track, but about half way I decided to walk up a hill and we ended up somewhat off track which was an excellent idea as we came across a whole series of extremely large pagodas to explore with some absolutely stunning views!

Once back at the car we headed to the Braidwood Bakery again for a snack before finishing the drive home.