A mate and I have spent the past four days walking and rafting a circuit to/from Lake Malbena. It was an amazing trip and I reckon that the second day, when we did most of the rafting, was one of my best days out bush of all time.
We walked in via the Moses Creek Track to Chapter Lake and then on to Junction. Yes, we were supposed to turn off before getting to Capter Lake, but I missed the turn off. But Chapter Lake is quite picturesque and worth a visit anyhow. We then scrub bashed from Chapter Lake back up onto the track which we followed past Cloister Lagoon, and on to Junction Lake where we camped near the hut. This first day was about 5 hours of walking.
On the second day, we followed the pad towards Lake Artemis for a short distance before branching off and finding our own way through some moderate scrub to the Ling Roth Lakes. The last ~30-50m or before the first of the Ling Roth Lakes was all Fagus, which of course is quite tricky to push through. I’m not sure why some people call it ‘tangle-foot’ – ‘tangle-head-to-toe’ would be more appropriate.
When we finally broke through the Gunii onto the rocks on the edge of the lake we were greeted with an amazing view of the flat water under a blue sunny sky and we began to feel that we were in for a very special treat to have the opportunity to paddle across here.
We rafted all three of the Ling Roth Lakes being helped along by the gentle North West breeze that I had anticipated would be likely. This morning was one of my favourite few hours of all the time I’ve spent out bush, just very casually paddling across these three lakes in idyllic conditions.
There was some considerable scrub bashing between each of the Ling Roth lakes which meant we had to deflate and inflate the rafts each time, even though the distances were short. We managed to keep them inflated walking from the end of the 3rd Link Roth Lake to Lake Norman.
Lunch was near Lake Norman and we found that the flies were becoming insane – or should I say that we were nearly driven to insanity by the flies – any time that we stopped. They were very efficient at finding us any time we stood still. During our lunch break I took a little video of the flies which I may post later.
By then the wind had picked up to ~15 knots I reckon, and the waves on Lake Norman were getting larger with a lot of white caps. We were quite nervous about rafting this larger lake in our tiny pack rafts going across a strong wind. We debated our options and routes and eventually we decided that instead of rafting directly across it as originally planned, we would allow the wind to blow us to the southern end, where the walk to Eagle Lake would be much shorter and flatter anyhow and then instead of rafting across Eagle Lake, we could walk around it.
It was a more challenging paddle, going across the wind, but once we reached the far side, and navigated around the corner to the eastern extension of Lake Norman, it was sheltered and very pleasant again. All of these lakes are very deep, with crystal clear water, you can see the depth dropping away beneath the rafts and eventually the water just becomes completely dark. In some places, you can see an underwater cliff where the rocks about 10 meters below just drops off to blackness immediately.
Sure enough, by the time we got to Eagle Lake the wind had increased even more and we were happy to walk around it rather than try to paddle across that wind. Although, I’m not sure ‘happy’ is the right word as we were starting to get rather scratched up with all the pushing through the scrub in shorts an T-shirt (yes, I forgot to bring scrub gloves and trousers!).
After walking from Eagle Lake to Lake Malbena, we found that the launch spot was rather muddy, instead of rocky. The easiest way to get into the Klymit LWD rafts we used was to stand with one leg on each side of the raft and then sit down. To get in from one side results in a lot of water getting in. Well, I wanted to test the mud at our Malbena launch before standing on it fully, and I’m glad I did because it was bottomless. The one leg I put into the mud went straight down as though it was just water to mid-thigh level before I was able to arrest my descent with my other leg and hand that were still on the bank.
So I ended up sort of falling/jumping backwards onto the raft instead.
Then we rafted most of the length of Lake Malbena, which for some reason didn't seem to cop the wind as much as Norman and Eagle Lakes. We camped near the South Eastern shore of Lake Malbena after a 10 hour day of walking and rafting.
The third morning started quite cool and the wind blew all night and was even stronger early in the morning than it had been the previous afternoon. I was quite nervous about rafting to the northen side of Malbena across this wind, being already cold before even stepping into the water.
It was a more challenging leg of the trip and I copped several waves over the side of my raft. It was quite difficult to maintain the right heading, being pushed around repeatedly by the wind and waves. I was sitting in quite a pool of water before we got to the calm water behind the headland on the norther side of the lake, where we enjoyed the last few minutes of paddling in the sheltered flat water.
After deflating and packing up the rafts for the last time there was another long, steep, slow scrub bash from Lake Malbena up onto Chinamans Plains. There were a few more bands of scrub here and there, but the further we got from the lake, there less scrub we encountered. Once up on the plains proper, the going was much easier, and we managed to find a very easy route almost all the way to Lake Meston. But again the going became very tough, steep and scrubby, increasing in difficulty the close we got to Lake Meston. It took us 7 hours to paddle and walk from Lake Malbena to Lake Meston where we camped for our last night out.
Then yesterday we did the 3.5 hour walk out from Meston via Lake Myrtle and the Jackson Creek track (which incidentally is MUCH easier to follow at the Myrtle end than it was a few years ago).
I will post a few photos, and maybe a route map soon.
Last edited by Son of a Beach
on Thu 17 Jan, 2019 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.