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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Between Canberra and the coast

Stole a few hours for a bushwalk between a meeting in Canberra and a workshop on the South Coast, with a couple of volunteers from the workshop. There are two walks at the top of Clyde Mountain described in Doughton's Bushwalking in the Budawangs (ISBN 0858810727). To the west of the road is the Corn Trail, a surveyed but undeveloped route down the escarpment. This would be a nice day walk with a car at each end. It's a steep descent on ridges through open forest. I did part of it a few years ago and it looks like this.

To the east of the road is a very different walk, a circuit down to Musgrave Creek. On the steepest part of the Kings Highway there is a parking area at 56H 0769277 UTM 6062380. A short walk back uphill leads to a ridge that provides easy walking down to the creek about 300m below. It looks very much the same as the landcape on the Corn Trail.

Down at the creek, however, the landscape changes in an instant into a green tunnel, with fallen trees, vines, palms, etc.

The middle part of the walk is down the creek, getting boots wet, or, as we did, wearing sandals. Most of the time there are steep banks or small cliffs, so walking alongside is not an option. The creekbed is rocky rather than muddy. The day we were there it was rarely more than knee-deep. The pictured plant is the Gympie Stinger, Dendrocnide moroides (Thanks, David!), and has hairs on the undersides of its leaves which sting. It is related to the Giant Stinging Tree of Queensland. This is near the southern limit of it s range and maybe it is less virulent here, as I had a small encounter with it and it wasn't much worse than a european nettle, contrary to its reputation for causing agonising pain that can last for weeks. But apart from this the flora and fauna are friendly. No-one got any leeches, perhaps because it was winter, and in one of the trees growing out of the creek a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo was feeding its offspring.

A couple of kilometres downstream the gully widens out and a firetrail crosses the creek. From here it's boots on again and a maze of firetrails, some old, some new, some disused, leads back up through the dry eucalypt forest. On the way up we had a nice encounter with some Glossy Black Cockatoos, quite happy to be watched at close range while they fed in a casuarina.

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