09/09/2007 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Steve Thomsen
Rachel and I met Steve at the North Richmond Bakery after doing some shopping at Richmond. It looks like the North Richmond Shopping Centre has undergone a fair bit of its refurbishment, so we probably don't need to stop in Richmond next time! We piled into Steve's car and headed up to Mt Irvine, getting stuck briefly behind a tree chipper climbing up to Mt Wilson. None of us had been to Mt Irvine before so we didn't know what to expect. It is not exactly a town, more a collection of properties. I was hoping for a signpost to the National Park at the end of the road, but it wasn't even that obvious which gate to head through.
Steve's Outback got a bit of a test on the maze fire trails and we ended up parking near a locked gate at the top of a rise, after following a bunch of pink tags. The pink tags proved to be a bit of a trap. I pulled out the GPS and oriented the map and it turned out we were some way from where we wanted to be. Not to worry. We headed off down the hill, followed a few more fire trails, and seemed to be going in the right direction. This was confirmed by a couple of cairns about where I expected a turn off to be.
I was expecting a bit of a pad out towards Tesselate Hill, but the track was actually pretty well defined. The weather was pleasant and warm and we had a brief stop to remove unnecessary articles of clothing at the small broken cliff line just below Tesselate Hill. A lyrebird had made its nest in the overhang there, and there were some interesting rock formations.
Up on top of the hill we lost the track and headed out to the cliff edge for breathtaking views of the Wollangambe River. The 'Gambe does a sweeping bend below Tesselate Hill, the tops of the cliffs above the river visible a long way below. The photos will no doubt fail to capture the scenery!
There were no signs of any tesselations on the hill, though. One of the aims of the walk had been to visit the Tesselated Pavements, but these weren't marked on the map, and there was surprisingly no information on the internet. I had been primed for disappointment by a friend, so I was quite excited when we descended the other side of the hill (picking up the track again) and found a large rocky platform covered with tesselations. Steve and I snapped some photos while Rachel wandered across to check out the vast gash of Bowens Creek on the other side of the ridge from the Wollangambe. I was quite excited to find an aboriginal rock carving, although there was debate over whether it was depicting a man or a yabby. More searching of the rocky platforms failed to turn up any more carvings.
So we headed off down a side ridge towards the Wollangambe. The first bit was pleasant walking over rocky platforms, and we stopped at an outcrop for some more views of the river. Then we descended into scrub, which wasn't too bad for a while. Unfortunately it got worse. Not more dense (well a bit), but mostly just more prickly. It eased near the bottom, but in the middle it was about as prickly a scrub as I've ever had the pleasure of wading through. Mostly Prickly Moses and Mountain Holly, with a few Hakeas thrown in for good measure. We paused at the top of the cliffs overlooking the Wollangambe, an attractive pool visible in the river which was still a long way below us. Traversing back towards the side creek we quickly found a route through the cliffs and into the bouldery creek. There were a few tricky drops near where we entered but it was mostly boulder scrambling until we could finally see the waters of the Wollangambe.
A sand bank on the opposite side of the river was our lunch spot, although Steve dropped his pants in the river on the way across, much to our amusement. After lunch Steve and I went for a wander downstream while Rachel had a nap in the sun. It was slow going along the river, over large boulders and along overgrown banks. We made it a few hundred metres before sitting on a rock watching the river tumble past us.
Back at the sandbar Steve and I managed to use logs to balance our way back across on a couple of branches, saving us some numb feet. The climb back up the gully was quick, as a route up the right hand side was much easier than the boulder scrambling on the way down. We were back at the exit point in under fifteen minutes. We decided that we might be able to avoid the scrub on the ridge by continuing up the gully. Unfortunately, the gully got slower, with occasional lawyer vine on the banks to make things interesting. And when we finally decided to abandon it, we were still in the midst of the worst of the prickly scrub. It was probably much of a muchness as to which way to go. Normally I'm fairly gung ho about scrub, but if I was coming back, I'd probably wear long pants.
Once we were out in the open it was easy going back to the Tesselated Pavements. We had a leisurely break there looking out over Bowens Creek. The views down Bowens Creek were even better from the top of the hill, as we could see almost all the way to the junction with the Wollangambe.
Finally we made our way back to the car, which seemed to me to take a lot longer than the walk in. We stopped for chips at North Richmond on the way back. An excellent day in the bush.