Packwalk: Jagungal Wilderness, Kosciusko National Park

Monday 11 – Thursday 14 March 2019

Photos by Ian and Mary

The Jagungal Wilderness is a large 66,300 hectare slab of Kosciusko National Park between Guthega, the Tooma Road and the Eucumbene River valley.  It straddles part of the Great Dividing Range and has a prominent peak, Mt Jagungal, which at 2,061 metres asl is the 7th highest in Australia.  Jagungal was declared wilderness in 1992.

The topography is undulating to hilly with typical Australian alpine and sub alpine vegetation.  It is the open snow grass “plains” and broad valleys with snow gum capped ridges which is the big attraction to bushwalkers.  Six club members – Bronwyn, Simon, Rudy, Wendy, Mary and Ian went to have a four day look.

Starting on the eastern side near Cesjacks Hut, and in a broad anticlockwise oval circuit around Mt Jagungal, we followed Doubtful Creek to Grey Mare Fire Trail (which is also part of the Australian Alps Walking Track), and returned via the Strumbo Range and McAlister Saddle.  This is a distance of approximately 35 kilometres, about half of it on fire trail and we were walking in the 1600-1800 metres asl elevation range.  We camped in the open, ignoring the few huts which were en route or within distance.

South of Mt Jagungal, the open plains and low hills, interrupted by small outcrops of granite boulders, were a delight to walk and offered endless views. We often stopped to soak it in but, interestingly, it was almost monotonous. After a while, even the very occasional minimal remains of an old grazing fence or a dray track became a point of interest.  In the absence of any other significant topographical features (apart from Mt Jagungal which always loomed in the background), it also meant that, to remain on an intended path, forensic map and compass navigation was required.

At McAlister Saddle we were very close to that significant location where the catchments of the three major river systems of the Australian Alps meet – the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Snowy Rivers.  We had to remind ourselves there is nowhere else on the planet and we felt privileged to be there.

It was pleasing to see quite a bit of insect activity, particularly grasshoppers and, thankfully, nothing that also wanted a piece of us, such as the dreaded March flies.  One particularly colourful large grasshopper deserved a close look.  We saw a White Lipped Snake (Drysdalia coronoides) and the much larger Highland Copperhead Snake (Australeps ramsayi), lots of evidence of crustaceans on the boggy flats, and the remains of a Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes).  Birdlife was a bit sparse but an occasional Scarlet Robin among the Snow Gums provided a splash of colour.

There was evidence of extensive feral pig diggings on the eastern side, though not much of it was recent.  The only evidence of brumbies was one pile of horse dung, again on the eastern side.

In contrast, we saw no one else and, apart from the Grey Mare Fire Trail, two huts, a meteorological station, a campfire site, and the afternoon jet trails of the Sydney/Melbourne commuters, no other evidence of recent human activity. But, this area, like much of the alpine areas, was grazed until 1958 and bits of fencing wire remain in some places.

Off the fire trail, walking was distinctly slower, always potentially ankle rolling and requiring good leg strength. Despite their appearance, the snow grass plains are rarely an even surface.  Constantly adjusting each foothold during the walking took its toll and a few of us developed foot issues, particularly heel blisters.

To add some spice to the walking, in some areas, particularly away from cold air drainage and frost hollows, a waist to shoulder high heathy scrub considerably slowed progress as we had to push and pick our way through it.  The heath appears to have proliferated since the 2003 high intensity fires which razed the entire area.

Despite a slower than planned progress, this walk was successful.  It was a taster to see what Jagungal Wilderness had to offer.  We enjoyed it very much and we will go back, particularly to sample areas to the south.

Ian 

Sugarloaf Creek to Valerie’s Spa Pools

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Photos by Donna

Nine walkers set out midweek to walk up a very low Sugarloaf Creek, to visit the Spa Pools.  This is an unusual phenomenon where a waterfall cascades into remarkably shaped stone bowls to create the appearance of giant natural spa pools, and this was the case in past years.  Lack of rain had 2 effects.

Although a worthy ambition, it led us to unexpected difficulties, including the usual slips, trips and falls, and difficult slopes.  We found that, although our records indicated the distance to be about 5 km to the target, it was 6.5 km of hard going to the given grid reference.  Another interesting aspect was that map inaccuracies in conflict with GPS readings led us to feel we were in the wrong tributary, so we began to doubt our information, but our explorations found no other likely stream.

By that time most of us were unable to find the energy to search further up the tributary for the elusive pools, not that it mattered much as there was only a dribble of water.  We opted to bail out and take an escape route up to Misty Mountain Road.  There was no escape from the hard going, as it was steep and tough, loose and difficult.

Thanks to the good humoured, cooperative and determined attitude of the team of walkers accompanying me, we made it back to the cars, albeit tired and sore from our exertions and the very long day.

Bob

 

Pinkwood & Treefern walk, Monga National Park

Sunday 10 March 2019

Photos by Ainslie

In Monga National Park are remnants of Gondwana Land Pinkwood (or Plumwood) trees, one of three species of Eucryphia (also found in Tasmania and Chile). In Penance Grove the Pinkwoods were dropping their large  white blossoms on to the tree ferns and giant mosses below, until it looked like snow. Many tree ferns were cut down in the past for sale in Sydney, killing those tree ferns, hence the name Penance Grove. From there we walked back for lunch and then down on the Waratah Track to the Mongarlow River.

Ainslie

Potato Point Forest, Lake & Beach

Thursday 7 March 2019

Photos by Erika and Mary

24 walkers turned out on a cool autumn day for a 10km circuit to Lake Tarourga and Jemisons Point.  The first section was a hilly path through the forest.  Usually it’s fairly boggy in the bottom of the gullies, but at the moment it’s bone dry.  Lake Tarourga has also receded, although there’s still plenty of birdlife on the water.

We had lunch on the rocks at the base on Jemisons Point enjoying the view south along Brou Beach to Dalmeny, Gulaga and Montague Island.  Then we climbed to the top of the headland to see the view north to Potato Point and Tuross.

Karen

Paddle: Clyde River-Nelligen to Batmans Bay

Monday 4 March 2019

Photos by Karen

We had perfect conditions for our 15 km paddle from Nelligen to Batemans Bay on Monday.  No wind, a following tide and fine weather.  It turned out to be less arduous than expected.  The outgoing tide sped us along on a mirror still waterway, and we found ourselves having to deliberately slow down.  We took a break on Big Island, but still reached Batemans Bay bridge before lunch.

Upstream, the Clyde River was very quiet and peaceful, with virtually no traffic, but as we approached Batemans Bay, the noise and activity of the new bridge works, plus the police helicopter buzzing overhead investigating the bogus bomb threat, quickly brought us back to reality.

Karen

3 Beaches Walks and Sausage Sizzle

Sunday 3 March 2019

Photos by Ainslie and Karen

Our annual 3 Beaches Walks & Sausage Sizzle was another enjoyable social get together for Batemans Bay Bushwalkers, albeit with less emphasis on exercise and more on talking and eating.

Hosted again by Lyn & Barry Brown, over 50 bushwalkers gathered to stroll the coast from Denhams Beach to Wimbie Beach, or alternatively take on some rock scrambling in the other direction to Sunshine Bay.

In the meantime, Barry fired up his backyard wood barbecue and by the time walkers had returned the sausages and onion were ready, and the dessert table was groaning under the weight of members’ home made goodies.

Well done to everyone involved in making this happen again.  There’s a fair bit of organisation, but you make it look easy.  Thank you.

Karen

Broulee Bush and Island

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Photos by Karen

Wednesday’s Batemans Bay Bushwalkers hike turned out to be much more than just an enjoyable walk.  It was also an historic event –  the last walk Betty Richards was to lead for the Club.

Betty has been leading walks for Batemans Bay Bushwalkers for over 30 years.  Being a bushwalking leader not only involves guiding a group of people through the bush.  It is also many hours on foot with map and compass, exploring forest roads and tracks and linking them together to make an interesting circuit.  Betty particularly enjoys getting off the beaten track, and she usually follows narrow trails made by dirt bike riders through gullies, along creeks and up and down hills.  And when she can’t find a track to make a circuit, she uses her innate bush compass to bash from one ridge to the next.  Betty has led us to old mine shafts, rocky outcrops covered in rock orchids, along lush creek beds and to the top of mountains for some spectacular views.

However, retiring from leading walks doesn’t mean retiring from bushwalking altogether.  In her late 80’s, Betty is a testament to an active life spent outdoors and she will continue to join us on our hikes – she just won’t be the one in the front any more.

Back to Wednesday’s walk – it was a fine day to enjoy Shark Bay, Broulee Island rock platforms, Broulee Beach Lookout, and tracks through the Bangalay Sand Forest behind the beach – complete with a sighting of 4 glossy black cockatoos perched in the banksias.

Karen

 

 

Illawong Nature Sanctuary

Sunday 24 February 2019

Photos by Carol, Denise and Mary

Walk leader, Mary was more than a bit stunned when 30 BBBW’s turned out for an easy Sunday morning stroll through the Illawong Nature reserve. Many members had no idea that this sanctuary was hidden behind the trees that line busy George Bass Drive or that it is also an event venue, dotted with secluded cabins and even an iconic caravan that looks some what like a spaceship that has just landed.

Tall trees gave way to lower grassy land before the group wheeled around to go back into the forest. There, another surprise awaited walkers– tucked in between the trees was a Tesla recharge station. The 30 walkers were momentarily silent as they absorbed this unlikely information. Well, you never know what you will find in the bush!

Thank you Mary for such an enjoyable Sunday morning.

Denise

Tuross Head Circuit

Thursday 21 February 2019

Photos by Carol, Erika and Mary

Denise led 20 hikers on a pleasant walking tour of Tuross Head. It was a great turnout for the first club walk of the season and the weather was kind to us – partly overcast and not too hot.

Being a Tuross native Denise knows all the public lanes between homes that allowed us to see most of Tuross without hiking on the roads. Our first stop was a history lesson, “Tuross House” – the first cottage built in the area by the Mylott family in 1870. Their daughter Eva became a famous opera singer and apparently is the grandmother of the actor Mel Gibson.

From there we hiked to Coila Lake and around to the beach with morning tea at Memorial Park. The hike then took us to One Tree Point and inland along the Tuross River inlet to the Tuross Boatshed picnic area. The walk ended with a stroll through the forested Chatham Park. With all the chatting going on as hikers caught up with each other after the Christmas break no one realized they had done 8.5kms. Well done Denise.

Rob