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Mountain Lagoon, Tootie Creek, Colo River, Colo Meroo. (17th/18th/19th February 2012)

Map:-

Mountain Lagoon 1:25000. plus sketch map.

Party:-

Peter, Di, Theo, Dug .

  On the river. Pic by Dug

On our way down the chocolate highway.

Peter got the details of this walk from a web site and liked the ideas for his last bushwalk fling in Australia before being shifted off shore by his work. I was looking for an overnight walk on that weekend so it was perfect for me.

I like the Colo as it is such a deep cliffed valley with a "people should be here" ethereal feeling. I haven't been to this part previously although I did plan to travel down here when we liloed the Wollangambe to Colo a few years ago. I canned this part of the trip then, because the water level was low and we would have been mostly walking on sand riverbed and that tends to be soft difficult walking. This time we had the reverse problem, the soft riverbed sand was under 2.2m of water. Again a little difficult to walk on. Then again Peter is a Dutchman and the trip prospective said clogs not necessary, but with clogs could we have walked on water, do you think?

Idea, why not reverse the direction and travel downstream on lilos:).  It's a goer. We drove up Friday night with a stop at the Macquarie Pizza Palace, Richmond. NBC have been stopping there for at least 35 years. Opened originally by Italian Immigrants, now run by 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation descendants. I still like it. At Mountain Lagoon on the fire trail by 9:30, where we set up camp on the still damp leaf litter and accompanying leaches. Only wee little ones to start with a few bigger fat ones later. Still a comfortable night without the rain that was threatening.

A lovely forest of tall eucalypt trees, mostly angophora, grey gum, blue gum, a chorus of tinkling bell birds pleased us awake and up by 6:30. Packed, breakfasted, and away by 7:30.  Following a shaded by tall trees fire road, for a few km to its end, at the start of a rocky spur. The spur leads us north east alongside Tootie Creek, somewhere way down there amongst the forest, to where it joins the Colo River.

 On the road under shade trees. Pic by Dug

On the road under tall shade trees.

We could have driven this track last night and camped at the turn around.  There was plenty of evidence that this is a popular camping place. Much dryer than in the forest where we camped, ergo, I say, we would have missed the poor leeches. Great views of the Wollemi Wilderness all about us, from the nearby rocky outcrops.

This area of elevated plateau has been eroded away by the weather, wind and water over the millennia to give the magnificent hilly and valley scenery we see now. Many sandstone cliffs line the side of the gorges, as blips in the forest. Blue eucalypt forest nearby and continuing on, to disappear in the hazy distance. Way, way, way out there is Mount Yengo, where Berimi the ancient aboriginal creator stepped off on his journey into the sky.

On down the spur, rocky in part, to scramble through, open walking in places, easy going, great sandstone scenery and vegetation. Our first glimpse of the Colo is of a chocolate brown shining amongst the forest way down below. Chocolate some how appropriate for a Dutchman's farewell.  We can see the rapids by Tootie Creek junction and make out two of the three others rapids further downstream. Certainly plenty of water to lilo along, this lovely sunny day.

Lunch on the sandy beach by the river listening to the rushing water on the rapid, very enjoyable. We can see straight downstream for perhaps 1 km, a bank to bank chocolate highway to ...... adventure? Di and Peter have not liloed before so wonder what we will do, see, feel, but Theo sets their minds at rest. It will be great no problems, just go with the flow. Around about now another couple arrive on our beach from down the spur. They are doing the same trip as us, good on them.

In my wet suit with thermals under I find the temperature ok, water temperature probably 20 degrees. The technique we use is pack at the head end, lie back on this back rest and paddle with hands. It is a little faster to go backwards and see where you have been, slight risk of bumping into whatever. The scenery is stunning, either way, as we drift and gently paddle along with the current. We have about 8km of paddling in all and this took about 3.5 hours so the current is with us and fast enough.

At the first rapids Theo and Peter are ahead checking it out. I have decided without life jacket or hard hat I will forgo this experience this time. In the act of avoiding the rapid I damaged my ribs when a leg was caught by the irresistible current and I contorted around a boulder in a most awkward painful way, while sorting it out.

 Lookout above the river. Pic by Dug

Di - on the lookout above the shiny chocolate brown of the Colo.

Theo and Peter floated through the rapids, while Di and I walked around, through the bush. We repeated this process twice more, as Theo and Peter got more excited each time. On the last portage I followed a different path to Di and lived to regret it, with thick scrub and very sore ribs, getting sorer. At on part of the paddle I found that I was over a very shallow sand bank and needed to get off and walk for a few meters to deeper water.  Just near here I could see a ripple that seemed to be moving upstream, very odd!  Shortly I could make out some sort of creature about 2m long, ugly blunt head, as round as my upper arm.  It didn't look like a river eel, more like a moray eel out of it's territory.  A little later at another shallow place I saw another and Di saw that one. 

As the afternoon progressed thunderstorm clouds formed around us and we could hear thunder in the distance. Temperatures dropped and we started to feel the cold, as we neared the end, which arrived just in time. We saw people and a pack on the bank and pulled in ooops it isn't our mob, just a couple experiencing up to now solitude and wilderness. They smiled and said up there 200m.

The big spacious iron camping cave was just right. We had just sorted things out when the drizzly rain started. We had a fire going and water on for a cuppa before the other couple arrived to share the iron cave and warmth, for a while. Although they preferred to sleep in a tent. Before long dinner was cooking and gear hung out to dry. We will sleep under the shelter rather than get tents wet and hope the mosies aren't too bad. Lilos make comfortable mattresses as well as boat transport. Just cover them with dry space blankets, Di didn't like the crinkly noise and thought that it was keeping us all awake so took hers off. No one else could hear them, she must have acute hearing, or have sensitive friends she prefers not to annoy.

A pleasant mostly clear night with a small moon lighting the scene outside. Not too many mosies where I was near the opening, but others did complain a little. A comfortable breakfast and pack-away saw us walking about 9am. The track climbs steeply for a while and then settles down to a narrow knife edge ridge that afforded many viewing platforms as we wandered along up and down. It seemed from up here that the river level had dropped a little as some of the sandbanks in the stream bed were just lapping with water. I looked at the river heights when I got home these showed the river dropped on Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning but the rose again Sunday afternoon Monday, even though there wasn't any rain.

We had a number of stops for snacks or drinks and the other couple passed us along the way. The sandstone ridge scenery gradually changed to the rich basalt hills with tall forest, lovely to wander along the track and fire road. Back to the car and leeches again by 4pm.

Thank you Peter, Di, Theo, a great outing. It is a pleasure to share this experience with you all. Peter I hope your new posting suits you and you can continue your adventures:-).  Till next time. Copyright Dug Floyd February 2012.

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 Camp no 1. Pic by Dug

Camp site 1, in the morning ready to walk.

Lookout above the Colo. Pic by Dug

Lookout to Colo River, shiny chocolate brown amongst the trees.

 Colo River the road to adventure. Pic by Dug

The Colo River a road to adventure!

 Theo Di. Pic by Dug

Di and Theo step back from the brink:-)

 Glimps of the rapids by Tootie Ctreek. Pic by Dug

A glimpse of the rapid by Tootie Creek.

 Theo nearly Ready. Pic by Dug

Theo nearly ready.

Peter likes the view. Pic by Theo

Peter enjoys the lookout

Colo Rapid. Pic by Theo

The rapid at Tootie Creek junction.

Colo River. Pic by Theo Rapids on the Colo River. Pic by Theo

One of the rapids

Colo River. Pic by Theo Colo River. Pic by Theo
 Colo River from out start point. Pic by Dug

Colo River at the start of our wet part of the trip.

 Colo chocolate road. Pic by Dug

The Colo road

 Peter and Theo. Pic by Dug

Peter and Theo

 All away looking back. Pic by Dug

All away, looking back.

 . Pic by Dug

Di layback style, Peter more sitting up.

 Theo and Peter. Pic by Dug

Theo has the direction, so witch way will Peter go?

 Cliffs and forest along the Colo. Pic by Dug

Colo Cliffs and forest.

Colo from our start. Pic by Dug

We came from That There Beach

Di lilos on the Colo River. Pic by Theo Di lilos on the Colo River. Pic by Theo
Di and Peter in a tranquil moment. Pic by Theo

A tranquil moment on the Colo River

Dug drifts on the Colo River. Pic by Theo

Drifting with the flow.

Peter loves this lilo trip on the Colo. Pic by Theo Peter on lilo. Pic by Theo
Peter enjoys the lilo on the Colo river. Pic by Theo Colo River rapids. Pic by Theo
Rapids on the Colo River. Pic by Theo Peter. Pic by Theo

Yahooo I did it.

Colo Meroo. Pic by Theo Iron Camp Cave. Pic by Theo

Happy in the rain, under our iron Cave.

 Iron Camp Cave. Pic by Dug

The Iron Camping Cave at Colo Meroo

 Colo Meroo camp area. Pic by Dug

Colo Meroo in the morning.

 Di on way out. Pic by Dug

Di in charge of the way out.

 Water level has dropped, see the sand. Pic by Dug.

You can see sand so the river has dropped Sunday morning.

 Di with views for her mum. Pic by Dug

Di with the mountains view, for her mum.

 Peter with views for his mum. Pic by Dug

Peter with the view for his Mum.

Di Theo Peter Dug admire the Wollemi View. Pic by Theo

Di, Theo, Peter, Dug, admire the Wollemi Views.

 Walking the steep bit. Pic by Dug

On the way up

 Up and Up. Pic by Dug

Rest stop on way up and out.

Big bend in Colo. Pic by Theo

A big bend on the Colo

 Views on exit ridge. Pic by Dug  Views on exit ridge. Pic by Dug
 Views as we leave. Pic by Dug  Views as we leave. Pic by Dug
 Di on Way out. Pic by Dug  View on way out. Pic by Dug
Dug on lilo. Pic by Dug