Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

NSW & ACT specific bushwalking discussion.
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Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby Bushgirl » Mon 30 Jan, 2017 12:25 pm

Walked to Church Ck caves in the holidays. Last time I was there a couple of years ago the trail ended by winding upwards to a dead end from where you walk down the hill. This time there was another firetrail branching off down to the right just before the usual trail winds up to the end. I hadnt noticed it last time and its not on the map or GPS. While the sides looked weathered it had obviously been recently graded. It goes a fair way down the side of the hill then joins the usual walking route down. Has this always been there but been overgrown and therefore not seen until someone's had a bulldozer down there recently or was I blind last time? It was disheartening to see, weeds are settling in where its been graded and it just serves to extend a road further down - not what should be in a wilderness area. And on that, what purpose does Mt Armour Fire Trail serve - wouldnt be good to send firefighters down there anyway. Surely NPWS and Sydney Water money can be better spent than on maintaining this road in a wilderness area.

Any info on the "extended" fire trail would be welcome before I write some letters.
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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby DaveNoble » Mon 30 Jan, 2017 12:34 pm

Its been a while since I have been there, but I seem remember a road going a fair way down the hill (and then it became a walking track). Its National Park - so you could ring the Oberon Office to ask them about recent bulldozing work. Perhaps done for pig management?

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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby kanangra » Mon 30 Jan, 2017 1:26 pm

I think that might be new. The track used to end in the saddle just before Mt Armour.

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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby Bushgirl » Mon 30 Jan, 2017 5:04 pm

Thanks, I'll ring NPWS at Oberon. Feel I need to make a stand and at least register concern.
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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby Allchin09 » Wed 01 Feb, 2017 10:11 pm

Hi Bushgirl,

Thanks for posting about this matter.

A quick investigation returns the following:

From the LPI imagery which I believe was taken around 2015-16, the fire trail seems to match up with the current topographic maps
Armour_FT_Image_LPI.JPG
Mt Armour FT LPI imagery
Armour_FT_Image_LPI.JPG (145.42 KiB) Viewed 4445 times

Red dot indicates what appears to be end of the trail

Armour_FT_Map_LPI.JPG
Mt Armour FT LPI map
Armour_FT_Map_LPI.JPG (127.32 KiB) Viewed 4445 times


However, the imagery from google maps is more recent and tells a different story...

Armour_FT_Image_Google.JPG
Mt Armour FT Google imagery


This seems to fit the description that you have provided.

Would definitely be worth enquiring with NPWS as it is within the declared Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness. There have been a few NPWS management changes recently, however, I believe the relevant Area Manager is still in the same position - for now anyway.

Do let us know what come of it, I'd be interested in pursuing the matter further depending on the response you receive.

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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby kanangra » Thu 02 Feb, 2017 10:32 am

Gee it does look as if they have re cut the track and extended it around the side of Mt Armour.

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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby puredingo » Fri 03 Feb, 2017 6:34 am

I couldn't see any new road works when I was kicking around there in October but having not been before i guess I wouldn't really know?

Although new roads or extensions are usually pretty obvious by the bright colours of freshly broken stone and murdered, pushed down saplings.

I'm interested to find out what there plan is in the area...Maybe a push through down to the Kowmung!!??
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Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby Bushgirl » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 11:12 am

Thanks for the advice above, everyone. I sent an email to the Oberon NPWS office and received a reply from a ranger, as follows:
- "No new earthworks/ trail formation has occurred along the Mt Armour FT since the park acquisition.
- NPWS Kanangra Area believe that the trail has existed since the days of exploratory mining in the Colong/ Church Ck area or was formed by Neville Lang, who originally owned Bindook property and is credited with the formation of many of the fire trails in the southern Blue Mountains Area.
- General maintenance of the fire trail involves vegetation regrowth clearing, drainage works etc. in order to allow access for fire management purposes as well as pest and weed projects. Vehicle access is usually only required to the turning circle in the last saddle. As shown on the topo map and your red dot on the aerial photo.
- During the 1997 section 44 fire in the park, the Mt Armour FT was cleared of vegetation and maintenance works carried out to the extent of the trail as shown in the 2015/16 aerial photo.
- Since 1997, the last section of trail (past the turning circle) has regularly been cleared by hand for staff and gear access to Church Creek Caves flat, which has served as a Base Camp for NPWS remote pest and weed projects in the Kowmung River Catchment.
- Last year, we were fortunate to receive funding that allowed the NPWS Plant Crew to undertake trail maintenance works on the Mt Armour Fire Trail. In order to facilitate a planned hazard reduction burn in the area plus access for planned pest/weed projects, the decision was made to clear & re-open the last section of the Mount Armour Fire Trail.
- In the reserve fire management plan, Mt Armour fire trail is listed as an 'important' fire trail so is maintained for fire fighting vehicle access."

From this I am very concerned they might be planning to re-open the old track down to the Kowmung. I was there again over Easter, its very upsetting seeing the scar and weeds where they've bulldozed down the side. They've also cleared a three-metre wide strip of bush further back from the Mt Armour, right down the hillside - looks like a firebreak where they plan to burn. This whole thing cast a shadow over our walking down there on the weekend. I have phoned the office this week but have to phone back next week. Surely NPWS have better things to do than mess up wilderness areas which take care of themselves. If anyone knows who makes these decisions and who else I can contact I'd appreciate hearing. BTW - the response above refers to my "red dot" - I didnt send a map or any attachment so not sure what point this refers to.
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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby ribuck » Tue 18 Apr, 2017 1:55 pm

Bushgirl wrote:Surely NPWS have better things to do than mess up wilderness areas which take care of themselves.

You would think so. But it's not just happening here - it's also happening in wilderness areas of the Budawangs and Mt Solitary. Maybe "doing nothing to the wilderness" doesn't provide the same feeling of institutional importance as "doing something".

Bushgirl wrote:BTW - the response above refers to my "red dot" - I didnt send a map or any attachment so not sure what point this refers to.

Maybe it means they found this thread while they were putting together their response :)
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Mt Armour Fire Trail extended

Postby Bushgirl » Thu 20 Apr, 2017 6:42 am

Good thinking 99, thats the only explanation for the matter of the red dot :)
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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail Definitely Extended

Postby Bushgirl » Wed 03 May, 2017 4:31 pm

Just an up-date for anyone interested - I am in further correspondence with NPWS at Oberon. I remain appalled that they have bull-dozed down there and extended the fire-trail. Just returned from another walk - there is the remnant of a road/track going even further down the side and am very concerned they might be looking to re-open this. I am seeking further info and assurances from NPWS. Also sad they are definitely looking at a controlled burn there too - yet another area to take off the walk list for few years if so - wilderness always under threat it seems. I will update with any further info from NPWS if others are interested and share my concern.
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Re: Mt Armour Fire Trail extended?

Postby Allchin09 » Thu 04 May, 2017 12:03 am

Thanks Bushgirl for being on the case!

I think the reference to the red dot may be from an email I sent to NPWS on behalf on Bushwalking NSW. I supplied the same images as what I have in my post here, and it seems that the response you received was very similar to mine.

I walked down the trail just before Anzac Day and agree with your comments regarding the state. I followed it from where it diverted near the saddle and red dot, to part way down the hill where it seemed to switch back and I couldn't see where it continued. From there I just continued down hill, following a mix between tracks and animal pads, and popped out near Cathedral Rocks.

Thanks for keeping onto this, please keep us informed of any future updates. Alternatively, you're welcome to send emails to tracksandaccess [at] bushwalkingnsw.org.au
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