[back]

Flag Retrieval - Part Two
Nerriga Navshield

July 16th – 20th 2008 – A four day walk.

Map:- 

 Endrick 1:25000 - 3rd edition

Party:-

 Shane H, Daenam F, Dug F.


This walk had to substitute for the multi day walk Shane and I planned for the Wollemi NP.  This fell through because someone found something for Shane to do on Monday and this would not have left enough time.  It is lucky in one way, because we were not finding any starters to collect the rest of the 2008 Navshield flags at Morton NP.

Wednesday

We managed to get away about midday, and arrived with enough daylight to set up camp, at the same location, we have used the past few trips.  Again we had an early tea at the Marulan Truck Stop 31 on the way, to save cooking at camp.  We soon had the tarp up and a fire going to warm the cool night.  It didn’t feel as cold as last week and there was little wind. 

Thursday

A pleasant night, to be awoken by the Lyre Birds call, aided by the chatter from the red tailed black cockatoos.  Lyre Bird Nest, in open forest atop a 1m boulder.When Ken and I were hanging the flags three weeks ago we passed a Lyre Bird nest not far from here.  It was just on dark, only just enough light to see, so we need flash photography.  See the picture opposite with the camera case for size comparison.  I have never seen such a well constructed and shaped Lyre Bird nest.  Usually they are just a few sticks on a ledge in an overhang.  This one was out in the open forest on top of a 1m high boulder and constructed in the classic nest shape, abet much bigger and made with much bigger sticks.

A pleasant day now, perhaps just a bit cool, the wind is forecast to pick up later though.  Away walking about 07:00, Shane and Daenam to pick up CP 57 on “a knoll“  and CP 40 on the eastern side of Flat Top Mountain. While I pick up CP 33,  just near the base site,  “the water course where the fence crosses”, “155 meters compass on a bearing of 118° magnetic”.  And then drive on to pick up CP 30 at the top of an 8m cliff. 

I then drove on to wait for the other two.  My task very simple and quickly achieved.  Shane's and Daenam's task proved more difficult and they didn’t arrive at the car until around 11:30.  The spur for CP 57 proved elusive at the start.  The pleasant open forest on the ridges a reward for their effort, (but that’s not how they described the button grass swamp in the creek valley they crossed on the way down, this was covered by white crunchy frost).

CP 50, well whats left of it.  ShaneWe lunched in the lovely forest clearing by the road, then drove on a couple of km to stop beside the ridge, to pick up CP 50.  Pleasant easy walking most of the way, it did tend to become a little too scrubby in the creek systems.  The flag was where it was supposed to be, atop the 3m cliff beside Alum Creek, but a little worse for wear following the wild winds of late.  Then we walked ene up to the main spur that would lead to "the spur" for Cp 60.  Again easy going through pleasant open forest, of squiggly gum, ghost gum, turpentine.  The wind has picked up again so there is a notable chill factor, but nowhere near as strong as last week, yet. 

Our way on was across the creek to the east and up the spur to CP 20 “the spur” on a rocky outcrop.  Still pleasant walking, on over the ridge and back to the car.  We were running short of time, so it was decided to drive up and collect CP 73 “the watercourse junction”.  This check point wasn’t used in the event because of the way the maps were printed.  A label blocking part of the map on the way into this site. 

We had decided to camp back at the tarp tonight and need to pick up water.  No problem locating the flag but we did need to continue east to the main creek to find good flowing water. 

Back to camp by about 17:00, to light a cooking fire and prepare scrumptious teas.  A most pleasant evening, the wind has dropped now, a little on the cool side, but still feels ok.

Friday

For a second time we are lulled awake by the lyre bird and black cockatoo calls with the lightening sky of dawn.  The task for to day to pick up: CP 70, CP 62, CP 61, CP 51, CP 21, CP 100, and then walk on to camp in one of the camping caves under Round Mountain.  We have a specified rout for this group of flags because I want to search for “a cage” we found on a direct compass bearing between CP 62 and CP 61.  I call this “a cage” because I don’t know how else to describe it, and National Parks personnel are puzzled as well, not being able to guess what it is/was intended for.  Made of light bird wire it stood about 6ft tall, 6ft long, 4ft wide in a tear drop shape with an open top and a vertical, curved round, opening at the narrow end.  It looked quite flimsy but seemed to have been there for some time.?  It was located in the thick tee tree scrub near a creek.  I thought I had marked the location on a gps but didn’t have it when I looked at home!  So we needed to find it again.

We parked the car where Radio CP alpha was supposed to have been during the event, then followed a spur east, down to the creek and up the other side onto a broad ill defined spur that leads CP 70 on “a saddle”.   This was all quite scrubby the way we went, a bit scratchy in fact.  But no problems we found the location ok, but it only “appeared” at the very end with little visual lead in, you needed confidence to find it first up.

To find CP 62 we followed the ridge system carefully and arrived a little to the south but we could see the flag.  Again a bit scrubby CP 62 "The Knoll" on a rocky outcrop.  Monika where to now but reasonably pleasant walking. 

Walking from CP 62 to CP 61, I concentrated hard on an exact compass bearing but we arrived at Little Grassy Creek about 100m upstream from “the gully”.  This was enough for us to miss the cage on the way.  Oh well I’ll have to take Jim R next time, it seems his walking on a bearing is more accurate than mine today.  The dogleg ridge to CP 51 “the saddle”  was straight forward and pleasant going with tall gum tree forest.  We had excellent views of Round Mountain to our east.  Tall cliffs all around only 1km or so away.

We backtracked the same ridge part way and descended through Grassy Creek and up a ridge that lead to CP 21 “foot of the 40m cliff”.  The creek was much steeper and deeper than we expected from the map.  The water looked very good so we filled up for camp tonight, (we were uncertain where water was to be found at Round Mountain).  Once out of the steep river valley the slope of the spur was reasonably gentle till the last couple 100 m and walking quite enjoyable in lovely forest.  The overhang that held the flag was easy to see from below so navigation was not an issue.  The westerly wind was quite strong by now and there were showers threatening.  This cave was way too exposed to the wind to dream of camping here, so we moved on. 

CP 100 “a knoll” on top the northern end of Round mountain was collected from a pass just below, this proved much easier than coming at it from the east.  We then continued around under the cliff line until we found an excellent flat, sandy bottomed, overhang facing nne.   The wind did tend to be a bit blustery at times due to the rota effect of the strong wind.  As the time was 16:30 and there was a slight drizzle every now and then, it was decided this will do.  We did have a look a bit further round but nothing better was on offer.

We soon had our bed spots selected and a cooking fire roaring.  In fact it was quite pleasant and the occasional gusts not all that intrusive.  Again, excellent meals were cooked and consumed with good humour and pleasant conversation.

Saturday

Lovely forest on the eastern side of Round Mountain Over all a good night not as cold as last night and it was pleasant listening to the howling wind and swish of tree way up above us from our warm sleeping bags.  A good breakfast then away by 7:30, the plan today to explore the eastern cliff face of Round Mountain and follow the road to Fosters Mountain collecting CP 65 on the way. 

The walking “interesting” in places but easy overall, we passed several excellent camping caves a couple with water.  However we did decide that camping where we did was the right thing to do at that time of night.  We have passed quite a few camping caves by now with flat sandy floors which suggests prior aboriginal use, but we have seen no paintings, carvings, or tool making sites.  The type of rock in these cliffs did not seem to be conducive to leaving permanent relics.  I did notice one or two small stone tool artefacts in the drip line at some locations, to show some evidence of past use.  This area was cattle country in the past and is still a very popular bushwalker location so there was plenty of evidence of white man use.  The eastern side of this mountain has tall straight eucalypt trees and this makes it a special place to walk.  Some of the rock formations are very spectacular.  A great place to be.

A stroll on down the road, in pleasant sunshine but a stiff wind, admiring the cliffs and bluffs of Quiltys Mountain to our east.  At the corner in the road where the high point north west of Fosters Mountain fist came into view we ducked of to the east to pick up CP 65 “a rocky outcrop”.  An interesting compass bearing course brings us to the right location.  We walk further north on the ridge on the way back and the scrub was quite reasonable.   All of the flags had been pick up, so there is just bushwalk from here on. 

We wander on up the high point mentioned for wonderful views to south east right round through west to north.  Tall bluffs and cliffs, with flat topped mountains everywhere, surrounded by forest.  The only hint of civilisation a small patch of grass-land far out to the south west.  We can also see the mountains around Canberra away in the distance, out west of us.  Camping Cave NE corner of Round Mountain, Shane and Daenam

We cross the pretty little saddle to Fosters Mountain.  Where I take a quick sortie, looking for camping caves around the north to the east side of the mountain.  There are several including some with water (I have marked these on the gps for future reference), but none better than that which Mark and I used last week.  We follow the cliff line going south, round the western side and find it enjoyable walking, with wonderful forest and marvellous rock formations cliffs and bluffs.  I mark a number of excellent camping caves and water holes, some obviously often used by white people, others not so.  We arrived at the selected cave about 16:00, it is buffeted by wind eddies every now and then, so we drop our packs and cross the saddle to Square Toped Mountain.  There are a couple of overhangs here but while perhaps more sheltered, they are judged to be inferior to where our packs are.  The dense vegetation in part of the saddle would make for a much more sheltered camp but again we elect to return to the packs.

On the way back we stop to look at the axe and ochre grinding grooves I noticed last time in a big overhang.  This would be an excellent shelter from a southerly or easterly gale but not for this westerly, so perhaps next summer or autumn.

In camp we soon have a cooking fire going, sheltered from the occasional gust, behind some conveniently located boulders.   Tea is a convivial affair and we all retire well fed, in a good mood.  Our sleeping spots are selected away from the big overhang tonight, because of the cold I experienced last week (a natural corridor for the cold air from the plateau above to funnel through).

Sunday

A cold enough night even though the wind did drop and the sky clouded over.  Still a great place to come awake.  Today is a lazy day as the sun doesn’t come around to us until a little later and we are in no hurry.  A good breakfast before we stroll up the nearby pass on top of Fosters Mountain, to take in the views.  Magnificent and the rock formations of the mountain top worth the trip on there own.

Away about 09:00 we cross back to Square Top Mountain and scramble up for more views and interesting rock formations.  Then on following the cliff lines around to the western most point to follow a series of ridges across the creek and back up to the car.  Daenam and Dug looking at Quiltys Mountain

As we walk round we pass a number of excellent well used caves some with nearby water.  Two in particular stand out as someone has set them up as camps, with fire wood neatly laid out in separate bundles.  Leaves and twigs broken to size here, small sticks broken to size there, larger sticks broken to size there, so on with about 6 different piles of progressively bigger diameter wood all about 300 - 400mm long.  The fireplace is formed by a U of rocks with three or four neatly placed larger sticks each charred on the fire end.  Other flat rocks have been neatly arraigned to receive pans or other cooking utensils around the fireplace rocks.  Of course an upright stick on either side of the fire place to support a stick to hang the billy.  The detective amongst us does find the roach secreted away .

Our selected rout back proves very pleasant with gentle grades and easy scrub.  We were back to the car washed and ready to leave by 13:00.  We dropped the NP key off with the NP ranger at Bungonia and are home by 18:00 (the earliest yet).

Overall an excellent walk in magnificent country, great weather, and excellent company.  I will recommend it to any one, one big advantage there is only modest hight loss and gain, so steep sections are only very short.  There are many very easy passes through cliff lines, not even a scramble.  I have been down to this area 7 or 8 times over 3 months and only had two drizzly days, so look for good weather this side of the range.  Thank you Sane and thank you Daenam.  Till next time.  © Dug Floyd July 2008.

Looking North from Square Top Mountain Eastern Side of Round Mountain
The last flag CP 65 One of the excellent camp cave on the eastern side of Round Mt
Compulsive neatness in  the camping cave Grooves in cave by saddle between Fosters Mt and Square Top Mt

[back]