Little River Falls, Cathedral Range State Park

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Little River Falls, Cathedral Range State Park

Postby Earwig » Mon 09 Sep, 2013 5:01 pm

Hidden in Cathedral Range State Park is the Little River Falls. Access isn’t easy; up Lowersons Track to an old snig line that should take you down to the river. Then it is a stroll along the river itself to the base of the falls. Lowersons was easy. The snig track was good for about ten metres but then disappeared under the scrub. The track notes described it as heading along the contour until it meets the river. The track notes were, however, over twenty years old and maybe not that accurate anymore. The contour was still the same though and so we continued on pushing our way through thickets of Gorse Bitter-pea, a lovely flower protected by spiny, prickly leaves. The river was just over a kilometre away and we soon caught sight of Bissetts Pinnacles, a rock outcrop on the other side of the valley. We aimed to hit the river opposite the pinnacles and made it there about two hours after setting out, about three kilometres from our start at Cooks Mill and around a kilometre downstream from the falls.

The river was running fairly hard, which meant that the falls should look pretty damn good but getting there might be pretty damn difficult. The track notes redeemed themselves by being quite accurate; they simply stated that there was no track. All we had to do was make our way upstream. We pushed on slowly, crossing the river occasionally to find easier country. The sides of the valley and the fall of the river became progressively steeper until we found ourselves on the south bank confronted with granite boulders down to the water’s edge. The north bank look like it offered easier going and there were a couple of options for crossing over. The best option was a log over the river, a wet slippery log, with the river splashing against it and a fall into the top of a small waterfall-whirlpool thing. Possible, but the consequences of failure were pretty high.

If there was an accident, calling for help wasn’t on. We live locally and know the SES crews. Calling for help ourselves if something went wrong, being rescued and having the sad story in the local paper, would have been too embarrassing to contemplate. Besides, there wasn’t any phone reception.

We were stuck on the wrong side of the river and decided to head up and over the top of the gorge. We clambered up, hands and feet style hiking, hoping to find some way through. After a couple of false leads we made some movement forward, or rather upward, until we found a suitable spot for lunch and a chance to work out our next move. It had become obvious we weren’t going to get down to the river further upstream as the gorge was too steep and high. We had two alternatives – call it quits and retrace our steps through the mongrel scrub or try for Tweed Spur Road, about a kilometre further up the ridge through mongrel scrub. Going back didn’t seem right, and one kilometre of scrub bashing sounded better than three kilometres of scrub bashing, so we headed up.

The climb was steep and heavily vegetated with more of the prickly Gorse Bitter-pea, occasionally replaced by thick wattle regrowth, about twenty stems per square metre, regrowth from Black Saturday, and the occasional rock outcrop, which provided sometimes up to four metres of pleasant walking. One little outcrop provided a chance for a rest and, through the forest, a view of a glimmer of water falling in the distance – the Little River Falls. The falls are quite a drop and no doubt would be spectacular up close. However, they weren’t up close and we weren’t about to try and get any closer.

With some sense of achievement – we had seen the falls – we checked the map. Looking at landmarks – the falls, the North Jawbones in the distance and Bissetts Pinnacles on an adjacent ridge – we figured we were about 800 metres from the road. With a sigh of resignation, we continued on (up) through more scrub until eventually making the road. We had been walking just under six hours and covered about four and half kilometres. The last 800 metres took almost two hours.

Only eight kilometres of road walking in front of us and we would be done.

Things I learnt: don’t rely on twenty year old track notes.
Last edited by Earwig on Mon 16 Sep, 2013 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Little River Falls, Cathedral Range State Park

Postby MickyB » Thu 12 Sep, 2013 6:02 pm

Great post Earwig. Have you found any up-dated track notes since your attempt? Would there be any other way in? (Sorry. I don't have a map of that area)
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Re: Little River Falls, Cathedral Range State Park

Postby Earwig » Mon 16 Sep, 2013 4:08 pm

The track notes I used were from a book by John and Marion Siseman - Melbourne's Mountains - from 1993. The walk has apparently been written up again by Glenn Tempest, but I'm not sure where - probably his Victorian Daywalks book. The route appears on the Cathedral Range Outdoor Leisure Map (1993) and Rooftop’s Cathedral Range Pocket Map (Jan 2009) but isn’t on the Vicmap Cathedral Range Special (also 2009) or in any of Parks Victoria’s info. It isn’t marked on the ground anywhere and what track there once was never went beyond the river, so it was always a route-finding exercise. While the navigation isn’t difficult if you are comfortable reading a map, the terrain is a pain and the falls are in a gorge making access from any other direction impossible – you would drop into the gorge – literally – and gravity can be quite unforgiving. I think the area has just revegetated heavily after Black Saturday, making the going even slower.

P.S. I’m still pulling thorns out!
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