Wombeyan Caves and Bungonia

When I saw that the Murray Valley bushwalkers were heading to Wombeyan Caves I knew we had to go along as it was a fascinating looking place. We took the van and met up with the others who had arrived ahead of us. Our first outing was a walk to Wombeyan Falls which were pretty and returning via an old marble quarry. The rocks here were used in the original Parliament House in Canberra though they certainly didn’t look worthy in their natural state. The flowers were out and the alpacas next door were very curious as we walked past.

After lunch we headed up the hill to join a tour. The honeyeaters were very active in the grevilleas and entertained us as we waited.

We had the guide all to ourselves for our tour through the cave which was lit up as we slowly wandered through. Afterwards we headed to the canyon where we could climb through another cave for a better view.

We were camped next to a large grassy area that the kangaroos loved. We saw mothers and joeys as well as some males having a punch up. They were still eating as the stars came out. We had two trips through the self guided cave as our group had received two tokens. This gave the photographers the opportunity to go through again and improve their shots. It was a very impressive cave for a self guided one and we emerged through a huge archway.

We said farewell to the others in the morning as they headed home and we set off for Bungonia NP on the other side of Goulburn. We headed out on the northern road which was much more wild than our route in from Goulburn. We wound up and down the hill with signs telling us to sound our horn on all the blind corners. Luckily the few vehicles we met were not on the corners. We crossed the Wollondilly river and enjoyed lovely views down the valley. Nattai NP gave us a tunnel to pass through the sandstone cliff. Back into civilisation at Mittagong and then a return to the wilderness at Bungonia. There were few of us at the well appointed camping area. After setting up we headed off on the yellow track which circled around past all the major lookouts with a couple of cave entrances as well. The quarry across the creek had grown a lot since we were last here 17 years ago but we no longer had to worry about dynamiting and consequent rain of rocks into the creek.

We headed off on the next day to repeat the walk we had taken the children on when they were small. Signs told us it was not suitable for young families but our 5,7 and 9 year olds loved it. We were not as agile as we used to be and descended down the steep track very gingerly as it proceeded down a scree slope. The knees got a rest as we arrived at the bottom and enjoyed the amazing views of the the towering, narrow canyon. The easy walk did not last as the exit to the canyon was crowded with huge white boulders. There was no marked route and it was like a bewildering maze. We had to back track a number of times as we ended at tall drops. We spent more time crawling through holes under boulders than climbing across the top. Finally we reached the other side and enjoyed an easy walk down the creek before the hot, steep climb back up to the car.

 

 

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Gariwerd (The Grampians)

Spring is a good time to visit the Grampians with its floral display. With the wet spring it was a bit of a lottery weatherwise and we had a bit of everything – fog, drizzle, sunshine and rain. We started by climbing the Chimney Pots but could barely see the rock formations and certainly no views. We walked to Billaminna shelter with its ochre marks and then headed for waterfalls as it was the right weather. Mackenzie Falls could only be admired from a distance but Burrong Falls was lovely.

We were joined by our friend Dave as the sun came out and we set off to climb the Fortress. It was a steep climb up to the ridge from where we could see our destination as it loomed closer. We had to drop down to a creek where there was a spacious overhang creating a nice campsite. We climbed up and along the side of the rugged formation before returning the same way.

Mt Rosea was our next destination and this was an easier walk. We wound our way up the rock platforms admiring the formations and crossing the deep chasm named ‘Gate of the East Wind’ on a bridge. We sat and enjoyed lunch with many other walkers on the summit. We followed a school group down the other side and returned to the cars by a circular route but I would recommend going down and up the same way as it was more interesting.

The drive through the Victoria Valley is very pretty with farmlands backed by the rugged ranges. A dam by the road created a very scenic foreground and we made a number of stops including a visit for sunset with a visit from some curious emus.

The weather changed again and the winds blew. We set off to climb Mt Abrupt and had to be careful not to get blown off. The view along the range was worth it.

Rain was predicted so we opted for a short walk the next day and it was mostly dry.  We did a short circuit including Venus Baths, Chataqua Peak and Clematis Falls. The afternoon was spent holed up in the tent and car.

I wanted to see the Major Mitchell plateau and without a 2nd car we had to do an out and back. It didn’t look promising as we drove up into the clouds but it gradually lifted as we walked off the edge of Mt William. When Ray saw the drop down to Boundary Gap he decided not to proceed. I headed down on my own and found it wasn’t as far to climb up the other side. There were a few short rock scrambles through the cliff line and then easy walking to the attractive campsite. I continued across the plateau admiring the floral display to the cliff edge and a view back down to the plains. At that point I turned around and was surprised to find Ray waiting for me as I thought he would have retreated to the car. But I was pleased to get my delayed lunch.

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