Light to Light

When I heard the bushwalking club was walking the Light to Light track in Ben Boyd NP as day walks I knew we had to join them. Walking with a day pack is so much more enjoyable than a full pack if there is a choice. We set off for the long drive to the coast taking a new route for us through the small town of Dalgety located on the Snowy River. The autumn colours of the poplars over the dammed river had us breaking our journey. Another stop to enjoy the lookout over Disaster Bay and we pulled in to camp at Bittangabee Bay in time to set up and look around before dark.

The night brought a thunderstorm but luckily it was all out at sea. We dropped off cars ready for the end of the walk before heading to Boyd’s Tower at the beginning. The red cliffs contrasted with the blue waters as we meandered along the cliff path, stopping often to enjoy the views. We crossed a rocky bay before climbing up to a grassy headland that was once a farm. It enabled great views in both directions and down to the sandy beach below, an excellent campsite but water needed to be carried from Saltwater Creek. A stretch along the rocky shelf above the cliffs added to the everchanging environment that the track passed through. We needed the help of locals to find the arch made by the collapse of a sea cave before completing our day’s walk at Saltwater Creek.

A cool, clear night meant clear skies for the sun to light up the cliffs after rising.

We began the second day at the southern end of the walk and visited Green Cape lighthouse. It was too early for a tour so we set off across the heathland. It had been burnt in past years and was a mass of flowers which slowed the walk down as we admired and took photographs. We took a side trip to Pulpit Rock before heading through more heathland on the way to Bittagabee Bay where we could stop for a morning cuppa. The track continued around the bay before emerging onto the cliffs again. A spell through the forest had us admiring fungi and Hegarty Bay would have been a delightful overnight stop. All too soon we were back at Saltwater Creek and heading home the next day before the rain.

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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.

 

 

North to the Border

 

It was time to head north for a dose of sunshine and leave the beginning of winter behind. We started with a summer thunderstorm which luckily skirted around us and spent our first evening meal with a large but timid spider.

We passed through the top end of the scenic Wollemi NP and on to Burning Mountain Reserve, a curiosity where a coal seam has been burning slowly underground for 6000 years. The first explorers thought it was a volcano. It travels one metre a year and we could see a slight difference in the locations of the hot spots from our previous visit of four years ago.

The whole reason for traveling this route was to visit Gostwyck Chapel and see the creeper it is covered with in glowing red. In a normal year our timing would have been spot on but this was a drought year so there were very little leaves left but it was still very scenic.

Armidale provided a spot of colour as we passed through and the sound of the pipes and drums warming up for the Anzac Day march. We carried on through to return to another favourite – Bald Rock. We climbed up the steep rock face to enjoy the view and then descended the long but very mesmerising route that takes you through a series of arches and caverns made from the stupendous granite boulders. Firewood was supplied and we enjoyed it in the chilly evening.

Rumbling round the Snowies


After walking in the towering, rugged mountains in New Zealand’s South Island it was a bit of a come down to plod around the rounded bumps of the Australian alps but they managed to impress us with beautiful scenery backed by stormy skies. We had two days managing to skirt around the afternoon thunderstorms before being hit with rain. The first day saw us strolling gently for an hour up to our usual campsite beneath the South Ramshead. We stopped early as we were worried about running into a storm without protection but they all went around us. (We later met some hikers who had got drowned on Mt Twynam, about 10 km away!) We found the usual tracks we followed had faded and we surmise it’s because of removing brumbies from this part of the range.

Our campsite gave us bleached,skeletal trees and granite rocks to entice us out for sunrise and a silhouetted ridge against the colourful sunset.
We headed across the deserted Ramshead Range enjoying the wildflowers and then hit the main track to Mt Kosciusko from Thredbo and it was wall to wall people. We quickly turned off and head along the range past photogenic Lake Albina and on to the dramatic but surprisingly low Sentinel.

We camped in the secluded valley but then were surprised to find another camp further down the valley that had an even more scenic position. After a float in the stream we headed out to the viewing point and thought about perhaps climbing the Sentinel on a future trip.

The next day saw us following the track back past Blue Lake until one of our number got sick of this track walking so we headed cross country to pick up the Ramshead Range again on the east of the main path. It started as a gentle amble across the wildflower meadow and of course ended as a balancing game across a boulder field with all the rocks hidden under bushes and then a slog straight up the side of the range through the vegetation.

We dropped from the range down to an idyllic campsite on the infant Snowy River. We quickly sampled the pool to find it was the home to little fish who enjoyed nibbling at our skin – tourists pay for this in Asia! After exploring the surrounding tarns and rocks we had to retreat to the tents as a thunderstorm finally found us.

The rain cleared long enough for us to cook tea and then sent us early to bed.

After a roundabout route we finally found our way to the main path and then headed on down to Dead Horse Gap with only a sprinkling of rain. It was lovely to come across a grove of unburned snow gums on the way.

Central New South Wales

Hello all and welcome to my first blog. It’s more a chance to share my photography which is my current (and past) passion.

Ray and I have just returned from two and half weeks in central NSW in winter and had a great (though often cold, especially at night) time.

We traveled via Canberra that turned on the first of a string of blue sky days for us. A new site for us was the arboretum, built on the site of the pine forests that were burned out in Canberra’s big fires. They have done an amazing job of designing and landscaping it with areas set aside for groves of different (usually endangered) trees from around the world that will grow in Canberra’s hot summer, cold winter climate.

A little previously undiscovered gem was then visited – Abercrombie Caves between Goulburn and Bathurst. We didn’t even go in the caves but enjoyed the walks to the entrance and exit where Grove creek has cut a path through the hillside and also walked down to see Grove Ck falls.

Burning Mountain Reserve was an oddity – a coal seam that has been burning underground for 6000 years and moving along at the rate of one metre a year. It is burning 30 metres underground but we could feel and see the heat rising up through vents in the rock. The ground that has been burned gradually rehabilitates itself when the fire has passed though it does look different.

It was up and over the mountains to reach the coast, climbing up through Barrington Tops NP and spending a night at Polblue Swamp – a lovely place where the grass was crunchy with frost before we went to bed at night.

The coast provided us with lovely, warm weather and a variety of landscapes – The photogenic paperbark trees on the shores of calm and peaceful Myall Lakes were a highlight.

We traversed the rugged headlands at Diamond Head and Hat Head.

The history of Trial Bay Gaol at Arakoon was a revelation and we scored a campsite with a grand view.

We also used these camps as a base to explore the hinterland with waterfalls ranging from magnificent Ellenborough Falls, one of the tallest in Australia to Watui Falls, a small but scenic charmer.

It was then back up over the mountains along a previously travelled highlight – The Waterfall Way- from Dorrigo to Armidale. It’s very well named and we visited just about all of them –

The weather had unfortunately deteriorated by this time as we made our way home via Weddin Mountains and the amazing depression era Seaton’s Farm near Grenfell.