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Monday, June 11, 2012

Splendour Rock

Winter is come, and the Sons feel their fitness waning before Winter In the Budawangs. Together with too much time being spent in the city of late, this was reason to reorganise calendars and work commitments and take a full weekend off. The plan was to make a high camp on Splendour Rock on Mount Dingo in the Wild Dog Mountains, leaving from Carlon's Farm in the Megalong alley, down to Breakfast Creek, up the Black Horse Ridge and on to the Rock, and the following day down the Bluedog Ridge via Knight's Deck and up Ironpot Ridge and back to the car.

We had a pair of Bulgaro-Venezuelan philosophers with us who were were introducing to the Australian bush.

After a night in a hut in the Megalong Valley, we headed out via Carlon's Farm: here's the traditional start photo taken in the freezing mist:
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The fog did not start to lift until we were having a cup of tea at the top of Black Horse Ridge. The low winter sun slanting through the trees was gorgeous. Then it was on to Mobb's Soak to gather water. The heavy rains have turned the track into a morass and the drainage at Mobb's Soak runs through the track, so the water was a little unpleasant, and even when filtered a nasty stench of hydrogen sulphide could be smelt. No-one seemed to experience any ill effects, though.

We then headed on to the small track up Mt Dingo. When we got to the cliffline the track divided to a one that contoured around the rocky top of the mountain, and one which goes straight up. The map seems to show Splendour rock as a col at the end of the mountain a little lower that the height of the main massif, and the track contours around, so we took that.There are some passable camping caves along the cliff-bottom track.

Eventually we got to the end of the mountain where it looks over the main valleys. Impressive views could be glimpsed between the trees, but by now it was clear that Splendour rock was above us, and the way up was a rock face with some permanent pitons and a chain. A bit of investigation and it proved to be not a practical climb to do with backpacks because of the boulder at the top (see photo below) which creates an overhang to negotiate. So no camp on top unless you have rope for haulage, which we didn't.

Paul ascended to investigate, while the rest of us listened with envy to his exclamations of astonishment at the view. Then Alejandro and Katia decided to take their lives into their hands as well. Here's Alejandro and Paul descending:

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And here's Katia trying to keep up morale as Alejandro descends:





And this photo is on Allejandro having successfully negotiated the chains



Up on top there were campsites and tracks. Paul then remembered that there is a track across the top of Mount Dingo that follows the Merrimerrigal Range to Mount Mouin. This made it likely that if we could negotiate our way to the top of Mt Dingo elsewhere, we could get all of us and our packs on to the Rock.

We turned back, and found a break in the cliff with a brief if slimy climb that took us to the top, where we found a track to the Rock. When we arrived at the rock itself, the first of many views greeted us:



Someone has made the most impressive stainless steel logbook, and cemented it into the peak:



As the sun went down, the views got better. Here is a view of the endless walls of the greater Blue Mountains behind the Burragorang Dam:
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And here is the Rock itself in the sunset:

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The night was incredibly clear, and the stars blazed impressively for a location so close to Sydney. We feared this would mean a freezing night, so built a huge fire in the excellent raised fire pit that we found. But in fact a gentle northerly breeze meant the temperature never got below 5 degrees, and at 3.30 am the cloud that would characterise the next day rolled in preventing a frost.

So the morning dawned misty:



I went over to the tip of the rock where there is a plaque inserted in the rock called the Bushwalkers' War Memorial, which commemorates bushwalkers who gave their lives in the Second World War. Every Anzac Day a service is held here organised by a bushwalking club:



The misty dawn continued:





Eventually we reluctantly packed and left this magical spot, as we had a long day ahead of us and time was running out if we were to avoid walking in the dark. This time we took the official route along the top of the mountain and were down in a jiffy.

We returned to Mobb's Soak for more sulphurous water, and then headed out over the Blue Dog ridge to Knight's Deck. We met a party on the way who only 30 minutes previously had enjoyed wonderful views, but by the time we got there we were walking into a cloud.

After lunch we took stock of our condition. One of our party had injured their knee seriously enough so that uphill walking was very painful and unwise, not to mention slow. This made the 600 metre steep climb up Ironmonger Spur ill advised: so we planned a longer but flatter route back.

We retraced our steps to the main K to K track, and then walked to the fire trail that goes through Medlow Gap. There was then a seven km road bash before reaching a track at Jenolan 447 574 which took us back to the car. If you wanted to get to Splendour Rock in a hurry it could be done in about five or six hours by this route

Here's the route:

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And here we are, tired but happy:

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After driving through the gates in the valley (many gate jokes rehearsed) we refreshed ourselves at the Springwood Thai - a bit rough around the edges but much better than you might expect in a small town. Recommended. A splendid trip, well done all. And we haven't seen the last of Splendour Rock!

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