August 1 2015: Tweed Range Road to Warrazambil Road, Border Ranges NP ( Black Hand Traverse )
Walkers David R, Tina, Peter, Robyn, David F, Gail B, Paul M, Bill, leader Shane.
The day started at 7:00 with Paul, Ian and myself driving up Warrazambil Road to Shah Mohamid Saddle then to Black Hand Mountain Road. The road had recently been slashed and was easy going thanks to Warren the Hurfords' forester. The round trip to drop off the cars was 36km and took over an hour. Back at Sheep Station we all squashed into 2 cars to
travel up Tweed Range Road to the walk start at GDA 119 546, the distance from SSCk was 21km and took 33 minutes. The start point is where the old logging track leaves the main road and is obvious once it is found. Following this old track for some 2.0km the vegetation changing from deep rain forest into open forest and then into sparse
grass trees we reached our first glimpse of Black Hand and settled for morning tea at GDA 096 454. The way was then more scrambling than walking with the tape rope being used on a couple of occasions. At the first peak we skirted to the left and around to the other side which left us with a short scramble up to the peak. It was decided not to venture onto the rock precipice as it looked rather loose and unsafe. Returning to the saddle we headed off towards the second peak this time we approached the slope head-on and it was a more difficult scramble. Just below the peak we veered to the right and skirted around to the western face not knowing what awaited us. From the photos taken earlier in the day it was evident that the slope would not be precipitous or a cliff. In fact it proved to be rather easy, however the full 20m tape rope was necessary. The remaining descent to the road was simple and uneventful arriving at GDA 084 542 at 2:10. All that remained was for Paul and myself to retrieve the cars from the end of the road which was a kilometer or so away. On the way back to SSCk we detoured to inspect the Hurfords' Black Butt Plantation on the ridge line and were impressed. Back at SSCk Ian, Peter and myself went and retrieved the car from the top end on Tweed Range Road. This walk was definitely a "do again" and the highlight of the weekend camp. It covered a variety of terrains and vegetation with the bonus off spectacular views. Thanks to the participants it was a great day. Shane
6~8 June 2015 :Mt Ballow Circuit Thru Walk,
Participants: Alan G, and Leader Shane.
Day 1 Saturday 6th June
The drive up the precarious Waterfall Creek Road to the start at 'Cleared Ridge' (712m) was accomplished very slowly and at about 10am and we off on the track. There were magnificent views of May and Maroon as we walked along 'The Cleared Ridge Road' then we descended to Yamahra Creek (GDA 663-756 594m) with the 'pleasant thought' of the climb out at the end. At the bottom we forded the creek and headed directly up the spur opposite through waist high grass to the tree line then on up to our first target the Montserrat lookout (GDA 654-738 983m). There we looked back at Lake Maroon. That was the last of the views as the wind, clouds and rain set in. Pressing on the next target was Cedar Pass which is the other side of Focal Peak. The intention was to bypass the peak on the northern side and pick up a bit of spare time and look for a noted water point below the saddle. We left the previous track at GDA 644-739 and headed NW to Cedar Pass. We had an easy contour traverse and were soon reunited with the previously used track. We had in fact gone a little further than we would have liked because it was too easy. We decided to retrace 30m or so to the centre of the saddle and finding the gully off to our south we dropped down to look for water. Less than 50m down the gully we found running water at GDA 640-742 883m. This point is actually the source of Ballow Creek and if we had followed this creek we could have arrived at the confluence of Ballow, Yamahra and Barney Creeks an escape route. We topped up our water and headed for our next target which was Mt Durramlee (GDA 634-747 1180m) by that time the wind was howling and rain made it all rather hard going through the dense vines and jungle. At the summit we changed direction to the SW and headed for the camp site (GDA 632-746). It had not improved at all since the last visit and was still terrible with scarcely a single flat spot large enough to pitch a tent and completely exposed to the now very strong southern wind. The temperature was dropping dramatically and at 3:30 with just one hour of useable daylight left we decided to press on and look for a better site. We traversed the saddle SW and at 4:00 reached the start of the steep rise to the Double Peak. We had not much choice so we pitched our tents at (GDA 632-744 1140m). Tent sites were in short supply but at least it was a bit sheltered from the wind. By this time the temperature had dropped to the forecast overnight of 2. We were happy to crawl into our warm sleeping bags before dusk.
Day 2 Sunday 7th June
After a night of howling wind and heavy rain we awoke to clearing skies. As we made our breakfasts a single hiker passed through our camp, he had apparently spent the night in the other camp site. At 8:30 we headed off through jungle up Double Peak and soon came upon the stray hiker who appeared completely lost and we provided what guidance we could. He was heading in completely the opposite direction to what he had thought. By 9:30 we reached the trig plate on Double Peak (GDA 628-741 1251m) and then began the decent around rocks and a bit of a bluff. After a 20m or so miss step we retraced to find the route SE down around the cliff (GDA 628-740) this led to a ledge about halfway up the escarpment. There is a tree of 800mm girth on the ledge that we used for an anchor for the decent down from the cliff. We used a 30m 7mm rope, 1600mm sling as a makeshift harness and a carabineer with a munter hitch as the means of controlled decent with our backpacks on. There was a large tree branch poking up from the bottom which aided the finally 2 metres or so. The whole exercise was accomplished in 20 minutes with very little risk. For future reference a total rope length of 30+ metres is preferred assuming full retrieval. The next assault was on Mt Ballow (GDA 621-728 1300m) the highest point of the hike. We arrived at 12 noon and had our lunch. There were reasonable tent/camping spots at the summit but it is too far from anywhere to be of use except in an emergency. Interestingly it is the apex of the state borders and the Nothofagus NP. After lunch we headed SSW down the spur to the saddle (GDA 623-723 1195m) cutting a sizeable chunk off the previous track. In the saddle we found another suitable campsite. Up the other side we ascended Mt Nothofagus along the border until we reached GDA 624-720 where we changed direction to due E and the saddle with Big Lonely. In the saddle we found a campsite at GDA 630-720. The going was tough all the way until after we reached the summit. On the other side of Big Lonely summit we started the descent to the camp site on Ballow Creek. We decided to stay on or close to the top of the ridge unlike the previous attempt. Once again the going was extremely difficult and there was doubt that we would make it to the campsite before dark. Haste produced several falls. At 3:00 we were finally within cooee of the river but still had to find the camp spot. We struggled on and finally at 4:00 found the previously used campsite. Relieved we set up camp next to the fast flowing creek in a rather poor not flat not cleared area (GDA 465-7527 630m). We had a well deserved wash and clean up and after a meal in the dark we went to bed. At least it was not raining and quite warm.
Day 3 Monday 8th June
We rose early but with the easiest day in front of us there was not much urgency in getting on the road. We set off following the Ballow Creek down stream swapping sides as the need arose having long ago given up on keeping our feet dry we often just waded though. Soon we were at the confluence with Barney Creek and headed for the Upper Portals. A spur came up in front of us which we decided to cut across as a short cut. This proved to be not a good move as we soon found ourselves in a sea of lantana and vines. But persisting we finally reached the relatively easy going creek bank which we followed down to the confluence with the Yamahra Creek (GDA 659-726). Here we swapped sides and headed due N along the maintained trail to the Upper Portals and were soon ascending the track to the Cleared Ridge. The walk back was most spectacular as you felt that you could touch the nearby May and Maroon, the air as clear as a crystal. At 1:30 we arrived back at the car on Waterfall Creek Road and found that the other car had gone so had apparently the lost hiker from day2. The slow and arduous drive down the 4WD track to Waterfall Creek campsite was then accomplished and with a quick stop there for a cup of tea we headed back to civilization. The track log said 21.3km and 1650m ascent which does not reflect the effort. The consensus for the expedition was to pick a different season, longer days and warmer weather, take an absolute max of 4 participants, lack of suitable tent sites, and not to be too worried about water as there is plenty available. Shane
Sunday 2nd Sugust 2015: Tweed Range Road to Black Hand Mountain Warrazambil Wilderness, Border Ranges NP,
walkers Suzi R and Shane
The adventure starts with 5 participants nominating but by 7:00am all but two had withdrawn and with no way of contacting the surviving person arriving from Suffolk Park the 7:45am rendezvous at Heritage Park proceeded as planned, well almost. After consultation it was decided that we, that is the two of us, should at least give it a go. So we set off to Grevillia and the Sheep Station Creek end of the park. By 9:40 we had reached the start of the walk at 56 J 511964 6854738 we actually missed the exact point by a few metres but were soon on track down the old logging trail. The jungle had significantly increased in density since the last visit and it was very easy to lose the barely visible previous track. Around 10:40 we were through the thickest of the jungle and vines and at last seeing the sky. The first of the grass trees appeared and the drop off either side became apparent. A gusting westerly was blowing up the Warrazambil Creek side and it was dead calm on the Collins Creek side. By staying on the western face of the razor back ridge we avoided most of the vines and tree falls. Mt Lindsay and the peaks of Barney and Maroon became visible. The ridge became narrower as we descended to the saddle between the Hand and the Ridge we laid a tape rope at one point to aid in our return and then at a later point wished for another. We made it to the saddle and then reached Black Hand and peered through the hole through the mountain and then sat down for lunch at 12:30. The conversation over lunch included a discussion of whether we should climb the actual Hand and it was agreed that with the current party size the risk was not warranted. About 1:00 we packed up and started to head back we had put our walking time there at about 2.5 to 3 hours and that had all been down hill and the return was all uphill. So we did not expect to be back at the car in under 3 to 3.5 hours which would be at the far end of our desired finish time. It was surprisingly quick to be back amongst the grass trees and then back in the forest. The tape rope had certainly been handy where it was but we had wished there had been another at one point. The way back through the forest/jungle was much easier on the return this may have been because we were this time on a better track. We arrived back at the car 3:10 and we were surprised at how quickly we had done it. We jumped into the car and headed for Blackbutt Lookout for afternoon tea then we went to Barr Mountain to see if there was anything that we could do there. With the time available we went and had a look at the Beech Grove and then it was off to Nimbin Road with a stop at the Lilian Rock Road tea gardens for cold beverage. We arrived back in Lismore at 4:30 having had a tough but enjoyable day and glad that we had made the effort. Shane
Friday 30th October to Sunday 1st November 2015 Lower Portals, Upper Portals and Tom's Tum, Mt Barney National Park.
Walkers: Tim M, Gary W and Leader Shane.
With the December, January bush camping moratorium fast approaching it was decided to do something a little different. The aim was to explore Barney Creek between the Portals from a base at Barney Creek Campsite.
Friday afternoon we arrived at the Lower Portals car park after grabbing some lunch in Rathdowney. By 1:30pm we set off with our heavy packs for the Lower Portals and then took the ridge path to above the campsite. We descended to the camp site arriving at 4:30 and set up camp. We had done a 400m ascent and descent over 6.1km that afternoon, and were happy to laze about having happy hour next to the fast flowing creek.
Saturday started early, we were rock hopping at 7:30 following the creek up stream to the Upper Portals with day packs. Many amazingly beautiful scenes on the way, well worth the effort. At the Upper Portals we ascended to the Cleared Ridge, a 400m steep climb. We reached the management trail at 676-745 and followed it for 500m or so before we decided to go off track and head directly for the campsite. The vegetation up there was very easy going with a moderate slope and open dry grassed sclerophyll forest punctuated with wet fern gullies. At 12:15 we slid back down to the campsite having done 7.8km with 550m ascent decent. It was then chill out time and the Kindle and iPad were out for two hours while we rested. At 3:00 we set off without packs down stream in search of the Barney Waterfall marked on the map. There were some tricky and apprehensive boulder scrambles on the way then we ascended to the top of the falls a guesstimate of 60m. Quite revealing views of terrain around the gorge with no obvious easy alternative to the way that we had come in. We headed back to camp and happy hour.
Sunday we had packed and started rock hopping and scrambling by 7:30 again and were soon at a scramble that we were apprehensive about. Gary went first dragging his pack behind along the ledge. He was then in a position to help with the other two packs. Really quite easy, wonder what all the fuss was about. We passed the falls and then arrived at the Lower Portals. At 9:30 we arrived at 703-749 and hid our packs and set off up hill off track on the spur leading to Tom's Tum. The vegetation soon changed from dry forest to dense scratchy saplings with forward visibility of 2 to 5 metres. It was quite easy to lose sight of the others. At an altitude of around 400m we emerged from the thicket to a boulder slope this continued for a further vertical 150m to the top of the first knoll. The view from there of Barney and all the surrounding peaks was very stunning. The other side of the knoll there was a drop to a saddle then up to Tom's Tum which seemed close enough to touch. I was satisfied with the effort and views and decided to sit and wait as Nigel and Gary ascended a further 100m. After about an hour they returned quite exhausted and rested before we all set off downhill to our packs. Reunited with our packs and the creek we cooled off before loading up for the final 3.4k track walk to the car. We stopped for refreshments in Rathdowney and were back in Lismore at 5:30 having had a tough but enjoyable weekend and glad that we had made the effort. We decided to do Tom's Tum by the alternative route next time. Shane
Saturday 7th November 2015 Middle Ridge Traverse Lamington NP
Walkers: Tim M, Gary W and Leader Shane.
With the weekend camp organized at Binna Burra I decided it was the perfect opportunity to do what I had often thought of doing. That is the Green Mountain to Binna Burra cross country, off track.
I got hold of several GPS tracks of previous traverses and stitched together my proposed track and it all looked simple enough. So on Saturday 7th we rose at 5:00 (all times are NSW time) and with Tim driving Ian's Rav4 headed for Green Mountain arriving soon after 7. Saddling up we headed down West Canungra Creek graded track arriving at Yerralahla Pool at 8:15, there the track disappeared into obscurity. We then needed to proceed 400m North to the start of the spur on our right. After 20 minutes of blundering around tangled in vines we opted for the creek bed rock hopping. It proved a good decision to bypass Bull Ant Spur. At 137-794 we headed 80m vertically up to the ridge line to our first change in direction at 144-795. Here we headed SE following the ridge for a further gain of 80m. The route so far had been peppered with the occasional pink ribbon but these soon disappeared and we were fighting our way though vines and undergrowth. At 11:00 we reached our highest mid point 835m which was also the halfway point 156-788. At this point we changed direction again and headed 300m below us NE towards Fountain Falls 161-796. Here we stopped to lunch next to the falls. After lunch it was up the very steep slope 70~80% to the top of the ridge 200m above us. We had finally arrived at familiar territory, Noowongbill Lookout 165-798. We had a well deserved rest as we were ahead of schedule. The next target was the cliff break and the track down to the Coomera River. It was found easily marked by some bright red nickers. We reached the drop off and found an intact serviceable rope hanging for us to use and soon were descending the 350m to the river. The river was crossed and then we were back on the graded tracks to the Information Centre. It was an arduous climb up to the road and then an even more arduous road walk up to the camp. All arrived by 4:30 quite exhausted. The consensus was done that no need to do that again! A lot of effort for not much reward. However we can now say that we have done that. Shane