Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

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Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Mon 29 Jun, 2015 9:57 am

I had a big adventure in the rugged wilds of the Shoalhaven over the weekend. Things didn't go exactly to plan. But all's well that ends well. I will post more info. when I get a chance.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby puredingo » Mon 29 Jun, 2015 1:55 pm

Always leave em wanting more, hey K? Well your teaser worked on me so hurry up and get your act together so you can fill us vicarious walkers in on your (mis)adventure.
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby Allchin09 » Mon 29 Jun, 2015 2:08 pm

Exciting things happen when things don't go to plan!
Tackling the unknown and the awesome one adventure at a time!

Check out my latest trips at http://aoacblog.wordpress.com/posts
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Mon 29 Jun, 2015 2:35 pm

Ah yes you could say that. Let's just say for the moment that my route was too ambitious for the one day I had allowed. This forced an unscheduled overnight biv with minimal spare gear perched on a ledge overlooking a waterfall. Unfortunately my delay caused considerable concern at home with my wife having a sleepless night. she alerted authorities and a search was commenced. Fortunately I had left a detailed route at home and had entered my details in the log book at Bullion Hill above Great Horseshoe Bend. I ended up meeting the rescue squad and volunteer SES members at the top of the Trestle Track a couple of ks from my car on the walk out at about 1:15 PM on Sunday.

The whole experience caused me to reflect on how fortunate I am personally to have a loving family and friends who were very concerned about me. And how fortunate we all are to live in a society where such resources are made available at short notice to help someone in need. To be honest I felt a little embarrassed by all the attention. But everyone was so kind and generous towards me that I felt quite humbled and very grateful.

I am glad that I was able to get out before any further resources were used. Fortunately the police helicopter was unable to take off that morning due to fog.

The main problem was that several tracks shown on all editions of my maps ( Touga and Caoura ) now no longer exist on the ground. This slowed me down considerably. I also found that the route into the Tolwong mines from the east as shown on the Caoura sheet leads to a waterfall and in fading light I didn't think I should attempt to down climb it. this meant I had to retreat and look for another descent route. this was a shame with the river so close in view.

I will post more details of my route and some photos when I get a chance.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby Lizzy » Mon 29 Jun, 2015 6:16 pm

Glad all ended out well & looking forward to hearing & seeing more about your trip
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby north-north-west » Tue 30 Jun, 2015 8:42 am

This is obviously the year for the experienced to come unstuck. Annoying about the maps, isn't it? Glad everything's OK, but.

'Tis a good thing embarrassment is only temporary.
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby clarence » Tue 30 Jun, 2015 5:49 pm

You seem to do some pretty epic one day trips Kanangra.

I find one of the greatest attractions in the places you travel to be camping there overnight. I wonder why you don't take some light camping gear and make them overnighters- imagine the ground you could cover!

I checked the information I gave you and don't think I gave you any "bum steers" that would have cAused you problems.

With a lot of the spurs in and out of that part of the Shoalhaven, they can look identical on the map, but one will go beautifully, and the other will end in a cliff.

I have found myself in similar situation on two occasions :o in that area, but had enough time to backtrack and make up the ground with enough daylight to spare.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Wed 01 Jul, 2015 7:31 am

No Clarence entirely my own fault I'm afraid. Like you I would like nothing more than to camp out but time is the issue for me. I had an important meeting after church on Sunday that I was supposed to chair. So I only had Saturday. In the end of course I didn't make the meeting any way. And of course they managed perfectly well without me. (Perhaps there is a lesson in that for me?) The main problem was that none of the tracks shown on the maps on the eastern side of the gorge exist on the ground any longer. Where I really let myself down though was in assuming there would be tracks I didn't take my GPS or my compass!!!!!!! I know I deserve to have the book thrown at me. I still can't believe I did it either. I didn't even take my phone or my Spot beacon. I mean I even have a watch with a compass in it but did I take that? :oops: :oops: :oops:

So deeply chastened and much more careful I have a full survival kit that I will even take with me now when I walk up to the corner store. Well perhaps that is an exaggeration but you know what I mean. :wink:

I hope to post a full report with photos later today.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby north-north-west » Wed 01 Jul, 2015 8:15 am

kanangra wrote:The main problem was that none of the tracks shown on the maps on the eastern side of the gorge exist on the ground any longer. Where I really let myself down though was in assuming there would be tracks I didn't take my GPS or my compass!!!!!!! I know I deserve to have the book thrown at me. I still can't believe I did it either. I didn't even take my phone or my Spot beacon. I mean I even have a watch with a compass in it but did I take that? :oops: :oops: :oops:

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby clarence » Wed 01 Jul, 2015 10:18 am

I think that is a good wake up call for all walkers, experienced or otherwise. I must say, being old school, I find it strange that people will take a GPS, but NOT a map and compass. The map and compass never run out of batteries and are not subject to technical failure. Taking neither is a major lapse, as you already mentioned

My map and compass, a box of matches/lighter and head torch are the must haves. Even on most short runs through the bush I will take something to start a fire. A fire is generally the best survival tool of all.

I have done several adventure races over the years that require a basic survival kit (ultra light sleeping bag, space blanket, clothing, map etc). I did an overnight walk once with just this gear and food, to see if it would really work. While it was not super comfortable, it was sufficient.

I think the other key is that in much of the greater Sydney area one miscalculated pass, cliffline, waterfall etc can throw an otherwise perfectly planned trip into disarray.

With many years of experience complacency can catch up with the best.

Don't let it put you off exploring the Shoalhaven more. Maybe call me and I'll give you some more info to make the next trip a winner.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Wed 01 Jul, 2015 12:03 pm

Clarence, I think you hit the nail on the head. COMPLACENCY! That was my problem for sure. That and being too rushed after a late night on Friday to ensure I packed properly before leaving at 6:00AM on Saturday morning. I wont be making that mistake again any time soon. Personally I can't get back there soon enough. Whether I will be allowed to any time soon though is another matter entirely. :(

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Tue 14 Jul, 2015 10:27 am

Well it has taken me a little while but here is my report on this trip which was intended to be a daywalk but which unexpectedly turned into an overnight saga. I drove down from Sydney on the Saturday morning and parked at the gate at the start of the Trestle track in Bungonia NP. There are in fact two tracks here with gates on both. My intention was to go out the Stan Jones Trail and return via the Trestle Track later in the day.

P6270001 (Medium).JPG
Sign marking the start of the Trestle track to the Shoalhaven River.


I set off about 8:30. The Stan Jones Track is steeply undulating as it crosses several small creeks before joining the Great South Rd. trail. Here I turned left and followed the trail down quite steeply to a small creek and equally steeply up the other side. This led to an old mining area on Nuggety Ridge and in turn to a fence at the boundary of the Hillydale property. The marked track disappeared in the open paddocks of the farm so I made my way following a fence line. This led up and then down to the homestead area bringing me out in the bull paddock! And the bull (later I found his name was Bruce) wasn't real happy about me being there. Fortunately my blushes were spared when the farmer's wife distracted him so I could get past. I apologised for being on her property without permission but she explained that actually it was a public road so I was within my rights anyway. She asked me where I'd come from and when I said the Trestle Track she had no idea where that was even though I'd started out only about 90 mins. ago.

From there I turned left and headed out along Matadoro ridge. Part way out there is a gate and a sign announcing the boundary of Morton NP.

P6270002 (Medium).JPG
Sign at entrance to Morton NP.


It seemed to take quite a while to get to the end of the ridge where there is a helipad and an intentions book. I recorded my arrival at 11:30 and intended route from there. As events would transpire this was a fortuitous move. From here there is a foot track only that descends steeply to the river at the Great Horseshow Bend.

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View of the Shoalhaven Gorge at the Great Horseshoe Bend.


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View down valley showing the steep forested spurs on the eastern side of the gorge.


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View of the Great Horseshoe Bend of the Shoalhaven River.


TBC.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Tue 14 Jul, 2015 11:01 am

The descent was particularly steep but there were very good views both up and down the valley the whole way down.

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View down valley.


P6270011 (Medium).JPG
View of the bend.


At the bottom I dropped off the side directly down to the river.

P6270012 (Medium).JPG
The Shoalhaven River.


I found a place to cross where the water was only about thigh deep. Once on the other side I walked downstream a short way before ascending Backbender Buttress. This was a steep climb up a spur from the point of a bend in the river. There was no track but the scrub was fairly open and I made it up without too many problems. Once on top I was expecting to find the Backbender Fire trail as marked on my 3rd edition Touga toppo map but there was no track on the ground. In hindsight, as I hadn't brought even so much as a compass let alone a GPS, I should probably have turned around here. But I figured that if I just head north I must intersect the Tolwong Mines trail. That was fine in theory but there was only one problem, that trail also no longer exists in any meaningful way on the ground either! I realised this when I came to one of the old cleared inholdings through which the trail was supposed to run but there was no trail. So I decided to keep heading generally north and sure enough I came upon the little hut marked on the map. The track is meant to go right past this hut but despite a thorough search I could fine no trace of it on the ground.

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Small hut on the plateau above Tolwong mines.


P6270015 (Medium).JPG
Interior of hut.


I probably should have stayed put here but even though it was mid afternoon I decided to keep on going. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts I located a ridge heading due west. After following it for a while I actually came upon drainage humps an unmistakable sign that I was actually on the track. I followed this out to the end where the steep descent started. According to the map there was a track here but very little sign of one on the ground. Still I was committed now so I headed down the spur. Unfortunately this led not to the river but to a point overlooking the junction of two branches of Tolwong Ck. The sun was beginning to set now and the climb down looked steep but by now I was really thirsty and the sound of running water was really tempting so I continued on. I made it down and refilled my Camelback from the main branch of the creek. I followed the creek/canyon down to the junction where there was a small waterfall. I attempted to downclimb this but in the fading light I thought better of the slippery face and so I retreated to a small ledge above the junction I had noticed on my way down. I set up camp here as darkness fell.

Fortunately I had bought a number of bars so I wouldn't starve. I also had a jumper and raincoat so the top half of me would have some protection. But my feet had slipped in the creek and were wet and quickly got very cold. I made myself as comfortable as I could on the rock ledge and settled in for a long cold night.

TBC.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Tue 14 Jul, 2015 1:28 pm

By 9:00PM I was shivering uncontrollably. I decided I just had to do something to get warm. There was barely enough room to jog on the spot on my ledge so I decided to climb back up the spur. By now the moon had risen and was shining quite a lot of light onto the spur and so I set off very steadily. I was surprised how well I was able to see in the moonlight and had little difficulty making my way on the spine of the spur. Before long I was warming up nicely and so decided to rest a while on a small flat bench. I must have dozed because over an hour passed before the cold seeping into my bones awoke me again. I resumed the climb and by about 11:00 I was back on the flat tops. I thought it best to stop here rather than blunder on in the dark and become disoriented. So I sat down against a big tree with my legs tucked up under me and tried to catch some sleep. It was a long night and I woke often. Each time I would do some exercises to get the blood flowing again before sitting back down and trying to get some more sleep. It must have worked because next time I awoke every thing was dark, the moon had set. All of a sudden I felt very uncertain of my bearings. No matter I would be able to reorientate myself when the sun rose.

The only problem was that the sun never rose, well not that I could see as a thick fog descended on the plateau. Mmmmmmm. I should never have left the spine of the ridge. At least that way I would have know east west. What to do? At least I had my map (Caoura 1:25,000 2nd Ed.) I knew that on the western side of the plateau the Shoalhaven ran through its gorge and on the eastern side Tryers Ck ran through its gorge. I decided to walk until I found a gully and then to follow that down. I figured by the steepness of the terrain I would be able to work out which of the two valleys it was flowing into. This proved more difficult than it sounded but eventually I found a long spur which descended into the upper reaches of a creek that seemed to just drop from view. This had to be on the Shoalhaven side so I climbed out and up and thankfully found myself perched right on the edge of Fordham Canyon. Great views.

P6280016 (Medium).JPG
View downstream from the rim of the Shoalhaven Gorge. NB the heavy fog still blanketing the tops.


At least I knew where I was for the first time that morning. I also knew I didn't want to go anywhere near the canyon and that there there were cliffs flanking the Block up Gorge just upstream of this point. So the question was could I find a safe descent route that went to the river between the two? Not all that confident I plunged down off the side of the rim and to my immense relief this route whilst steep did "go". I was a very relieved man to be safely on the bank of the river.

P6280018 (Medium).JPG
Finally down. The Shoalhaven River.


I had left myself with a walk of a couple of k's downstream to the bottom of the Trestle Track so I set off quickly. I made my way on the western bank. Although the going looked a lot easier on the eastern bank I couldn't see a place to cross. After a lot of clambering on rocks and ducking through scrub I arrived at the old Tolwong mine site. Unfortunately I didn't have much time to explore but did take a couple of hasty snaps.

P6280020 (Medium).JPG
Tolwong mines.


P6280023 (Medium).JPG
Tolwong Mine ruins.


From here I continued downstream to the next rapids where I crossed and located the post marking the end of the Trestle Track. I then set off up the track out of the valley on the western side. On the way up I snapped this view of the mines showing in the background Tolwong Ck where I had come down the evening before.

P6280032 (Medium).JPG
View across the gorge showing the two chimneys with Tolwong Ck behind.


I reached the top of the track just as the Bungonia SES was pulling up in their truck. "You wouldn't be looking for me would you by any chance?" Sure enough they were as my wife had raised the alarm when I hadn't returned the night before. They drove me the couple of k's back to the car and then back to the command headquarters which had been set up at the Bungonia NP HQ. There I met the team from Marulan who had also been called out and senior officers from the Police Rescue Squad. It was quite overwhelming to me that all these good people had put their lives on hold to come and look for me, a perfect stranger.

I had been very foolish in many respects. I should and did know better but over confidence and complacency can cause you to take unnecessary risks. I am just pleased that no one was injured in looking for me.

If ever I am given permission to go out again I would like to return to this area to explore the mines in more detail and see if I can relocate my terminus, only this time I will come up from the river.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby clarence » Tue 14 Jul, 2015 1:58 pm

Good story as far as highlighting how a few small miscalculations (and some larger ones :shock: ) can make it all go pear shaped very quickly.

As with any areas, they each have their own idiosyncrasies that can throw a spanner in the works.

With that part of the world it is that one ridge will go beautifully (although incredibly steeply!), while the adjacent one may be impassable (same for gullies). Another is the difficulty finding the starting point of very blunt ridges from the rim of the gorge.

Staying put in such country at night was a very wise move.

It might be worth a "de-brief" for other readers (including the experienced persons) regarding what lessons are learned.

First suggestion: always take a lighter/fire starting device!

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Tue 14 Jul, 2015 2:02 pm

Yes I can't believe I didn't do that. But then it was only meant to be a day walk. :shock:

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 15 Jul, 2015 8:28 am

kanangra wrote:Where I really let myself down though was in assuming there would be tracks I didn't take my GPS or my compass!!!!!!! I know I deserve to have the book thrown at me. I still can't believe I did it either. I didn't even take my phone or my Spot beacon. I mean I even have a watch with a compass in it but did I take that? :oops: :oops: :oops:

No compass, no gps, no watch and no PLB? Going lighter than ultralight and got tripped? ;)

Fantastic location and views from the photos and great story telling. Glad you made it back and without injuries. Looking forward to your next tale!
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby jeremy089786 » Wed 22 Jul, 2015 6:52 pm

Glad you are safe kanangra! I had a similar complacency caused unpleasant night a couple of months ago... and now take 12 long pegs on every overnight trip!

Also, always great to get more pics of that area. So nice!
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Fri 24 Jul, 2015 8:32 am

Thanks Jeremy. It is a great area indeed. I hope I'm allowed to return one day? :(

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby puredingo » Mon 27 Jul, 2015 8:07 pm

I had a pretty big fall on the weekend when a rotten branch went out from under me. I fell heavily and swiftly backward but only for the grace of God, onto a soft river bank. Somehow missing all the swords of an upturned trees root system.
Being miles up Pigeon house gorge without a PLB I thought of you K and your events....maybe it's time we employed the buddy system more often?
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Tue 28 Jul, 2015 2:35 pm

Mmmmmmmmm Puredingo I think you might be onto something there. When you think about it we do visit some pretty wild and remote country where, even with a lot of care, problems can occur. Tell me more about your trip up Pigeon House Ck.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby north-north-west » Wed 29 Jul, 2015 2:19 pm

puredingo wrote:... without a PLB ...

I've reached the point where the only time I go anywhere without my PLB when out bush is to have a leak at night.
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby wallwombat » Wed 12 Aug, 2015 12:19 pm

I've been going down there for years (since 1981) and except for tracks going down into the Gorge (from Bungonia, Longpoint and Badgerys) there are no tracks down there and haven't been for a long, long time.

As an aside, the owners of Talwong Station are not friendly and don't like people crossing their property. I believe that hut pictured is on part of their property. I've walked from Tallong to Nowra a couple of times via Shoalhaven, Tullyangela and Ettrema Gorges and it is best to skirt the eastern edge of their property and not go blindly walking in. I had the previous owners (The Crisp brothers) fire a rifle in the air to get our attention and ward us off. It worked.
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Wed 12 Aug, 2015 1:08 pm

Fascinating stuff there. I did the same trip once but in the reverse direction. From Coorandel to Tallong via the Drovers Ridge Trail and Sparkes Buttress. When I came to Tolwong I skirted around well away from the homestead and I don't think I was spotted. 8)

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby puredingo » Wed 12 Aug, 2015 9:05 pm

I was on the Drovers on the weekend, dropped down besides boudrie (sp) point...my God the water was cold!!
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby wallwombat » Thu 13 Aug, 2015 10:28 am

Last time I did it successfully, we walked from Tallong, down Badgerys and down river to Canoe Flat and camped. From there we walked up Billy Bulloo's Canyon a bit and took the third spur on the right up to a pass onto the plateau. From there we skirted along the eastern boundary of Talwong Station, walking to Bob's Swamp and camped. Getting an early start we dropped down into Tullyangela Creek and followed it down through Dungeon Canyon to camp at the junction of Tullyangela Creek and Ettrema Creek (beautiful campsite). From there we walked down Ettrema Creek to the junction of Yalwal Creek and out to Yalwal and a pick up. This section takes a couple of days . We camped at Cooee Flat, along Ettrema Creek. From there, there is a rough four wheel drive track that goes to Yalwal, which makes the walking easier but it's still long.

If I was to do it again, from the junction of Tullyangela Creek, I'd walk up Ettrema Creek and exit up Transportation Spur and get a pick up near Quiera Clearing, or do a car shuffle, which wouldn't be particularly hard. Ettrema Creek is much more spectacular above the Tullyangela junction than below it, and the walk from there to Yalwal is a drudge.

Now that I've put that all in words it sounds like a cracker of a 4/5 day trip.

I might have to try this new version out.

The day walking down Dungeon Canyon is fantastic,very spectacular and not to be missed.
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby puredingo » Thu 13 Aug, 2015 2:32 pm

I'm coming!...When?
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby wallwombat » Fri 14 Aug, 2015 10:58 am

When it's a bit warmer.
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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby kanangra » Fri 14 Aug, 2015 4:04 pm

Gee now that does sound like a trip.

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Re: Shoalhaven Shuffle #2.

Postby Allchin09 » Sun 16 Aug, 2015 8:56 pm

puredingo wrote:I'm coming!...When?


Haha, can I come along too!
Tackling the unknown and the awesome one adventure at a time!

Check out my latest trips at http://aoacblog.wordpress.com/posts
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ASSOCIATED ORGANISATIONS: Sydney Bush Walkers, Bushwalking NSW, Colong Foundation
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male


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