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Sat 26 Sep, 2020 10:28 am
Walk Dates: Sep 10, 11 and 12 2020
Walkers: Rob Wildman, Josh Neri, Helen Jones, Max Dona, Clay O'Brien
This is more of an update on the conditions following the fires and floods rather than a traditional walk report.
We had three days to cover what, in the final analysis, was a very short distance of about 20 kms. I decided to take the extra time because every time I had been down in this area before, I had simply ran out of time and energy. This time I was the only member who had actually been in this area before and so I wanted the group to enjoy this beautiful country as much as I had.
Given the National Parks had opened up Morton National Park north of the Braidwood Road when pretty much everything else was either closed or the access to other walks was cut off, and that the fires had burnt this area to a cinder only a few months earlier, it seemed like a good option for a slightly extended walk. A few weeks before the walk start, we saw this part of the south coast receive something like 300mm of rain in two days. The National Parks workers were getting bogged on the access road so we really didn't know what to expect.
Normally this area, or in particular the flat areas of the plateau, are full of large patches of scrub. So much so, trips in here need to be carefully planned to allow for this. This time we found vast swathes of open country with lots of spindly blackened storks of banksia and other scrub typical of this area. The ground was often soft underfoot as well.
Since I had been here last, Quiera Clearing was no more a clearing; the owners had decided to fence the open grassy areas and so carve a new track around the property. Instead of heading across the clearing to join the initial open ridge, the new track takes you straight down to the gully on the northern side of the ridge. The effect of this is that it actually cuts off quite a bit and you get to the top of the slot into Myall Creek earlier than expected.
Myall Creek was quite changed with many of the original large logs gone and many more new ones in their place. The fire must have been fierce since the ground on the slopes of the sides of the creek was pretty broken up and loose with lots of sharp rocks. Heading to Jingles Pass was a cinch as there was hardly any of the typical scrub in our way. You could almost see the path from halfway across the plateau. Coming through the pass, we saw a lot of fire damage with split boulders and many new burnt logs across the path. We headed for the top of the ridge before the descent and there was no trace of the old pad which guided you there.
The descent to the creek was as usual steep but this time there was the added danger of not being able to see where your next footfall was going to be. After the fires, there had been a spurt in small green wide leafed growth covering most of the ground so each step had to be tested for a hole, a log or just nothing. I think it took about 1.5 hours to reach the creek this time.
The walk down Ettrema was as usual with lots of crossing and wading through pools. There had been a party down before us and they had constructed the strangest "house" of stones just past the junction with Myall Creek. I wondered if they actually used this for a camp, ignoring the now weed infested original camp site just back of the same junction.
The flood had appeared to have risen quite high in this narrow gorge, for when we finally arrived at the Jones Creek junction camp site, the water had clearly been running freely over this area, some two metres or so above the normal river height. The old camp site was still usable but sites had to be selected carefully. There are very few camp spots on Ettrema Creek and this is usually one of the best.
A short stroll up Jones Creek in the morning to the wonderful big pool, which had almost blooming native orchids hanging from a nearby tree, and then back down to camp and on to the next night's camp some 4 km downstream.
The trip down was glorious and we spent quite some time just being amazed by the water and the steep inclines on both sides of us. We reached the junction of Transportation Spur and Ettrema Creek by mid afternoon and set up camp in the only other campable spot in the whole day's walking. Again, we cracked open the wine, cheeses and cigars for a relaxing end to the day.
Next day up Transportation spur was an absolute grind but the hill gives you a break about half way up when the slop gets gentle and the pace picks up. Going up this spur was a lot easier than coming down from Jingles Pass in terms of visibility. The route up to Pardon Point can be a little tricky but if you head to the right upon reaching the cliffline, within 10 metres up to the left is a small break in the cliff through which you need to pass. Once over this, you swing to the right and up through another slot, which now has a tree almost blocking the way.
The trip back to the car was a wonderful meandering stroll around the low edges of the plateau. This time because of the earlier rain, there was so much water just seeping out of the soil and so all the normally dry streams were actually flowing with lovely clear and cold water.
The area is still one of the treasures of the Morton Park.
Sat 26 Sep, 2020 11:09 am
Fantastic report. I've been wanting to do a solo trip in the gorge and just explore a little. Maybe next month before it gets too hot. You've rekindled the idea. Thanks.
Sun 27 Sep, 2020 12:44 pm
Nice report mate, thanks.
Last time I did Pardon Pt that ledge to left was a bit hairy. The fires and rains had deposited a fair bit of soil on the sill but at a beveled angle...I was happy when the negotiation was over.
Mon 28 Sep, 2020 9:35 pm
Yes I know what you mean. One of our party was an amputee - try climbing up those ridges and negotiating the narrow pass with one arm. The rest of us tried and failed miserably. He's a much better man than all of us!
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