Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi NP.

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Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi NP.

Postby damomcdermott » Fri 11 Feb, 2022 11:53 am

Hi all.

This is my second post, so I hope I'm doing it all right - feel free to let me know otherwise :D I am looking for advice from some Colo/Wollemi gurus.

I am planning a two night trip to Colo Meroo campground in March with another dad and our kids. We will be taking the short walk in from Upper Colo Rd. on a Friday evening so we can carry some extra gear.

Then Saturday I'd like to spend the day venturing upstream overland, then inflate some rafts and lilos and float/paddle/wade back to Colo Meroo.

I'm not sure if it's possible, but I am thinking about climbing up the Eastern ridge of Mount Townsend (west of Colo Meroo), then descending down the Townsend South ridge and getting into the river at the bend. I've attached a very rough idea of the route.

Colo Townsend Ridge climb and lilo.jpg
Rough route idea, heading West from Colo Meroo


I have a few questions:

- Is it possible climb up the Eastern ridge of Mount Townsend from the river? It appears to be steep but have a fairly gentle approach.
- Is it possible to access the river from the Southern ridge or is it too steep at the bottom? (contours look very steep at the base, but happy to scramble).
- Is there a flat section at the bend to inflate lilos/ rafts?
- Has anyone been to Colo River recently? What is the flow like after all the recent rains?
- What is the approximate time to paddle/ float from Townsend Bend to Colo Meroo?

And finally if this sounds like a bad idea, have you got any suggestions of ways to hike upstream and paddle back down to the campsite as a day adventure.

Cheers.
Damian
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby sodahiker » Fri 11 Feb, 2022 12:38 pm

Hi Damian

There's a book available on this website which covers the passes: https://fatcanyoners.org/2011/07/30/col ... nd-routes/
https://fatcanyoners.org/wp-content/upl ... -Final.pdf

Looks like you're talking about map 8, pass 35, described therein as "An easy ridge but steep and scrubby by the river".

Maybe try get over to Bob Turner's track? (disclaimer: I have never done this ridge)
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby johnrs » Fri 11 Feb, 2022 2:29 pm

Hi DmDT
All very steep around there.
Could I suggest liloing down from the Bob Turenrs camp site to Colo Meroo.
Very easy day and a half with camping available at the Tootie ck junction.
only a few rapids, lots of long pools and sandyglides, would suit children too.
Don''t go if the water is very high, there is a gauge here, Upper Colo http://www.bom.gov.au/nsw/flood/greatersydney.shtml
Best wishes
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby damomcdermott » Fri 11 Feb, 2022 4:05 pm

Thanks sodahiker and johnrs.

The Bob Turners track option could work out, we have two vehicles so we could drop one at Upper Colo Rd and do a car shuffle. But we are hoping to travel light with daypacks instead of all our camping gear which is why I'm looking for a route to start and finish at Colo Meroo if possible. The kids are okay with steep ascents/ descents. We just climbed Ironmonger Spur last spring and have been dragged on a few other steep climbs - they canhandle a bit of scrambling but I want to make sure we don't do anything too dangerous.

I'd love to know if anyone has been able to climb up Townsend from the steep Eastern spur (there looks like a possible pass between the cliffs). But it isn't in the fatcanyoners book, so maybe a no go.

Has anyone started at Bob Turners track, then descended Townsend Spur and paddled from the bend to Colo Meroo?

Thanks again for the advice and knowledge.

Cheers
Damian
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby Bron » Sat 12 Feb, 2022 8:58 pm

Ive liloed from Bob Turners down to Colo Meroo.
It takes about a day from Bob Turners to Colo Meroo, then another day to the old Upper Colo Bridge.
The river is up a bit with all the rain at the moment so it should be an easy trip.
There is a large picnic shelter at Colo Meroo so there is no need to carry shelter, just the lilos and lots of mozzie repellant :wink:
Also it is not possible to leave a car at the end of the Upper Colo Rd as there is no parking.

If you are planning to do this trip I would be doing it asap - I would not wait until March or you might find the river is not navigable at that time.

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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby damomcdermott » Mon 14 Feb, 2022 9:57 am

Thanks Bron.

Really appreciate the info regarding distances and time. I'm sure the river must be moving nicely at the moment.

I don't think we will rely on the picnic shelter being exclusively available and will bring a shelter just in case. Also, I'm not really concerned with the parking, I've been there before and there is room for a few cars just off the road.

We have booked the 2nd weekend in March and are busy until then so can't do the trip any sooner, what would make the river not navigable? Is it an issue with the water level?

Cheers.
Damian
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby rcaffin » Sat 19 Feb, 2022 7:09 pm

My notes from 1999 for the East spur, reached from Colo-Meroo:

head up the steep spur to Townsend. The gully next to it is concealed, scrubby but definite; the bottom of the spur is a mix of monkey vine, lawyer vine and solid lantana. We went up it briefly, then followed the left side just above the river for about 50m until we could climb steeply through ordinary jungle to a cliff, then followed the cliff left (SW) until we could break through. This brought us to the crest of the spur above, from where the scrub was very light most of the (long steep) way to the top.

No idea what the scrub at the bottom is like now, but I doubt it has gone away! The main Townsend spur is tricky at the top but easy enough. Some rope might be advised just in case.

The S end of the main Townsend spur down to the water is steep and covered in vines, but we have been up and down it a few times. At least you can hang onto the vines! I think that going down one time I just sat down and slid in a semi-controlled fashion.

Cheers
Roger
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby Bron » Mon 21 Feb, 2022 4:30 pm

20210322_130152.jpg
Colo RIver from Colo Bridge
Did I mention the picnic shelter is large? Its more like a pavilion.
My only concern for forward planning is that its not possible to predict the water level at that time of year.
Check out this photo of the Colo River last year in March 2021, I also have similar photos from February 2020.
As far as I can tell the bridge is 18m above sea level, you could touch the water.
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby tom_brennan » Tue 22 Feb, 2022 12:37 pm

damomcdermott wrote:We have booked the 2nd weekend in March and are busy until then so can't do the trip any sooner, what would make the river not navigable? Is it an issue with the water level?


If the river level is too high, then it can be dangerous. If the river level is too low, then there's no current, and it can be a long trip from Bob Turners to Colo Meroo.

Your original plan looked fairly challenging - if you haven't done much off-track walking in the Colo, then it can be pretty scrubby.

Certainly the Bob Turners to Colo Meroo option looks like a better one if the water levels are playing ball.
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby damomcdermott » Tue 22 Feb, 2022 2:27 pm

Bron wrote:
20210322_130152.jpg
Did I mention the picnic shelter is large? Its more like a pavilion.
My only concern for forward planning is that its not possible to predict the water level at that time of year.
Check out this photo of the Colo River last year in March 2021, I also have similar photos from February 2020.
As far as I can tell the bridge is 18m above sea level, you could touch the water.


Thanks Bron - that is a great reference pic. I was in Colo last May and there was no access to the bridge as I recall. The water was really moving but not as high as your pic. I haven't been to Colo Meroo since the 2020 fires and was wondering if the picnic shelter survived so great to know it is fully operational in all it's pavilion glory :)

Cheers!
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby damomcdermott » Tue 22 Feb, 2022 2:37 pm

rcaffin wrote:My notes from 1999 for the East spur, reached from Colo-Meroo:

head up the steep spur to Townsend. The gully next to it is concealed, scrubby but definite; the bottom of the spur is a mix of monkey vine, lawyer vine and solid lantana. We went up it briefly, then followed the left side just above the river for about 50m until we could climb steeply through ordinary jungle to a cliff, then followed the cliff left (SW) until we could break through. This brought us to the crest of the spur above, from where the scrub was very light most of the (long steep) way to the top.

No idea what the scrub at the bottom is like now, but I doubt it has gone away! The main Townsend spur is tricky at the top but easy enough. Some rope might be advised just in case.

The S end of the main Townsend spur down to the water is steep and covered in vines, but we have been up and down it a few times. At least you can hang onto the vines! I think that going down one time I just sat down and slid in a semi-controlled fashion.

Cheers
Roger


Thanks Roger - this is exactly what I was thinking about. On the 1:25k topo map there looks like a break between the cliffs on the Eastern Townsend spur. Great to know it is passable in the right conditions. Do you know if Townsend was fire effected? I wonder if it will have a lot of scrubby new growth. Last Autumn we climbed up from Deep Pass Canyon into the Buggary Creek Canyon in the Western Wollemi, the fires had cleared a lot of undergrowth, but I think a year later it could be pretty difficult.

Thanks again.
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby Bron » Fri 25 Feb, 2022 7:51 pm

Damian,

I walked down Bob Turners track last month and also Canoe Ck & Hollow Rock track during the lockdown. Its pretty obvious that the fire did not go into the valley around there although it did burn across the tops, especially as you go further north on the Putty Rd.
Around Bob Turners its not fire affected at all.
The main thing that is noticeable is how much flood damage in the river there is, many of the sandbanks have been moved from one side of the river to the other. I know that the Upper Colo Reserve has not reopened since the flood and Somerset at Colo is not hosting overnight camps. I wont even mention the state of the Upper Colo Bridge.

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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby damomcdermott » Tue 01 Mar, 2022 8:05 am

Thanks Bron - with the current weather we may need to take a literal rain check! I expect here would be trees and all sorts of mess in the river at the moment. I'll keep an eye on the water levels and news.

Cheers
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby Bron » Tue 01 Mar, 2022 12:41 pm

Thats a good call Damian - the Colo river was about 3m but who knows what It will do this week.

March is always flakey for Rver trips. April is better and the water is still warm enough.
With the current weather forecast it wouldnt suprise me if we get our 3rd flood in the Hawkesbury in 3 years, alot of the low creek crossings around the district have been closed since last week and the SES have issued a flood watch today 12pm 1-3-22
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby rcaffin » Mon 07 Mar, 2022 6:28 pm

My wife told me today that the Colo was at 15 m at the upper Colo Bridge (site).
1020.jpg
1020.jpg (109.51 KiB) Viewed 6635 times

It goes up and down. These kids wanted a very fast trip in 2010. I dare say they got it.

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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby Allchin09 » Mon 07 Mar, 2022 9:04 pm

rcaffin wrote:My wife told me today that the Colo was at 15 m at the upper Colo Bridge (site).


Yes, nearly 16m this evening!
colo.png
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby damomcdermott » Thu 10 Mar, 2022 1:50 pm

Woah... might wait for spring... or next autumn! I hope everyone is keeping okay out there.
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby Bron » Thu 10 Mar, 2022 7:14 pm

Colo River in flood 7-3-22.jpg
Colo River in flood 7-3-22.jpg (58.51 KiB) Viewed 6404 times
At a river height of 16m, as posted by Allchin, the water goes over the Colo River Bridge deck.
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Re: Looking for advice - Colo River, Mount Townsend Wollemi

Postby rcaffin » Fri 11 Mar, 2022 9:33 am

The problem would be getting your canoe past the bridge . . .

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