Square Head Jinny

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Square Head Jinny

Postby bernieq » Sat 02 Feb, 2013 7:32 pm

On Friday afternoon we headed up to Mansfield and out to 8-mile Creek via Sheepyard Flat. I was expecting hordes of 4WD campers as it was Australia Day weekend (and was not disappointed).

The plan was to climb 8-mile Spur to Rocky Ridge and Refrigerator Gap, up The Bluff and traverse to Bluff Hut. The next day would see us head E to Mt Lovick and strike off to the NW and out to the bluffs of Square Head Jinny. We’ve descended the aptly-named Helicopter Spur a couple of times and were keen to compare SHJ. Once below the bluffs, the plan took us down an indistinct spur to the Howqua River near Pikes Flat. From there it should be an on-track stroll back to 8-mile Creek. Three days, mostly off-track, very steep up and down with a river to look forward to on the last day.

Day 1 : 12km, 1350m up, 400m down Day 2 : 10km, 150m up, 1000 down Day 3 : 13km, 50m up, 150m down

An early Saturday start, we headed up 8-mile spur and were soon puffing – it’s an unrelenting climb to Rocky Ridge - at least the spur was open and the route obvious. A short wander along the ridge, descent to Refrigerator Gap and on the road to the start of Bluff Track and lunch.

The climb to The Bluff was as steep as I remembered but straight-forward and the summit cairn was attained in a little over an hour. From here, an undulating track passes The Blowhole, Mt Eadley Stoney and finally descends to Bluff Hut and a good supply of tank water. The dam to the SE had just enough water for a refreshing float after the hot climb.

Early morning mist over the Crosscut Saw and Mt Buggary - from Square Head Jinny

Another early start had us surveying the valley mist in the Howqua. Two hours later we were atop SHJ looking to Crosscut Saw, Mts Buggary and Speculation, a magnificent sight of mist flooding through Horrible Gap and over the Crosscut and into the head of the King Valley. It reminded me of the Japanese tsunami – relentless, awe-inspiring. On the approach to this Dante-like scene, we had traveled through grassy flats and old unburnt snow gums – such a rare event these days that we took some time to drink in the atmosphere.

Back in the 1960s, SHJ went by the name of Square Gin Face and the flats behind the bluffs were popular for cattle-grazing in the summer. Sadly, there was clear evidence that this practice is continuing today, although to a much lesser extent.

SHJ from the 1300m contour

Now the descent began in earnest. A way down through the bluffs is not evident until you approach the edge. Then you can see a ramp curving around the head of the bluffs and descending to a steep gully. We climbed down the gully to the 1320m contour then sidled to the W to a NW spur and continued down to Bluff Link Rd. In the saddle we discovered an old 4WD track going our way and followed it up onto a ridge and further to the W. Sadly, severe tree-fall made travel very tedious and we were glad to leave the ridge and head down towards Pikes Flat. These slopes are heavily vegetated, very steep and the going is slow so our campsite and the river (with small waterfall) were very welcome.

Ritchies Hut - Jan 2013

After a short stint on the road, we hit the track to Ritchies Hut - destroyed in the 2007 fires and rebuilt in 2009. After a brief stop, we chose the low track back to 8-mile Creek, crossing the Howqua a dozen times as it wends it’s way along the narrow valley. A little over 3 hours of walking had us back at the cars and looking forward to lunch and coffee – yum.

We are responsible for the health of the planet - not it for ours
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Re: Square Head Jinny

Postby ryantmalone » Sun 03 Feb, 2013 6:06 pm

Oh god, I remember back in the 90's pointing this route out to my dad, and seeing it from Helicopter Spur thinking I'd have to give it a go. Never did of course, but its good to see that the route is still being used.

I'd love to see more pics on the route itself if you have any?
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Re: Square Head Jinny

Postby neilmny » Sun 03 Feb, 2013 6:58 pm

Great report bernieq. Very enjoyable read.
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