14-16/04/2006 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Owen Shepherd
Trip report by Rachel
It was a beautiful autumn morning when we set off on Easter Friday for Kanangra-Boyd National Park. After picking Owen up (and much to my delight finding an open cafe for a coffee stop) we made good time, getting to Kanangra around 10:30am. It was Owen and Rachel's first visit to Kanangra and we were both excited at our first view of Kanangra Walls. I was a little concerned about my fitness as I huffed and puffed my way up the first few steps up to the plateau. It had been several months since my last bushwalk with a full pack. After stopping at a few look outs we made good time across the plateau, fighting our way through the bushes which had grown across the much eroded paths. We stopped at Cottage Rock for morning tea and to scout out the view.
After lazing around in the sun for some time we set off again. I was a little apprehensive at the steep descent which was coming up. We got to Cambage Spire and it looked like we were going to walk off the edge of the cliff. Having a pack made getting down the steep drop more nerve-wracking then it should have been. We resorted to lowering packs on the 10m rope which Tom had fortunately brought along. Then it was just quad-working steep walking down and down and down. As it was so dry it was fairly slippery. With the loss of daylight savings and our descent into the valley we began to lose sunlight fairly early in the evening. We made it to the Kowmung river with about half an hour of light. We had a quick cold plunge in the river and then set about getting camp sorted. The prime site had been secured by another group but we found a flattish area and soon had a fire going. The large number of weeds around Christy's Creek was disappointing and we did our best to avoid spreading them even more. After camembert and bickies, soup and finally dinner we were all ready to crash. It was a reasonably warm night.
The next morning after breakfast Tom and I set about burning as many of the weeds as possible. We cleared the area around our campsite but really that was just a drop in the ocean compared to the larger surrounds. It is difficult to see how the weeds will be defeated other than a bush fire coming through the area. We eventually started walking mid-morning, picking our way along the bank of the Kowmung. Tom had warned us of river crossings so everything was waterproofed in the pack. The low water level meant we had little trouble crossing the river, using stepping stones to meander back and forth as necessary. Owen and I had one area where we treated our feet to a mud bath while Tom managed to cling to a wall and edge himself along and avoid the water altogether.
Owen and I spotted a snake which quickly slithered out into the water and swam away. We weren't sure what sort it was until we came across another one at our lunch spot. This one was in less of a hurry to get away and could be identified as a red-bellied black snake. We decided that a lunch time swim was in order so had a quick dip (the water not really being warm enough for it to be anything other than quick). I spotted a third snake swimming across the river while we were taking our dip. After lunch we continued on but rather than continue to follow the river which wound its way over a couple of kilometres (with increasingly less pleasant river banks) we decided to take a short cut over a 300m saddle. The climb to the top of the saddle was easy enough, with plenty of wombat tracks making the bash through the vegetation unnecessary. The map had indicated a similar angle on the other side however it felt twice as steep and we slipped and slid our way through the dirt and trees to eventually arrive at the bottom, any appearance of clean-ness post-swim had been well and truly masked.
We only had a kilometre or so to reach Orange Bluff where we expected to find "the king of the campsites" along this section of the Kowmung. But before getting there I almost stood on our fourth snake of the day - this one a large black snake who was somewhat lethargic in getting out of the way. We knew we had reached the campsite when we spotted not one tent but six or seven. We had a chat to a couple of the other groups who were camped there. They had mainly come down Brumby Ridge and were just camping and doing day trips from the base. The afternoon quickly cooled as we lost the sun around 3pm behind the hills and I was glad of the large quantities of warm clothing I had been lugging around. We soon had a fire going with cheese, bickies and port on offer. Owen crashed around 8pm and Tom and I didn't survive that much longer. The night was cold and the next morning (12 hours sleep later) Tom horrified everyone by wandering round in shorts and a t-shirt while the rest of us were all rugged up. I had suggested the night before we should make a reasonably early start but camping with the Baron von Pfaff and Tom (who Owen insisted was giving him a run for the title) meant we didn't get away until 10-ish. The group who regularly camped at this spot advised us they usually walked out with a litre of water each, so I wondered whether my 3L bladder was excessive. However I decided I'd rather carry more than go thirsty (given my experience walking out from Froth and Bubble Canyon along the Hole-in-the-Wall road earlier in the year).
The weather was the perfect temperature - cool while I panted and staggered my way up Brumby Ridge but warm enough in the sun when we stopped to try out our sweaty t-shirts. We had three stops on the way up to First Top Peak. Owen and Tom were ravenous by this point and large quantities of snacks were consumed. As we set off again we bumped into a couple of day-walkers who despite having a topo map and GPS were somewhere confused about their location. We pushed on making it back to Cottage Rock for lunch. After much lolling about we made the final push back to the car. Tom and Owen found an alternative way through the cliff line at Coal Seam Cave while I was content with our route from the way in. We spent a while on the plateau trying to spot Kanangra Falls - realising later that there must have been such low water flow that they were barely visible. We stopped by Dance Floor Cave on the way back as well as checking out the look outs along the wheelchair accessible track.
We had thought about camping and doing Dione Dell canyon the next day but decided three days of adventure was sufficient and so headed back to Sydney that night.