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Course Setting Training - March 2009

Blue Mountains National Park - Glenbrook

Map:-

Penrith 1:25000

Party:-

Daenam, Dug.

Friday night

We set out about 6:30 to miss the traffic in Newi and Sydney and arrived at about 9:15. The pies for dinner at the service station were “interesting”, the contents were good but the pastry was hard like a biscuit. Still beggars are not choosers.

We drove round to our friends place to sleep in the yard as arranged (They lives only 200m from the park entrance, very convenient). A good night just as well that Daenam slept under the garage roof as it was a bit dewey in the morning. I sleep in the car with the seat laid back, these days.

Saturday 21st

The saddle - exactly We woke with the sun and left early to walk down the hill into the park. A gorgeous sunny morning and great surroundings. The road crosses the railway line then dips down hill to the visitors centre and gate, surrounded by bush and the early morning bush sounds. There were even a couple of cars already there, most of the occupants off on bicycle rides or day walks. We have overnight packs – as light as possible of course, but still too heavy. My saying “if a pack weighs nothing it is still slightly too heavy”. We keep on down the steepening hill to the Creek, where the road crosses and then climbs the other cliff line to the plateau. Our way is east down stream then up a side creek leading south. Pleasant walking, a bit of rock hopping a bit of scrambling, lovely bush, great morning.

Our aim is a particular watercourse junction to set a control point. No problems here, we mark the spot with pink surveyors tape (which breaks down in sunlight after a few months, leaving no trace). The gps agrees well with the grid I have written down from the map. The creek is quite open walking and lovely bush with good tree cover. This is sandstone plateau country, not particularly fertile so the trees are the hardier sort of gums, angophoras, ironbarks, etc not very tall and a bit of prickly undergrowth. A few years since the last control burn so a bit scrubbier than we would have preferred.

Smoko taking in the view Our course from here sse to a track which we follow to a particular bend. Then steeply up hill se to “The Saddle” shown on map on the north-south ridge. A bit scrubby in places but ok walking overall. We find the location ok, but elect to walk on a couple hundred meters to the higher ground then follow the ridge top back carefully to the lowest point – the saddle – exactly where we thought originally. After carefully recording all the details and again the gps agrees. Then we follow the ridge north towards where the track crosses. At the high spot of the ridge I suddenly remember that, I haven't marked our last CP with the tape :~). We back track carefully following the ridge top to the lowest place and just to prove it was the right place picked up the marker pen that I didn't know I'd dropped (not too bad when I would have thought 10m was as close as we would get).

We headed back north and picked up the track to a lookout. A cliff top overlooking the a gorge and across to the other cliff line. Magnificent views worth the walk on its own, delightfully warm day. This would be a great place for a check point because of the views, but not a very challenging navigation. The checkpoint we planned to be set at the falls shown a few 100m along the cliff line. No problems finding a place to hang the tape but no big waterfall, just a dry rocky creek with a few boulders to find your way down to the cliff face, we elected to hang the tape back up a bit. Good views down into the Gorge again.

A quick way down (real quick) From here we headed over to Portal Lookout with the aim of finding our way down to the major creek junction. A magnificent lookout with views north and south and east, all along the 180 m high escarpment and over the plains into the hazy distance. The cliffs at this spot are used for abseiling (I helped with training here in May last year), so there are a couple of passes through the cliffs and one that goes on down through the second line of cliffs to the spur that heads down to the creek junction. A rocky spur with vestiges of a foot pad here and there, takes us down easily enough, obviously not used so much these days. We rock hop over the boulder jumble that marks the junction to plant a marker. Time for lunch sitting in the sunshine shaded by slim tea tree, overlooking the waters and watching the boats churning up and down, I doubt they noticed us.

After lunch we try to walk upstream, the map suggests the banks are very steep in places. This proves to be right, but it would be manageable, except for the growth of lantana and blackberry :-).  After 200 m or so we quit the attempt and scramble back up the spur we came down. Back on top our aim is to follow the ridge we planted the marker on earlier, south to where a spur leads down to a ferny grotto. We pass the marker again confirming it is in the right place and find the spur where it starts its steep decent, to mark with the tape (we had a look for cliffs and views but the tree cover prevents any good view). Again the gps agrees with the coordinates we have written down.

We were running low on water now because the creeks have been dry, so we aim for the camp site. I have been told there is water there. We did pass a side creek with water on the way but a bit steep and rock to make a good camp. Below us we can see the lower part of the creek is a canyon with cliffs each side a little difficult to find our way through. So we sidle round the steep vegetated scree slopes, through cliff lines and beside the cave overhangs and eventually find a way in to the creek and further up stream a way out. There is water in this creek but I would be reluctant to drink it because of the camping up stream. A lovely place to wander through, cool, tall trees, cliffs, boulders, mosses and ferns.

At the camp site we wander around amongst the campers looking for a water point, to no avail. A camper gave us a the right place! very welcome bottle of water each to quench the immediate thirst. We decide to cook tea at a BBQ pit with a nearby table.

This is a lovely place it was settled in the 1800 because of its rich soil and now is a rolling grassy area with tall blue gums along the watercourses. Kangaroos, crop quietly on the slopes amongst the campers, white cockatoos screech about the trees over head, and flocks of brilliantly coloured parrots fly past. These “craters” or “holes” are diatrams – places where volcanic plugs forced up through the sandstone millions of years ago. The volcanic rock was much softer than the sandstone and so weathered away leaving these places scattered through the bush. The weathering volcanic rock made much more fertile soil than the nearby sandstone soils, making for lush vegetation amongst the sparser hardier bush surrounding. You find many such places settled in the pioneer days but abandoned now as uneconomical.

Daenam cooked, while I wandered around to find water. I met the range who, informed me that there was no longer water available at the clearing :~). He did suggest the old native well, last time I saw this it was full of rubbish, he offered to drive me back to pick up water there. I declined, as the map showed a waterhole only a couple of kms away. I wandered upstream from the camping area past the native well (just in case) and a few meters further on found a rock pool of clear water. With our water needs filled we decided to camp. Tea was great with the sausages, cheroso sausage, with steamed vegetables. We boiled the water for tea and soup. The water for tomorrow was treated with a drop of betadine, ”just” in case, after all the water wasn't far upstream from the camp site.

I set up a fly, as there was some cloud about, it is big enough for both of us if needed, Daenam camped in amongst the scrub and tea trees to reduce the chance of dew.

Sunday

A magnificent place to come awake, quiet, tall tree, bird life gently building up to the dawn chorus. Firstly the single night bird calls, mopoke and boobook, gradually replaced by day bird calls, whistle, screeches, trills, warbles. One at a time at first, then a general chatter and finally the general chorus. We had breakfast and were soon away. One disadvantage of a hole is, the only way out is up, yesterday must have been hard because we both feel the legs as we walk up the steep bank. After a few hundred meters, we drop into a gully beside the road to mark the first control point – this will be easy to encourage the new navigators.

Resting in the shade Then off overland south west to a watercourse junction upstream for the camp site. Our side creek proves to be a bit canyony so the flag is set less than 100m from the main creek at the foot of a 3m waterfall, again the gps agrees with us. Very pretty area. From here we head up stream to a gully shown by the map as on the bank above the creek. It is hot and the going slower than I expected, perhaps yesterday took more out of us than usual. Normally we both enjoy hot weather, but not today. We stop for lunch in a lovely shady spot beside a rock pool of good water. The gully should be above us to the south, but no sign of it from the creek.

After lunch we head up and find it becomes very steep “perhaps even cliffy” still with no sign of the gully. I think that this would make navigation too hard so close to base and we move down stream 150m to the watercourse and set the marker just atop a small 2 m waterfall into a pool.

We head south, up to a track shown on the ridge. Our intention is to pick up a few points on our way home, but time is against us and we are sick of pushing through prickly scrub, so we just follow the track back to the car.

Thank you, Daenam for your great company and interesting interactions. Till next time. © Copyright 2009 Dug Floyd.

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Too easy to set