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Pantonies Crown

Garden Of Stones National Park

October long weekend 2008.

Map:-

Ben Bullen 1:25000

Party:-

Steve, Gary, Jim, Dennis, Dug

Friday night

Gary, Jim and I left home at 4:30 and caught up with the other two at Sandy Hollow, where we stopped for dinner.† We all arrived at Baal Bone Gap track about 10:00, driving through drizzle, off and on for the last few km.† We set up camp at a convenient place beside the track, still in the drizzle.

Saturday

It was clear by the morning with the promise of sunny day to come, despite the forecast of showers.† We abluted, breakfasted, packed and were driving by 7:00.† This track isnít as bad as it was when we were last here a few years ago.† A great day, wallabies, roos, lyre birds, chuffs and many other birds entertain us on our way to the creek junction that leads to Tarpeian Rock.† The area along the track is beside a wide creek flat which would have made a good camping spot (we didnít go this far last night because the road was much rougher last time and it could have been nasty in the wet at night).

I chose to walk along the side of the spur because the lower part of the creek bank seemed scrubby, but soon I noticed that it was only a short scrap of scrub and the creek would have probably been better walking.† Not to worry, next time, it isnít far and we need to be on the ridge line at the end anyway.† Tarpeian Rock is an imposing pagodary rock formation jutting out into the Coco Creek valley with vertical colourful sandstone cliffs overlooking Rowans Hole below.† Great views of a rugged area, on this beaut sunny day.

After the customary oooing and aaahing we continue on along the northeast leading ridge line. †Good open walking through low ridge type forest, many wild flowers out for our enjoyment.† We drop down on the eastern side of ridge that leads north to claw hammer point, to enjoy the views to the east and north.† The third edition map calls Claw Hammer Point - Baal Bone Point for some reason?† While my second edition map marks Baal Bone Point as point just west of where we are now.† This leads to some confusion between various navigators using the different maps, but it is all sorted in the end. Pantonies Crown from Clawhammer Ridge. Photo by dug

Regardless of the naming this is a magnificent pagodary ridge with extensive views all around.† The sides of the ridge are very tall, vertical sandstone cliffs in lovely colours.† This is a great area with high hills and ridges of many shapes and sizes, pointy ones, rounded ones, flat topped ones, but above all cliffs in view everywhere.† Ahead the spectacular flat topped bluff of Pantonies Crown, its characteristic shape visible from all around the Garden Of Stone National Park.  I have made this walk several times and always enjoy it.† On thing we donít enjoy all that much, is seeing the marching patches of squalls approaching from the southwest.† We very briefly receive a very cold blast of wind with a trace of drizzle, oh well perhaps they will clear.†† The forecast I read on BOM web site said a few showers.

At the hammer head part of the point, there are magnificent rock formations, ending in the anvil which we couldnít climb. †The scrambles around some of the formations and then down into the slot looks more daunting than last time but we make. †Leaning logs are still in place but we utilise a hand line for comfort.† The effort here reinforces my feeling that my ankle has a long way to go before Iím right again.† The country here is very imposing with huge bare rocks, high vertical cliffs and very steep stony slopes below the cliffs.†

Anvil Rock from the saddle to the north Photo by dug We find our way along the very steep slope below to the gentler ridge top that leads to the saddle before Pantonies Crown.† Looking back we have the imposing Annville Rock standing tall and clear before us and further behind that the advancing squalls are evident.† There is a rout up this southern end which I have been told requires an exposed scramble, I am not prepared to risk this in the wet with my ankle as it is.† Our aim is to sidle around the eastern side of the crown to the northern end and scramble up there.

The going is steep and scrubby in places, but ok really, then the rain starts with icy cold gusts.† Luckily we soon find a huge boulder with an overhang on the lee side so we have shelter from the wind and the rain.† Just the place to don rain coats and wait-out the squalls initial fury.† We continue on, with frequent showers and cold wind.† We find our way up to the base of the cliff line above to seek easier walking.† Garry says this is the hardest walk he has done and is finding the going particularly tough.† We come to a big overhang that provides shelter from the storm, so stop to rest a little, about 2pm.† Then as things seem to be getting worse we light a fire and set a fly up in the drip line to collect water in billies to make a cuppa.† Firstly Steve and then Dennis and Jim scout further on along the cliff line to see if there are any better caves or wether itís practical to walk all the way on to the northern end.† Where I know there is an overhang, which would just do for a camp, giving us a quicker start for the top in the morning.† The report is negative so we stay the afternoon and night.† Just as well really because soon the mist and them the fog moved in, firstly the magnificent cliff lines across the valley disappeared, then the valley disappeared then the trees on the slope below us disappeared, then the cave started to fade into whiteness (but luckily not for long, or perhaps the fire warmed the air enough). Camp cave, base of cliff east side of Pantonies Crown.  Phot by dug

The outlook from our perch here high on the side of Pantonies Crown was very spectacular before the fog rolled in.† We are overlooking a wide, deep, forested valley with steep slope, leading up to tall cliffs and a wide forested plateau the other side.† The sandstone cliffs glisten and glow in the afternoon sun, changing colour with the suns angle.† Then again I always seem to enjoy the scene of a forest disappearing into the mist away from us, so am not disappointed.

Pleasant enough really, sheltered from the wind and rain, plenty of fire wood for our cooking fire and we can collect sufficient water for our needs using Jims fly.† The floor of the cave is great to sit around, but a bit too dusty, slopped and rocky to comfortably sleep on.† Garry and Dennis set up their sleeping bags back a bit in a flat floored cave, with a roof a bit low for my liking.† Steve found a flat rocky spot a little further along, just right for him.† Jim and I do a bit of gardening to each create adequate sleeping spaces in the main overhang.† We while away the time with our chores or chatting or cooking or eating until itís time for bed.† It must be a better world now we talked about how to right so many things.

Sunday

We awakened by delightful bird calls, but to a sight similar to yesterday Ė white out of the valley - but the rain has eased to showers again.† A violent thunder storm woke us during the night didnít affect us in any other way, than perhaps the clash of thunder.† No use hurrying this morning and we are away about 8am.† The aim is to follow the base of the cliff around to the northern end of the Crown.† We enjoy the scenery and rout finding and use the small overhang to shelter from the worst of the occasional squalls.† About 9am we find the overhang †we sheltered in last visit.† Robyn was with us then so I stop to reflect a little she was such a happy person on a walk.† Jim and Steve follow the rout up through the cliff lines to the last 10 m barrier but decide the rock is too slippery wet to chance this.† Dennis and I baulk at a lower easy scramble for the same reason.

Views from Way up to Pantonies Crown, should not be mist (damn it).  Photo by dug Since we have been baulked our aim is to head towards Point Cameron to find the pass up onto the plateau and then on to Newness Pondage, a rather spectacular natural feature.† Jim navigates the obvious dogleg ridge east then south to the Baal Bone Gap pipeline road.† A great choice easy going once off the steep stuff, even an animal pad most of the way, and we arrive after a pleasant stroll.† The rain has stopped too.† A group decision is taken to bypass Point Cameron and take the pipeline road to Baal Bone Gap (Steve is feeling crook as well now).†† Lunch is taken on a creek flat beside the road, a pleasant place.† Not as misty now and we can enjoy the scenic cliffs through the forest trees as we walk on.† I take the left hand fork in the road so those who need can top up with water at the pressure reducing station, half way up.† We continue climbing the steep and sometimes much eroded road to eventually arrive at the top Baal Bone Gap about 4pm.

Our plan is to camp here because we can get water at this pressure reducing station.† We set up camp and build a cooking fire to settle in for the night.† It hasnít rained since before lunch but there is still bouts of mist.† I pick up some fire wood, not knowing it was the haunt of fire ants.† These get stuck into me in a big way and I refuse to drop the wood until it is where it is need so get well bitten.† The bite is just like being burnt and the pain lasts well.† I did discover that when a burn bite was heated from the fire while picking up my billy it hurt just like another burn but luckily the pain soon passed and didnít return.† Next day I experimented bathing the other bites with hot water with the same result afterwards it no longer hurt (a first aid tip to you all).

A pleasant night cooking round the fire and even a park bench and table to sit and eat.† The rain came back after we retired for the night, with a vengeance.† I did note a fine spray inside my new lightweight sinylon fly at one stage, but it wasnít enough to wet me.

Monday

We wake to a muted dawn bird chorus, I quite enjoy it even if there is still mist and drizzle.† With the continuing inclement weather, a group decision is made over breakfast to just return to the cars.† It isnít all that nice pushing through wet scrub and distant views of mist seem a little disappointing for the effort required.† An hour track bash and we are back to the cars.† Even the tracks here have picturesque features as you move along.† At the cars by 10am and home by 2:30pm, after lunch at Sandy Hollow.

Thank you, Jim, Dennis, Garry, Steve for your great company and interesting interactions.† Till next time.†Copyright © 2008 Dug Floyd.

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