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Abbotts Falls Walking Track, Watagans National Park & Olney State Forest, DEFERRED TO SATURDAY 26th AUGUST, 2017

The Cartophiles’ August day walk is our first in the Watagan Mountains and the first in Kit’s & Sue’s new area. The walk is to Abbotts Falls, on the headwaters of Dora Creek.  You can download the flyer here: 2017 Walk 6 (Abbott’s Falls) flyer

The walk is rated hard.  It’s a 7.3km circuit through open forest on the ridge top to descend into a moist rainforest environment near Abbotts Falls and, based on the bush around Morisset, there should be a nice display of early wildflowers along the way.

Most of the walk is gentle hills or short steep hills, along formed tracks or trails.  It’s rated hard because there’s about 1km of rough track of which about half is very steep.   It should take about 3 hours to complete the circuit.

After the walk we’ll debrief at the Craig’s, about half an hour drive from the finish point.  The debrief will include a sausage sizzle.

Those who don’t feel like walking but would like to debrief anyway are invited to come straight to the Craig’s where Sue will entertain them until the walkers return.

The start point is The Pines Camping Area, just off the Watagans Forest Road in the Olney State Forest.  It’s about 1½ hours drive from Wahroonga and is easily accessible by 2WD cars.  We’ll meet there at 9.15am on Saturday, 19th August and start walking at 9.30am.

If you’ rather take the train, catch the 6.22am train from Hornsby to Newcastle; you’ll arrive at Dora Creek Station at about 8.00am and Kit will give you a lift to the walk.

Wear a hat and carry at least a litre of drinking water. The forecast is for temperatures in the mid-teens with a chance of a shower, so bring a rain coat.  As usual, Kit will carry a first aid kit. This is a walk for hiking shoes or boots.

Don’t forget a camera to preserve the memories.

To get directions to the Craig’s house, register for the walk, or to get more information, contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org or
on
0411 507 422.

Cowan Station to Hawkesbury River (Brooklyn) Station, Saturday, 29th July, 2017

Brooklyn Dam

This walk had to be deferred due to bad weather in May.  It follows a popular section of the Great North Walk from Cowan Station to Brooklyn Station, with scenery ranging from foreshore to ridge top lookouts.

The first 2.5 km, from Cowan Station to Jerusalem Bay, is mostly easy and is suitable for kids.  The scenery at Jerusalem Bay is worthy of a postcard and is one of the most iconic views along the Great North Walk.  Those with children or who don’t feel up to doing the whole walk could turn around here.

From Jerusalem Bay the track is very steep and rough as the walk climbs up over a series of ridges before descending into Brooklyn. Although it is a lovely 12.5km section, with water views and a circumnavigation of Brooklyn Dam, it’s rated hard and isn’t suitable for the very young, very old or unfit.

We’ll meet in the car park at Cowan Station at 10.30am on Saturday, 29th July. The walk will 4-5 hours.  We’ll have lunch on the knoll overlooking Jerusalem Bay, then continue on to Brooklyn. We’ll have a debrief at The Anglers Rest Hotel in Brooklyn before catching the train back to cars.  Hopefully, anyone who turns back at Jerusalem Bay can join us for the debrief.

Sunday trains from Hawkesbury River station to Cowan station leave just after half past the hour on Sundays.  The trip takes 9 minutes.  If we catch the 4.37pm train we’ll be back at the cars by 4.46pm.

There is no water available at Jerusalem Bay or along the way, so you will need to carry at least a litre of drinking water. Kit will carry a first aid kit. Given how variable the weather has been I suggest walkers carry wet weather gear.  The track is well-defined with rock steps on most steep sections, but you should wear boots or stout walking shoes ― the creek crossings can be very slippery.  Bring a camera to preserve the memories, money for the debrief and your Opal card for the train trip.

For more information see 2017 Walk 3 rescheduled (Cowan-Brooklyn) flyer

To register for the walk contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org or on  0411 507 422.

Manly to North Head Walk Saturday 17th June, 2017

Our June day walk features the famous Corso, Manly Beach, Shelly Beach, Sydney Harbour National Park, the former School of Artillery and Fairfax Lookout on North Head, which offers extraordinary views of Sydney Harbour. It passes the former Quarantine station (now the Q station) and Manly Cove before returning to Manly wharf.

We’ll be in the middle of the humpback whale migration north along the coast, so there’s a chance we’ll be able to spot some offshore. You should carry binoculars just in case.

The walk is rated moderate and is mostly flat or gentle inclines on paved footpaths and park paths.  The 11km walk will take about 5 hours.

We’ll meet at Circular Quay at 9.15am at the end of Wharf 3 and catch the 9.30am ferry to Manly Wharf.  We’ll start walking at about 10.00am.  The 8.21am train from Wahroonga (8.25am from Turramurra) will get you to Wynyard Station in time to walk to Circular Quay for the rendezvous. DON’T FORGET YOUR OPAL CARD.

We’ll stop for lunch at the North Fort Cafe at about 12.30.  You can buy lunch there or bring your own.  After we finish the walk we’ll retire to the Steyne Hotel to discuss the days activities.

Wear a hat and carry at least a litre of drinking water. To cover all contingencies please also bring sun block and a rain coat.  The weather looks rainy!  Kit will carry a first aid kit. Wear walking shoes, cross trainers or similar – thongs or crocs aren’t really suitable.  Bring money for lunch and the post-walk discussion and a camera to preserve the memories.

You can access the flyer here 2017 Walk 5 (North Head) flyer

To register for the walk, or to get more information, contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org or on
0411 507 422.

A weekend in the Blue Mountains, Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 10th – 12th June, 2017

 

Following the success of last year’s long weekend on the south coast, this year the Cartophiles bushwalking club will spend the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in the Blue Mountains to take on three fun, moderate-rated day walks.

If you don’t feel up to all three walks, drive up or catch the train for just one or two.  If you want to stay overnight, book your accommodation NOW!

Saturday, 10th June, Mount York Walking Trail

Right on the western edge of the Blue Mountains, this 13km walk explores the historic and natural features the first road across the Blue Mountains (Cox’s Road, 1813) and its replacement (Lawsons Long Alley Road, 1822-1823).

Meet in the car park of the New Ivanhoe Hotel, Blackheath, at 10.00 am for the 15 minute drive to the start of the walk. The walk will take about 5 hours, followed by a debrief at the New Ivanhoe. Bring your lunch, or we can try the food at the Comet Inn, Hartley Vale.

 

 

Sunday, 11th June, Grand Canyon Track

This 6.3km adventurous track has been trodden by walkers since 1907. The intimate and awesome Grand Canyon track will take us into the heart of the Blue Mountains’ World Heritage-listed landscape with great sandstone walls, ever-present waterfalls and abundant native plants.

Meet at the Evans Head lookout, Blackheath, at 10.00am.  The walk will take about 4 hours, after which we’ll take time to fossick through the Blackheath shops and galleries.  You definitely need to carry your lunch!

We’ll organise a dinner that night at one of the excellent local restaurants.

 

 

 

Monday, 12th June, Fortress Ridge Trail

This fantastic 7.4km return walk follows the Fortress Ridge out to the cliffs above the Grose Valley. The views from the lookout and along the trail are superb, with the sheer cliffs and a deep valley to put it all in perspective.

Meet in the car park of the New Ivanhoe Hotel, Blackheath, at 9.30 am for the 10 minute drive to the start of the walk.

This walk will take about 3 hours, after which we’ll drive to the Lawson Hotel for a late lunch and debrief before braving the traffic back to Sydney.

 

 

 

 

Travel and Accommodation

You’ll need to seek your own accommodation, but luckily, there are lots of accommodation choices in the Blue Mountains from B&Bs to the 3½ star old world charm of The Hotel Imperial, Mount Victoria; the 5 star luxury of Lilianfels in Katoomba or the not a lot of stars but 1930’s architecture at the New Ivanhoe Hotel, Blackheath.

What to Wear and Carry

Kit will carry a first aid kit and personal locator beacon. You will need to carry at least a litre of drinking water, your lunch, something warm to put on during stops and wet weather gear. The tracks are all well-defined and often are fire trails or roads, but you should wear boots or stout walking shoes – the Grand Canyon particularly can be very slippery.

Bring a camera to preserve the memories, some nice clothes for the non-walking times and money for the debriefs!

Click here for a copy of the 2017 Walk 4 (Blue Mountains weekend) flyer

To register for the walk, or to get more information, contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org or on 0411 507 422.

The Bundian Way, Kosciuszko National Park, 14-17 April, 2016

– Patrica Daly’s Facebook post –

Something new for the Cartophiles: the Wobbly Old Blokes sub-branch.  This was inadvertently launched by Patricia Daly in her Facebook post that showed five Cartophiles wading across the Snowy River at the start of out walk along stage 2 of The Bundian Way.

The Wobbly Old Blokes are Pierre, Ray, Kit and two new Cartophiles, Grant and Bill.  In addition to their many walked kilometres, Bill is a senior member of the SES based in Jindabyne and Grant was a farmer and RFS Captain in the Monaro for many years before he retired to Merimbula.

The Bundian Way is a 365km shared history pathway that follows an ancient Aboriginal walking route from the high country around Kosciuszko to the Eden coast at Fisheries Beach.  The pathway is at least 10,000 thousand years old; far older than the Silk Road or any of the great pilgrimages.

Stage 1 is  from Dead Horse Gap to the junction of the Pinch River and the Snowy; Bill, Grant and Ray walked it in spring last year, but I was in hospital and missed out.  Pierre has previously ridden it on his mountain bike.  Stage 2 is from the Pinch River junction to the town of Delegate, but we chose to end our walk on top of Mt Tingaringy rather than walk through miles of farmland.  We knew the 48km would be a tough enough challenge.

The walk was all along fire trails, which was a little disappointing.  However, this section is not without challenges.  It’s along ridge tops in a rain shadow area, so there’s no water along the way.  To cover the first couple of days we were all carrying 5-6 litres of water, which made our packs very heavy.  Ray had gone out a couple of weeks earlier in his Landrover and left two water drops, one at about 32km and one at about 42km.  We were going to need them for replenishment.  It’s also, as we were to experience, very steep.

We gathered in Jindabyne and, after coffee in the CBD Café, drove south for about an hour to our start point on the Snowy River.  This is wild, uncompromising country, too steep for extensive grazing and too remote for timber.  It was a daunting prospect even to drive through it.

– Our start point is in the bottom of the valley –

Wading across the Snowy wasn’t as cold as I’d expected, although the current was strong enough to make me concentrate.  We spent some time cleaning all the sand off our feet on the other bank before heading off along the fire trail.  We started with flat, easy walking, but we were soon climbing the first of what would prove to be many, many hills for the day.  The top of the first big climb was a saddle where Sheepstation Creek rises.  It’s pretty obvious that the old pathway climbs the creek line, and we promised to come back one day and follow that route.

Then we climbed again.  And climbed.  And climbed.  On many sections the gradient was much more than 10%, described by one cycling site as, “A painful gradient, especially if maintained for any length of time.”

After 4-5km (and climbing 300-400 vertical metres) we stopped for a rest and some photographs down to our start point.  I’d dropped my pack and gone forward 50m or so to get a photo when a bay brumby stallion strode up onto the track in front of me. Sadly, I didn’t have the presence of mind to get a photo as it shied away and cantered off into the bush again.

– Sandy Creek Hut, L-R Ray, Grant, Kit –

The rest of the day was spent descending from one knoll before climbing the next, higher, knoll.  In the early afternoon we stopped to explore Sandy Creek Hut, built in the 1950’s by the Walker family for brumby running.  There is no water tank at the hut and the creek was dry.  We left the hut, and climbed.

We made camp on top the hill at the intersection of the Sandy Creek and Byadbo Trails.  In total we’d covered 16km and climbed a net 1000m vertically.  With the descents we probably actually climbed about 1,500m, making the day a category 3-4 walk.  We were pooped.

Dinner, a fire, quiet conversation, a spectacular sunset before the darkness of the Byadbo wilderness.  Ray shared his whisky around the group while we looked at the amazing display of stars unpolluted by artificial light.  We were in bed by 8.00.  My Fitbit tells me I slept for just over 9 hours that night!

The next morning was misty.  The first water drop was 16km away and, prompted by how hard the first day had been, we wanted to reach it and push on further so the last day wouldn’t be too long.

– Sunset over our first campsite –

The first part of the walk was a long descent  ̶  a lot of yesterday’s gains were quickly walked away.  By 9.30 the mist had burned away and the scenery was fantastic.  All the while we could see Mt Tingaringy looming in the distance, easily identifiable by its large cliff face. Today we would walk in a long curve, heading east initially before swinging southeast towards the Victorian border.

It was another day of steep climbs and steep descents.  We saw several kangaroos along the track, but sadly there was much more evidence of feral infestation.  There was lots of brumby sign, especially where the stallions mark their territory with piles of dung.  Occasionally we’d see wild dog scats, and several times we walked past rabbit warren middens.  At one stage I dropped behind the group to adjust my pack, and had to wait while a family of wild pigs ran across the road in front of me.

We made the water drop by lunch time and between the five of us emptied the 20 litre collapsible water container Ray had left there.  We were lucky the weather wasn’t warmer, or water could have been a real problem.  In his book On Track, John Blay, Bundian Way Project Officer with Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council, describes walking this route in about 2005.  After finding his water drop chewed open and drained by wildlife he wrote, “This is serious … my sips have been getting sparser as the afternoon draws on.  Even so, I don’t have enough moisture to urinate … It’s more than a day’s walk to the next place where I know I’ll find water.”

We pushed on and made camp at the intersection of the Link and Tingaringy Trails, about 22km for the day.  We were happy with that given the steepness of the country and the extra weight of carrying our water.  Pierre and Bill were there well ahead of the rest of us; about a kilometre from camp I hit the wall and had to stop for a rest.  Ray and Grant generously stopped with me while I recovered.

Another fire, another gloriously starry night, more companionship, except with Bill’s whisky this time.

– Mt Tingaringy –

The third morning was foggy again, but once again the sun burned it off by about 9.30 to give a clear views from our ridge top trail.  The walking was much easier today and we made good time.  The forest was wetter and more open, with beautifully twisted mountain gums.  Grant told me that they’re also known as monkey gum, because they’re a favourite food of koalas.

We were now walking almost due south towards the Victorian border and Mt Tingaringy.  We had about six kilometres to get to the next water drop at the junction of the Karachi and Tingaringy Trails.

There were a few short, steep hills, but nothing like the monsters we had confronted on day one.  We passed a track going down to the old Merambego  homestead, then climbed a steep hill to top of the ridgeline and the track junction at about 11.00am.  We’d arrived but … no water!

Ray admitted that, when he dropped the water, it was getting dark and he was in a bit of a rush.  He was also worried because he’d had a flat tyre and couldn’t afford another.  We all searched, but the water container was not to be found.  Now we were in a dilemma.

Bill and I each had about three litres of water left, but the other three were almost dry.  Our support crew, Ray’s wife Patricia, Grant’s wife Mandy and Pierre’s wife Clare, would get to us in around five hours.  We could wait at the junction for them, or climb to the top of Mt Tingaringy, a walk of about 5km that climbs about 450m, or we could walk out along the relatively flat Karachi Trail.  We chose the climb.

We redistributed the water and headed uphill.

This was a long, slow climb interspersed with short, savage inclines.  The trees became more stunted the higher we went and the views opened up accordingly.  We had lunch in a clearing at the top of one particularly nasty pitch, with views northwest over the Byadbo Wilderness towards the main range.  The wild country looks much the same as it must have to those ancient native travellers who stopped here for a rest.

We kept climbing.  Ray and I stopped at the Victorian border to get photographs, confident that, as native Victorians, we didn’t need a visa to cross.

We were nearly there, but there were still surprises.  Someone had shot three wild dogs and hung then from a tree near the summit.

We reached the top of the mountain at about 2.00pm.  The sky had misted a bit, but the views were still stunning.  We could see south into the Victorian Alps, north into the Monaro, and west/northwest into the Kosciuszko National Park.  Two wedge-tailed eagles soared above us as we rested, prompting lots of jokes about making sure we moved to prove we weren’t dead.

The girls in the support crew joined us at about 3.30pm, and by then there was a cold wind blowing across the mountain top.  We decided that a night around the fire on top of Tingaringy was not as attractive as a night in the Delegate Hotel, so we jumped into the two 4WDs for the tough descent of the fire trail, often in low range.  A pretty-faced wallaby stood by the side of the track and watched us leave.

The Wobbly Old Blokes on top of Tingaringy; L-R Ray, Kit, Grant, Bill, Pierre

The Support Crew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A shower, a beer or two in the bar and a barbecue dinner were a great reward for completing a challenging walk. This is not a walk I plan to repeat, but it has really whet my appetite to complete the Bundian Way.

Kit Craig, April, 2016

 

 

 

 

First walk for the year – 18th February

As we did last year, the Cartophiles will kick off the new year exploring some of the interesting bush and sights on the western side of the Pacific Highway.  For more information see 2017 Walk 1 (Turramurra-Pymble) flyer

After the walk attendees are invited to the Craigs’ house for a BBQ and, if you want, a swim.  BYOG.

To register for the walk, or to get more information, contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org
or on 0411 507 422.

The Lost Records – the Walks We Did in the Second Half of 2015

The lack of reports since June 2015 could be taken as evidence that the Cartophiles haven’t been very active.  In fact, it just demonstrates that walking has been a higher priority than writing.  Here’s a quick summary of the walks we did in the second half of 2015 but never reported on:

Wondabyne Station to Kariong Brook Waterfall, Saturday 16th May, 2015

Just three of us, walking in the drizzle!
CIMG1759

CIMG1758

 

 

 

 

 

 

Govett’s Leap to Mt Victoria, Blue Mountains National Park, 6th – 8th June (Queen’s Birthday Weekend), 2015

Actually, this was reported by James, but I just had to add some photos.

Two fine figures ready to go

Two fine figures ready to go

A very steep descent

A very steep descent

Victoria Cascades

Victoria Cascades

James looked damp after falling in the creek

James looked damp after falling in the creek

We made it!

We made it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burrawang Walk & Cape Baily Track, Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Saturday 20th June, 2015

Kit and four girls!

At Captain Cook's landing place

At Captain Cook’s landing place

A waterfall over the track

A waterfall over the track

Through the bog!

Through the bog!

Axe sharpening grooves

Axe sharpening grooves

I see no signal!

I see no signal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thornleigh Station to Hornsby Station, Saturday 18th July, 2015

No photos of climbing the stairs to Hornsby, though …

A few hills

A few hills

A few stairs

A few stairs

A few flat bits ... in order walking away: David, Paul, Tim, Linda, Sue

A few flat bits. In order walking away: David, Paul, Tim, Linda, Sue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle Harbour Creek Loop, Saturday 15th August, 2015

A delightful new walk

Awwwww ... ducklings

Awwwww … ducklings

Middle Harbour Creek was very still in the morning light

Middle Harbour Creek was very still in the morning light

The Cartophiles' answer to Abbey Rd

The Cartophiles’ answer to Abbey Rd

You're probably wondering why I've called you all together like this

You’re probably wondering why I’ve called you all together like this

Who was photographing who?

Who was photographing who?

Sue & Andrew reminisce about the Camino

Sue & Andrew reminisce about the Camino

A grand entrance

A grand entrance

Crossing Roseville Bridge

Crossing Roseville Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muogamarra Nature Reserve, Saturday 19th September, 2015

Our traditional Spring walk

View from the top

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katoomba to Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains National Park, 3rd – 5th October, 2015

This one was hard!

Penny & Sue on the flanks of Mt Solitary

Penny & Sue on the flanks of Mt Solitary

Sue meditates on top of Mt Solitary

Sue meditates on top of Mt Solitary

Penny climbing the Koorowall Knife-edge

Penny climbing the Koorowall Knife-edge

Kit's leg, infected after the walk

Kit’s leg, infected after the walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bloody Long Walk, Northern Beaches, Sunday 18th October, 2015

A 35 km team challenge from Palm Beach to Manly.  We had two teams, this is just the one I was with.

They started

They started

They walked

They walked

and they finished

and they finished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Curl Curl to Long Reef and Return, Saturday 14th November, 2015

It rained again.

The girls on the rocks

The girls on the rocks

The photo shop

The photo shop

Janet leads the cold, damp team over the track

Janet leads the cold, damp team over the track

The debrief

The debrief

The furthest point reached was Dee Why Lagoon ... then we went to the debrief.  Pip in the foreground, L-R at the back: James, Sue, Tim, Don (obscured), Rupert (slightly less obscured), Rebecca, Natalie, Annie, Kit, Janet, David

The furthest point reached was Dee Why Lagoon … then we went to the debrief. Pip in the foreground, L-R at the back: James, Sue, Tim, Don (obscured), Rupert (slightly less obscured), Rebecca, Natalie, Annie, Kit, Janet, David

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Manly Scenic Walkway, Saturday 19th December, 2015

Lots of walkers, lots of fun

Mmmmm ... ice cream

Mmmmm … ice cream

stairs

Some stairs

The gentlemen taking the air at Fairlight

The gentlemen taking the air at Fairlight

Burrawang Walk & Cape Baily Track, Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Saturday 20th June, 2015

IMG_0308The Cartophiles’ sixth day walk of the year takes us back to the National Heritage listed Kamay Botany Bay National Park, rich in both Aboriginal and European history to repeat a walk we did last June.

We start and finish at the Kurnell Visitor Centre and cover two walks.  First is the very easy Burrawang Walk which passes several of the area’s historic sites, including Captain Cook’s Landing Place, and includes many interpretive signs outlining the park’s cultural and natural history.

After that we’ll explore the heath and the great views along the moderate-rated Cape Baily Track between the Visitor Center and the Cape Baily Lighthouse. This walk follows a mixture of service trails, bush tracks, rock platforms and sand dunes. Hopefully we’ll once again see some migrating whales offshore.

For more information see 2015 Walk 6 (Burrawang walk & Cape Baily Track) flyer.

To register for the walk, or to get more information, contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org or on
0411 507 422.

Overnight walk in June: Govett’s Leap to Mt Victoria, Queen’s Birthday Weekend

The Cartophiles’ second overnight walk of the year is a three day trek over the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 6th – 8th June.

We start at Govetts Leap on Saturday morning, pass Bridal Falls then drop into the Grose Valley and follow the river to the Acacia Flats campsite. On Sunday we walk through the Blue Gum Forest and continue to explore the valley to the Burra Korain Flat Camping Area. On Monday it’s a short walk but a very steep climb of about 430m to Mt Victoria past the spectacular Victoria Falls and the smaller Victoria Cascades.

The distance each day allows time to stop, explore and enjoy the fantastic scenery and we should be finished by midday on Monday to allow time to get home.

For more information see 2015 Overnight Walk 2 (Govetts Leap to Mt Victoria) flyer.

You must register for this walk by Monday 29th May. For more information contact Kit Craig on 0411 507 422 or email cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org

First walk of the year — Jerusalem Bay, Saturday,14th February, 2015

The Cartophiles gather at Cowan Station for the first walk of the year ………………. L-R James (obscured), Tim, Annie, Paul, David (obscured), Mary (back turned), Sue, Glenn, Angelina, Penny, John

The Cartophiles have opened our 2015 programme with the lovely walk along the Great North Walk from Cowan Station to Jerusalem BaCIMG1675y.  When we reached the iconic view from the headland we all felt so fresh that we decided to cross the small creek that enters the bay here and have lunch by the small waterfall at the start of the very steep climb out of Jerusalem Bay to Brooklyn.

Thirteen Cartophiles met at Cowan Station for an easy 10.30 start.  Regular members David, Paul, James, Annie, Mary, Sue and Kit were joined by occasional members Penny, Angelina, Nicolah, John and Glenn on a bright, mild morning ideal for a walk.  The recent overnight rains had muddied a couple of spots on the track, but mostly the footing was dry and solid.  The creeks were flowing gently, the trees rustled in the breeze and, even though the tide was out, Jerusalem Bay was filled with houseboats and swimming children when we arrived.

Lunch

Lunch

CIMG1681John and the children walked down onto the mud flats to look at the large groups of hermit crabs running between the puddles as the rest of us followed the track into the mossy creek bed.  We crossed to the sandstone overhang and trickling water of the grotto at the foot of the very steep hill that has been such good training for endurance walks in the past.  We had a very pleasant lunch in the dappled shade.

During the walk back up the hill the humidity in the gully began to get to us and we were all feeling the heat.  By the time we reached the cars we were all ready for our debrief at the Blue Gum Hotel, which luckily coincided with the start of Australia’s opening game of the ICC World Cup.  A lovely walk, good company, great scenery, and air conditioned pub, and cricket.  Life doesn’t get much better than this!

The Cartophiles’ next day walk is participating in the NSW Rogaining Association’s annual 6 hour Metrograine.

The Spit to Manly Walk, Saturday 13th December, 2014

Janet, Tige & Sue on the way to Contarf Reserve

Janet, Tige & Sue on the way to Contarf Reserve

Maintaining our tradition, the last walk for the year for the Cartophiles Bushwalking Club was the iconic Spit Bridge to Manly walk, following the Manly Scenic Walkway.  This beautiful and varied 9km track is consistently rated as one of Australia’s top ten walks.

The weather was overcast but mild, almost perfect for a strenuous walk.  Luckily, we weren’t feeling too strenuous.  Ten Cartophiles met at Ellery’s Punt Reserve for the walk: Tige, Glenn, David, Janet, Paul, Annie, James, Tim, Sue and Kit.

The walk was, as always, beautiful. It starts at the north end of the Spit Bridge and follows the waters edge to Clontarf Reserve and beach before ascending steadily to the aboriginal rock carvings at Grotto Point.  From there it climbs to the top of Dobroyd

To the top of the ridge!

To the top of the ridge!

Head, with great views over Port Jackson, The Heads and Manly, before dropping steeply down rocky steps to Reef and Forty Baskets beaches.  It then follows the water around North Harbour and past Fairlight to Manly wharf.

Our time was spiced by two adventures. Firstly, we met two runners coming the other way who had found a set of car keys. Sue exchanged mobile phone numbers with Nick (!) and proceeded to ask every group we passed if they had lost some keys. One fretful-looking man said yes, and after a series of phone calls with Nick to establish a rendezvous (!) the man hugged Sue and hurried off with his two daughters.

Editor’s note: Careful readers may have identified a hint of jealous suspicion in the phrasing of the last paragraph.  The writer has been carefully counselled with a broom handle and wishes to make it clear that any implication of impropriety is entirely accidental.

The second adventure was a bit more dramatic.  As we crossed Forty Baskets Beach we noticed one of the boats at its mooring was down at the stern.  While making light hearted comments about it we realised that is was getting even lower in the water! We rang 000 to let the police know that there was a boat sinking at its moorings.  It took some time to establish with the operator that we were at

Tim watches the boat going down

Tim watches the boat going down

Forty Baskets Breach, not Number 40, Baskets Beach Rd, and by the time we left all that was visible above the waves was the blue tarpaulin canopy.  We hope they were able to refloat her before New Years Eve.

Other than these tiny adventures we had no medical frights, no injuries, no annoying insects and very little need for long rest stops.  We weren’t rained on, we suffered no heat stroke, no one was sunburnt, no items were lost and no equipment damaged.  It was, in fact, a nearly perfect outing.

Of course, we didn’t walk hard.  We had a short break while we ordered coffee at Clontarf Reserve, then a casual stroll up the beach.  Although we were disappointed to find that Mr Whippy was missing from the car park at Dobroyd Head we did finish by walking up The Corso to our traditional debrief at the Hotel Steyne.  It was a great end to another successful year for the Cartophiles, and we look forward to an even better 2015.

L-R Sue, Annie, James, Tim, some people at the back we don't know, Paul, Janet, Glenn, David (standing) and Tige peaking around the corner

The Cartophiles at the end-of-year debrief in the Hotel Steyne

  L-R Sue, Annie, James, Tim, some people at the back we don’t know, Paul, Janet, Glenn, David (standing) and Tige peeking around the corner

Wondabyne Station to Kariong Brook waterfall Saturday 23rd August, 2014

Sadly, we have to cancel this walk in May because track work prevented us getting to the start point at Wondabyne railway station, the only railway station in Australia which has no road access. This time for sure!

The tranquil and beautiful Kariong Brook falls and waterhole are a wonderful surprise for walkers along the Great North Walk in  the Brisbane Waters National Park.  This 8.1km walk is rated hard and should take 3-3½ hrs. The initial climb out of Wondabyne Station is quite steep as is the descent to the falls, and there is the occasional short steep hill along the rest of the route. However, it’s suitable for novice walkers of reasonable fitness.

For more details see 2014 Walk 7 (Wondabyne to Kariong Brook Falls) flyer.

To register for the walk, or to get more information, contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org or on 0411 507 422.

Kalkari & Birrawanna Loop Track, Saturday 16th August, 2014

The very first Cartophiles’ bushwalk was along the 5.1 km Kalkari and Birrawanna Loop Tracks circuit in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in April, 2010.  It’s been far too long, so we’ll repeat it as the Cartophiles’ next day walk.

This is an easy walk although there is a short but steep climb up from Bobbin Head.   However,  we’ve allowed time for lots of stops as well as lunch at the picnic area at Bobbin Head.   This walk is suitable for novices and children.

For more details see 2014 Walk 6 (Kalkari & Birrawanna Loop flyer).

To register for the walk, or to get more information, contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org or on 0411 507 422.

The Old Great North Road, 19/20 June, 2014

This was our second overnight walk for the year, and the cold weather clearly frightened a number of people off.

Regular day walk Cartophile Tim took on his first overnighter with Adam and Kit, an all boys jaunt along the historic Great North Road, built using convict labour between 1826 and 1836. It was a terrific walk along well-defined track all the way, although calling some stretches ‘road’ required a lot of imagination.  The only other walkers we saw were day trippers doing one of the many circuits, but we did encounter LOTS of cyclists.

Tim (with his back to us) and Adam (obscured) look over the impressive retaining wall on Devine's Hill

Tim (with his back to us) and Adam (obscured) look over the impressive retaining wall on Devine’s Hill

We drove together to Wisemans Ferry and over the river drove the 500m or so to the start of the walk, a well signposted gate.  After loading ourselves up we headed up the long slow two-kilometre climb of Devine’s Hill.  This route was originally selected by surveyor general Sir Thomas Mitchell instead of the original, much steeper, Finch’s Line.  The road is in wonderful condition through here and the 12-metre-high buttressed retaining walls and elaborate drainage systems were very impressive pieces of engineering.  Over 500 convicts, many in irons, constructed this part of the road which was completed in 1832, and after nearly two centuries it is solid enough for cars to drive on.

We passed the old quarry site and the eerily-named Hangman’s Cave, which the accompanying sign said was probably actually a blasting powder storage facility.  As we were looking at this a cyclist stopped to chat with us.  One of his ancestors had worked on the road, which he said was, at the time of its construction, the largest engineering project in the world.  We all felt that was probably a bit of hyperbole, but had enough cache to be worth considering.

At the top of the hill we walked along a flat, easy trail, past the turn off to Finch’s Line and out into the wilds.  The road soon deteriorated into a single line track, although the original edges were still visible and we saw some large and solid retaining walls.  The NPWS has surfaced over the original cobblestone surface with gravel on a layer of anti-erosion fabric to preserve the old surface.  In a couple of places the original cobblestone is exposed so tourists can see what it was like.

The weather had been delightful; cool, but sunny with just a gentle breeze.  We joyfully scoffed at those who had held for fear of bad weather.  We stopped for afternoon tea after about 10km where the old road intersects with a service road (the Western Commission Track).  As we were brewing up an enormous bank of dark cloud rolled over us and light rain began to fall.  The temperature plummeted and we thought we were in for a drenching.  We quickly packed up and headed off ata pace to cover the last 3km to our campsite.  As easy downhill slope on a firm surface took us past an old pine plantation and the buildings of the Wat Budda Darma bush retreat.  When we reached the Ten Mile Hollow camping area the wind was blowing strongly but there had been no more rain and the clouds had mostly passed.

Tim enjoys a glass of wine and some salami by the fire, Kit in the background

Tim enjoys a glass of wine and some salami by the fire, Kit in the background

We pitched camp, lit a fire and broke out some refreshments to celebrate a great day’s walk.  Although the wind was cold we were comfortable in our tents and had a good sleep.  We had stayed at the Ten Mile Hollow camping area at the end of November last year when the Cartophiles walked in from the other direction.  It’s a great little campsite with a new composting toilet, water tank and a really well set up fire circle.

We woke the next day and realised the wind had kept our tents dry of condensation.  Fantastic!  It made packing up so much easier.  It was, however, very cold, so we lit the fire again to have breakfast.

We were retracing our steps today and we knew the route was easy going with good footing most of the way, so we had a very leisurely breakfast as we struck camp.  We hit the track at about 9.00am and made terrific time all the way.  Tim had been very nervous about how he’d cope with the second day, especially in the pack he’d borrowed from James, but he sailed through.  We had morning tea at one of the sections of exposed cobblestones and without trying hard were at the top of Devine’s Hill again just before lunch time.  It was such an easy finish from there that we agreed that we’d be far better off experiencing the historic ambiance of the Wisemans Ferry Inn for lunch that sitting by the side of the road.  So we did.

This is a generally easy walk with some moderate sections.  We’ll repeat it sometime as it would also made a great overnight walk for beginners.

The Cartophiles next walk is an easy half day on Saturday, 16th August when we’ll walk the 5.1 km Kalkari & Birrawanna Loop Track in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.  That will be followed on Saturday, 23rd August when to do the rescheduled 8.1 km Wondabyne Station to Kariong Brook waterfall walk in the Brisbane Waters National Park.

Adam helping Tim adjust his pack

Adam helping Tim adjust his pack

 

Kit and Tim stride out on the way back

Kit and Tim stride out on the way back

Tim and Kit at the end of the hike, looking forward to a pub lunch

Tim and Kit at the end of the hike, looking forward to a pub lunch

 

“Thar She Blows!” — Kamay Botany Bay National Park Walk, Saturday 21st June, 2014

Whales, sea cliffs, sand dunes, lighthouse, historical monuments, sunshine … our last day walk had it all!  This may become one of those walks we repeat year to year, provided we can all put up with the 1½ hour drive to the start point at Kurnell.

The Cartophiles at Captain Cook's Landing. L-R: Janet, David, Gabriel, Sue, Virginia, Annie, Paul

The Cartophiles at Captain Cook’s Landing. L-R: Janet, David, Gabriel, Sue, Virginia, Annie, Paul

The travel distance and the relative obscurity of the visitors’ centre meant that gathering us all together was a challenge.  As we slowly came together the need for coffee became a problem; there was only one person on duty in the visitors’ centre to take the $7 per vehicle parking fee, answer questions and run the kiosk.  It was a very slow start for our eight Cartophiles: Annie, David, Gabriel, Kit, Janet (for her first Cartophiles experience), Paul, Sue and Virginia.

Botany Bay National Park was created in 1984, although the land around Captain Cooks Landing Place was first dedicated for public recreation in 1899. The dual name Kamay Botany Bay National Park was adopted in 2002 to affirm Aboriginal links with the land, acknowledging the significance of the area for both the local Dharawal people and European settlers. Kamay is the Dharawal name for the area.

Our visit consisted of two walks.  The Burrawang Walk is an easy 1.1km circuit that passes several historical memorials, including Captain Cook’s landing place.  We spent a lot of time reading the information plaques and trying to work out which buoy marked the place where the Endeavour was anchored.

From there we drove to the end of Solander Drive to the start of the Cape Baily walk, a moderate-rated 8km circuit to the Cape Baily lighthouse.  This started with a visit to the Cape Solander viewing platform where a team of NPWS volunteers was counting migrating whales.  The generously lent us some binoculars so that we could see the pod of five or six humpback whales just offshore.  In fact, for the remainder of the walk we could easily see individual and small groups of whales swimming north up the coast in their annual migration between their Antarctic feeding grounds and the warmer tropical waters off north-eastern Australia where they breed.

The Cartophiles on the cliff tops

The Cartophiles on the cliff tops

The weather was a delightful blend of gentle breeze and bright sunshine that was perfect for walking.  We started off with a wonderfully flat walk along the cliff tops with the sea a startling blue to our left before meeting the one steep climb up a sand dune. There was a lot of water on the sandstone so we were constantly walking around pools and puddles.

We also passed several hanging swamps including the Blue Hole swamp, which looked for all the word like an English crop circle.

We stopped for lunch just below the lighthouse so we could enjoy the view of small boats out whale watching and teams of scuba divers exploring the waters below the cliffs.  David even managed a brief snooze in the sun before we climbed the hill to look at the Cape Baily lighthouse.

This purely functional structure is an uninspiring block that does nothing to conjure up the magic of lonely lighthouse keepers.  From the hill on which it stands you can see all the way to the city of Sydney to the north and to Bundeena to the south.  In the clear air the city buildings looked like a model.

We made our way back to the car park and bought ice creams from the van there before departing separately.  For the first time in a long time we didn’t gather for the traditional Cartophiles debrief possibly because so many of us were keen to listen to the Australia-France rugby test match.

Annie near a cliff top pond

Annie near a cliff top pond

The uninspiring Cape Baily lighthouse

The uninspiring Cape Baily lighthouse

The next Cartophiles walk is the overnight hike along the Old Great Northern Road on the weekend 28/29 June.

 

 

Marramarra Creek Campground and Return, Saturday 15th February, 2014

Our second walk for 2014 is in the Marramarra National Park, to a location the Cartophiles were supposed to go to last April, but we were temporarily geographically embarrassed.  This time, we’ll get it right!

Set among the trees and by tranquil waters Mmarramarra-creek-campground-01.ashxarramarra Creek campground can only accessed by water or by foot, making it a peaceful retreat away from the crowds.  We will follow the easy 3.5km walk along Marramarra Ridge management trail to the campsite, have lunch there and then return to the cars.

For more detail see 2014 Walk 2 (Marramarra Creek Campground) flyer

To register for the walk, or to get more information, contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org or on
0411 507 422.

Dubbo Gully & Old Great North Road, Dharug National Park, 30th November/1st December 2013

James (& Simone) at the start of the track

James (& Simone) at the start of the track

This walk replaced a planned walk in the Royal National Park and it turned out to be a fantastic alternative. The 24km walk took us through some very pretty bush and rock overhangs, past historic convict road works and along a lush green pastoral valley via a pioneer cemetery.  This walk is one of several that investigate sections of The Old Great North Road (OGNR), built to provide Sydney access to the fertile Hunter Valley.  The road was surveyed in 1825 and construction by convict gangs began the following year.  Construction continued until about 1836, when the road was virtually abandoned in favour of the new steamboat service between Sydney and Newcastle or the more direct Peat’s Ferry Road (now the Pacific Highway).

We fielded the Cartophiles’ largest ever group for a weekend hike.  It had initially promised to be an even larger but sadly at the last moment health issues forced David, Mick and Adam to withdraw.  Even so, eight Cartophiles took to the track: Annie, James, Owen, Sue, Kit, Ethan and first timers John and Penny.  The group was a little bit heavy on Craig derivatives, but apart from a lot of noise and a few confused responses to ‘Dad’ it seemed to work alright.

The track starts just off Wisemans Ferry Road at Mangrove Mountain and follows the Dubbo Gully management trail steeply downhill for about a kilometre and a half to the junction of Dubbo Creek with Mangrove Creek. From here it follows Mangrove Creek along Ten Mile Hollow Road on an easy walk through

St Thomas' Cemetery L-R Penny, Annie, John, Owen, Ethan

St Thomas’ Cemetery
L-R Penny, Annie, John, Owen, Ethan

what was once important farmland providing produce to the convict gangs building the OGNR.  Today the creek is part of the Gosford City Council water catchment area.

Not long after the bridges at the creek junction there’s the historic cemetery of St Thomas’ Church of England.  Sadly, St Thomas’ itself burned down in the 2002 bushfires.  We passed the junction with Donny’s Track and soon stopped for lunch near the abandoned homestead Fairview.   Although the house was built in 1922 there’s a 150 year old slab hut that bears mute testimony to how important this area was in the development of the Lower Hawkesbury.

Just after lunch we bumped into a young couple hiking the other way.  We greeted them but had no idea how much we would see of them later.

The walk along Ten Mile Hollow Road was very easy, although a times a bit swampy after the recent rain.  There were some very interesting stone retaining walls to remind us of the convict chain gangs that constructed the roads.  About 2½ km after lunch we came to a very large grassy clearing where Ten Mile Hollow Road intersects with Oyster Road and Simpson’s Track, and where a large bronze plaque mounted on a boulder provides information on the historic OGNR and Simpson’s Track.  We signed the log book and headed uphill along Simpson’s Track.

Penny, Sue, Owen & Ethan climb Simpson's Track

Penny, Sue, Owen & Ethan climb Simpson’s Track

This track was established as a major branch from the OGNR into the Yarramalong Valley and on to Cooranbong, where Lt Percy Simpson, Assistant-Surveyor at Wiseman’s Ferry, had selected land near Dora Creek in 1828.  It’s comforting to know that that sort of corruption is not a new phenomenon.

Simpson’s Track climbs steadily for about three kilometres and was undoubtedly the hardest part of the days walk.  At the top of the hill we came to Ten Mile Hollow campground at the intersection of Simpson’s Track and the OGNR.  The camp site was originally a stockade for the convict road gangs. According to WildWalks, “Later the area was named ‘Snodgrass Valley’ and plans to build a town were developed, neither the name nor the town proved popular (even at 2 pounds an acre).”

The campsite is lovely: a wide grassy area with a new hybrid toilet and a water tank that was quite full.  There are a couple of fire circles, but the rangers had told us that there was a total fire ban in place right across the park so we made do with our gas stoves.

Celebrate the small victories. Setting up camp L-R Owen, Kit, Penny Ethan (in the shelter), Annie, James, Sue

Celebrate the small victories.
Setting up camp L-R Owen, Kit, Penny, Ethan (in the shelter), Annie, James, Sue

After we set up camp we had an arrival treat together of stuffed olives, chilli pepperoni, cheese, smoked salmon and crackers.  We also had a glass or two of wine.  Just then the couple we’d met earlier walked into camp from the opposite direction to us – they’d done the complete circuit in reverse and were now setting down for the night!  Soon after the young man came over a shyly asked for help.  He had a tick very high on his thigh and needed help to remove it.  The combination of our tweezers, headlamp, glasses, antiseptic wash and the crowd-sourced advise to our resident nurse soon relieved him.

Penny, Owen and Kit walked 600m south to have a look at the Wat Buddha Dhamma Bhuddist bush monastery.  We walked in asking questions only to be told, quietly, that they were having a silent retreat that weekend.  Oops.

After a happy dinner we retired early to a lovely night’s sleep.  We woke to the dawn chorus and Penny’s laughter.  By about ten to nine we’d had breakfast and were on the road for our second day.

The first part of the day was on the OGNR itself.  After about twenty minutes we came to Clares Bridge, billed on all the web sites as the second oldest bridge on the mainland.  The bridge was built between January and September 1830 from sandstone quarried on site under the supervision of overseer Arnold Clare.  There is currently no deck on the bridge.  The sandstone piers and abutments are impressive, and hopefully the Convict Trail Project will be able to raise enough funds to fully restore the bridge in the near future.

Climb to the abutment at Clares Bridge.  Kit and Sue in the foreground as John climbs up to join Annie & James

Climb to the abutment at Clares Bridge. Kit and Sue in the foreground as John climbs up to join Annie & James

The next 4½km is mostly uphill as the route leaves the OGNR and follows Donny’s Track, built as part of the construction of the high voltage power lines.  There are two climbs which will get you puffing on this walk, and this is the steepest one.  However, it’s still not an enormous climb and after about an hour we stopped for morning tea at Donny’s Lookout.  From here we could see Ten Mile Hollow Road and the route back.  We descended the steep hill to the road not far from the St Thomas’ cemetery and turned back toward the car park.  We were making good time and as a group we powered up the climb along Dubbo Gully.  We were back at the cars at about ten to one and headed to the Mooney Mooney Club for lunch, a cool drink and a debrief.

This was a really delightful walk that we will certainly repeat in 2014.  It’s been on a list of possible Cartophiles walks for three years but we have never scheduled it because both NPWS and WildWalks rated it as hard.  None of us could see why it gets a hard rating, especially when the Gentlemans Halt walk was so much more difficult and was rated moderate! From now on we’ll put in each walk report the ‘official’ rating for it and the Cartophiles’ rating.

NPWS rating                                   Hard
WildWalks rating                           Hard
Cartophiles rating                          Moderate

Our next walk is our last for 2013.  It’s the iconic Spit to Manly walk on 7th December.  See here  for details.