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Friday, September 12, 2008

Wollemi: The first attempt

In the spring of 2008 Paul and I hatch the plan to cross the Wollemi from east to west; after some research into routes we settle on going down the Wollemi creek, Colo River and then Capertee River.

We know we'll have to wade most of the way, but perhaps we will be able to make it along the banks from time to time.

One of us talks to David Noble, of Wollemi Pine fame and who works for the NPWS who says that one might be able to do it in four days. For some reason we talk ourselves into believing this means *we* might do in in four days!

We book into a nice hotel at Glen Davis at the other end, and set off.

After a walk though to the cliffs above the Wollemi Creek, we are greeted with this:

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Not an easy descent: and that's a telephoto perspective.

Actually, for a long time we don't think there is a way down, but Paul finds one and persuades us that it will work. He's right, and after a fun trip down we are at the bottom

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At this point something weird happens: we have to strip off to cross the river:

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And for some reason collective madness strikes and we all put our packs on and decide to bush bash along the creek in our knickers! I suppose we imagined we would be able to wade quite a bit, but we weren't - the creek was too deep - so we just got very scratched!

We find a campsite on some nice rocks above the creek

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In the background is Old Purple Tent; my trusty but now largely retired (available for borrowing by vistiors) Macpac Atlas tent that was a faithful friend on many an expedition since the early nineties.

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Gear sentimentality aside, that was about the end of it. We found we were making far too little progress the next day, and rain was due in a couple of days. Since there is no way out of the gorge other than to go the whole way (more or less) or else go back the way we came, we did the latter.

So licking our wounds we headed to Glen Davis so as not to waste our hotel booking, but also with the plan to bury food  a day or so's walk down the Capertee from the Glen Davis end.

Odd place this valley! Here's the sculpture outside the hotel against the walls of the canyon

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And this is a kind of shed next to it

The Old Bar in a separate building from the Glen Davis Hotel; it was later a Sisters of Mercy convent.

Off we head as far as we can get in Paul and Karola's old 4WD to bury our food. Nostalgia for your old van, guys?

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The track is really lovely

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The track is also full of wombat holes, as are all the available campsites. In the dusk we see them everywhere.

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We settle down for a morale boosting fire to prepare for a bit more exploring the next day

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The next day it's down river a bit to where the cliffs get really impressive and the valley has turned into a gorge:

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Here we are at the end of the road bash: must have not been bothered to use the tripod!

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Driving out I make everyone stop so I can catch this impressive sight

DPP conversions HDRed in photoshop

And home we go. We know we'll be back.

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