Summer - Autumn 2023 -24

February 2024

Mt Duval Moonlight Walk

17-18th February. Mt Duval On track 10lm return - at night

Nine club members met at the Visitors Information Centre on Saturday to travel to Dumaresq Dam. After a leisurely (albeit windy) dinner and a short briefing, the party set off to walk to the summit in the twilight. One member returned after the first kilometre or so as they had only planned to join us for dinner.  


As darkness descended and the track began to disappear, torches of various kinds were produced. By the time we got to the gate into Newholme, we had all had torches. The wind at the dam had been left behind, and although it was humid, we enjoyed the cool evening as we climbed the slope, avoiding the many potholes and gullies in the track. 


Our thoughts turned to set up tents in the dark. Two members rueing that they had not practised setting up new-to-them tents in the daylight!  By 9.15 PM, we had reached the saddle below the summit, tents were erected, and ants nests avoided.  However, one of us discovered when they were folding up the tent the next morning that they had been sleeping right on top of a nest but had missed being swarmed by the large black ants!


Nocturnal spotlighting had been planned, which proved difficult due to the height of the trees and our relatively dim torches. Nonetheless, two sets of red eyes were detected. 


After enjoying a night's sleep, we had a communal breakfast, which was interrupted by a steady stream of trail runners deftly avoiding our tents.  We set off back to the dam at a relaxed pace, with the cool morning light casting dappled shadows over the forest. Our delightful amble back to the cars was fuelled by sweet blackberries, which were unfortunately very abundant in some parts. We were on our way back to town by 10.30 AM.


This was the inaugural overnight night walk, and the party considered the concept very sound and worthy of further repeats. Plans are afoot for a full moon walk along the Threfall Track.


Walk Report: PeterL

Photos: Peter L and Robyn

Point Adventure Lookout 3

10th February New England National Park Medium difficulty on track 10.6 km

Date and Time: ‘Armidalians' mustered at 7:45 at the VIC. We also had walkers from Hernani, Ebor and Tamworth.  

Location: Point Lookout in New England National Park, starting at Thungutti campground, approximately 25 minutes from Ebor and a pleasant 1-hour drive from Armidale.  

Distance: 10.6 km 

Route: There and back, no significant navigation required. 

Ascent: approx. 260m  

Max gradient: 13% gradient 

Path Quality: Almost entirely fire trail, some slightly rocky sections, some long grass. 

Activity Duration: 4.5h estimated 


Weather Conditions: Wet enough to get wet through, not wet enough to put us off! 

Terrain: The journey unfolded on the somewhat overlooked Cliffs Trail fire trail. Some steep sections, mostly side by side walking.  

Flora: Once again the path guided us through a range of plant communities endemic to New England National Park. Although not as dramatically diverse as other walks in the NENP there was plenty of variety including ‘buttons’ and ground orchids. 

Fauna: Mainly birds today, rufous fantails, etc. Snakes, dingos and lyrebirds were no-shows! 

Scenic Views: We enjoyed the luscious sometimes luminous green of the surroundings. There aren’t 

any lookouts on this walk, but we will see if we can find one another time.  

Group: The group, once again, ’headed and tailed’ by Charles and Lee, was a mix of seasoned hikers and enthusiastic newcomers.  As usual, the group of 11 spread out, but by the time it came to turn around, there was not long to wait for the tail to catch up. 

Highlights: Fending off the leeches! This is a walk with an understated beauty, which, under wet and cloudy skies, one might not fully appreciate, but the photographs capture it well. 

Reflection: This was a great opportunity to test one’s approach to wet weather. Did anyone’s shoes stay dry? With a car shuttle, there is an option to walk all the way down to Diamond Flat. 

Summary: Cliffs Trail is one of the paths less trodden in the NENP with its own understated beauty. 

Walk Report: Charles.

Photos : Kayvan A.




Urban Stroll at Twilight

3rd February 2024 - Twilight urban walk - easy - 8 km

Walk to Wright Village


A pleasant day had by our group, meeting in the shade of trees at the Tourist Information Centre on a hot, balmy afternoon. Loaded with water and a water spray bottle, we headed to the Harvy Norman Centre along Beardy and Niagara Streets and then Queen Elizabeth Drive. I engaged with the group to note the styles of houses as we walked along from wooden bungalows near town and how styles changed or building facades were updated through the decades of the last century.


A break at Harvey Norman Centre as it was decided to walk at a three-quarter pace because of the heat. We then walked to Wright Village and along the bike track back into town. The foliage along the bike track looked very green, and the 'new' plantings along the creek and in the native tree plantings have grown significantly.


Along the way, we chatted and shared our stories. Returning to the Tourist Information Centre, most of the group had dinner at the Wicklow after walking about 8 kilometres. My thanks to my walk leader mentor, Robyn, for letting me run my walk ideas past her and Paul for taking the photos. 


Walk report: Jody B

Once again, we had purposefully planned an easier urban twilight walk to beat the heat. And once again, we faced a hot start (~33oC)! Nonetheless, nine of us struck out anticipating a pleasant chat while we walked.  We welcomed three new members on their first walk with the club. 

Our walk leader, Jody, outlined the likely hazards: traffic, trips on cracked concrete and the heat.  After leaving the Visitors Information Centre at 5 PM, we discovered a lovely cooling breeze. By the time we were wending our way back along the bike track, the temperature had dropped substantially. 

Jody had set a route that took us past many different architectural eras and styles. We zigzagged down the main east-west roads to Niagara Road, stopped for a comfort break at the Girraween shops, continued to the Uni and then joined the bike track to return to the car park. Almost bang on 8 km. 

 Perhaps next year, we'll plan an early start on urban walks!

 Walk report: Robyn

Photos: Paul McCann

January 2024

Armidale Walking Track

21st January 2024 - Twilight walk on track - easy - medium 8 km loop

The club returned to the Armidale Walking Track for a twilight lap of this old favourite. The walk was scheduled for a 5 PM start to miss the worst of the heat. However, at 5 PM, it was still well above 30oC with no cooling breeze. Armed with plenty of water, wet hankies for the back of the neck and choosing the shady side of the path for frequent rests, we completed the 8 km in just under 2 ½ hours.  Thankfully, the temperature dropped as time progressed. Still, we were all a sweaty puddle when we returned to the cars.

 

This managed wildlife corridor is usually a reliable bird-watching route, but the birds had decided it was still too hot and kept out of sight. Paul did manage to spy a white-throated tree creeper. As we got back to the car park, we also spotted two roos, which, apart from the cows, sheep and a very friendly kelpie, were the only wildlife seen. Not even other walkers.

 

To our delight, one of the paddocks was ablaze with sunflowers which marched up the hill and into the distance. They made for a very Monet-esque bucolic scene.

 

We had a jovial party of nine, with three new members. One on their very first walk with the club, and two on their second, all ready to join us on future walks despite today’s heat.

 

My tips for walking on a hot day:

1.     If it’s too hot – don’t walk!

2.     Carry a zip lock bag filled with some small ice bricks, a bit of water, and some hankies or cloths you can use as a stole around your neck. As one warms up and dries out, swap it for another.

3.     Take twice as much water as you think you’ll need.

4.     Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothes in pale colours.


Walk report: Robyn

Photos: Paul McCann


Point Lookout Adventure

13th January 2024 - day walk on track - Medium difficulty - 10 km return.

Location: Point Lookout in New England National Park, starting at Thungutti campground, approximately 25 minutes from Ebor and a pleasant 1-hour drive from Armidale.

Date and Time: ‘Armidalians' mustered at 7:45 at the VIC. Whilst others travelling from further afield (Moree) started the day at 4am! We also had walkers from Walcha, Hernani, Ebor and Bucca. The adventure commenced at 9:30 am after a 9:00 am gathering at Thungutti. 

Weather Conditions: The day presented itself with a ‘mistical’ touch—damp to wet underfoot, yet mostly dry, accompanied by intermittent mist and fog that added an enchanting aura to the surroundings.

Terrain: The journey unfolded on well-trodden tracks, offering a medium difficulty level. The initial descent via Robinsons Knob Fire Trail provided an  easy warm-up, leading to a predominantly uphill first leg of the walk. The second leg was a much easier downhill “tuck and roll” from the top of Pt Lookout to the campground. 

Flora: The path guided us through a kaleidoscope of plant communities native to New England National Park. The diversity of flora is a testament to the unique ecosystems that exist in this region. 

Fauna: Nature’s chamber orchestra accompanied our steps, with birds serenading us along the way. A delightful encounter with kangaroos added a touch of wildlife magic to the adventure. We saw about three other human walkers on the track. 

Scenic Views: As the mist graciously lifted, the landscapes revealed themselves in all their glory. The breathtaking views across the valleys were nothing short of awe-inspiring, competing with the best views worldwide. However, what set this walk apart was the attention to micro and meso views—observations of intricate plant structures, mosses and fungi, and ever-changing plant communities—a reminder that not all beauty demands the "long view."

Group: The group, adroitly ‘headed and tailed’ by Charles and Lee book-ended a mix of seasoned hikers and newcomers. Despite the occasional uphill struggles, the camaraderie among the 15 walkers remained strong. The group naturally spread out, each individual finding their comfortable pace. The walk served not only as an exploration of nature but also as an opportunity to establish new connections among participants.

Highlights: Personal highlights included the enchanting moss-covered rocks that adorned the trail and a captivating area affectionately dubbed the "Quoll Throne Room." This section, a verdant sanctuary adorned with ancient Nothofagus trees and hanging mosses, transported us to a realm where time seemed to stand still.

Summary: Overall, this was a great walk, one that I’d be happy to do again next week. We hope to see you all on our next monthly walk in the place where the quolls dance and the tree-shrouded valleys beckon.


Walk report: Charles

Photos below: Paul Mc

Warrabah National Park

6 - 7th January 2024 Overnight walk All off track 

Medium to difficult approx 10km return.

Warrabah National Park has to be one of the unsung gems of the New England region. Our overnight walk on 6/7 January was the perfect combination of not too far to travel, weather that was summer, but not too hot for walking, water levels just right for crossing, but not too low for swimming, and of course an excellent mix of walkers!  It doesn’t get much better than that!

 

Seven walkers (two from Byron Bay and visitors to our club) joined the river at the point where the MacDonald changes to the Namoi River downstream from the Retreat bridge. Half a day of rock hopping, and a bit of scrambling for the more adventurous walkers saw us setting up camp and swimming/reading the afternoon away.  The rock-scapes in this river system are really beautiful, holes gouged out by high water flows, and towering rock stacks provide lots to look at and the many colours of the cliff lines are wonderful to see in the changing light of evening. We camped on a small beach on the edge of a sizable swimming hole, with inbuilt rock seats and platforms to boot! Another night would have been perfect, but such was our enjoyment that a through walk to the Manilla end of the park is now being planned. We returned the way we came on Sunday, having plenty of time for further scrambling, swimming and lunching before returning home.  A great walk for a summer weekend!

Walk report by Kate

December 2023

Twilight Christmas Walk

16th December 2023 - 7 km -  Easy

The Armidale Bushwalking Club doesn’t just do walks in the bush. On Saturday 16th, a group of 10 walkers met in Central Park for a Christmas picnic followed by an urban walk around the city's older sections at twilight. The leafy streets kept us cool despite it having been 33oC during the heat of the day.

 

We passed stately homes like Ingeburn on the corner of Faulkner and Brown Streets and other Federation-style homes that showed lots of character and differing states of renovation. We chose our favourite houses and gardens. Identified plants using apps when we were stumped and chatted in various combinations for the entire time.  

 

Our footing was much easier than the usual boulder hopping we are used to here in the New England region. Thankfully, the town planners and council coffers of yesteryear, had made provision for footpaths in most streets. We took a few shortcuts along laneways and remnant bush. Everyone shared their favourite Dad-jokes about the cemetery (“everyone’s dying to get there….it's dead centre of town”). We reminded ourselves of childhood games played on the road by calling out “car” as we walked down the middle of the cul-de-sacs.

 

All up, a very pleasant two-hour walk in good company on a lovely soft summer’s night.