Summer - Autumn 2023 -24

April 2024

Armidale - Guyra Bike Ride

13-14th April 120 lm overnight on road

Four members and three visitors left Armidale on Saturday morning. Taking the bike track to the UNE, then onto Boorolong Road. The morning tea stop was at the old rail bridge. The bridge is becoming worse for wear, the boards more weathered, rotten and the holes bigger. Nevertheless, there were good views of Mt Duval. Continuing on, we hit the gravel at Toms Gully Road. We had been riding gradually uphill, and after 10 km on dirt, the road flattened, and a nice ride into Black Mountain Village. We experienced great views to the west and fabulous cloud formations in this section. Kate found herself a pair of socks on the road! How anyone could lose a pair of socks here - I don't know. Lunch was a the old Black Mountain Railway Stations, and a good pictorial history of the area was illustrated on the side of the station building. From here, we road parallel to the railway line into Guyra. We stayed at the top pub and had dinner at the Bowling Club on the recommendation of a local. 

On Sunday morning, after a cafe breakfast, we headed out on Ebor Road for 10 km before turning right into Greenhills Road and Bald Blair. Next, pass Chandler's Peak and onto the dirt section. The views here were stunning aided by the bright sunny day. We could see out past the Snowy Ranges to the south and east and towards Bendermeer Ranges to the south-west. Peter provided commentary and history as he has family connections in the area.  We lunched at the family farm with views to die for. After lunch, we continued down the Armidale Gully Road, requiring lots of breaking due to gravel and the decline. Finally, down to Herbert Park Road and then Rockvale Road and back into Armidale. 

All riders held up well, considering we carried panniers with food and clothing. Total distance was approximately 120 km. Lots of fun and an easy pace. Hopefully, this road has inspired the riders to continue riding and enjoy long-distance touring. 

Ride report: Chris S.

Sorry the riders were too speedy to capture many photos!

March 2024

Gibraltar Range - Washpool World Heritage Walk.

29th March - 1st April.  Four days overnight walk. On track 45 km - Hard difficulty

My muscles are still aching, but my mind is still singing. I can’t get over how lucky we New Englanders are to have these two spectacular parks in our backyard. I’m also thankful to the good folks at the NPWS for their work in maintaining the tracks and facilities and to the traditional owners for sharing their Country with us.


This was the right time of year to go, not too hot, not too cold. There had been good rain in the weeks before our departure, so the creeks and waterfalls were flowing well. There was no need to carry litres of water as we could fill up at any time.  It was also the right time of year for a fantastic fungal festival. There were so many different species with different shapes, sizes, and colours!


The World Heritage Track is a circuit track that follows an easy-to-find and well-defined track for its full length. The surface varies from fine, bright white granite pebbles to slippery red soils to steel boardwalks, which keep you above the delicate swamps. Nonetheless, our feet got wet, fording a few little streams and sloshing through muddy bogs.


Five club members set out early on Good Friday to drive the 70 km from Glen Innes to the Park’s entrance. Three of us had travelled the night before, but two of the party had a pre-dawn departure from Armidale and arrived ahead of schedule at 6:23 AM, full of enthusiasm.

The forecast was for fine conditions until Monday, when there was a 25% chance of showers. This was not enough to dampen our spirits; we’d be homeward-bound by then… or so we thought!


Our original plan was to park at the Platypus Picnic Ground near Gibraltar House, walk to Boundary Falls (around 19km), camp overnight and then move on to Grassy Creek (10-ish km) the next day, thence, Coombadjah Campground (8-ish km) before finally coming back to the cars on Monday afternoon (9-ish km).  All the campgrounds are accessible by car except Grassy Creek, which is a walk-in-only camp.


No doubt we’d end up tired, smelly, and footsore, but with a lighter pack than we left with, and glowing on the inside with the 45-ish kilometres tucked under our belts…or so we thought.


Then it rained.  It started at midnight and stayed until the morning. It was enough to cast doubt on the forecast. The Rangers could not give us the “all-clear”, and the forecast remained very uncertain. Was the rain going to continue? Was it going to stay until Monday?  Who knew? Not us without the crystal ball that is the BOM site.

While our fearless President Pete would have pushed on despite the rain, I decided that the risk of more rain and continuing into the wilderness (literally) with a high likelihood of being confined to our tents without shelter and wet gear was not worth it. (To be honest, the prospect of thousands of leeches was the final straw!)


So, we resorted to Plan D. (I won’t go through Plans B & C, but there were other alternatives considered) Plan D involved walking back to the cars, driving to the relative luxury of Mulligan’s Campground (where there are shelter sheds), staying overnight and making Plan E depending on the weather.


Of course, you know what happened next.

Two hours into the return trip, the sun burst through the clouds, and it remained sunny. The responsibilities of being the walk leader sometimes weigh heavily. You have to make a decision based on the information you have at the time and stick to it even if, in hindsight, it seems like the wrong decision. 


Plan E involved taking one car to Coombadjah and walking back to Mulligans on Sunday, followed by a late afternoon walk to the Needles. On Monday, we scaled Dandahra Crags before driving back to Coombadjah for a short walk along the creek and, for some, an even shorter swim in the Washpool swimming hole. After a lovely picnic lunch, we returned to Glen Innes. All in all, we ended up walking close to 65 km.


Although our original intent of completing the circuit was foiled, we did achieve our ultimate goal of walking in nature with a full pack, steady feet, glad hearts and good company.


Next time, for sure!


P.S. I was rather pleased that it did rain (a little) on Saturday and Sunday nights, although it was fine all day Monday! I guess a 25% chance of rain means a 75% chance of clear weather!

Walk report and photos by Robyn. Video to follow soon.

Woolpack  - Warrigal Walk

9th March On track Medium difficulty  ~9km return

Armidale/Tamworth walkers organised themselves so as to optimise the number of vehicles (down to 1!) and arrived at Native Dog campground in good time. The Ebor and Hernani contingent arrive shortly after.

This is a walk of approximately 9km. It follows the marked walking track to the lookout at Woolpack Rocks. It is a ‘there and back’ type walk with no significant navigation required.

We walked in via the Warrigal track, and as everyone was feeling energetic we came back the same way. There is approx. 255m of ascending/descending on this walk. We felt the climb, but it was mostly OK. You certainly warm up on the way up and cool down quickly at the exposed summit. Coming down was pretty easy.

This forest is still in recovery from the Nov. 2019 bushfire. There is some vigorous regrowth, both in the understory and from trees that survived the fire. Epicormic and lignotuber regrowth are strongly in evidence, as well as some evidence of suckering from root systems. It will be interesting to see how dense it gets over the next few years. Most of the banksia trees were killed by the fire, but there are plenty of new banksias vying to take their place.

 We saw a red-bellied black snake twice—once on the way out and in much the same place on the way back. It had me doing the snake dance both times! Greenwood orchids were out in force, and we saw lizards, macropods, and hundreds of butterflies, too!

Just after we had finished the walk it began to rain. But this didn’t dissuade the intrepid Armidalians from visiting the newly renovated Ebor falls precinct.

This is great ‘basic walk’ with enough going on in the surroundings throughout the year to keep walkers’ interest up. The view from Woolpack Rocks is panoramic and well worth the climb. Future walks in the park could involve: tor bagging, a scramble through the boulders to the top, a quest to the rare patch of Nothofagus moreii in the park, a quick visit to the Tank Traps, and/or an extended walk across the park (and back)...

Walk report from Charles

Photos from Kayvan

A Skirt Around Town

9th March. Easy, on track, 8 km.

Three keen walkers, including one brand-new member, joined Jody for an urban stroll around the southern outskirts of town.  Meeting at the bus stop near Spar Express (Judith Street), we ventured across the netball courts and then onto the bike track, which follows Kelly's Plain Road to the junction with Translator Rd. Walking east on Translator Road, we enjoyed looking at the quirky metal art. A street library, under the watchful eye of a rather spooky mannequin strapped to a tree, captured our attention.  We found some good titles for young readers and popped them in the backpack.  We walked as far as we could go up Translator Road before hitting private driveways and looked back over the rather splendid views to the northwest of Armidale.

We retraced our steps down Translator Road to a stock route, which eventually became Judith Street. Once again we surveyed the lovely views over the city.  Finally a zig-zagging detour via Ross, Markham,  and Short Streets before returning to the cars and coffee at the shop for half the party. All up a little over 8 km at a leisurely pace. A very pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning despite the scudding clouds and light drizzle. 

This would be a great route to add to your around-town walk menu.

Walk report from Jody

Photos from Robyn

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 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 Lookout Adventure #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.