22-23/10/2011 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Andrew "Smiffy" Smith, Kim Fuller, Nick Olson, Jacquie Yates, Alex Gould, Stanley Wong
Twelve years ago, when I was still a sprightly 20-something, the very first walk I led was from Mountain Lagoon to Colo Meroo, up the Colo River to Tootie Creek, and then out via the T3 Track. Eight friends and I headed down to Colo Meroo on a warm Saturday in September, and then with a late start on the Sunday, walked and waded our way up the Colo. The river was slow going and we didn't reach the Tootie Creek junction until a little before dusk. When we were unable to find the start of the track out, I finally called a halt and we settled in for an unplanned second night out. We were well off for food, so the only real hardship was friends and family back home who were going to be wondering where we were. It turned out we were camped on the track, so exiting on Monday morning was pretty quick, but there were alarm bells rung at a few workplaces!
I've been back to the Colo River many times since then. It's one of my favourite places in the bush. But I've never been back to the section between Colo Meroo and Tootie Creek, though not for want of trying. But that's another story ...
It seemed a good opportunity to put the original walk on the Spring Program as a weekend walk. I wisely didn't point out that I hadn't yet managed to do it in two days!
For those who haven't been there, Colo Meroo is a pleasant, grassy campsite on the Colo River, complete with shelter shed, and his and hers pit toilets! There is no vehicle access, and due to issues with landholders along the river, the only track now starts from Mountain Lagoon. It is a fairly leisurely walk from there to Colo Meroo along Gospers and Mailes Ridges, though there is a descent of nearly 600m over the 12km. The track is rough in places and the bush off the track is now quite thick.
With an early start from Mountain Lagoon, we were down at Colo Meroo by lunchtime. Some excellent lookouts high up on the ridge gave us great views of the Colo River, where we would be walking that afternoon, though we could see some longish gaps between sandbanks.
After lunch we set off into the river, with everyone but Stanley changing shoes. There were a variety of choices of footwear on offer – Volleys (Tom, Alex, Jacquie), Vibram FiveFingers (Smiffy), paddling booties (Kim) and bare feet (Nick). Kim and Nick ended up walking with socks – I've walked in the Colo in bare feet, but the soft parts of your feet take a beating after a while.
The sandbanks made for pretty easy walking when they were available, but the current proved a workout when they weren't. Everyone quickly got to love the famous Colo quicksand, though there were no notable incidents to report.
I called a halt for afternoon tea to lift flagging energy levels. Reaching the big bend, I couldn't see the campsite I was expecting, and I was a bit nervous that it had been washed away by floods. We hadn't passed anythign particularly nice for a while. I raced on ahead for a few hundred metres to find that it was there, just well past the point of the ridge. We settled in for happy hour and dinner around a healthy fire.
The next morning we did learn why it's not such a good idea to have a big fire in the morning. Putting it out completely and tidying up the beach took almost half an hour.
After nothing more than about knee deep on the Saturday, we were wading over waist deep almost immediately. The river changes character as you round the bend. The pools get longer and deeper, and the sandbanks less frequent and further apart. We spent more time on the banks, where the going was not too bad. The two big floods last year obviously cleaned out a lot of the undergrowth.
I called an early lunch at the Tootie Creek junction. Smiffy, Nick and I took advantage of this to swim and cool off before the steep, hot climb. Alex went for a siesta!
The 500m climb in the heat of the day proved a bit draining for some, but we eventually emerged out the top after nearly a two hour climb. The rest of the walk back to the cars along the fire trail was fairly easy but boring, and we arrived with plenty of time to spare. Another great weekend in a treasured but rarely visited part of the bush.