Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

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Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

Postby Aardvark » Sun 25 Aug, 2019 11:53 am

The Widden Valley section of Hunter Valley Bushwalks by Greg Powell (2003) suggested that Red Creek and Table Bay Creek were negotiable routes.
That's all we had to go on when we organised ourselves to undertake a walk there. We weren't sure if it was touted as a daywalk or an overnighter.
It really didn't matter to us as we are well conditioned for long daywalks and there was a full moon rising early. We could also establish a turnaround time.

We have succeeded more often in the past with having a comfortable night in our bed at home, leaving home at say 3am to drive an hour or three for a predawn start from a warm car with no delays as opposed to camping overnight and striking camp for an early start. Early starts were a risk management tactic utilised many times when conducting walks for a club. Better to have daylight hours at the end of the day to deal with any accidents or delays which might occur during group walks of up to 12 people.
The practice this time was out the window as we were at least 10hrs from home and car camping at the mouth of Red Creek.

It was winter and frosts were expected overnight. A polar front had passed over the area a few days before and dumped snow over much of the NSW high country to the Queensland border. We saw over 10cm of snow on the ground on Barrington Tops.
We prepared for a 7am start so there would be light. We woke at 6am but declined getting up until 7am. Despite preparations the night before we didn't get going until 9.40am. There were only two of us and we were on holidays so we shrugged it off.
Topographically we calculated a distance of 15km and a height gain and loss from 300m alt to 850m alt. The Mt.Pomany 25k map has 20m contours. The first kilometre gained 100m altitude whilst the next 100m alt was gained in less than 1/2 km. It didn't get any steeper until leaving the creek to gain the crest of the range.
A cattle pad led upstream on the true right . A farmhand at Holbrook station told us he had visited Red Creek to look for cattle some years before but not far up as he was not a scrambler or climber.
Evidence of travel soon dissipated as the vegetation became a bit of a challenge. Weaving and scrambling became necessary for forward progress. It is not likely that cattle proceed beyond the first kilometre. Red Creek had a continuous flow of water and this added to the list of obstacles. Side streams had some flow as well.
DSCN2786copy_190825113449.jpg
Red Creek obstacle
DSCN2805_190825114200.jpg
Wave rock on Red Creek

We didn't stop for any significant breaks but we weren't racing either. We didn't worry much about measuring progress over time and the creek was not narrow enough to impede a GPS signal. At 1pm we were still in Red Creek. We discussed further the turnaround time. It was agreed that perhaps 3hrs would still be needed to retrace our steps as the terrain would require it. It might be less cardio work but the obstacles were numerous and we would still need to search the best way through. Push on we did and shortly after we took the tributary which would lead us to the crest of the range at 850m alt.
The tributary was narrow and heavily vegetated. It was the slowest progress so far. Evidence of travel was apparent in places but constantly interrupted. We soon took to heading straight up the side. We crested at about 2.30pm for a 1/2 hr break and hoped travel down Table Bay Creek would be quicker.

There was a cliff of about 10m blocking our direct descent north. We walked about 50m east to find a cliff break for an easy descent. The map indicated a small spur between two small tributaries into a basin adjacent to Table Bay Creek. As we descended we became suspicious of the bluffs on the spur and gravitated toward a gully to the west. The contour lines suggested the spur may have been easy going but 20m contour lines can hide a lot.
A short way down the gully i was compelled to bring out the 12m rope i carried. It was only a drop of a few metres. The gully appeared to descend another 60-100m so i went further to investigate. Believing i could contour east back onto the spur if necessary, i returned for Kathryn to follow. Without much difficulty we got down to the tributary which would take us to Table Bay Creek.
We tried to make fast our progress and had to keep entering and exiting the main channel. Vegetation was thick and we grew increasingly aware of the time.
It was at least 3 and a 1/2 km from the junction with Table Bay Creek to the paddocks downstream. I lamented the late start. The two and a half hours from the start of the day would have been useful now. As it turned out we moved about 1k an hour for most of the day and that rate of travel meant reaching the paddocks at about 7pm. The headlamps would have to come out sooner or later. An early rising moon would be of little use in the middle of the creek.

It was a relief to reach the junction with Table Bay Creek and with no delays we took advantage of the slightly easier going. Table Bay Creek was wider and we easily crossed back and forth over the creek. When the headlamps came out our peripheral vision was of no use . We were less inclined to be seeking a route away from the main channel of water. Before the ambient light faded we could see ahead and take advantage of the sides. Staying in the middle of the creek meant large boulders with deep holes and drops. It was rock hopping and scrambling the rest of the way. Alot of drops between boulders meant zig zagging to find a trafficable route. We only brought out the rope one more time as we jumped and scrambled. There wasn't any climbing to the side up to 15m or so like we did on Red Creek. That had more to do with the light. Vegetation was less of a problem and despite dropping into many a hole we always found a way out.
DSCN2829copy_190825114857.jpg
Table Bay Creek

Kathryn had a slight strain to her knee from Red Creek and my only injury was a stick to the eye from Kathryn's passing. It had three small 1cm prongs on the end which caught me in the right eye. It formed a ring above the eye only just above the eyelid. If it had hit only mm's away it might have pierced my eyeball. After the blood dried i didn't think about it again until the morning at which time i looked like a bruiser from a punchup.

We eventually sensed the walls of the creek dropping to suggest open forest nearby. We climbed out of the creek into a cleared land on the true right.
After several hundred metres the bush closed in on both sides and we had to cross the creek at a junction. It was about a kilometre and a half to the road in Widden Valley but we contoured to short cut it and joined the road several hundreds metres before cattle yards. Three kilometres on we reached the car at 8.30pm. A memorably long daywalk. It was apparent the walk would have been touted as an overnighter
Ever on the search for a one ended stick.
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Re: Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

Postby kjbeath » Sun 25 Aug, 2019 9:05 pm

Some years ago I was told it was rocky and scrubby. Seems it hasn’t changed.
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Re: Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

Postby rcaffin » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 11:06 am

The contour lines suggested the spur may have been easy going but 20m contour lines can hide a lot.
Don't they ever! Those maps are not all that good.
Still, it sounds like it was a good trip.

We tried once to follow the nearby Monundilla FT south to Mt Monundilla and the Hunter Main, but the FT no longer exists. You can see where it was as the wattle scrub is thickest on it and less so off it. Apparently it was just a dozer line for a fire long long ago and never anything more than that :mrgreen:
So we thought we would follow an easy spur down into Blackwater Creek. After all, the topo did not show any cliffs on the end of the spur. There were (of course) 40 m high cliffs all around there, and I was not carrying enough rope for that.

Cheers
Roger
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Re: Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

Postby msrlo » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 12:36 pm

Is it just me but that second pic looks like an animal head, it has a head an eye socket and a nose
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Re: Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

Postby Aardvark » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 5:13 pm

msrlo wrote:Is it just me but that second pic looks like an animal head, it has a head an eye socket and a nose


A dinosaur maybe. You're referring to the third pic i think. The one in Table Bay Creek.

That second pic, of the wave rock, at the time i said it looked like a portion of an old space ship (flying saucer) settled down eons ago. It was huge and continued around alot further in a big arc.
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Re: Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

Postby Aardvark » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 5:23 pm

rcaffin wrote:[i] We tried once to follow the nearby Monundilla FT south to Mt Monundilla and the Hunter Main, but the FT no longer exists. You can see where it was as the wattle scrub is thickest on it and less so off it. Apparently it was just a dozer line for a fire long long ago and never anything more than that :mrgreen:
So we thought we would follow an easy spur down into Blackwater Creek. After all, the topo did not show any cliffs on the end of the spur. There were (of course) 40 m high cliffs all around there, and I was not carrying enough rope for that.

Cheers
Roger


That's an interesting tidbit Roger. Thanks. I did ponder over various routes that may have included that trail and certainly thought about following ridgelines from Baerami Ck way which may have resulted in dropping into Blackwater Ck. It does seem that the creeks are the likely best routes for ascending or descending the tops.
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Re: Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

Postby Warin » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 7:02 pm

rcaffin wrote: The contour lines suggested the spur may have been easy going but 20m contour lines can hide a lot.
Don't they ever! Those maps are not all that good.
Still, it sounds like it was a good trip.

We tried once to follow the nearby Monundilla FT south to Mt Monundilla and the Hunter Main, but the FT no longer exists. You can see where it was as the wattle scrub is thickest on it and less so off it. Apparently it was just a dozer line for a fire long long ago and never anything more than that :mrgreen:
So we thought we would follow an easy spur down into Blackwater Creek. After all, the topo did not show any cliffs on the end of the spur. There were (of course) 40 m high cliffs all around there, and I was not carrying enough rope for that.


The LPI Base Map shows cliffs in that area, might be of use if your considering a route. But as usual - no guarantees
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Re: Red Creek - Table Bay Creek, Wollemi Wilderness Area

Postby rcaffin » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 7:49 pm

Yeah, it's just that the old topos did not show enough cliff lines. That was 8932-1-S, photography 1971. I suspect the cartographers who drew those maps from aerial photos simply could not believe in that many cliffs.

The ridge lines are not that bad, but you do need to carry water because there ain't none up there!

Cheers
Roger
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