A Coroboree at Wollombi
Steve, Ken, Dug
An email about a coroboree at Wollombi on the Saturday evening from Trevor helped us to decide to do a day walk in the Watagans, go to the corroboree, then start the Yengo walk on the Sunday.
In the Watagan’s we drove out past the hang gliding sites so Ken could drool in anticipation. Mostly they haven’t changed much from my time the western site is more eroded; obviously that trail isn’t maintained now. We then drove on out past the Cessnock turn off and found our way out the fire trails to Ingles Road where a ridge/creek system to the south west looked “interesting”. We followed an easy ridge into a creek (head waters of Stewarts Creek) and wandered along for a few hours, very pretty as many of these creeks are. At one place we came across a cave with ironstone stalactites, (I have only found them this size once before, that is near Mt Davies off Coricudgy Creek). A good side trip as the Watalgan’s’ always are. Good value and well worth the visit especially when you consider the short drive. Steve’s decided that he could not go on, so we drove him home and returned for the coroboree.
The coroboree was well worth the visit and we enjoyed the night. Next morning we had breakfast with the stars. Had a good look around at the sculptures that are part of this property. Then we ducked up the nearby hill on an exploration side trip. Very pretty with gorgeous wild flowers and mysterious rock formations.
We then drove on to the Hunter Fire trail – well sort of it turned out we went wrong somewhere and ended up down the Boree Fire Trail instead. Still they all join up all over the place, and we corrected the error. One bonus was we came across some rock art complete with sign post and board walk, only 1km or so before the Hunter Trail. A worthwhile diversion after all. Quite an extensive gallery, there are several hunters, a number of emus, emu tracks and other bits and pieces (142492 Wollombi).
We parked, where Trevor parked in June L/W (000545 Yengo). 12:40 time for lunch, in the sun (reduce the weight of the pack too). We followed the track over the car stopper humps down the ridge to the west and then SW. A warm day, very pleasant on the ridge, good views, lots of wild flowers and flowering gums. We noticed the fresh tracks of another party doing the reverse to us, we also found the tracks of a very thick snake in soft sand – python eating something?? At the ring road round Mt Yengo by 15:00. We joined the next ridge over to the west from this one. North to the knoll (972497), and then West and eventually SW. At the big bend on the McDonald River about 17:30 just enough light to set up flies (because it was spitting drizzle every now and then) collect wood and light a cooking fire before dark. An excellent way into the river relatively easy walking, very pretty lots to see and enjoy.
A pleasant enough evening and night, even if the drizzle return after tea. Around about midnight I could hear something crunch, crunch, crunching down the river! What the? Only Ken coming to share my dry fly – his fly was set up to leak.
Good to listen to the bird calls on this drizzly morning lying in for a lazy start. Away by about 8:00. We decided to keep river walking looking for an overhang to camp in tonight because of the drizzle (and an aversion to pushing through wet scrub). Lots of lovely flowers as yesterday, particularly the crimson passion fruit flowers near the camp site. We are following quite fresh tracks of three people going the opposite direction (same party as yesterday?). About 9:30 found a small over hang, just big enough to have an early cuppa out of the rain and decide what to do next. We study of the map to pick likely places for overhangs, best guesses was up a couple of side creeks with steep country to one side, one in particular which also looked like a good jump off place for the reported rainforests to the south of Mt Yengo.
The first side creek proved a bit scrubby so we scrubbed that one. The walking in the Mc Donald River is pleasant despite the now heavy drizzle (we are both sick of being wet, it is to be admitted), picturesque and easy going on the smooth sand bed. The NP brochures talk of the sandy highways through these parks, because that’s what they were to the original inhabitants and still are if you have a spirit of adventure. I must admit that the occasional patch of quick sand is hard to spot, although I managed well until late in the afternoon. Lots of blossom and flower, very lovely creeper with white flower mass in the tops of trees – seemed to glow in the gloom. Lots of golden wattle.
A word picture: - we walk on the golden firm sand of the river bed road, the colourful base of a V formed by the dark forested steep valley walls. Just a narrow run of water to step over, the occasional deeper pool to skirt around or perhaps swim in. Big boulders sit as objects of interest ahead, sometimes with attendant big tree logs and collected vegetable matter from past floods. The valley walls coated by tall dark trees and thick vegetation, many brilliant flowers brighten the way. There are often coloured sandstone cliffs with interesting rock formations and overhangs high up above. Atop the valley walls is the dissected sandstone plateau that is a feature of this landscape, this river twists and turns its way through, so you are on a straight stretch of sand road blocked seemingly at either end by forest, where the river takes a sharp turn. Above a grey low sky but on other days clear pail blue, some days the sky is dotted with fluffy little clouds, on others fantastically tall cumulous nimbus clouds give a different look and feel. The resourceful traveller will find many places to camp or stay in there travels of the sand highway. We think a place people are meant to be to enjoy rather than toil. Very little modern man litter, although we do see a couple of wheels with tyres and the occasional bottle.
The side creek at (961479) is open if a little muddy on the bed. We found our desired camping cave 20 - 40 m up stream on the left. Would sleep 4 - 6 comfortably with room for a cooking fire. We soon had a fire going to help warm, dry and make a cuppa. The rain let up about 11.45 but we decided to stay to finish drying out and walk after lunch. Bellbirds calls are delightful in this creek, we could hear many kinds of birds in the main creek, these are noticeably muted when it is wet.
We continue on exploring down the river, the sky noticeably brightening, until by 4:30 mostly clear skies. We walked on way past the end of our map before turning round. The tracks of our three walkers continued way past where we were. The river noticeably wider and straighter down here. The sand of the river gives a blackboard of tracks, that presents an insight to the animals of the area. Kangaroo, dingo, fox, snake, many different birds. You see the signs of flight or fight and occasionally the spoils of the victor. I managed to discover a very healthy patch of quick sand all to myself up here. No bell birds sounds in this area – they seem to be only in “our creek”.
We return to the camping cave for a pleasant leisurely tea and sit by the fire. After night fall the drizzle returned but we were snug in our overhang. Lots of night bird calls to entertain us. A warm and comfortable night.
Our aim is to walk up this side creek to the southern side of Mt Yengo and then up onto Mt Yengo (depending on the weather) and finally camp near the dam we saw when we were walking on Sunday. Away about 7:30, misty light drizzle – wet scrub. Fortunately the creek is relatively scrub free and reasonably good walking, very pretty, lots of rock formations and cliffs, many wild flowers, the birds entertain us with song and flight, tall straight trees. We pass a number of smaller camping caves, before one much bigger overhang near the 4th creek junction on the left. We soon came to a wide flat “holes”, good grass, big blue gums, reasonably open – possible good camp spot with water holes nearby. Our planned rout out is up side creek (978478 – 5th up on the left). We follow the creek then up the obvious nose straight in front of us, keeping to the left for a reasonable way up. At the cliff face we stop for morning tea in an overhang out of the wet where we can admire the view with the interplay of mist amongst the trees and cliffs. As we follow the ridge top we come to an unexpected road, this proves to be part of the ring road around Mt Yengo. At the good looking pass we noticed on the map we decide not to climb Mt Yengo as the views would be mist and we preferred to give the thick wet scrub on top a miss to.
As anticipated the mist was coming from the south and by the time we were to the north of Yengo it was clear but still overcast, an occasional drizzle patch came our way over the top of Yengo but fortunately not right to us. This helped us make up our minds to depart today – we haven’t anything special planned for tomorrow, just a bit of exploration, so it’s not worth camping in the damp. We retrace our steps along the ridge top fire trail we came in on and are back at the car by 3pm. I take it easy over the fire trail going back, it is generally ok but I did find one greasy place.
An interesting excursion to the coroboree, very pleasant walking in the Watagan and Yengo. Thank you Ken and Steve. Till next time. © Copyright 2005 Dug Floyd.