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Carmarthan Ridge, King George Brook, Jungaburra Brook, Kamarah Gully, Koombanda Ridge.

Sept 27/28th 2003

Party:-

Jim, Brian, Tanya, Dug

Friday afternoon was still hot, after a hot week of gale force north westerlies.  As I was about to leave for the train, I picked up my Polar fleece jacket then put it down again, "I wont need that".  As soon as I got on the refrigerated train it hit me, “bad move about that jacket”.    I didn’t have much room in my pack so didn’t take a fly, intending to sleep out.  As it looked like cooling off considerably at Mt Wilson, I slept under the roofed picnic shed, in case of a mountain dew.  Only two sidewalls so I could still look out to see the stars and the trees.  Delightful clear night although "quite gusty" at times.

We awoke to the joyful call of the many bush birds in the wonderful setting of Cathedral Reserve.  A comfortable breakfast in the warm sunshine.  Jim arrived right on 8, just as the forecast south-westerly change arrived.  Sleet showers complete with rainbows and all; temperatures plummeting down.  Shouldn’t be as cold in the deep creek valleys, we think.  Car shuffle at Mt Banks and away by 8:30.  Very windy but mostly sunshine.  Carmarthan Ridge is fairly easy going and the wild flowers in profusion they must be seen to be believed.  I loved the wild flowers in Cascades NP last year but these are every bit as good despite the dryness.  It looks like were in for a terrible summer.  

At the high point shown on the map we head of south and then south east down a side spur until a just before a small rise, where we turn left into the creek system.  Becoming  windier and still the odd very brief shower of sleet, not enough to get wet but very cool.  The creek is a bit scrubby at first but soon becomes easy going in the clear rocky bed; then becomes a shallow canyon lined with low cliffs and pagodas.  I love these places so peaceful and scenic not much wind here.  The cliffs become taller and taller as we walk on, showing that magnificent water sculptured effect so typical of the Blue Mountain sand stones.  At the junction with King George Brook “the book” talks of a short abseil or climb down a steep muddy bank further around.  We crawl, then belly slide and slither through the low overhang beside the drop and walk down the dusty steep bank into the main brook.  I did say it was dry at the moment, didn’t I.

King George Brook is a deep Blue Mountains canyon without any abseils (in this section) you do eventually get your feet wet but mostly skirt the pools.  Lunch is at a convenient mostly sunny spot but the cool air drives us on, too soon.  We come to a place where the creek disappears down a small waterfall into a narrow chamber typical of the canyons; we can see a pool of water down there, how deep?  Instead we follow the footpad that leads us higher up the bank and then along the cliff face to a big overhang.  On past this, now high above the creek bed, which we catch a glimpse off every now and then, through the dense vegetation.  Eventually we come to a place where you can see people have walked/scrambled up the steep face to the ridge top again.  We follow Banks Ridge back to Mount Banks and the cars.  The wind is full gale force now and very cold.  The lovely flowers and wonderful scenery take our minds of the slight discomfort.  We can see the rolling eucalypt forest over to the huge coloured sandstone cliffs and bluffs of the Grose river system.

At Mt Wilson we stop for hot chocolate or coffee at the now upmarket tea and scones place, very civilised way to end a good walk.  It is a pity that I had to advertise today’s trip as possible abseiling which puts most people off, it is such a wonderful area and most members who did the Somersby walk could have done this one. 

The night is shaping up as cold and windy. At the Cathedral reserve we seek shelter amongst the trees.  But the wind is swirling everywhere, as strong winds will.  We decide that near the picnic shed is as good as anywhere and there is some protection for the stoves.  My thermals, beanie, trousers, shirt and rain coat only just enough clothing.  Jim gets a strong fire going and it does seem to make it feel warmer somehow.  A leisurely dinner and it’s early to bed for some of us.  Again a good night, clear skies, the wind dropped by 1am.  Bright sunshine in the morning but a very strong frost settled after the sun rose.  The top of cars looked like after a snowstorm but strangely the ground was fairly clear.

The start to Jungaburra Brook is between Holly Lodge and Water trough Hill (named after a horse trough carved out of the stone and fed by a permanent spring, from the horse transport era).  We head down a ridge and get into the creek too soon.  Bit scrubby at the start but gradually changing to easy going and pleasant as the cliffs close in again.  The sun is shining not to warm nor too cold, just right (like Goldie Locks).  No strong winds just the gentle playful swirls of a thermal breeze now and then.  Very dry only the odd small rock pool of water, so dry in fact that the moss crackles when you touch it.  Some tree ferns have lost their fronds completely (we  hope they will grow back and this is only a natural defence).  As we get lower down we encounter the bolder jambs, to go over, under, through, any which way you can, just to add variety.  The enormous Kamarah Bluff appears as a signal that we are nearing the end for today, then disappears behind the foliage as we near it.  A peasant place for lunch sitting propped up on a fallen tree in the sun, surrounded by the rainforest gully vegetation with the high sandstone bluffs peeking up behind.  These Blue Mountain Gullies are delightful green places (even this one, despite showing signs of dry stress).

The way out is up Kamarah Gully, a wonderful place worth a visit in its own right, with the green moss, forests of tree ferns or forests of coachwood, steep in parts, narrow dark and mysterious in part, wide and rich and fertile in parts – a place people are meant to be.  A pity people from Newcastle are not here to enjoy it.  We pass one of the tree ferns showing how it slowly walk through the forest, 2m or so every 200 years.  Eventually we make our way up onto Koombanda Ridge, to the bright sunshine with more beautiful flowers.  Again we see several Waratahs in bloom, (very early) but many are struggling due to the big dry.  Plants showing obvious signs of stress the blooms smaller than usual but magnificent, crimson, perfectly formed many petalled lotus shape, smiling at us as we pass in a way that Buda would approve.  One particular plant withered yellowish leaves and stunted but the most radiant bud about to bloom; the will to survive!

Jim is navigating up the ridge and gets us back to the main road almost at the cars (as close as you could get, sensibly), well done.  I’m dropped off at Richmond for the train trip home.  Another really good trip with great company.   Thank you all, till next time.  I strongly recommend this area to NBC members who don't venture off tracks much, navigation is easy and the vegetation is quite ok to walk at the moment; scenery, rare shaped rock pagodas and flowers, whow!  © Copyright September 2003 Dug Floyd.

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