A note on the photos

Most but not all of the pictures on this blog can be clicked though: if you click on them they will take you to a high resolution version on the
SmugMug site of one of the Sons. Use the back button to return to the blog.

Total Pageviews

Index To Posts

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Shoalhaven: Goats and Gullies

Only a month or so ago we were walking in the Shoalhaven Gorge via the lookouts near Tallong, and inspired by the purchase of the long out of print "Fitzroy  Falls and Beyond" (published by the Budawang Committee of blessed memory), we decided to revisit it this weekend.

This time the plan was to descend via Badgery's Spur, walk downstream to Canoe Flats and camp, and then divide into two parties for the return, one to retrace their step along the river, and another to climb out of the gorge up to the Ironpot Clearing, and then climb down Sparke's Buttress back to Badgery's.

Here's the compulsory mugshot of the party before the descent:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


The descent is a steep 460m, though there is a pretty good track down. A lot of it is lovely, dry Eucalypt forest with groves of Burrawangs ( Cycads of genus Microzamia)  and grass trees.

Here's Paul under a tree, it also demonstrates one of the lovely things about these gorges, which is that when you are climbing or descending them, the background to what you see if the gorge wall across the river.


Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

A little lower and you can see the river valley. Notice how incredibly dry the gully walls are compared with the strip of lush vegetation (Casuarina, Melia, wetter eucaplypts.) along the river.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

A little lower and the trees around the river are really visible, as you can see in the background of this picture of Paul's relative Peter C.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

A little later and we all take a break at the lovely campsite at the bottom of the climb. Here's Paul's other relative who was walking with us, also a Peter!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

After a couple of km of easy walking, we have to cross the river. Here's Adrian engaging in crossing-finding:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And here he is on the other side having found our route over:
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


After while walking on this side, we come across a point where it's no longer possible to pass along the river bank. There are quite a few of these; this picture of the smooth weathered bank at one point gives an idea why:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

So what we did was to climb over the spur. Your photographer found a route over, but we decided that it wasn't suited to the whole party except by lowering the packs with ropes, so this slowed us down a bit. In fact the best route, as indicated by the notes and confirmed by the party returning along the river the next day, would have involved a number of crossings to gain the easiest walking.

Anyway eventually we reach Canoe Flats, which was an idyllic camp site. As we arrived we disturbed a large party of goats, which instantly flew up and almost vertical gully wall, leaving behind a very goaty smell!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

When we were last here we saw signs indicating the imminent closure of the Gorge because of feral goat shooting. The signs were gone, so we suppose the shoot is over, but it
 obviously wasn't entirely successful! I wonder how much harm they do? They are lovely animals. Probably a lot, sadly.

We set up camp and went for a swim. Here's Peter C diving in. He only discovered afterwards that he narrowly missed a submerged rock!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Most of the first day was a bit grey, but it dawned clear and promising on the second day:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Soon we broke camp and headed along the sandy shores of the river looking for Iron Pot Creek, were we would find a spur that would take us to the top.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

One of the delights of the walk was that we were there for the flowering of a number of nice Acacia  mearnsii, one of may trees called a black wattle. It's the main source of tannin for tanning leather, though as far as I know not exploited commercially in Australia, but rather in other countries. Here you can see them as we walk past:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

After finding the (dry) creek we started to ascend the spur which was a steady 500m climb with a slope of 1-in-2. From time to time there were flatter platforms like this one, where you could see through the Burrawangs to the blue of the gorge wall behind:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Eventually the slope runs into a series of small cliffs, which were able to negotiate with the aid of some pointers from our book. The first has a good route behind and to the left, the next couple to the right. The soil becomes very loose, and the biggest difficulty is that you are effectively climbing  a scree slope between the actual cliffs. The last cliff required a bit of rope work to get the packs up. Here's Adrian on the rock adjusting the rope:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

At the top of the last cliff is a view of a formation we could only call the One Sister:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

After this point the walking was quick. But when we got the Iron Pot Clearing it was very odd: the abandoned farm house appeared to be occupied! We got close and discovered a new TV ariel and dog kennels. Best of all, there was a rainwater butt! As there is no surface water up here. Our bets guess is that this was probably an HQ for the goat shooting enterprise. Here's their loo and one of their kennels.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We then headed into the bush, not looking too hard for the track because our notes assured us that the track on the map was now "purely imaginary". But to our amazement when we reached one of our target points, we found a newly cleared fire-trail following more or less exactly the path of the old track! This saved us the time we had lost on the challenging ascent.

I said more or less. We got to the end of the trail hoping to find the path down, but found only this impressive clifftop view:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

You can see in fact the beginning of the afternoon's climb (for four of us, others got a break until the morrow) over the river. But as this was a 90 metre cliff, it clearly wasn't the way down. But a little hunting around revealed the top of Sparkes Buttress which we followed down for a bit, before taking a side spur which led us down with little fuss to a point close the Badgery's Crossing.

At that point, two of us had to climb out because of work commitments, leaving the others to go later. But one of the party who was staying, and had come back the shorter way by the river, was nowhere to be found. We had to leave this puzzle to those staying overnight, but it was solved by us before them: we met her coming down Badgery's triumphantly bearing beer and wine for those who got to enjoy another night in this lovely piece of bush!

The bird life on this trip was excellent. At he final campsite we has a Spotted Pardalote nest in a fallen tree right in the middle of the campsite. These tiny (9cm) flying jewels took no notice of us, flitting back and forth, presumably feeding a brood. Meanwhile two Wedge-tailed eagles circled overhead, so we had one of the largest and one of the smallest birds in the country simultaneously. Another highlight was the Rufous Whistler, which seems to be common here.

1 comment:

  1. Those are gorgeous pictures of the Sydney bush. It really makes you want to get out there and just be one with nature. We're really truly blessed with such wonderfully diverse terrain and scenery.

    ReplyDelete

Follow by Email