Many thanks to Bruce for giving us the idea for our route, and to Rick and Robyn for helping us out with where to stay in Jindabyne. Also, thanks to Tony for driving Tracy and I down on Friday night, and to Yumi for helping me get back home.
In the Lower Wolgan, Yumi had mentioned a trip she was organizing to the Main Range over the Australia Day Long Weekend. I was keen to get further away from the local abodes so happily agreed to go along – I’d done enough canyoning recently so it would be good to go far a walk. (There was a Northern Wollemi trip happening as well as a trip to Mt Fairy which would have been nice to join).
After finding out my boss had scheduled me on for work that Friday without asking, our plan changed. Yumi drove down by herself, and Tony and Tracy waited for me in Blackheath so I could get a lift down with them. I hadn’t seen Tony in ages! The last time had been a few days of skiing in the Canadian Rockies, so it was good to catch up.
We talked pretty much the whole way. Tracy worked on one of her videos (and had a small nap). We detoured for some cheap fuel, and grabbed Thai in Randwick before we got to Tony and Tracy’s home to grab their gear.
I’m not sure what time we left, but it wasn’t early. I was probably awake for half the trip, but dozed for the rest. There were roos everywhere before we reached Jindabyne forcing us to drive quite slowly. One even ran into the side of the van.
I was relieved when we finally arrived. It was around 3am. Sleep quickly found me.
In the morning we gathered back together enjoying a hot breakfast that Tony cooked up on his stove. Yumi had a tub of lychees that also hit the spot.
We packed and then car pooled into the park, paying the entry fee before continuing on to Guthega where we would start and finish our walk.
“But I have crackers to share… Take your crackers out and put mine in!”Packing in the morning.
Starting out across the pondage wall we chatted to some ppl, and Tony showed us some photos of the winter version of what we were seeing. I’d only ever been to the Main Range a few times before, all of them in winter.
Continuing up Guthega Ridge we quickly discovered a foot pad that wound its way through the shrubbery. Many dead trees held up skeletal arms, a lasting sign of a bush fire some time ago. It was very windy, and we didn’t last long on top of an old trig point before dropping back down.
There were many wild flowers about. Most I didn’t know, though there were many dandelions (or fake dandelions as Tony called them), paper daisies, and trigger plants…
Yumi shared some chocolate cubes we took to calling Wombat Shits. They tasted great!
“You are a vegetarian, but it’s better than any Wombat shit.“
A comment on the chocolates being vegetarian?
“What do you call it? Touching your bum plant, ya?“The alternate name for the trigger plant 🙂
After leaving the trees and bushes behind we crossed alpine meadows with a scattering of granite boulders (signs of an old rd). We sheltered in the lee side of one before lunch before dropping down into Constant Stevens Pass and then along the ridge to the north for a time, before dropping into Windy Ck to camp. Considering the name, I’d been a little worried about how windy it might be. In the end it was far more sheltered than the ridge walk up. There were some sizable fish in the ck next to our camp.
In an attempt to escape the beating sun, we took shelter in the shade of some rocks half way up the valley side. Its amazing how you can feel the extra km of elevation! It was here that Windy Ck Hairdressing was born. All three of the others had a turn at cutting off bits of my hair. In the end it came out quite well. At least I wouldn’t have bits of hair flicking me in the eyes tomorrow!
We then headed back down for a game of cards that Tracy taught us. Made a dash for the ridge top to catch a bit of the sun set sky and then returned to camp.
“Don’t open the tent fly fully. Slide it in, like a coin into a piggy.“Tony’s warning to Tracy to avoid flies entering the tent
Yumi slept out in the open. I ended up crawling into my bivvy bag to escape the mozzies.
The next day we headed back towards the pass, skirted around the north-western side of Tate and then picked up a track around Mann Bluff that continued along the Main Range.
After lunch at a couple of small pool right beside the track, we continued and soon dumped our packs and did a small side trip to the top of Twynam. Climbing the trig, you could just see the edge of Blue Lake. We lounged in the shade of a giant rock, after a couple of others vacated the spot.
“You need to cover up your meat.“Tracy’s reason for why the horse flies seemed to target me – I was the only one in shorts.
Continuing along the Main Range we had pretty much decided to spend the night out along the ridge to Watsons Crags. Avoiding an area that had been flagged as containing an invasive plant we soon found a perfect spot below Tenison Woods Knoll. Tony went off to search for water in the nearby ck. As it began to get dark, Tracy went to look for him, but they quickly returned. Tony had been distracted by looking at all the ski runs without snow. It was common for his sentences to start with “in winter” and the word “ski” 🙂
The sun set was pretty specky. We could see the lights from another group on the ridge out to The Sentinel. Tracy invited us to come and play cards. But Yumi and I couldn’t be coaxed to leave our groundsheets (we both slept out in the open). The starts were again spectacular in the wee hours of the morning, once the moon had set.
In the morning we dropped into the creek to get water. Following it back up I couldn’t believe how close we got to a roo that was lounging in the shade.
We soon linked up with the main Range loop walk – I couldn’t believe what a highway it was! We followed it to the top of Carruthers Peak, getting a bit of metal boardwalk before dropping down to Club Lake for lunch on a rock. The lake probably got its name because it was shaped like the club suit from a game of cards we guessed. There were lots of small fish in the lake, it was also quite warm.
“Don’t slap me! (In mock anger after slapping bottom of hand to dislodge glass). You slapped my cairns. You get what you give!”
We cut across to Blue Lake. Pieces of tissue and toilet paper fringed the small bit of the main loop walk that we used.
Continuing down to Hedley Tarn we met a group who looked like they were going to camp there. They looked a little guilty. One of the guys told us that we shouldn’t have any trouble crossing the Snowy. We’d been a little worried that it would be too deep to cross safely.
It was very slow going below the tarn. We ended up cutting across to the ridge to the east. In hindsight, we probably should have done this from Blue Lake! Hopping across rocks barely visible along with the treacherous holes between them, we trod carefully through small fields of prickly plants happy when we finally reached the ridge. It was much easier walking. A storm was building up behind us. It was only supposed to rain the following day, but it sure didn’t look like it. It was also getting pretty late, and we hoped we’d make it back to the car before dark.
Dropping steeply down to the Snowy River we paused for a break and then linked up with the new track that is being built between Charlotte’s Pass and Guthega.
Having worked in track work for the last six months, it was interesting to see how another group worked. It was a different project though as they were mostly working with stone as well as elevated metal boardwalks.
It was pretty easy going until the Illawong Hut came into sight. There was one bit that hadn’t been connected yet. We might be one of the last groups to see Spencers Ck without the new bridge that will soon be built.
We detoured to cross and recross the swing bridge. A squall overtook us before reached the car park, but it quickly passed and we didn’t get too wet.
We got back with a little time to spare, but it was dark by the time we left the park.
The next day, Yumi and I started the trip back north. We swapped drivers at Goulburn and headed north through Taralga. This was a bit further for Yumi, but it saved me several hours of public transport… thanks Yumi!!
Several days later, I found that I had unintentionally stolen Tony’s laminated topo maps….
Thanks for a great trip guys!!