main

Archive | Walks

Blue Mountains Kanangra-Boyd National Parks – Planning Workshop Outcomes

NSW NATIONAL PARKS & WILDLIFE SERVICE

Summary of workshop outcomes June 2021,

Blue Mountains National Park & Kanangra-Boyd National Park Draft Plan of Management

Background

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is developing a new plan of management for Blue Mountains National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park to set long term directions for the management of these national parks.

NPWS facilitated 4 workshops between 4 and 6 June 2021 to elicit stakeholder views and feedback on a range of matters, including:
• management of adventure recreation activities, including abseiling, canyoning, rock
climbing and slacklining
• management of recreation in wilderness areas
• management of key visitor sites.

Feedback on each of these discussion themes and other issues is summarised below. In this document, NPWS has endeavoured to reflect the feedback provided by workshop participants as accurately as possible. The points listed below do not necessarily reflect the views of all workshop participants.
2
Adventure recreation
General
• NPWS should use existing user groups to reach out and educate new users – e.g.
climbing gyms, outdoor clubs, university clubs, education groups.
• Visitors to the parks value the experience of being in the park and are concerned about
their own safety.
• Environmental sustainability and visitor safety are often compromised when large
groups are involved in adventure recreational activities.
• The focus of management should be on proper risk management and auditing, rather
than exclusively on limiting group size.
• The Australian Adventure Activity Standards (AASs) represent significant work and
thought by industry professionals. As such, NPWS group size limits should align with
these as much possible. Activity-specific Good Practice Guides (GPG) provide
recommendations about group sizes.
• One organisation represented at the workshop highlighted that compulsory adoption of
AAS standards and the GPG was not supported.
• Clubs are generally well managed and concerned about risk. They rely on selfregulation because they are not sufficiently resourced to adopt additional responsibilities
for the management of their members.
• A participant described the group size limits set by NPWS as generous.
• One business highlighted that they may use smaller groups than allowed.
• Improved communication methods are required to disseminate information about the
rules for each activity (e.g. a broader range of social media platforms, different
languages etc.).
Abseiling
• Maintaining a group size limit of 8 participants (and one guide) was appropriate.
• For multi-pitch abseiling, a reduced group size limit of 4 participants (and one guide)
was more appropriate.
• Larger group sizes were generally not appropriate but could be feasible at specific sites.
Canyoning
• The ‘canyoning community’ is working on a best practice document that addresses
environmental risk, cultural risk, and safety risks. This document can be provided to
NPWS.
• Maintaining group size limits was necessary to maintain individual and group safety and
to minimise any environmental impacts.
• Social media is motivating participants with insufficient skills to undertake the activity.
There may be opportunities to utilise social media to promote safety messages.
• Some people are attempting canyoning with limited experience and without the support
of a club.
• Group size limits should be conservative and appropriate for the canyon. A group size
of 10-12 was considered too high.
3
• Use of a booking system was supported at popular sites.
• Group size limits should apply to both commercial and non-commercial groups. Guides
help to reduce impacts and therefore should be allowed as an addition to the group size
limit.
• There should be a cap on total group numbers (commercial and non-commercial) per
canyon, per day, to manage current and future use.
• NPWS should consider adopting management strategies like those used by the US
National Parks Service.
• Education providers could benefit if they were licensed as commercial tour operators.
This would enable them to access improved operating arrangements including use of
the DigiRez booking system.
Rock climbing
• Top-rope climbing should have the same group size limit as applies to abseiling.
• A group size limit should be 4 or 5 participants per roped party.
• Bolting in the parks is an ongoing issue of concern. It was suggested that an updated
bolting policy and/or further discussion with NPWS is required. It was recommended that
the QLD Government’s approach to management should be considered.
• There have been some changes in group behaviours in recent years (for example,
visitors playing music when out in the parks).
• Group size limits should apply to both commercial and non-commercial groups. As
guides help to reduce impacts, they should be allowed as an addition to the group size
limit.
• The current approach to managing bolting/anchor points is not working. Further
engagement is needed to increase self-regulation, minimise impacts and maximise
safety.
• It was acknowledged that risk management was a complex issue and beyond the scope
of the plan of management to resolve.
• Australian Climbing Association has a climbing database (The Crag) that could be
utilised to improve communication with climbers about specific sites.
• Rock climbers should not be a source of revenue.
• Any plans to apply zoning for different types of climbing will require further consultation
with climbers.
• Education is needed for rock climbers on how to manage their waste.
Slacklining
• Slacklining was defined as the temporary use of trees in disturbed areas such as visitor
precincts (camping areas or day use areas where there isn’t high visitor traffic)
• Highlining was defined as the temporary use of cliff features and existing anchors/bolts
(rock climbing) for traversing on a safety line across airspace.
• There is interest in both recreational-based slacklining and event-based slacklining.
• The Australian Slacklining Association has established a code of conduct, fixed anchors
guidelines and guidelines regarding airspace safety. There is also an Adventure Activity
Standard in place.
4
• Slacklining is an emerging, legitimate adventure activity both in Australia and
internationally and it is therefore appropriate that NPWS makes provision for the activity
in the plan of management.
• Issues include impact on ecologically sensitive sites, the potential for noise pollution
(from webbing), air space /aviation safety, impact on scenic values and damage to
trees.
• Limits should apply on the duration of slacklines (e.g. 1 day).
• Variations of the activity include water-lining, yoga-lining, and trick-lining. Parks are not
a major focus for these activities.
• The strategies used by NPWS to manage other adventure recreational activities should
be sufficient to provide for the safe and sustainable authorisation of slacklining.
Recreation in wilderness
General
• A group size limit of 8 should be retained.
• Guides actively manage group behaviour. For this reason, the allowance of 2 guides for
commercial tour operators should be extended to educational groups.
• There is a need for active management in response to degradation around Burra Korain,
Dex Creek and Mobbs Swamp camping areas.
• Divergent views were expressed about the introduction of toilets and other infrastructure
to manage impacts. Most participants were supportive of the establishment of minimalist
and carefully designed infrastructure (including toilets), provided this was part of a more
holistic strategy which sought to avoid infrastructure development wherever possible.
Several participants highlighted the need for sound evidence before infrastructure
development in Wilderness areas is considered.
• The requirement to book all camping areas limits the freedom of individual choice and
requires all camping to become a pre-planned activity (rather than a spontaneous one).
• Designation of campsites and access via a booking system may be necessary.
However, the designation of campsites should not restrict options for walkers that still
wanted to enjoy dispersed bush camping.
• Information and education should be retained as the primary strategies for preserving
wilderness values.
• Information for walkers about wilderness boundaries should be improved as many
visitors don’t know when they were entering a wilderness area.
• The risk of exceeding the carrying capacity of wilderness areas was a major theme of
discussion. It was highlighted that social media and the promotion of wilderness
experiences (especially during peak visitation periods) presented a risk to wilderness
values.
• Marketing should avoid promotion of wilderness experiences during periods of peak
visitation.
• The parks are significant for the preservation of wilderness values, and the unique
experiences that these wilderness areas provide.
• The plan of management should include strategies to retain opportunities for people to
enjoy true wilderness experiences in the long-term and that these strategies should
seek to prevent the application of more interventionist strategies (e.g. toilets) in the long
term.
5
• More active wilderness preservation strategies (e.g. toilets) would be more appropriate
in areas that were of lower wilderness quality such as the Grose Valley.
• There is a concern that people may become lost following incorrect trails that have
developed through use. Remedial work, consistent with the retention of wilderness
values (including vegetation management and track works) was supported.
Visitor facilities
General
• The current event application process is overly onerous for small smaller organisations
conducting small scale events.
• The factors involved in providing a sound rationale for visitor facility investment (and
disinvestment) should include visitor demographics and demand.
• There are opportunities to work cooperatively with Blue Mountains City Council and
private sector partners, across tenure and on private property to address visitor facility
needs.
• Facilities (including campsites) need to cater for a broad range of abilities and
experiences. There should be areas designated for caravans, walkers, and car-based
visitors.
• Visitors are also looking for shorter walks and picnics in natural settings.
• Strategies to address carrying capacity and spread visitation onto other areas (and to
undertake other activities) need to be developed.
• Degradation of some camping areas was noted. Some should remain undeveloped and
unregulated while it may be appropriate at others to manage impacts and level of use
through improved facilities and bookings.
• The scale-up and scale-down of campsites were raised as an option to facilitate
recovery of impacted sites.
• Consider a classification system for campsites to ensure that visitors have clear
expectations about levels of service.
• Some climbers would appreciate having access to climber-only camping sites.
• Some campgrounds are currently used by caravaners and camper-trailer campers (e.g.
Dunphy’s, Green Gully & Boyd River).
• The facilities required for caravan and camper-trailer camping (electricity supply, areas
for generators, waste dump points etc.) were discussed. Concerns were raised about
the impact of these facilities on the park experience.
• Participants opposed caravans and camper-trailers being used in the park as there are
sufficient alternatives for these styles of camping outside the park.
• The use of camping areas by commercial operators needs to be appropriately managed
to ensure access by other visitors is not compromised.
• Permanent camping should not be allowed.
• Visitor safety, access and environmental protection should be considered during
detailed design for visitor sites.
• Some improvements are required to facilities that are causing adverse impacts on
environmental values (sedimentation from trails, roads and carparks, toilets etc.).
• Improvements are required to soft infrastructure (online information, maps etc.).
6
• The role of site design in managing visitor expectations and in offering a range of high
quality experiences was a focus of discussion.
Access to visitor sites
• Private tourism developments within the parks including luxury lodges and glamping
within existing campsites was opposed.
• There are not enough places to provide accessible adventure activities for people living
with disability. Modified gates to provide access could be utilised. An accessible ‘great
walk’ could be considered.
• Arrangements for access to the park through private property (and access to private
inholdings) requires clarification in the plan. Private landholders often do not allow
access across their land to the parks because they are concerned about public liability.
• Providing access could create camping opportunities at sites including Kedumba Valley
(larger groups), Pack Saddles (small groups) and Canyon Colliery.
• Opportunities for camping at Green Gully should be considered during development of
the precinct plan for that site.
• There is demand for campsites that cater for larger groups. This may take pressure off
smaller sites.
• Access at Dunphy’s requires resolution.
• Yerranderie and Wolongambe have opportunities for camping but access issues would
require resolution. Ingar also has great opportunities for camping however restrictions
with access would require resolution.
• Cross-tenure arrangements need to be considered at Ingar to allow access to NPWS
assets.
• Perry’s Lookdown does not offer a quality camping experience. This requires resolution.
• There was a recommendation that the Blue Labyrinth should be managed as a remote
natural area. The last plan of management recommended sealing the road to Nepean
Lookout. This is not appropriate for tradition and history reasons.
Online booking
• The pros and cons of bookings systems were discussed. There are challenges
associated with booking groups however a booking system can help to change
behaviour, cap numbers, and generate improved experiences.
• Bookings need to be easy, flexible for groups, allow for spontaneity, and consider safety
and park management needs. The system needs regular review to ensure functionality
and effectiveness.
• Maintaining records of trip intentions is another way of monitoring visitor numbers.
• Sydney people are getting used to online booking for campsites. This system could be
expanded to encompass booking for day trip experiences.
• There is support for bookings and revenue collection where revenue can be reinvested
into the park.
• There have been instances where people have booked campsites and have then not
utilised their booking. This is a problem with the online booking system because it has
potential to restrict access for campers and could encourage larger groups and illegal
party’s that could impact on other campers.
• Booking platform (Digirez) needs to recognise a diversity of sites to match the type of
experiences and people that are booking. Currently it is too restrictive.
7
• To plan their camping trip, people need to access information about campsite sizes and
numbers group sizes before they access the Digirez platform.
Potential improvements to visitor sites
• Schools use the parks for multi day walks (with self-sufficient camping) and school
camps. School camps require larger campgrounds, toilets, and vehicle access. Sites like
Mount Wilson and Newnes are important. There may also be opportunities at Euroka
and Green Gully.
• Green Gully Cabins are currently under-utilised, and consideration should be given to
better manage the site and its future use.
• It was suggested that camp hosts could be better utilised.
• Hanging Rock needs implementation of a site management plan.
• NPWS maintenance and upgrades of existing tracks (including Grand Canyon) were
commended. Providing good quality tracks in popular areas attracts novice bush
walkers and leaves more difficult walks for those with more experience.
• Govetts Leap upgrades were discussed. It was acknowledged that, while improvements
seemed logical, residents may have strong views about things that affect them directly.
• The following areas within and outside the parks could be considered for improved
access and facilities: Narrow Neck, Wolgan, Victoria Falls Road, Evans Lookout,
Kedumba, Greens Gully, Mt Banks, Wolongambe, Bells Line Road, Acacia Flat
campground, Wentworth Falls, Conservation hut, Copeland Pass and Yerranderie.
• Upgrade is required for the Copeland Pass Track.
• The K2K walk experience should be supported.
• Upgrades are required at trail heads to provide toilet facilities and improved information.
• Facilities at popular climbing areas should be upgraded to include toilet facilities.
• A walking loop from Turras Ladders east to Kedumba River, K2K to Solitary was
suggested. Catchment restrictions were acknowledged.
Other issues
Information
• Online communication about park access requires improvement. Alerts are not updated
often enough.
• Visitors need better information from utilities when they close tracks to undertake work.
It is hard to determine if whole or part of a track is closed and whether you can walk
around the closure.
• Strategies are required to communicate the boundaries between the parks and council
land.
• Bushwalking NSW are seeking more engagement with NPWS on matters of mutual
interest.
• Recreational organisations provide opportunities for improved communication about
park management (e.g. Bushwalking NSW newsletter).
• Communication to visitors could be improved through the application of consistent
signage across tenures.
8
Visitor management
• Increased visitation (and the resultant pressures on the park and the visitor experience)
is an issue that needs to be addressed at a strategic infrastructure planning level, and
through marketing and information.
• The lack of park entry fees was questioned, with some support for fees in areas with
facilities. The application of fees within wilderness areas was not supported.
• Increased visitation is restricting carparks for some residents. It was suggested that
NPWS should cooperate more with local government to improve carparking adjacent to
the parks.
• Strategies for the management of visitors and tourists should be consistent.
Plan of management
• The plan should integrate with other relevant planning documents including special
areas plans for catchments, world heritage plans, indigenous land use agreements,
heritage plans, tourism plans, plans for adjacent parks and precinct plans.
• Some people would like to see what actions have been completed in the current plan of
management.
• NPWS needs to allow adequate time for groups/stakeholder to consider information
when consulting.
• Climate change impacts on park values, use and management (including park closures,
fire, water, pest management and changing visitor use patterns) need to be addressed
in the plan.
• Plan needs to provide scope to respond to unforeseen or emerging issues (e.g.
birdwatchers following honeyeater migration, changed flight paths with the new airport
and dam development proposals).
• Pest plant and animal management should be a focus for the plan of management.
• The plan of management should seek to improve the interpretation of Aboriginal cultural
heritage and non-Aboriginal cultural heritage within the parks.
• The plan of management should provide scope for the application of Aboriginal names
in the parks.
Fire management
• Increased burning in wilderness areas should not be to be used to achieve prescribed
burns targets.
• Fire management should be ecologically based– with specific assets targeted for fire
protection.
World heritage
• A consistent approach to management and improved communication about the World
Heritage Area is required.
• The World Heritage Working Group should engage more broadly with the community.
Drones
• Drones are now common within the escarpment including at lookouts.
9
• Concerns were raised about the safety of drones and disturbance to visitors.
• Support was expressed to exclude drones from the parks

Mt Keira Ring Track, Illawarra Ramblers Club

Mt Keira Ring Track plus Robertson’s Lookout, Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area 26 June 2021, Walk Report by Russell Verdon, Illawarra Ramblers Club

We walked Mt Keira ring track anticlockwise plus the extension to Robertson’s Lookout. There were hundreds of steps to negotiate. Total Distance: 8 Km, Duration: 4 Hr, Grade: 3 Moderate.

A record of the walked track

Record of the Walked Track

Eight Ramblers registered for the walk located at Wollongong’s prominent landmark Mt Keira.

We commenced walking at the civilised winter hour of 9am from Byarong Park. This park is on Mt Keira Road and adjacent to the Girl Guide Camp. The path leads up a short 300m stroll to meet with the ring track.

The cooler dryer conditions at this time of the year made for easy walking and minimal prospects for encountering leeches, often a feature in this area when the ground is damp.

Once at the ring track we took the right fork to commence our anticlockwise circuit of the mountain. A lot of track improvements such as boardwalk installation and repair of steps has been completed allowing reopening of the ring track after past rock slides.

Walking another 400m brought us back to Mt Keira Rd where we crossed 20 minutes into our walk, to continue the ring track on its southern side.

After another 400m the track touches the road again and we prepared to climb up the 100 odd steps to take us up to the next level section of the track through board walked rainforest then up another 296 steps where some nice views through the tree canopy to the north west were awaiting us, nearly an hour and a quarter into our walk.

We continued roughly 700m along the ring track reaching the junction where the path to Robertson’s lookout commenced. Those still feeling energetic walked to the lookout and we enjoyed the views down the escarpment followed by some well earned morning tea.

Then we followed the ring track downhill glimpsing the archery range located across from Byarong Park.

Not a lot in flower close to the track at the moment, but the odd glimpse of colour, and always good to marvel at the figs as we made our way back to the start at Byarong Park about three and a half hours later.

Thanks Anne for leading another great local walk!

Our Club of the Month: Illawarra Ramblers Club

The Illawarra Ramblers Club is based at Wollongong and provides walking, kayaking, and cycling activities including trips away. We have a stable membership of around 250 friendly folk. Our activities are graded to suit members’ abilities and are spread throughout the whole week. Located in the Illawarra we are close to and frequently access National Parks, coastal regions, the Illawarra escarpment, rivers, lakes and and the Southern Highlands. Try a couple activities for free before joining – hope to see you soon!

Light to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

Ben Boyd NP - Andrew Connor

Ben Boyd NP – Andrew ConnorLight to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

Light to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

In 2019 the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) exhibited a draft Light to Light Walk Strategy along with amendments to the Ben Boyd NP Plan of Management. The draft Strategy proposed a signature multi-day coastal walk, transforming the existing campground walk experience with hut to hut and lighthouse style accommodation in addition to new walk-in campgrounds. There were also proposed realignments to the existing track. As well as forcing independent walkers and others into formal campgrounds, the draft Strategy also proposed the prohibition of bush camping along the walking route.

The public exhibition attracted over 200 submissions, including from Bushwalking NSW Inc and bushwalking clubs. NPWS has now released the final Strategy and Plan of Management Amendments along with a report on submissions made and responses. These documents can be accessed here.

The final Strategy delivers much of what was proposed in the draft, although changes have been made to address some of the concerns raised during the exhibition period.

Bush camping will be allowed at Mowarry Point although it is unclear if the existing area will need expansion over time. NPWS will not co-locate independent camping with accommodation at Hegartys Bay. Independent camping will be relocated from Hegartys Bay to purpose built walk-in only sites at Bittangabee Bay. A separate group camping area will also be developed at Bittangabee Bay. Given the new facilities proposed at Mowarry Point, NPWS will no longer construct purpose built walk-in only campsites at Saltwater Creek. Two new hut accommodation sites at Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay are proposed to cater for a maximum of 36 walkers per night. The existing accommodation at Green Cape Lightstation will be reconfigured to accommodate 36 walkers.

The Strategy confirms that the new accommodation will be managed by NPWS rather than a commercial operator.

The proposed walk has been awarded $7.9 million funding by the Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund program, an initiative of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Subject to approvals, work on the first stage was expected to commence in late 2021 and be completed in late 2022. Before work commenced, a Review of Environmental Factors was released for public comment.

To assist with the implementation of the Strategy, NPWS will be establishing a Light to Light Walk Stakeholder Reference Group. It is hoped that this group will include representation from the bushwalking community.

Review of Environmental Factors Released for Public Comment

NPWS has also released a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) to inform the proposed upgrades to the Light to Light Walk. The REF is open for consultation until 15 October 2021. BNSW Inc will be making a submission on the REF and affiliated clubs are encourage to do likewise. The REF and accompanying documentation can be found here.

 

 

Canberra Bushwalking Club – Safe River Crossings Training

River Safety Training, Cotter River, February 2021, Canberra Bushwalking Club

At the start of 2021 Canberra Bushwalking Club held a challenging and interesting activity for members – a river-crossing training exercise. Held in the clear waters of the Cotter River, 26 club members attended keen to learn how to cross rivers safely.

The training was recommended for leaders and anyone contemplating walking in New Zealand or Tasmania. The course covered teaching participants how to assess a river, identify the safest crossing place and solo and team crossing techniques. Participants practiced these techniques in water up to thigh deep and also had the opportunity to practice swimming with a pack.

The day was highly successful with all participants agreeing that the course helped them to learn these essential life-saving skills. Watch more here to learn more about river safety.

Our Club of the Month: Canberra Bushwalking Club

Canberra Bushwalking Club was founded in 1961 and currently has over 400 members. While the Club’s main activity is bushwalking it also offers canoeing, canyoning, caving, conservation work parties, cross-country skiing, cycling, geocaching, liloing and social activities. Check out the Club’s Facebook page to see more.

Features of the Canberra Bushwalking Club include:

  • A range of activities – from easy urban rambles and walks suitable for families with toddlers, to multi-day expeditions in rough and remote areas
  • Training programs in navigation and other topics
  • Strong emphasis on safety
  • Modest annual membership fees (currently $40)
  • Non-members welcome on activities, with agreement of walk leader (up to 3 activities)
  • Participants covered by public liability insurance
  • Monthly meetings with guest speakers

Armidale Bushwalkers – 2020 Walks Report (extract)

2020 WALKS REPORT (extract), Armidale Bushwalkers

 

 

 

 

 

Like many, Armidale Bushwalkers 2020 walks program got off to a very slow start.

The Club held a one day walk in January around Point Lookout with five members. The smoke from fires still lingered in the valley below Wrights Lookout although where we walked had not been burnt.

In February the Club held a one day walk in the Sunnyside area with five members present while the Secretary was away in Tasmania.

During March the Club had two day walks with dates swapped and the outcome that neither walk went ahead. A weekend walk was organized for a Friday and Saturday later in March which meant that a number of members including the Secretary were unable to participate in the walk. The walk was to be the last for many months as the COVID crisis forced everyone into lock down. Walks were cancelled and the garden never looked better when the lockdown ended in late May.

The Club got together at Gara Gorge at the end of May and discussed walks for the winter months. A short walk along the Threlfall Track helped everyone shake off the lockdown blues and get back into shape for the winter walks. The first walk for the winter was to the summit of Mount Duval and camping near the trig with twelve participants. A wet start on the Sunday meant we were back at the cars and home for lunch.

On the following Sunday twelve members enjoyed a day walk traversing the summit of Mount Yarrowyck.

July saw quite a few walks cancelled due to weather and leaders having other commitments. Four members joined an unscheduled half day walk on the first Sunday in July in the Long Point area. See remainder of walks report here.

Our Club of the Month: Armidale Bushwalking Club

Armidale Bushwalking Club was formed in late 2004 and has approximately 50 members. The Club run walks once a fortnight – usually there’s one or two day trips and a more challenging backpack walk once a month. The Club also brings people together to organise their own trips – from an afternoon stroll to extended overseas backpack trip.

The Club is developing a loose association between clubs surrounding Guy Fawkes river- a kind of “Fawkes Fraternity” to share programs, ideas and trips including with Inverell Bushwalking Club, Clarence Valley Bushwalkers and Ulitarra Conservation Society.

Joining a  group such as Armidale Bushwalking Club is a good way to get started in bushwalking as you can borrow gear from the Club’s store, find out about great places to walk, share costs and ideas and, most importantly, walk safely with experienced walkers.  Club membership gives you access to walks with all of the NSW Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs, and excellent Public Liability and Personal Accident insurance.

Armidale Bushwalkers welcome new members and hope to see you on the track!

All Nations Bushwalkers – Little Digger and Two Creeks Track Ramble

LITTLE DIGGER AND TWO CREEKS TRACK RAMBLE, 21 February 2021, Walk Report by Dee McCallum, All Nations Bushwalkers

Parts of this track were known to me but not all, so I was pleased Leah had put this walk on. We met at Roseville Station where several of the group started with a morning coffee, then headed off through the delightful Roseville streets with many fine Federation houses, beautifully renovated with lovely gardens. We got to our first stretch of bush at Little Digger Track, which was not so straight forward but we picked our way alongside houses and past the creek. After a short detour across the wrong bridge we came back onto the main track and were met by our wet weather friends the leeches! We eventually came out onto the fabulous Middle harbour track – easy walking with view through trees to the water. There is plenty of history in the area and lots of informative signs. After passing under Roseville Bridge, we stopped for morning tea at the picnic tables near Echo Point. It was good to be under shade as temperatures were rising!

We then backtracked along Middle Harbour before joining the Two Creeks track. Parts of the track were quite exposed, so we were getting hot and just in time we had our lunch break under the shade of the trees. More friendly leeches about, they seemed to be everywhere! The track continued along Middle Harbour with lovely water views.

Shortly after lunch, we got to the most attractive part of the track, well shaded with beautiful trees and overhangs.

We then had an exciting detour through the tunnel at Gordon Creek. This would be impassable in rain but the water level was fine. Luckily there was a handrail to guide us! After exiting, a last uphill track before getting back to the road at Lindfield Station where we all dashed off after a hot but enjoyable day. On the walk, ably lead by Leah, were Dee, Francoise, Linda, Steve, Len, Tricia, Helen, Bryan, Richard, Molly, Connie, Geraldine, Elaine and Daniel.

Our Club for April 2021 is All Nations Bushwalkers

Come and explore the wonderful Australian bush with All Nations Bushwalkers. The Club visits beautiful national parks and wilderness areas around Sydney and further afield and has a graded series of walks, bike rides and water-based activities.

Most activities involve bushwalking in national parks within 100km of Sydney, including Blue Mountains, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Royal, Wollemi, Bouddi, Brisbane Waters, Dharug, Marramarra and Sydney Harbour national parks, or the parks and reserves of the NSW Southern Highlands and Illawarra regions.

All Nations Bushwalkers activities suit a wide range of fitness and experience levels. Most activities are day walks, ranging from easy to rather hard. There are also overnight camping trips and longer expeditions to destinations across Australia – bushwalking by day, enjoying the companionship of the campfire gathering at night! Club members also organise social activities, such as restaurant nights, cinema and art gallery visits, Christmas parties and various special outings.

Getting to club activities is easy – they generally meet at a train station and then car pool to the walking track. You won’t get lost and don’t need your own transport! Club members are men and women of all ages and nationalities from across the Sydney area.  You are welcome try a bushwalk walk first – choose a walk then contact the organiser for details. Visitors can try one walk for free before they’re expected to join. Membership starts from only $30 a year (for 3 years). Learn more

 

Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers – Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens

Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens Easy 6km walk, Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers, Saturday 27th March 2021

A recent Dalmeny Narooma Bushwalkers Club walk was an easy 6kms in Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens. The Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens are set on 42 hectares of Mogo State Forest, adjacent to Deep Creek Dam. The site has not been logged since the early years of the twentieth century and visitors can appreciate many of the region’s plants in a natural setting.  The Gardens has 8kms of beautiful public walking tracks which vary in length and gradient to cater for individual requirements and limitations.

It was a perfect day for the Club’s walk during which Margaret Lynch explained what was happening in the Gardens.  After the recent bushfires a lot of work has been completed and more is planned. The walkers were delighted to see the Gardens regrowth including many young green wattles which protect the undergrowth floor and let other native plants thrive.

The Club members walked 5.5km and had a look at Deep Creek Dam, for which a new lookout is planned. At the end of the walk Bev Brazel thanked Margaret for the walk on our behalf. Some walkers enjoyed lunch at the Cafe, some bought plants, and others had their lunch in the grounds. Overall all participants agreed that it was a very pleasant day.

Our Club of the Month for April 2021: Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers

Our club of the month is Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers who have been walking for 35 years. The Club meet at the Red Tractor, George Noble Park, Dalmeny, with a plywood tractor now used to represent the original to honour the Club’s history.

Dalmeny Narooma Bushwalkers was established in May 1986 to encourage bushwalking as a pleasant group activity. The Club welcomes new walkers to join in and enjoy the beautiful bush and coastal environments of the far south coast of NSW.

Volunteer walk leaders offer various grade bushwalks twice a week around the local area of Eurobodalla and Bega Valley, as well as club camps in other localities and some social activities. The Club aims to keep its procedures as simple and as affordable as possible but also has a few rules to keep all walkers safe in the bush. Walks are grouped into 3 programs a year – Autumn, Winter and Spring – and are published on the Club’s website.

0

The Walking Volunteers

Sydney Trackwatch

 The Walking Volunteers Inc. have been proof-walking, mapping and providing walking routes around Sydney to walkers for 17 years. They now have over 1,300 kilometres of walking routes on their map and hope to add another 200 kilometres in the next month after approval has been granted by various land managers.

However, keeping track of changes on the walking routes is becoming more of a challenge as the network increases. The Walking Volunteers want to thank the walkers and land managers (e.g. Councils, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Western Sydney Parklands Trust, etc.) who often advise them of new and changed paths and tracks. However, tracks and paths are often closed for essential infrastructure (e.g. sewage pumping stations, light rail, etc.) or damage from natural events. It may take several months before the Walking Volunteers find out about these closures and when they do, they are able to liaise with land managers and establish alternative routes which are immediately updated on their maps and, via the magic of the Internet, updated on walkers’ smartphones, tablets or PCs. However, finding out about changes may take months and, in the meantime, walkers find it very frustrating to find a walking route on the maps has been closed.

So, the Walking Volunteers are introducing a program called Sydney Trackwatch to discover any changes or closures to the walking routes on their maps as soon as possible. It is very simple and does not require filling out complicated forms. Just let the Walking Volunteers know (Email: info@walkingvolunteers.org.au or Phone: 4784 2002) immediately of any changes or closures on the walking routes shown on any of their maps (Sydney Walking Tracks, Walking Coastal Sydney, Great West Walk). Also, let them know of any alternative routes you used to bypass the problem area. They will immediately re-walk, re-map and put the alternative routes on their maps as well as follow up the organisation responsible to find out when the walking route will be re-opened. When it is re-opened, they will immediately re-walk the route and change it back to the original course.

A good example of this is North Head, where the Walking Volunteers changed the route on their maps after the intensive bushfire in October 2020 and are now liaising with Sydney Harbour National Park and Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to change back to the original route when the fire-damaged areas are re-opened to the public.

All it takes is a quick phone call or email to assist the Walking Volunteers and your fellow-walkers!

 

0

Patoneys A Different Way

Patoneys A Different Way, Capertee Valley, NSW, 19-20 Sept 2020 by Rachel Grindlay

Given how much of my time I spend looking at National Parks alerts and advising other people about closures it is somewhat ironic I failed to check all of the relevant closures information for a trip I had on the Spring Program. A couple of weeks before the trip was scheduled we drove past the access road I was planning on using. There were “STOP, CLOSED” signs – it looked like I might have a problem. At home I looked at the map to find that the road access and part of my walk were in Ben Bullen and Wolgan State Forests. Both had been closed since December so the chances of them reopening in the next two weeks were remote.

Somewhat despondent, my initial reaction was to cancel the walk. But then I felt guilty for the people who had signed up. Scouring the map I was surprised to see how many different directions Pantoneys Crown could be accessed from. Point Cameron was definitely out of the picture since Mt Jamison and McLeans Pass are in Wolgan State Forest. But a new route started to form before me, taking in some map features which had caught my attention in the past – Tarpeian Rock and Moffitts Pagodas.

The new route had the definite advantage that I didn’t need to worry about the condition of the road, and the associated issues with carpooling and Covid. The party composition changed a little with the change of route but eventually six of us convened at the start of the Moffitt Trail bright and early on Saturday morning.

A quick survey confirmed no one was a sadist with the desire to walk an extra 2km of fire trail at the start and end of the trip. We piled into two cars for a quick drive along Moffitt Trail to cut off some walking. Parking where we planned to pop out at the end left us 3km of fire trail before we left any semblance of a trail behind for the rest of the trip.

The ridge towards Tarpeian Rock was a maze of pagodas. We took some of our navigation from Beyonce (“To the left, to the left”), though at one point we were pushed quite a way right before we found a way up through the fortress of pagodas. Finding our way back to the western cliff line, a bit of exposed scrambling and a jump got us onto Tarpeian Rock for morning tea. It was a sunny, still day, warmer than most of us had expected. The next point north had an impressive rock outcrop at the end which gave plenty more photo opportunities before we hit a flat, open section of ridge to take us quickly towards Baal Bone Point.

Our lunch spot had impressive views of Pantoneys Crown and the Red Rocks – where two-thirds of the party had walked only two weeks earlier. We marvelled at the patchwork nature of the fire patterns – some sections in the valley looked like a blowtorch had been put to them, yet they were surrounded by areas where the canopy hadn’t burnt.

After lunch was where the real fun started – the scramble off Baal Bone Point – I feel like the same logs have been in place for many years to assist with the descent – luckily unburnt. There were plenty of orchids in flower to slow the botanists down, but we eventually got to the base of the South Pass onto Pantoneys.

Only one member of the party hadn’t been to Pantoneys previously, though it was the first time going up the South Pass for two in the group. We made short work of it with everyone scrambling up without issue – other than a couple of frights from a Blue-Tongue Lizard sitting in a wedge we wanted to use as a handhold! We hauled packs at the top of the lower section and then squeezed around to the left avoiding the final awkward chimney climbs.

After setting up camp most of us went looking for the fabled water source. I had some vague directions, and indications from looking at the aerials, and with the amount of rain there had been in the last few months I figured if we didn’t find water this trip it probably didn’t exist. Tom led us straight into a little canyon which had flowing water and a small pool! This was great news as I think the hot day had caught most of us a little short on the water front. After filling up we squeezed down the canyon to the cliff edge where we took in the views.

The colour palette of grey was used for sunset, but the views were still impressive. Our earlier rehab work on the fire ring had shrunk it to about a quarter of its original size, which still gave us a very cheery fire for the evening. The knowledge of a water source made us profligate with the water we had. Two party members carelessly tipped their boiling billies on the ground – fortunately only one billy also contained dinner. Right on 9pm the first spots of rain started which seemed like a good cue to head for bed.

The weather forecast was pretty accurate; we woke to a steady downpour which meant breakfast was a solitary affair as everyone huddled in their shelters. Fortunately at about 8am it eased off and we all leapt out and with amazing timing were ready to go right on 8:30am.

The views as we traversed Pantoneys were non-existent as we wandered along in the mist. Tom initially wouldn’t believe me when I said we were at the northern point! I said he was welcome to keep walking if he could find some ground to continue on – fortunately he decided I was probably right and didn’t walk off the edge of a cliff.

The top of the North Pass was located without difficulty. The collective memories of the 5 of us who’d been there before were found wanting. No one could really remember the middle scramble of the North Pass. To the extent that there was some accusations of us not being on the normal route! Everything was wet which upped the difficulty level and we used the tape on both the middle and lower scrambles. Our memories returned on the lower scramble – it was indeed the normal route.

The rest of the day we would be in the realm of exploratory adventuring. Following the cliffline of the western side of the Crown proved relatively straight-forward. The visibility was still low so we couldn’t see anything except the impressive cliff lines looming into the mist above us. By late morning we were back where we were early afternoon the day before – below the southern pass.

Opting against a second lap we descended to the saddle and then had to work out how best to negotiate the myriad spurs and creek lines which would lead us to Coco Creek. I opted for a ‘straight line’ approach rather than trying to contour. As usual 20m contours hide a wealth of lumps and bumps and we were surprised as the rock turned from sandstone to quartzite. It felt like we’d been transported to Kanangra rather than Gardens of Stone.

The minor creeks were steep enough that we had to work a bit to get across them, but Coco Creek was the biggest surprise. A rocky narrow quartzite spine led us down just above a roaring waterfall. Jon appeared to be a little disappointed we didn’t have to swim across the large pool at the bottom instead conveniently being able to rock hop across at the bottom of the spur. It’s not many Pantoneys walks which feature a waterfall!

From there we had a couple of steep climbs to get us onto to the Moffitts Pagoda ridge. It was an impressive ridge line, with equally impressive views. The weather cleared as we got near the top and so it was a slow meander along the ridge as every few hundred metres there was another view, different light on Pantoneys and we spent time savouring it all.

Once we got to Moffitts Pagodas some of the party climbed on top, while others walked out to the point to take in our final views of this amazing part of NSW. From there it was just a few hundred metres back to our cars. The drive out had a couple of nervous sections – where rain and traffic had caused some slush to form and we weren’t exactly in control as we slid down the hill back to the rest of the cars.

Everyone was very complimentary on my replacement route – I’d like to take the credit but while there’s some skill picking a route on the map, there’s also a lot of luck in how things pan out on the ground. Be assured it’s not every exploratory trip where everything goes pretty much perfectly! Always come armed with a sense of adventure (and a well charged torch).

Clarence Valley Bushwalking Club – Bunya Mountains Trip

Bunya Mountains Trip, Bunya Mountains and Girraween National Parks, Clarence Valley Bushwalking Club

Ray Bulmer originally conceived the idea of the annual trip to Bunya Mountains and Girraween National Parks for our bushwalking holiday. He put in a huge amount of preparation and drew up a great itinerary with a good mix of walking and sightseeing with some wonderful places to stay. Unfortunately he was not able to come on the trip due to ill health and we missed him greatly.

The group consisted of Michael, Christine, Steve, Moira, Joan, Jan, Stephanie, Kent, Narelle, Stuart. We set off on Saturday September 7th. As we left our area in Gulmarrad we remarked on how much the Shark Creek fire had grown in the last day and then we drove off towards Grafton, never guessing the fire would grow so big in the next few days whilst we were away.  Fires were starting up all over the valley and throughout NSW and this was to be a constant theme throughout the holiday. We packed our car up in 35 deg heat, with the sky turning orange and filling with smoke.

We consulted the night before on the best route to avoid fires and some of us kept to Ray’s original route via Glen Innes. We stopped off for the obligatory coffee break at McDonald’s in Glen Innes and a second breakfast. Others travelled via Kyogle. We passed through Stanthorpe and Tenterfield, witnessing the burnt areas from their bushfires only the day before. They had burnt both sides of the road in some places up to people’s garden fences so it was a sobering reminder of our vulnerability. We were all able to meet up at Warwick for a late lunch. Then we pressed on to our first overnight destination, Jondaryan Woolshed. We were saddened to see how dry the countryside was along the way. We set up camp in their campground and hunkered down for our first dinner in an increasing wind.

The next day we explored the extensive historic site at Jondaryan and there was certainly a lot to see. But first we had to have a hearty breakfast at their café. This was bushwalking in style. Then we visited the many historic buildings, the largest being their magnificent Woolshed itself. Many of the historic buildings had museum displays inside them. The school was one of the most interest.

The next day we set off for the short distance to Maidenwell which we were going to use as a base for our first set of walks in the Bunya Mountains National Park. The camping areas in the National Park were not accessible for some of the group so we had opted for the comforts of Maidenwell Pub.

We arrived at the camping grounds in the Showground at the rear of the pub and set up. The wind had increased even more and Michael had to secure the tent to the car with 3 ropes to ensure it did not blow away. Most of the group went for a preliminary walk to Coomba Falls which was a steep and interesting walk but little water. Later on we availed ourselves of a welcome dinner at the pub and a game of pool, hoping the wind would abate, but it did not. That night we fell asleep listening to the wind gusts.

The next day we set off on the 25k trip to Bunya Mountains National Park and were amply rewarded by the display of wildlife as we had morning coffees at the cafe. The wallabies and birds were very tame, no doubt owing to the proximity of the café. Bushwalking in style yet again. But the coffees at the end of the second day’s walking were very welcome.

We set off, stopping first for a view from the high point of Mt Mowbullan which had an extensive panorama but a lot of smoke haze.

We set off on our first walk along the Scenic Circuit and walked through beautiful rainforest areas with abundant bunya and hoop pines. It was a welcome change from the dry landscape we had travelled through to arrive there. There were many other sights to see such as extensive strangler figs, stinging trees (look but don’t touch!), bird’s nest ferns and staghorns.  Unfortunately the many waterfalls were nearly all dry. Two of the group elected to return to the starting point by a shorter route where we saw a red bellied black snake and many different species of beautiful trees whilst most of the group carried on to Big Falls and Barker Creek Lookouts. …….

It had been arranged that a car pick up would take place at Paradise Park but through mis-communication this did not happen so some members got a longer walk than they bargained for.  This emphasised the need for clear communication on walks. But we all reconvened at the end for some much needed bunya nut ice-cream in the café.

That night we indulged in another meal at the Maidenwell Pub.

The next day we set off to the National Park again and walked the Westcliff Lookout walk. The northern walks were partly escarpment walks and we had some good views from the lookout and along the way, although they were not at their best because of the smoke from the extensive bushfires. We stopped temporarily at Westcott and then all but one continued on along the Koodaii Circuit loop walk.

Our final walk of the day was to the highest point of the National Park, the Mt Kiangarow track to the summit and back. It was a short but lovely walk through the scrubby bush with smatterings of rainforest. We admired the extensive arch of grass trees and wildflowers with an extensive view of the valley below at the end.

After coffee once again we returned to camp and decided to tough it out and actually cook for ourselves like real bushwalkers should. We fortified ourselves with Happy Hour first though. Up until that point Happy Hour had not been that happy or extensive, downright non-existent owing to the strong, cold winds. The winds had dropped a little and a welcome use was made of the awning of Stuart’s caravan for a few drinks and nibbles. We had a discussion in which we confirmed that unfortunately Girraween National Park, our next walking destination was closed due to the threat of bushfires. Some fires were still active in the area and some were growing, including the large one near Drake and the Bruxner Highway on the way home.

All this while Michael and Christine had been monitoring the ever increasing Shark Creek fire near our home via the RFS website and wondering if there would be anything left of Yurygir National Park at home for future walks. What had started out as a tiny fire weeks ago had grown to threaten Woolaweyah, Angourie and Yamba.

The next day we changed our plans and spent the day in Toowoomba sightseeing. We enjoyed the wonderful flower displays at the Queens Park Botanic Gardens, where we were lucky enough to see their preparations for the Flower Festival in a few weeks’ time, followed by lunch at the Cobb & Co Museum and a look at the extensive displays there.

After that we headed south to our planned camp at Sommerville Tourist Park. This had been planned as our base for walking in Girraween National Park as that has been closed for a while due to water shortages in the park. It was now also closed due to bushfire risk so we stayed for only one night there and enjoyed their lovely facilities but once again braving cold weather of about zero degrees. We set off home the next day by mutual agreement, cutting the trip short. Some took advantage of the shortened trip to go their separate ways and do other activities but walking trails in National Parks seemed to be in short supply.

We travelled south again and most stopped at our planned lunch break at the Standing Stones Cottage where Ray had thoughtfully booked a surprise birthday tea for one of the group. We procured two cakes and a candle as there were two birthdays to celebrate. We then headed down the range to arrive home.

Our Club of the Month for January 2021 is Clarence Valley Bushwalking Club

Clarence Valley Bushwalkers Inc. was founded in 1997 by a small Group of interested bushwalkers. Since then membership has grown to approximately 90 members.

Walks are held in a range of beautiful areas including New England National Park (including Cathedral Rocks, Woolpack Rocks, Point Lookout), Washpool National Park and Gibraltar Range National Park (including Anvil Rock and Dandahra Crags). The Club also canoes and kayaks local rivers and holds relaxing bicycle rides around Clarence Valley.

There are up to 5 scheduled club activities per month. These can include bushwalking of varying levels of difficulty, terrain and duration; kayaking/canoeing trips and overnight car-camps; full-pack weekend walks, social outings, and bicycle rides. The Group also undertakes interstate and overseas adventures. Activities that are dependent on suitable weather or tidal conditions can also be added to the program at short notice to take advantage of favourable conditions.