Monday, October 22, 2012

Burralow Creek. A Bear Grylles day....

One of the things I have wanted to do is walk the Burralow Creek from Wool Wash Creek up to the camping grounds and back home. Its about 8 kms in total, and a good example of what walking in the Blue Mountains is like, when there are no tracks.

Google map. Wool wash creek ravine is bottom right. Burralow is the series of gullies in centre

Its a mixture of cliffs, steep ravines, rocks, boulders and of course fast flowing water. The flora is a variety of rain forests, moss and lichen, in areas of little or no sun, then dry timbers, cut grass and scrub on the more exposed faces. Its a variety that's dense, with  heavy ground cover and mulch, often hiding holes and holes.

A Bandicoot digging. The angle and shape is particular to them.

The walk to the Burralow via Wool Wash Creek becomes a little difficult as you approach the junction of the two. It includes a degree of rock hopping, fallen tree crossing and quite a bit of pushing through the undergrowth, (like a rugby player). Both  crawling under, and over, wet and slippery  terrain.

Remains of old convict road construction.

With recent fires having severely burnt some sections, for the first time I could see where the old convict roads retaining walls were. Rock overhangs and caves were also a feature.Within a short time  we had arrived the junction and it was time to push north.

Sculptured rock caves are a feature.

The remainder of the walk to the campground is difficult. Many times we were force to crawl under, or over the undergrowth. In some sections moving forward became impossible and we had to beat a retreat, our footing unassured, metres could take  hours.

Lichen covered matters of rock where the sun  rarely  shines. Incredibly  soft and quite beautiful.

At one point we had reached a deep section of the creek with cliffs either side. There was no way over the top, and no way to guess the depth. Our only chance was to swim. Like Bear Grylles we set ourselves the task of swimming the 30 metres upstream to where a small beach appeared. The water was so cold, within a few strokes my breath was taken away and I could feel my body slowing right down. I felt I could have nearly "missed". This was canyoning.

Water Hole at Junction.
On reaching the beach we dried our clothes, had lunch and made some choices.  The only way on the western bank was up. Let me tell you,  there was little or no chance of walking. Fire had destroyed most of the trees and water bombing had flattened the undergrowth into a cross hatch of awkwardness. Most of this climb was on hands and knees, as rocks began to fall and the burnt soil was unstable. 

Sheer rock faces meant swimming upstream was the only  way  past

After time we reached the top and could see our destination, which required us to head north and descend to the junction of yet another unnamed creek and again into cut grass and scrub. By this time my forearms were quite cut up and bleeding a lot and my dammed ankle was starting to ache like mad. Hours later, we arrived at the junction of the fire trails. A steep ascent was required to return to the Bowen Mountain Observatory.

Climbing to the top was the only way  of getting a real perspective

Minor injuries  are easy  to  obtain as you  push  through the bush, and slide down rocks. Careful placement of feet and hands and always planning ahead ensure that the risk of  twists and breaks are reduced. This is not a walk that  you  could help via a vehicle.. If stuck- it's a helicopter ride.

An example of heavy  scratches from sliding down a boulder face.

 I  had run out of water and needed to concentrate of putting one foot in front of the other as we headed home. A most rewarding, albeit difficult walk, one I certainly will never forget and not for the inexperienced.

Birds seen:- um..... frankly  who cares!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Snow in the Blue Mountains at about 11.30am

The weather here has gone crazy and so I was potentially stuck at home as the rain and sleet hit. However I chose not to! I loaded the car with some lunch and was determined to see the snow fall across the mountains. My ambition was to have a walk to Dance Floor Cave, and then a beer at the Tarana Hotel. I got only as far as Mount Tomah as the Police closed the route because of the massive dump of snow. Vehicles that made it through were covered in snow up to 30cm thick.

Creek Crossing

 Forced to turn around and not to waste the opportunity,  I chose to drive back via Mountain Lagoon and have a hot lunch in the Wheeny Creek canyon. This was to afford some protection from the wind and sleet.
Lunch, using the effective Sigg stove and the Drifta Table.

 Whilst birding was not good. I did get to see a nice Eastern Rosella, and an Australian Brush Turkey. I had not seen one this far west, the closest I had seen was at Wisemans Ferry, so their range is certainly improving. A hot lunch of a Bacon Butte with  toast  and a hot mug of tea was the order of the day. I  ate this quickly  as the rain began to team down.

The Fj Cruiser with  its new full length  rack

Fj Cruiser build update- I had a full length roof rack fitted by ARB Penrith. They did a brilliant job, unlike the Moorebank branch. The bull bar continues to "do my head in," as I had to retension the bolts again due to incorrect fitting of the 2nd bar. My advice to anyone spending thousands of dollars- Don't assume the quality of the workshops are all the same. Choose carefully, ask someone who owns a vehicle and has had some experience before you  spend.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Its all happening!

What  can  I  say? What  an amazing few weeks. From starting work again, to  deciding that the rat race was not for me, to watching Dave flying over the tops of other riders at Motocross, to driving to far out back QLD,  meeting my  distant relative "Frosty", having the pleasure of meeting Graham Chapman (renowned expert on Australian  Birds),  Seeing a Greenshank, Owlet Nightjar and Rednecked Avocet , then breaking the suspension in my  car, and limping home for 14 hours non stop, the long way back, with  all the usual tension that  occurs when  things like that happen!
Dave flying over the slower riders

Of course once I broke the suspension I was stuck and could not visit all the places I wanted to while Dave went mustering, branding, loading road trains, fixing fences, welding and driving the utes around. He had a brilliant time. Me? I  pottered about the shearers quarters, cleaning and watering the lawns, I  did a bit of guiding to help  some bird watchers, albeit "twitchers," find a Crimson Chat, maaking cups of tea and generally having a yarn.
A bearded Dragon seemed to enjoy  lazing on the lawn under the sprinkler as it was quite hot
Prior to ruining my suspension I visited Thargamindah and drove the old Cobb and Co Coach crossing across the river. unite enjoyable and the birdlife was excellent. here I saw a Noisy Friar Bird, Masked Wood Swallow and Welcome Swallow.
The river crossing at the Cobb & Co Route. All in all Kilcowera is looking Superb and there is still water in the Lagoons and the bird life is still excellent although quieter now that the breeding season is all but over.
Dave at the end of a hard days Muster. I got the suspension repaired under warranty when we returned and I have to say really no fault of the car. All in all an Excellent trip and I am sure Dave gained a wealth of experience on a cattle station. Greg and Toni were excellent hosts and Kilcowera is a place I can highly recommend as a true outback experience. As for "Frosty"? Well email me as the experience has left me "speechless"! I am sorry if this all seems a bit "disjointed" as Blogger has changed a little and I am trying to drive it! Birds seen. Great Cormorant, Purple Swamphen, Whistling Kite, Australian Magpie, Nankeen Kestrel, Australian Hobby, Black-shouldered kite, Australian Raven, Little Raven, Little Crow, White-faced Heron, Galah, Blue Bonnet, Willy Wagtail,Spotted Bowerbird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Pee Wee, Apostle bird, White-winged Chough, Masked Wood Swallow, Little Corella, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Koel, Welcome Swallow, Owlet Nightjar, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Little Eagle, Spotted Harrier, Emu,Budgerigar, Richards Pipit, White-plumed Honeyeater, Black-eared Cuckoo, Noisy Friar Bird, Little Friar Bird, Laughing Kookaburra, Australian Pelican, Pied Butcherbird, Hooded Robin, White-browed Tree Creeper, Major Mitchell,Brown Falcon, Swamp Harrier, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Zebra Finch, Red-necked Avocet, Banded Lapwing, Masked Lapwing, Greenshank, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Peaceful Dove, Diamond Dove, Mallie Ring-necked Parrot, Cockatiel, Native Hen, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, White-necked Heron, Hardhead, Grey Teal, Yellow billed Spoonbill, Royal Spoonbill, Pacific Black Duck, Red Kneed Dotteril, Sacred Kingfisher, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Shrike Thrush, Brown Treecreeper, Rainbow Bee eater, Crimson Chat, Australian Wood Duck, Tree Martin. Total 72.