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Mt Allyn - Allyn Ridge - Mt Leumeah - Paterson Gorge,

May 21/22, 2005.

Party:-

  Ken Harris, Steve Rouse, Dug Floyd.

Saturday morning and Steve’s silver chariot conveyed us, swiftly and comfortably to Mt Allyn.  We would have stopped in the saddle between the mountain and the ridge, to save a less interesting walk but it was a bit messy due to recent rain and roadwork.  Mt Allyn is always a great lookout for this area and we didn’t regret the slight inconvenience.  The walk down the steep grassy ridge leading to the saddle was worth it on it’s own, magnificent views, wonderfully clear skies.  None of us have walked with weekend packs for a while and it showed with us all staggering all over the place down the steep, rough under foot.

The Allyn Ridge is great mostly wide open forest beneath the rainforest canopy.  Generally not too steep easy walking.  A few narrow rocky bits with good views, if you choose that way or you can go more easily round below.  Very green and mossy, particularly on the eastern side of the ridge.  Lots of air moss hanging down, this moss is very green, different to the air moss in swampy areas, which tends to be silver.  I am told that there was a graded track along here twenty years ago and we can see why (we saw traces of track every now and then).  The return for this day walk was along the Mt Leumeah Fire trail, which is now very overgrown.

We pass a number of red cedar trees, all a bit messed up else they would have been logged long ago.  The micro environment in these cedar groves, magnificently different to the rest of the forest.  I have only seen a couple of groves around giant red cedars in my life.  I wish I could have seen the forests before they were all logged out.  Cedar was/is very valuable and it was logged to near extinction, first the big manageable trees, then the really too big trees, then any small tree big enough to pay.  Now you only see a few smaller trees.  It takes hundreds or thousands of years for them to grow to full size, so I never will.

We pass a place with great slabs of rock standing vertical before us, we pass to the west side for a change (previously I have found away up on top here but there are a couple of loose, very big boulders, to scramble up over.  There is also an easy way on the eastern side, where you can see vestiges of the old formed track).  Eventually we scramble up and are on a very narrow rocky ridge with good views all around and particularly, down to the west into the Burra Swamp.  We come to other narrow lengths of rocky ridge with sparse vegetation, with cliffs either side.  Mostly though were under a canopy of tall rain forest trees, Arctic Beach, I think.  These are beaut cathederial chambers of a green natural forest that stretch all around us.

Naturally smoko and lunch are taken perched on the open rocky areas.  Warm sun, we can see for ever in the clear sparkling air, a clear blue sky above with just the odd thermal white fluffy cumulus cloud over a mountain peak here and there.  Way off to the south east, a line of grey shows the location of Newcastle/Central Coast/Sydney smog zone.  To the west, north and north east rugged forested ridges and peaks.  Pleasant walking not to warm or cold, every now and then the characteristic cool breeze that forms after a thermal triggers, reminds us we’re fairly high.  We wander down into the obvious saddle, part way along the ridge this is still great walking, you could camp here – didn’t see water but.  East would take us down to the overgrown Mt Leumeah Fire trail but we head west to find a camping spot on a knoll that shows on the map and looked possible from the ridge looking down.  We camp early at 3pm in a very tall forest with clear under-storey, some of the huge trees are eucalypts – important to get a cooking fire going.  A small side creek nearby provides clear drinking and cooking water.

A great near full moon lights the night for us as we sit round the fire cooking dinner.  Of course the fire is positioned conveniently to a seat sized log.  Pleasant temperatures here amongst the huge trees, an atmosphere, peace and serenity that only a big forest gives.  I sleep out as usual, we don’t expect a dew at this altitude.  Temperatures warm enough so that the sleeping bag is still a little open, those in the tents are too warm.  It is great to wake during the night and listen to the forest sounds, a lyre bird scratching and pecking the ground a few feet behind my head, a wombat digging and munching over to the north; or look up through the tall trees to the clear moonlit starry sky.  In the early morning the tops of the trees are slightly misty but still dry (no dew) down here.

A lazy start, after all were geriatric old farts and can take it easy.  As we wander south west through the open forest we find lots of good places we could have camped even on the steeper bit down to the river.  Beside the Paterson for morning tea then wander down stream an hour or so to the start of the Paterson Gorge.  None of has been here before, a great place for lunch on the flat rock platform beside the water fall that leads the river down to the gorge below.  The wander back up the ridge to the abandoned fire trail is much easier than expected.  Then we wander onto the saddle on Allyn ridge, a comment is made “we should have left the car here”, (it has dried out somewhat).  We also discuss the boring walk up the road but take the direct ridge.  I am glad we did, interesting, magnificent views in this clear cool mountain air.  At the top we stop to chat to the photographer with the plate camera, who has camped here since we left.  There is a pile of cut firewood and obviously intends to stay a few days.

A great walk in the tall forest, no leaches, nor ticks, nor other nasties and the vegetation amazingly lawyer vine free.  We did find the odd black thorn or mountain holly though.  I don’t do enough walking in these great forests nowadays, we feel magnificent.  I can’t help imagining I’m in that very tall painting in the Victorian Art Gallery (I think it’s called “The Pioneers”, there is a set of three paintings now).  Thanks Ken and Steve, till next time.  © Copyright 2005 Dug Floyd

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