[Winter - Spring Walks - 2023]
Saturday, 25th November 2023
Despite a few showers early in the morning, nine intrepid walkers gathered at the Information Centre at 8.00am on Saturday morning, 25 th November, with raincoats packed ready. As we neared Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, the misty rain became less and we started the walk at 8.30 in dry conditions. The Gara River was flowing strongly though it was well under the bridge. This meant there was the sound of running water along the lower Threlfall track and some good views of the cascades along the way. Morning tea was at the lookout where the ridges in view were partly obscured by rising mists. No echidnas were spotted, though there was plenty of evidence of their activities, and a wallaby and two kangaroos were disturbed early in the walk. There were a number of flowering plants to enjoy along the route such as indigofera australis, hibbertias, goodenias, pimelia, native ranunculus and ajuga, and a number of birds, predominantly Eastern Rosellas. As we approached the Blue Hole it began to drizzle lightly and this increased during our drive back to Armidale where steady rain set in for the rest of the day.
Walk report from Leontine
Gibraltar Range National Park
21-22 October Overnight Car Camp. All on track .
The Gibraltar Range National Park is about 70 km east of Glen Innes and abuts the Washpool National Park. If you’re only going to one national park this year, I’d pick this one. In mid-spring, it was a riot of wildflowers, including a literal forest of bright red waratahs.
Walk Report by Robyn
Cathedral Rocks National Park
15 October Day Walk on Track Easy difficulty Approximate distance 14 km return
Six club members and two first-time visitors walked from Native Dog Camp camping ground to the foot of the Cathedral Rock Summit. After setting up a "base camp", we had lunch in the shade before half the party slogged up the steep climb to take in the spectacular view while the remainder dozed on the conveniently located rocks. After a short rest for the climbers, we returned along the same path with another short beak at the junction of the main track and Woolpack Rock track to allow a curious Jonothon to climb this pile of tors as well. It had been our intention to use a car shuttle to trek from one end of the track to the other, but a locked gate meant we could not get through to Borakee campground, hence the need to do a there and back walk. Later, we found out from people camping at Borakee that the gate had been unlocked sometime after 10 AM.
It was a hot day, with temperatures hovering around 27- 29C, so we took plenty of breaks along the 14km. The day started at 8 am at Armidale Tourist Information Centre, and we were back by 4.30 pm, dusty and thirsty! The group enjoyed the walk, sighting several kangaroos, a brown snake, and a range of wildflowers in bloom. Thankfully, no injuries or mishaps, apart from the locked gate, to report.
Walk report from Phil
Base camp location.
Yina Nature Reserve Circuit
7 October Day walk On-track Easy difficulty Approximate distance 14km return
16 - 17 th September - overnight walk - mostly off track - 12 km - medium -hard difficulty
A recent walk for the ABC was to a remote area of the Mt Kaputar National Park. Four members undertook a strenuous stroll through a very dry landscape to ascend the summit of Mt. Plagyan and the adjoining Pinnacles. Whilst only a shortish distance of 12 kilometres, every step was noticeable!! Rather warm start at 1230 from the vehicles (see image) had us immediately climbing 200 metres in the worst heat of the day. Heavier packs were needed to carry sufficient water for two days, as there was no surface water on the ridgeline.
The walks description was hard, with possible climbing involved, which fortunately did not occur. The four walkers were accompanied by hundreds of wild goats, the infrequent pig, pretty birdlife, and a rather burnt-out landscape. The anticipated hopbush challenge (not the Nutbush) was vastly diminished by the effects of fire (cool or hot difficult to tell), so visibility was good, and we didn't lose sight of each other. Once on the ridgeline, a telltale burnt fence became an easy navigation aid to the summit, which loomed considerably. Very loomish!!
Walk report from Peter L - Club President
Another walk report from Joc:
Mount Plagyan Exploratory Walk - 16/17 September 2023
Briefing notes are put out for a reason, the notes for this walk were there to ensure that we were prepared and equipped to be successful.
We had 4 willing hikers for this overnight challenge with plenty of unknowns. Peter and I chose to add to the adventure by riding there and back, while Ken and Leontine drove and ferried our gear, thanks!
Plagyan is on the very southwestern end of Kaputar National Park, a three-hour ride/drive on plenty of rough back roads, with a coffee stop in Barraba. (the Laffan connection meant we had to greet half the locals on the main street) Thence heading down Spion Kop to our starting point. We were all carrying over 4L of water to get us back to the vehicles before noon the following day.
This walk was an offtrack overnight loop walk up a ridge to the north of the pinnacles, then south around, over and through the rocks to the top of Mount Plagyan, starting at 500m and climbing to 840m over 6 km. As we got close to the pinnacles, the walk turned to a scramble, trying to find a track through the rocks, hauling up a steep chute, only to drop down even steeper before finding a goat track that led to the top. Most of the area had been burnt recently, making the going more open and the goats more visible. The views are spectacular, if somewhat daunting! How are we going to get through that?
We made the top in time for a cuppa while watching the red sun set over the Pilliga, and rolled out our bivvies on the highest point of rock for a moonless starry night. We could see every light from Gunnedah to Narrabri, including the Maules Creek Mines. No wind, no noise, an absolutely beautiful night.
Watching the sunrise sitting on top of a mountain is an extraordinary way to wake up.
Our track off the top headed around the rim of the valley to the southeast giving more great views of the Pinnacles in the morning sun before dropping down and back to our vehicles. A quicker, easier route down saw us back at the start by 10 am. A great ride saw us in Manilla for lunch, then a run towards Warrabah and a wet crossing (for some) in the Namoi. Thanks to my fellow walkers for a really interesting weekend.
Walk report from Joc Coventry - life member.
Mt Duval Summit Walk.
27th August: Day walk, mostly on-track with some off-track sections. Easy to medium difficulty Approximately 11km return
Sunday 27 th August was another unseasonably warm day and 12 people set off around 9.30 AM to walk up to the top of our local mountain and nature reserve, Mt Duval. Mt Duval can be reached from either Dumaresq Dam or the UNE property ‘Newholme’, and in both cases, permission must be sought with UNE as the route is through part of their property. As Dumaresq Dam is closed at present for new facilities construction, our walk started from ‘Newholme’. The track meanders up Mt Duval through beautiful open forest with an understorey of snowgrass, some xanthorrhoea and various shrubs and creepers such as bursaria, clematis and Hardenbergia.
After a 330m climb, we reached the long summit ridge with tall, open forest with a carpet of snow grass. Views are limited from the top due to the forest, but the walk is well worth the mountain’s natural beauty. Lunch was around and on top of a typically large conglomeration of New England granite boulders, and after lunch, we split into two groups with a more adventurous off-track walking group and a group who took the track down to the western Duval fire trail.
We followed this undulating track around the western side of the mountain and returned to the cars by 2.30 PM having walked around 12km.
There are a surprising number of people who have never walked to the top of our local Mountain, so if you are one and are interested, keep an eye on the club calendar as someone will usually lead this walk once a year.
Walk report from Leontine
From the off-track group:
A party of six split from the main group of twelve walkers to descend north to a forest of grass trees that proliferate on Mt Duval. Very varied forms to observe, sculpted by time and aspect, suggestive of a Salvidor Dali influence. Wombat presence detected in scats, a burrow and our hopeful imaginations! Intriguing water control features are found on both north and western gullies.
Thanks to all participants for a lovely stroll not far from home.
Additional Walk report from Peter.
Armidale Walking Track
20th August: Day walk Easy on track 10 km
Spring has definitely arrived in Armidale! Saturday the 19th of August was cold and blustery but Sunday the 20th? Who could have asked for a better day to do the Armidale Walking Track? A very light breeze, the sweet scent of wattle wafting through the air, and temperatures warm enough for happy walkers to shed many layers and bare their arms to the sunshine.
A perfect way to spend a Sunday morning!
We repeat this walk a couple of times a year so look out for the next time we include it in the program. It's a perfect beginner's walk to ease yourself in while giving you the opportunity to get to know people in the club.
All on track
Morning tea break
On Saturday the 12th of August, a group of walkers gathered to explore a remote section of the New England wilderness. Fourteen fit, slim, vital individuals strode effortlessly to the edge of the Escarpment, past verdant pastures, happy cows and calves, to the boundary of NENP. After a suitable briefing and mission statement (don't trip, watch for flicked branches, brown snakes, heart conditions, dehydration and general malaise), we climbed the gate (at the hinge) and ascended to the trig station on Majors Point. The leader almost immediately got lost, entangled in thorny vines, and had to call for assistance. Fortunately, 2IC Trudie ignored her husband and found the correct path!
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
6th August: Day walk on track. Easy to medium difficulty. Approximate distance 15km return.
The original plan was to walk along the gorge rim of Bakers Creek, but this changed at the last minute because of road access issues. The best option was to do the track walk further along Long Point Road in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
We drove to the picnic area stopping along the way at Bakers Creek Falls on Old Hillgrove Road. We then set off following the track to Chandler View Lookout. This track passes through an interesting area of dry rainforest with some big Hillgrove Spotted Gums. The track continues through remnant tableland dry sclerophyll forest and crosses the Long Point Road before descending to the lookout on the rim of the gorge of the Chandler River.
After enjoying morning tea with a view of the Chandler River far below, we continued along the track to the sign which once marked the junction of the track down Michaeliana Spur. We looked for evidence of the old track, which was closed by the NPWS over a decade ago and is now overgrown following the 2019 fires. We then returned to the picnic area for lunch then did the shorter Cassinia walk, which leads to some vantage points overlooking the gorge of the Macleay River and Salisbury Waters. One can look up the gorge of Salisbury Waters to Mihi Falls in the distance at the head of the gorge.
On our return to Armidale, we detoured to Metz Lookout, which overlooks the gorge of Bakers Creek opposite the town of Hillgrove. In the early days of mining in the area, miners living at Metz would hop aboard one of the tramway skips and travel down the steep tramway to the bottom of the gorge before hopping onto another skip to ascend an equally steep tramway so they could join their mates at one of the many pubs in Hillgrove. They would do the same in reverse to get back home to Metz. One can see the route of one of the former tramways on the slopes opposite the lookout at Metz.
We all had an enjoyable day walking the tracks and admiring the views from the lookouts, which gives visitors a different view of the gorges well downstream from the steep slopes at the head of the gorges where most people visit. I hope to reschedule the walk along the rim of Bakers Creek Gorge once I have researched the status of the road corridors and crown land along the gorge rim.
Walk report and photos from Paul
Urban Walk - North Armidale
29th July - Easy on track 11 km!
A lovely morning walk was had by Julie, Polly, Fay, Nunzia, Robyn and Jody. We ventured out along the bike path beside Dumaresq Creek to Phil Wheaton Oval, The creek along Yoogoonda Gully was running swiftly.
Magpies watched as Julie and Robyn started plogging (picking up rubbish while you walk). They collected 4 bags full along the whole 11kms. From the field, we walked a little way up Erskine St and then diverted up North Hill via the gully behind houses. Our progress was followed by lots of barking dogs (safely behind fences)! We had morning tea at a small park at the top of the hill near Glen Innes Road enjoying the vista over houses and trees near Rockvale Rd.
We sat and shared stories about what brought us to the bushwalking club in the glorious Autumn sunshine. Next, we walked along Glen Innes Rd onto Old Glen Innes Rd and to Link Rd. Jody enjoyed sharing the different vistas of the town and surrounding hills. and was dubbed the "VistaQueen". The lovely thing about the walk was walking beside each other and chatting as we walked. Connecting and reaching out is good for our mental health and this was a pleasant way to do that.
From Link Rd, we then walked under the highway, past the abandoned Duval Campus and back down the hill along Crest St. We then entered Drummond Park, walking below the Apex Lookout, along Jessie Street back to Dumaresq Creek and finally our cars at the Tourist Information Centre.
Fay had invited us to share a cuppa at her place and we enjoyed coffee and homemade walnut cake!
Walk report from Jody B
We were surprised to find we had walked 11 km!
Four bags full of plastic rubbish!
Julie and Pete enjoying a morning tea break amongst the ferns.
New England National Park.
July 23rd, 2023 Point Lookout - Day walk On-track. Easy to medium difficulty - Approximately 12km return
In mid-winter, we ventured into NENP for the day. We walked along, sometimes hurriedly to beat off the chill, but also stopped frequently to admire the diversity of plants, the antiquity of the rainforest and the tenacity of the tea trees hugging exposed rock on Wrights Lookout. The low cloud dissipated as time went by. This allowed us to see far away towards the coast, to Sunday Creek and to Dorrigo Plateau. Immediately beneath us lay the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, many of which were covered in forest protected by the Park. Most interesting was seeing the Crescent, which is the centre of an ancient volcano. From this volcano flowed lava that eventually became the rich soil now supporting the forest we passed through. The day was a happy one for all of us (even the one who managed to not bring lunch!)
Walk Report from Julie K
Paul, Julie and Hayley
A cold and foggy start
Surrounded by green and mossy beech trees
Mt Kaputar from the Barraba Track.
15-16th July - Overnight Car Camping - approx 15 km mostly on track.
On Saturday we started with four hardy walkers; Paul, Jo, Katherine and a new member, Chris.
We headed for Barraba via the hamlet of Kingstown and after a warming coffee, we called into Horton Falls. The group trekked down to the river passing numerous cascades and a small waterfall that emptied into a great swimming hole. (A pity it's winter!)
From here we walked downstream to the top of the main falls which gave us great views into Horton Valley. We continued along a dirt road towards a locked gate at the boundary of Kaputar National Park where we set up camp for the night making use of the fireplace, table and water tank. As the sun set, we made our way through thick scrub to a rock ledge that had views over Myall mines and the south.
Guy Fawkes National Park
25 June 2023. Day-walk. Off-track. Medium difficulty. Approximately 10km return
A great exploratory walk under a clear blue winter sky last Sunday 25 June. Led by Peter Laffan, we walked down Snowy Creek, joining Rigney Creek and towards the junction with the Guy Fawkes system. Nine hardy walkers - three from Dorrigo - managed to 'bush-bash' through considerable regrowth since the 2019 fires.
The steep slopes and sheer cliffs stopped us from getting down onto Rigney Creek, but views across the gorge and glimpses of the large pools below were beautiful. Mal, Barbara and Geoff were very familiar with the Guy Fawkes area and were able to identify many of the plants along the way.
The intrepid club leader
A quick rest
The spoils of plogging!
Not resting - sliding!
Mt Kaputar and More
June Long weekend
Walk report from Ken Barnett
The nights were cold and the mornings frosty, but a good camp fire helped!