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Brisbane Waters NP spring 2004.

Party:-

  Jim, Dug.


Originally, the Hawkesbury basin was an elevated sandstone plateau but over the eons, the action of rainwater dissected the area cutting deep river valleys.  These valleys tended to follow faults in the sandstone so many of the valleys are straight with other side valleys at right angles.

Now the lower Hawkesbury River is a deep valley between tall sandstone hills liberally strewn with colourful rocky outcrops with wind-eroded caves showing golden amongst the green and grey of the bush.  The characteristic landform of this area has been created by subsidence over geological time.  The land has dipped down below sea level, so that we now see “drowned” river valleys with wide waterways.  The flooded side creeks stretch back for kilometres, forming long peninsulas between them.  These peninsulas are characterised by the eroded remnants of the original plateau and have spines of sandstone ridges running the full length, dissected by steep side creeks.  An altogether rugged and fascinating place. 

In the days before settlement this area was home to large numbers of aboriginals, living an easy semi nomadic life, walking from one food source and camp to another as the season dictated.  In passing they have left, their mark on the land with carvings, paintings, middens and you can often find the vestiges of their trails.  The area would have been burnt to a definite pattern to regulate plant growth, animal numbers and ease of walking.  Now we have irregular, hotter wild fires that leave things a bit scrubby in places and bare and eroded in others.

The part of Brisbane Waters National Park we wish to transit is one of the many fingers of land between these long wide creeks.  Imagine a long peninsular of steep forested land with a backbone of rocky sandstone ridge (ridges in places); carved up by deep steep side creeks that make there own V shapes inlets where they join Mullet Creek to the east or Mooney Mooney Creek to the west.  There are many rocky outcrops, caves and overhangs and small cliff lines dotted in typical Hawkesbury fashion all over the steep landform.  Our aim is to explore this ridge system and then drop into a westerly flowing creek looking for evidence of pre settlement occupation on the way.

Of course, as usual in this part of the world the wether is ideal, warm sunny day with fluffy clouds above in the very blue sky and a slight breeze to make for pleasant walking and looking.

The wild flowers are out in their usual early spring display:-
Brilliant purple native Iris in dispersed clumps on the flat sandy, rocky, ridge tops;
Small White flat circular Button Flowers;
Small White globular Button Flowers;
Bigger golden Button Flowers like a ball, on rugged shrubs;
Bigger flat circular golden Button Flowers, on different shrubs;
Crimson and black Hawkesbury Pea flowers;
White or cream Flannel Flowers;
Vivid orange Hawkesbury Christmas Bells with the golden lip;
A few 100 m away from the track three brilliant crimson Waratahs in full bloom (sad that there are no longer any in sight of the track);
Pink, red or purple Native Fusca;
Golden Wattle speckles through the bush;
White blossoms in the coastal gum trees, giving way and changing to golden seedpods;
The fresh green tendrils of the small Grass Trees, no new “spears” growing yet, they produce a delightful bush aroma when disturbed in passing.

The drought has caused much of the resistant bush to die back, but now it is regenerating after the recent good rain.  Unfortunately without follow up rain the effect is only transient and many of these plants will wilt and die before seeding meaning that there will be less seed for regeneration after the next rain, the net effect will be little regrowth for a couple of years after the drought breaks finally.

We do see the occasional lyrebird display mound and scratched forest floor but unluckily cannot hear or see the birds themselves.  There are not a lot of other birds either – a bit sad.  We do follow animal pads (wombat and wallaby) from time to time but see no animals.  On some of the sandy 'track traps' we see the paw print of dogs and cats a long way from human habitation.  Occasionally we pass the footprints of goannas and other lizards and more rarely snakes.

I change trains at Gosford and there is Jim at the end door of the all stations train that will drop us off at Wondabyne.  We are whisked along the shore of Broken Bay and through the long Woy Woy tunnel to the shore of Mullet Creek.  As we alight onto the stub of a station that serves Wondabyne, a group of three others also disembark, obviously off on a hike.  Jim and I wander along to see the sculptures parked on the flat ground over looking Mullet creek – but the sculptures are no longer there – they have been moved – presumably, hopefully, to preserve them from the vandalism we reported a year or so ago. 

The track up the steep slope from the station is defiantly a Roles Royce constructed to speed walkers on the Great North Walk walking track.  In fact, a pleasant enough place with the whispering casuarinas and needle coated ground strewn with the little rocky outcrops typical of here.  As we walk along the access trail, which marks the “North Walk” here, we meet the three coming back – they think they have passed the turnoff to Pindari Cave, shown in there guide book.  They have a gps to find there way back – but no map (to find anything).  I have heard of the cave but can only guess at its location in the head of a creek system off a saddle on the rocky ridge spine we aim to follow.  Comparing the sketch in the guidebook with the map seems to confirm this guess.  We locate the turn off and find that we are following a clear track along the ridgeline, it is nice to have Jim map reading all the way so that he knows where we are all the time, (my technique is to leave the map in the pack and just wander following the ridge lines and sort things out, if I must).  We expect the others will be able to find their way from here, as we continue on, while they stop for a rest.  They do catch up, as we sit on a rock in the shade of a tree enjoying lunch, in the amphitheatre formed by the Pindari Cave.  This would have made an ideal camp in older times with abundant shelter, water and food supply.  Unfortunately loved to death by the many visitors.  We cannot find any definitely aboriginal carving or painting under the mess of more recent visitors.

After a leisurely lunch, we follow the track a little further to a waterfall falling into a leafy creek below (well it would have if there had been more than a cupful flowing).  We stick to the bank right gradually losing hight to keep out of the thicker scrub below.  Eventually the creek bed is ok to follow, a very pleasant mossy, verdant, place to visit.  There are a number of flowing pools in places but mostly what water there is, is underground.  Eventually we come to where the brackish water starts and backtrack slightly to fill up our water bottles just upstream.  We wander along the bank right fairly easily, mostly.  As expected, we pass many deep middens from past feasts.  We also find a more recent midden of rusty, falling apart, drums (44gal and 4gal).  We wonder what foul mess they spread here years ago.  The tide is in so we are not tempted to eat the shellfish anyway.  A very unusual natural rock formation at the waters edge draws our attention, kinda, like a Grecian warriors headpiece worn on a neck of a different rock.  A very pretty silver aerial lichen is growing from it on one side.  We wander on, looking for a likely camping overhang, to no avail, Jim thinks we will have a better chance up higher – but up here, they all have sloping floors.  Eventually we emerge on top of the ridge, right at the nose, we know it will be flat up here.  We soon find a good camp spot out of the wind, soft sand to sleep on and with a good rocky place to sit round our cooking fire.  On the headland the other side of the inlet is a hut complex – possibly a work area for the oyster lease in the main stream of Mooney Mooney Creek.  Looking north, we can see numerous other oyster leases with some structures on the bank nearby.  A scenic place.

A pleasant night overcast a first but clear by morning.  Just as well were on top of the ridge because Mooney Mooney Creek is full of mist and I would have been a bit dewy damp, if we had slept down there by the water.  We could see lights of habitation to the north – probably Kariong, and one short section of the freeway with overhead lights to the west.  A good night though.  With the morning, we are a bit short of water, so head for the nearest place to fill up.  Easy walking on the ridge top.  By 11:30 were back to the service road, I was keen to walk on to see the Egyptian Hieroglyphics near Tascott but Jims heart isn’t in it so we head back to Wondabyne, where the train arrives just as we do.  A good walk in a great area, thank you Jim for your great company.  Till next time.  © Copyright 2004 Dug Floyd.

 

Hawkesbury Christmas Bells

Hawkesbury Native Fusca

White Flower and Native Iris

Hawkesbury Native Iris

Yellow Flower with Native Fusca to Right

Grecian Headpiece by the water

Silver aerial Lichen

Jim map reading his way past one of the many overhangs in this area. 
This one did have a pile of very old dry firewood.

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