Writing posts was so much easier whilst we were travelling; it just became a habit to sit down each week. Now the trips are just weekends we get back and before we know it a month has gone by with work, kids’ activities etc. etc.
Yadboro Flat is a campsite in the State Forest of the same name, on the bank of the Clyde river, next to Morton National Park. To get there from Sydney you head south for about 3.5 hours, turn right at Milton and it is about 22km inland. The last kms are dirt but its well maintained, just a few light corrugations.
The campsite has been on my list for some time, but there’s always been something that’s got in the way. This trip was just Bonnie and me, meeting up with Chris & Rachel and their girls.
Friday 26th – Pigeon House Mountain
Being the Australia Day weekend, the plan was to arrive early on the Friday and grab a spot. We’d expected it to be busy but oh my, the place was rammed when I arrived about 9am. Fortunately Chris & Rachel had arrived late on Thursday and squeezed into a nice little space, screened by some bushes. Unfortunately the bushes weren’t soundproof, so the full PA system (I kid you not) of the next group sent their music over very well all day.
Its something I’ve raised before but what is the attraction with heading into the bush and then making a racket. Someone had brought a motorised esky, so the sounds of a 2-stroke graced the air as it went round and round and round……Oh, and mustn’t forget the chest beating (there may have been many beers prior) as a few tried to drive their 4wds up the river bank, and failed miserably. As one observer put it, as the last car broke its steering and was abandoned in the river bed for the night, “it’s a shame the river isn’t due to flood overnight”.
Enough of me moaning. There is some great bushwalking in this area, which was what we had come for.
Friday was Pigeon House Mountain, a 5km return climb. Parks grade this as a 4, “bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Directional signage may be limited”. That’s over-egging things; yes it was steep but the biggest challenge was that we set off just before midday and it was rather hot.
We weren’t the only ones in the car park, chilling out on a tree was a large lizard.
It is a walk of 3 parts. The first is a steep track, with some rock steps and similar obstacles. It then flattens out, with the track winding through the bush before steepening up again into the last part. The last part is the climb to the summit, which climbs a number of steep metal ladders; on this section we ran into a lovely python sunning itself on in the bushes
From the summit there is a great panoramic view over the national park, and being Australia day a chance for spot of flag waving…
All in all the round trip was about 3 hours, but with the hot day the river back at camp was very welcome for cooling off
Saturday 27th – The Castle
The plan for Saturday was an earlier start and a much more challenging walk. The Castle is 11km long, with about 800m of climbing. It sounds easy put that like. It is anything but. All told it took us 10 hours! It is worth mentioning the signs on the track are just arrows scratched into the rock, so route finding can be a challenge
The start of the walk is from Long Gully campsite, a short drive from Yadboro Flat. Long Gully is a smaller camp site, also full but seemingly lacking in the motorised esky department. After a few hundred metres the path crosses a small river and then heads steadily upwards.
After a few km the track heads slightly down as it crosses a saddle, then rises again to the base of the escarpment before turning left and hugging the base of the cliff. All along this section the mallee trees grow out at odd angles, with the track twisting and turning between them until it ultimately reaches a dead end. It then heads upwards to the right.
It was beginning to heat up by now. So slogging up, firstly scrambling and then using steps put in to prevent erosion, was pretty hard work; even harder for Bonnie and Felicity with their shorter legs. At the top of this section the track forks, left heads to Monolith Valley, right to the Castle and more climbing…..
Finally the track reaches a cleft in the rock, though which you squeeze to cross from one side of the Castle’s “tail” to the other.
To add to the excitement, there was now a shout of “snake”; well spotted as it was right where we were going to walk. It certainly had no fear of us, heading off alongside the track. We worked out later it was probably a tiger snake, you don’t want to tread on that one.
The top part of the castle has sections which, if you are comfortable climbing, can be scrambled but for the more cautious a rope helps. The more exposed sections have fixed ropes which you can hang on to, but their condition is unknown (more on that shortly).
Chris had brought his climbing gear with him, so we were able to rope the girls up using some slings to make a harness. Without that we would probably have turned around, as some of the sections are rather exposed.
A short stop for lunch was in order at this point. As we sat there enjoying the view another group headed down. As the lead directed the second, it was the first time I’ve head someone say “there is a large crevasse just by your foot”; last time I checked Australia had no glaciers
After a final short scramble, the top of the Castle is flat. Scattered across its top, amongst the bushes, are pools of rainwater. I’ve no idea how they got into the pools, but most were home to large numbers of tadpoles well on their way to being frogs.
The track brings you out onto the north end. At the south end there is supposedly a cairn with a book everyone signs. The bush is pretty thick, however there are little rock piles which kind of mark the easiest route. However, we never did find the book, though it is worth it for the views:
The way back is a retrace of the way up, fortunately without the snake. About halfway through the mallee trees the effort caught up with Bonnie. Despite trying to keep her eating and drinking she ran out of puff. However, half a banana later she was back to normal, plus a not too serious lesson in making sure to keep eating.
By the time we got back to the start it was into twilight, a very long day on the trail. To add insult to the effort it started raining about 10mins before we got back to camp – the wet chairs were perhaps a fair price for keeping the camp noise down…..
Back to rope condition – some of the fixed ropes were pretty dodgy, especially this one which was frayed to its core. Beware putting your trust in unknown gear….