22/07/2001 - report
Participants: Tom Brennan, Liz Edye
This one turned out to be less a walk than a bushbash. Liz had heard from some Rover friends that there was a good abseiling site at Refuge Bay, on West Head. Originally we had planned to paddle in from Cottage Point, but the time needed plus the rough waters made us change plans and walk in. There was a track - the Refuge Track - marked on old editions of the CMA Ku-ring-gai Chase NP map which led to Refuge Gully, and from there we figured we could follow the creek down to the bay. I had even found what looked like the start of the track on a previous walk a few weeks before.
So the two of us quickly found the start of the track again, but as usual ran into trouble almost immediately. The track died out after about a hundred metres on a small rocky outcrop. After a brief council of war, we picked up another faint trail, although that too died out not much further on. We went bush across the slope - slow going through the prickly scrub of the Sydney sandstone. After a few hundred metres we hit a creek, which made the going a little easier. The creek was still not clear of vegetation, but the bush bashing required was generally less than across the spurs.
At one point the creek looked very overgrown, and we made the mistake of trying to parallel it for a short way. After following a wallaby track for a while, we got ourselves more and more stuck in 3m high stands of tea tree. Our progress slowed to a crawl, and we couldn't see anything around us. We tried to angle back towards the creek, but after about ten minutes of bush bashing, we admitted defeat. We backtracked to the nearest (only!) tall tree that we could see and Liz climbed up for a look around. She saw "normal" bush a short way away, and a few more minutes of bashing got us back to where we could see where we were going.
We could see Refuge Gully not too far away and headed down the slope towards it. After avoiding a five metre drop into the creek, we headed along the bank, still pushing through thick vegetation. Soon the bank got so thick with plants that we gave up, and started wading through the creek, walking along the bank when it cleared a bit. The creek became blocky further down, although the scrambling was relatively easy, and finally it opened out into the bay.
Not knowing which side the abseiling would be on, we headed right, since that was also likely to be the easiest route out. We clambered along the rocks briefly until it was obvious that we would make quicker progress simply wading through the water. Still we couldn't see any sign of an obvious abseiling site. Then as we got further along the bay, what looked like a good wall emerged from the trees on the other side of the bay. It started to sprinkle with rain at this point, and that, combined with about a kilometre of backtracking to get round the other side to the wall, meant that it wasn't really an option.
A bit further along, we headed up a gully to head for the Topham Track. There was quite a bit of scrambing - not difficult, although getting slippery as the rain got heavier - and more bushbashing up the slope. Finally we reached the top, and a flat, easy, but wet walk back to the car. And we never did get our abseiling in!
22 July 2001
20020111 - We paddled from Cottage Point around to Refuge Beach, which is about 500m south west of Refuge Gully. Quite an enjoyable abseil can be done down to the beach from the cliff above, near where the creek flows over the edge. It may in fact be relatively easy to walk down the creek from its beginning near the Salvation Track. However, the Plan of Management for the park bans rope related activities, so it's probably not something we'll do again.