Wed 26 Aug, 2020 1:21 pm
Firstly the walk traverses spectacular country and we certainly appreciated the opportunity to explore north of the winder track. We crossed paths with 3 young gentlemen who had been working on the track for the last 12 months, it was their last 2 days on the job. I'd say they have done a marvelous job at creating a track that is very moderate in relation to the terrain and that meanders from feature to feature along the way taking in the best the escarpment has to offer (except for day 2 where they were given no opportunity to do so). They just may have made this track too moderate, which is a testament to their job well done. There was nothing technically difficult to it at all, a couple of hand holds were required once or twice in the mid section of ascending the mistake range on day 1, that's it.
We experienced very dry, windy (westerly), very dusty conditions starting 20/8/2020. Very cold minimums just prior to sunrise each morning. Below are my brief comments:
* The piece of engineering on the mistakes cliff line in the Spicer's private property section is gratuitous and unnecessary and a blight on the land. A very easy ascent path is available on the western side
* The ascent track up the mistake range is very well made, the track along the range takes in the best of the east and west views. Well done to the lads
* The Mount Mistake SRT walkers camp facilities are excellent, though we questioned the available tent sites vs the maximum advertised booking capacity (tent sites being the lesser amount in our opinion)
* The Mount Mistake SRT walkers camp is exposed to westerly winds, it was an order of magnitude colder than the eastern parts at the time we visited
* Nice sunrise lookout over the Laidley valley, whoever lives on that private land up there is very lucky
* The ATV track is mundane and the SRT will not be competitive as a truly great mini "Great Walk" unless there is some further development of features for walkers in this area
* The great redeeming quality of this section is the abundance of bird life playing in sunny patches exposed by the tremendous amount of fire disturbance, my walking partner must have identified 3 dozen plus species and she didn't even bring her bins out!
* I would recommend developing something related to bird watching in this section, perhaps a couple of single track leading to the eastern escarpment in areas of least impact with educational signage about the local species and indigenous significance of the land, make day 2 an educational day, fast walkers can stay on the ATV track and blast their way past those who would like to drink in the scenery on offer
* We made the side trip to the Amphitheater and Blackfellow (name!) falls which was wonderful and the highlight of the walk for myself personally, this required some compass navigation and careful walking in that precious vegetation around the cliffs of the amphitheater, much pig disturbance was observed close to the cliff line amongst the grass trees and lilies
* The location of Castle View SRT walkers camp is spectacular!
* There is a serious lack of satisfactory tent sites at the Castle View SRT walkers camp, not enough to support more than 3 tents IMO unless the ATV track is used
* Water tank levels were very low at Castle View SRT walkers camp, unless people stop to fill at Flaggy Creek as mentioned in the track notes, they are definitely not guaranteed a drink here. We didn't visit Flaggy Creek ourselves...
* The walk along the escarpment between Castle and Sylvester's lookouts might just be the best part of the track (less populated than Mt Cordeaux, which is totally amazing too) and the track is really quite easy in the conditions we experienced, moisture may make it much tougher though
* The new track exposes the off track section to Laidley falls, which seems like very delicate country at the moment post fire damage
* The descent down to Dalrymple and Banshee campsite is nothing short of awesome
* The other party walking the same dates as us experiences some minor navigational difficulty in the descent to Goomburra section
* Totally easy ascent to the escarpment and extremely pleasant walking all the way through to Cunningham's Gap, what a way to finish the walk will be up there with the best that Australian country has to offer
Footnotes & random comments
The moderate ease of the track and limited availability of water might be an issue in dry seasons for lesser experienced walking parties, and I think lesser experienced parties will be very attracted to this walk once the word gets out.
The track requires 4 or 5 standard QTopo mapsheets and seems to be on the very edge of every sheet! It's really cumbersome to prepare these in paper form, especially given the dwindling amount of options for purchasing mapsheets. I expect a few people to go into this walk under prepared in terms of navigation, not that it's terribly difficult to find your way, but this is just my rant on the current state of maps. I used QTopo GeoPDF sheets in software on my phone (OruxMaps) and we carried a Garmin device as backup.
Day 2 is a stinker of a walk which rushes through spectacular countryside along the most plain of routes. I understand it would be terribly difficult and expensive to further develop track in this country and quite a dilemma too. I think incorporating some educational material along small out and back single tracks to the escarpment might be worthwhile, others will have various opinions no doubt. The birdlife here is seriously amazing and I certainly enjoyed learning about it along the way.
As the track is quite new and soft, and the terrain and flora very delicate after fire damage, I expect it will require a fair amount of maintenance in the coming years. I wonder how the partnered arrangement will perform in this regard given the element of commercial agenda.
We clocked just shy of 48.9km with small side trips to the Amphitheater and the track out toward Laidley falls.Total ascent was 2644m and descent was 2195m.
Wed 26 Aug, 2020 2:00 pm
Thu 27 Aug, 2020 12:30 pm
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