South Durras and Murramarang Highlights

Sunday 11 August 2019

Photos by Karen & Rodney

The tracks in and around the South Durras area and through Murramarang National Park  have been “regulars” on the Club’s walk calendar for many years, and the recent 15 km walk demonstrated once again what this area has to offer.

Starting at the ocean boat ramp the 12 walkers headed north to Murramarang Beach, then west through open forest to the shore of the lake at Punt Arm.    This arm of the lake has an important link to the timber industry of the late 1800s, as it was here that large logs cut from the surrounding forest, were loaded onto steam driven punts to be transported around to the boat ramp near the mouth of the lake.

From here we headed south, then east onto part of the old Benandarah Road arriving at the  back door of Durras.   Within a few minutes we were back walking through the spotted gum forest heading to Dark Beach where, on the rocky outcrop you can see direct evidence of volcanic action.  The sand on Dark Beach is dark because many volcanic minerals and rocks are dark coloured.  It is interesting to note that the next beach has white sand.  Any one interested in geology will find that the Murramarang area has much to offer.

After lunch we headed to Emily Miller Beach, named after a ship wrecked nearby in 1879, and then to the start of the Wasp Head track, where we quickly exited down onto the rock platform.  However it wasn’t long before the high seas saw our leader searching for Plan B!  So, with feet on one wall of rock and bottom and hands on the other, we shimmied our way up to higher ground.  Then it was just a matter of continuing around the Wasp Head rock platform, another interesting geologic area, to Mill Point where an old rusty boiler reminds us of the Timber Mill that once stood here.  The final short stretch of beach walking returned us to our cars.

Mary

 

Meroo Lake Backwater

Thursday 8 August 2019

Photos by Rodney

Though brisk breezes were caressing us with chilly strokes, we set off to enjoy the forest on the way to view arms of the little-known Meroo Lake.  This small water body near Termeil is typical of many “occasional” estuaries which only open to the sea after heavy rain.

Not so typical is the forest, which in this area is the southern extent of Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera), and in large specimens is a very valuable timber.   The regrowth forest we walked through had been logged several times in the past, but was now populated with abundant small Turpentine, reigned over by majestic large Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata).

Many of these larger trees had significant crown damage, indicating that they suffered by exposure to high winds from lack of similar sized companions.  Bracket fungi on parts of their trunks also indicated water intrusion causing internal rot.

Soon we settled for our morning tea on some logs by the north arm of the lake, where the wind ruffled the surface, giving the usual mesmerising effect of moving water.   Having satisfied various cravings, we began the return, this time on a different track, which also led us through impressive forest featuring large specimens of Woolly Butt (Euc. longifolia) and Grey Gum (Euc. punctata), also known as “monkey gum” for its attraction to koalas.  Grey Gum are notable for the yellow stripes of newly exposed bark.

On return to the cars, we gathered to thank our leaders Stan and Mary and for remarks on the walk.    Mary said she had decided that this should be known as the “Tree of Big Walks”.    We applauded her novel description.

Bob

 

Longfella Pass and Pigeon House from the West

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Walk distance – 16.2 km

It was a cold and frosty start to the morning but the view of the Castle and Byangee Walls from our cottages was sensational.  It is difficult to put into words just how stunning it was to wake up to such a beautiful view.  This morning 13 bushwalkers braved the cold, starting the walk from the Bhundoo Bush Cottages.  We made our way to Longfella Pass, located on the Pigeon House North Firetrail.  It was a steady climb with some very steep pinches so it wasn’t long before the fingers thawed out and the layers peeled off.  Once at the top of the pass, we had morning tea and enjoyed the stunning views back out to the Castle, marvelling at the fact that we had been standing on the top of Byangee Walls less than twenty four hours earlier.

After morning tea we continued along the fire trail onto the plateau, thankful for the nice flat track.  Alas, this wasn’t to last for too long before camp leader Barry located our exit point into the dense bush.  Time to glove and gaiter up!  We commenced our bush bashing down to the edge of the escarpment where we explored some lovely sandstone ledges and overhangs.  We had our lunch here and once again, there were some stunning views to enjoy whilst eating and relaxing.  After lunch Barry’s excellent navigational skills guided us back onto the fire trail where 5 walkers returned to the cottages.  The remaining 7 continued along the Pigeon House North Firetrail which was a good track.  We followed this gently ascending track which afforded some spectacular views of the western side of Pigeon House.

We eventually reached the original, rarely used, National Park trail which was very steep, rising nearly 200 vertical metres in 650m.  It took 30 minutes to scale, passing some beautiful boulders with rock orchids on top, thankfully out of the reach of hungry animals.  This trail ended at the beginning of the myriad of ladders that wind their way up to the summit.  After a short breather we prepared ourselves for the final ascent of the mini camp.  We reached the top enjoying the use of recently installed ladders which felt much safer than those of the past.

Once at the top, we had a quick afternoon tea, admiring the views for which Pigeon House is famous for.  It was a feeling of accomplishment looking back over the Castle and Byangee Walls, retracing our previous days steps.  Whilst it was chilly, the conditions were perfect with a big blue sky.  Many photos were taken but it was soon time to depart.  So we headed off back down the ladders and onto the track leading to the car park where Jill and Tony were waiting to transport us back to the cottages where a hot shower, camp fire and nice hot coffee were waiting.

Everyone had a fantastic time on this mini camp.  The cottages were excellent and the company was even better!  A special thanks to Barry for organising this camp.  We all appreciate the time and effort that you put into it to make it happen.

Report by Donna; Photos by Barry, Jill & Helen

Byangee Mountain

Monday 5 August 2019

Photos by Barry & Jill

Byangee Mountain is that mesa like Sydney sandstone plateau which sits between The Castle and Pigeonhouse Mountain in the Budawangs.  It is regarded as the lesser sibling of the three only because it is one wedding cake layer lower than the other two which flank it.

But it is an impressive mountain in its own right, surrounded by an almost impenetrable 100 metre high cliffline.  It is caterpillar shaped with a top area of 85 hectares and guards the exit of the Clyde River from its confines of the gorge into the broader valleys of Yadboro, Brooman and beyond.

Thankfully, the cliffline does have a chink in its armour and it was this one narrow broken slot in the rock which attracted the 13 Club (and guest) walkers to climb Byangee’s summit and admire the wonderful views.  Although the route is reasonably straightforward, the total climb is a 350 metre lift from the Long Gully Car Park.  Punching through the cliffline requires a degree of physical strength and reasonable balance, but for those who suffer vertigo it is not very exposed.

On top we enjoyed lunch with a magnificent 360 degree panorama without hindrance of vegetation – the seemingly endless broad Clyde valley in front, The Castle to the right, Pigeon House to the left, the Gorge behind.

The weather was excellent, the company exceptional and many thanks goes to Barry for organizing and leading this walk, one of a two day exploration in the area.

Track Notes

A foot track from the Long Gully car park, crosses the Yadboro River (currently not running it is so dry) and ascends the ridge east of The Castle Creek.  At the base of The Castle, it follows the cliffline east to Castle Gap.  Along the way, a visit to Cathedral Cave, a large slab of rock which leans closely to the cliffline, is worthwhile for a pleasant tree fern shaded rest.

From Castle Gap the track follows the base of Byangee Mountain cliffs on the north side for 600 metres where a cairn indicates the immediate climb up a steep broken, narrow gully.  One chockstone in the defile requires some physical effort to overcome but a resident rope aids the task.  After a fast lift of about 80 vertical metres the track goes east again for 50 metres on a wide ledge before popping up the last 10 metre lift onto the edge of the plateau.  From there the full 85 hectares is available for wandering.

Except for the wettest years, there is no water available.

Ian

 

 

Moruya River Ramble

Saturday 3 August 2019

27 Easy Walkers turned out on Saturday morning to enjoy a leisurely excursion along the banks of Moruya River led by Lyn.  Much of the 5 km return walk is on shared pathway, except for 2 km of well graded gravel road from the Moruya Country Markets to Ryans Creek on the peninsula.

Walkers finished this social stroll with lunch at the Waterfront Hotel in the sun on the banks of the river.

Karen

PS:  Where are my photos Easy Walkers??!! (K editor)

More Deua National Park Fire Trails

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Photos by Donna & Helen

Six intrepid walkers joined Donna on a lovely winter day imploring her to take them on a magical journey into the Deua, as they were all desperate.  Not desperate to see a waterfall, not desperate to see an ocean, not even desperate to see native wildlife.  No, they were all desperate to climb some hills!  The rookie, wet-behind-the-ears walk leader assured them that they had all come to the right place, excited that there were six other likeminded souls who loved nothing better than slogging up and down hills for fifteen kilometres.  Our mission, which was accepted, was to reach the Coondella Trig for lunch, of course without any casualties.  Although there is an accepted ten percent attrition rate, with only seven participants the walk leader hoped that this would not occur.

Whilst this did not occur, a fate almost as bad did occur.  The dreaded question ‘Donna, what tree is that?’  was asked on more than one occasion.  The walk leader frantically scrambled together some names she had heard on previous walks.  ‘Well, that would be either  a Spotted Gum, Blackwood, Pinkwood, Blackbutt or even an Angophora.’  Hoping that she had somehow jagged the right answer and hoping not to look too silly, Donna hurried the group up, changing the subject whilst muttering ‘where’s Ian when you need him.’

An otherwise uneventful walk to the trig continued with an ascent of over seven hundred metres gained.  We had lunch with some lovely filtered views of Moruya to the north and the Deua mountain ranges to the west.  After lunch it was all downhill to the cars.  Apart from Rodney’s purported close encounter with a leech, all participants completed the walk in one piece, begging for some more hills in the not too distant future.

Donna

 

Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens

Sunday 28 July 2019

Photos by Jan, Carol & Ainslie

It was National Tree Day, the winter sun was shining and the Club bushwalk was a 7 km Easy/Medium stroll through the local Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens just south of Batemans Bay.  Is it any wonder 35 members and 3 visitors chose to shoulder their packs and spend their Sunday in the bush with walk leaders Jill and John.

There are at least 7 different walk tracks through the Botanic Gardens, which when linked together explore about 32 hectares of natural bushland and cultivated gardens.  Deep Creek Track follows Deep Creek through a moist ferny gully and the Forest Track leads to the lookout over Deep Creek Dam.  The Arboretum Track passes through a grove of local eucalypts and other tree species, including the Blackbutt donated by our Bushwalking Club back in 1993.  The Lake Track leads to an ampitheatre overlooking one of several landscaped lakes and is a good spot for lunch.  There is also an Aboriginal Heritage Walk showing traditional uses of about 30 Eurobodalla native plants.

A fitting way to spend National Tree Day with so many bushwalking friends.

Karen

 

 

Downfall Fire Trail

Thursday 25 July 2019

Photos by Tony & Denise

Eleven hikers, including two visitors, enjoyed a great 7.5 km medium grade hike on the Downfall Firetrail. After a cold morning start we were soon shedding layers as the temperature rose and we tackled the many hills on this track. The track was graded in the last few months which made navigation easy but added some degree of difficulty to the hike as the steep slopes were in places very slippery due to the exposed sandy subsoils. Wind gusts experienced in this region over the last month brought down some very large limbs blocking the track in places. Our walk leader navigated us straight to a yellow bellied glider feeding tree well known to the Club, but without our resident forester Ian, there was much discussion as to what species of tree the scarring was on. Some quick research shows there are 23 tree species, mostly eucalypts, that are used by the gliders for sap feeding.

Lunch was on a large granite rock outcrop that provided great scenic views of the coastal ranges to the west. A number of orchids located on rocks out of reach of the local wallabys were seen and plans were made to revisit this area in September when they should be flowering.

Thank again to our walk leader Glenn, for an enjoyable and leg stretching hike close to home.

Rob

 

Pebbly Beach to Snake Bay

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Photos by Tom

Today’s walk commenced at Pebbly Beach, where around 1900 Francis Guy started up his 3rd timber mill.   Now in this popular National Park there is little to remind us of the lives of those hardworking timber getters and their families, many of whom lived in small cottages surrounding the Mill.

Apparently at the Mill there was a small tram track across the creek to help bring the logs to the mill. Once the logs were cut ready for loading, bullock teams took the logs back along that track to the northern end of the beach.  Loading onto the awaiting ships was done by flying fox.  The Mill closed in 1920.  Stand still today and the silence may be broken by the call of a lyrebird.

Our walk took us north as we were heading for Snake Bay.  The National Parks have constructed tracks in this area, which makes the walking easy, though there are quite a few “ups and downs” involving many steps, as you head north.  We took a short side track out to Clear Point, and were delighted to catch sight of dolphins and the breaching of a whale.  Before heading down into Snake Bay itself we took a little “detour” and walked a short distance along a very overgrown barely discernible old road, no doubt an old logging road.  It seems to me that where ever you walk in the forest along the south coast you are likely to see  a reminder that timber was a valuable resource to the early settlers.

Another great walk, another look back into the history of this area.

Mary

 

Tarlinton Track, Woila Creek Packwalk

Saturday 13 – Tuesday 16 July 2019

Photos by Donna & Barry

This three day walk was attended by seven Club members including three who were novices to overnight pack walking.

The Friday night weather forecast was for strong winds to abate on Saturday evening. So on midday Saturday we commenced our drive to the starting point on the Curranbene Creek Road where we camped beside Breakfast Creek ready to commence the walk proper on Sunday morning. Apart from setting up tents out of range of suspect tree branches our evening entertainment included the inevitable dance around the camp fire to avoid the smoke and a spotlighting walk where we observed two Greater Gliders high in the tree tops.

Historical note:  The Tarlinton Track is named after W. Tarlinton, who in 1829, apparently after being shown the route by Aborigines, pioneered a stock route from the headwaters of the Shoalhaven River to Belowra via Woila Creek.

Local recreational pack horse riders have continued to use the track.

Day one commenced with three km 4 WD track walk up to the base of Euranbene Mountain where the track proper starts.

After skirting around to the southern side of Euranbene Mountain the track follows a twisting ridge line that allows a mostly gentle 800 m vertical descent over 4km to reach Woila Creek about 1.5 km south of the Woila Creek Breakfast Creek junction. Clear evidence of former use of the track by horses was found in the form of a rusty horse shoe on the track.

Day one concluded with 1.5 km of creek flats walking to reach our camp site which was on portion 1 Parish of Jillaga which appears to be a small parcel of private land now surrounded by the Deua National Park.

Unfortunately the strong winds of Saturday afternoon returned with a vengeance. Luckily the camp site was in a clear area allowing tents to be pitched away from potentially hazardous trees. Camp fire dancing to avoid smoke turned to movement to avoid the occasional flurry of embers blown by the swirling wind. About midnight the wind subsided this was followed by a few rain showers, enough to mean a wet tent to pack up in the morning.

Day two was an undulating walk which I think included about 15 (I lost count) crossings of Woila Creek. Luckily all of these the water crossings were shallow but care was still need on slippery rocks. In various places there was cliff faces and deep pools in the creek which made scenic spots for morning tea and lunch stops.

Just before selecting our nights camp spot Ian & Sally found and identified a rock that showed evidence of being used for Aboriginal stone tool making.

Day three of the walk was about 4 km, initially easy going through mostly treeless river flat former cattle grazing land. At the end of the flats it became clear we had lost the trail so a bush bash through box thorn scrub soon brought us back to Woila Creek where we were able to join the track again after a short climb up the slope on the east side of the creek.

The track then made two further creek crossings to avoid the cliffs of a small gorge like section of Woila Creek. Then it was an easy 1 km of creek flats walking to our end point where Belowra Road fords Woila Creek.

Dave